According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, working adults double as "students" at higher rates than one might think: Among those who are working and going to a post-secondary institution at the same time, one in five first considers himself an employed adult -- someone who happens to be going back to school. (Other working students have a job as a secondary effort in order to meet their school expenses.)
The most popular undergraduate program for employed adults going back to school is an associate's degree (53%), according to the U.S. Department of Education. The number of associates' degrees and vocational certificates awarded by post-secondary institutions has increased 25% in five years. Much of this demand has been driven by the economic climate and the labor market.
A recent report from the Bureau of Labor statistics projects that six of the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in the next five years will require education below a bachelor's degree, but more than a high school diploma. Five of those six occupations are in health care. And increasingly, it is women of color -- both African-American and Hispanic -- who are seeking these credentials.
How do you best reach these prospective students, especially the ones best suited to enroll in your specific programs?
One strategy is to market to prospective students in content environments that support career development and life improvement.
For example, at a niche job board for hourly workers, I see a strong affinity between users who are online to advance their career and a propensity to go back to school, which creates an intense interest in education messaging.
Schools that partner with the right content provider will find qualified and interested potential students. Look for:
While online display marketing and lead generation are key to a successful marketing program, schools may consider rounding out their efforts with a multichannel approach by including other media in the marketing mix:
In an increasingly competitive environment, reaching prospective students is becoming more difficult. But in today's challenging economy and for years to come, there will continue to be a growing pool of candidates seeking the degrees and career training that are the right fit for their busy lifestyles. Education marketers must become ever more sophisticated to reach these people, through a mix of brand-building, tapping communities of interest and affinity marketing.