As a leader at your institution, you know how challenging it is to attract and retain quality nontraditional students in Illinois. If you’re looking to grow your adult/graduate/online programs, here are a few tips to ensure your institution is enrolling and retaining its share:

Tip 1: Put your best digital foot forward. Your website must excite adult learners, prompt action, and contain pages that rank highly on search engines like Google.

Your prospective nontraditional students will directly correlate their experience on your website to their anticipated experience at your school – so make it exceptional. Also, ensure website points-of-action work seamlessly to yield maximum conversions. Lastly, knowing that Internet users are up to 22 times more likely to click on an “organic” search engine link vs. a paid/sponsored link, make sure you’re following best practices for search engine optimization – otherwise you could be reducing your attraction power significantly.

Tip 2: Be prepared to invest differently to yield the same results as just two years ago.

The cost for Illinois colleges and universities to acquire quality prospects through paid digital advertising has significantly increased in the last two years. While you’ll need to incorporate a healthy mix of other tactics like SEO, blogging, social media, and email to optimize your digital marketing investment, paid digital ads will continue to make up the bulk of your spend. So, don’t expect to yield the same results with the same YOY budget.

Tip 3: Make sure academic and enrollment teams are working in concert.

Ensure your enrollment teams fully understand your institution’s degree programs and are presenting to busy working adults the value of your degree offerings and how they may enhance professional and personal goals. A great way to gauge accuracy is through secret shopping methods, which can expose areas where additional training may be needed. Having programmatic and institutional differentiators identified by academics, and then trained on in enrollment, will ensure prospective students are receiving the right message from the institution.

Tip 4: Leverage your brand.

For the adult learner seeking an online degree, the array of options can be dizzying. To help stand out in this vast marketplace, you’ll need to capitalize on your brand’s distinctive attributes to attract desirable students. Take time to refine your institution’s – not just your programs’ – unique points of difference so they’re relevant to nontraditional prospects, then weave these distinctives into every communication touch point to strengthen your marketing efforts. The adult-learner market is hyper competitive – oftentimes, the power of a well-incorporated brand message may be the difference in capturing or losing a prospective nontraditional student.

Tip 5: Maximize accessibility.

To attract today’s adult learner, ensure that prospective students have access to programs in the way they want to learn. Make your most popular programs accessible in a format that will maximize enrollment. Utilize an online modality to boost nontraditional offerings during slower enrollment periods such as summer and late winter. Appeal to your alumni who may be interested in continuing online education opportunities. Harness the power of online modalities to help your institution grow and retain both traditional and nontraditional enrollments.

Tip 6: Fine-tune your enrollment process to match the unique needs of the adult student prospect.

In Illinois’ fast-paced higher ed environment—where institutions often have mere minutes to grab a prospective adult student’s attention—it is critical to design an enrollment process that is streamlined and quick, yet also informative and thorough. Busy adults are seeking institutions that truly understand their needs and concerns and, as a result, are able to appropriately support them through the enrollment process. If your process leaves a prospective student with more questions than answers, your chances of capturing and retaining that enrollment can diminish greatly.

If you think you could use some support in one or more of these areas, feel free to contact us and we can talk about how we can help.

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