Last week’s blog post was about the rise of the Some College, No Degree (SCND) population who are returning to school. In the next three years, these non-traditional students are projected to double the enrollment growth of traditional student pools.
Let’s make sure your institution is poised to attract this new wave of students. It will require some significant changes in the way you do business and the student support services you make available. It will require that you and your colleagues be a bit more nimble than you’ve been in the past.
The concept of opening the doors to, and being more supportive of, non-traditional students is often well received by administrators. You already have some of them on campus. How hard could it be to expand this population?
From experience: internal discussions become challenging when you get to the implementation phases of the plan. The program offerings and student services available to this population need to be different than what you are doing now. And the marketing to this population takes some new thought and planning. It is not the same as reaching your traditional student market.
Week 2 in our three-part series – we are going to look at the most promising group within the SCND population—Potential Completers. Read on to find out what makes these students different and what you can do to attract them to your institution.
For those of you heading to Miami for AIRC and ICEF, we are excited to see you there. We’ll be sharing our latest data analysis on:
- International high school student mobility (data from 167 schools analyzed)
- African and Latin American international student influencers and motivators (12K+ student survey responses analyzed)
- International student interactions with artificial intelligence and chatbots (180K+ interactions analyzed)
- International student interactions with peer-to-peer platforms (200K+ interactions analyzed)
Phew!! That’s a lot of data!!! Hope to see you there. Drop us an email if you’d like to catch a cup of coffee together: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is today’s non-traditional student?
Back to that “Some College, No Degree” (SCND) report on 36 million Americans who may want to find career advancement through your institution…let’s consider perspectives to help you evaluate the opportunities at your institution.
The median age is 39. The majority left college when they were in their twenties or younger and within the first two years of their study. Half of them are women, and the vast majority only attended one institution.
Who is a “Potential Completer”?
Of the SCND population detailed in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, there are some who are more likely candidates as returning non-traditional students. Of the 36 million total in the US, 10% are deemed Potential Completers, and they had at least two years’ worth of academic progress. They are just shy of a two-year credential and half-way to a four-year degree. They re-enroll at a rate of 24%, versus the 9% of those who completed only a single term.
- 58% are under 30
- 51% are women
- 47% are racial/ethnic minorities
- 53% first enrolled in community college
- 4 years since (median) last enrollment
As reported by Inside Higher Ed, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Executive Director Doug Shapiro said, “This is a population that’s been written off. Imagine what we could do as a nation if we really focused on these students.”
And imagine how your enrollment and your campus would be transformed as your student diversity took on these amazing, experienced and career-driven individuals.
How do you attract them?
Your marketing must communicate that you understand and serve the unique needs of these students who are balancing other factors (children, jobs, aging parents, etc.).
Think about what you can build to support non-traditional student success:
- Quality is essential
- Can you demonstrate that others like them have achieved greater success by enrolling in your programs?
- Do you have the programs that will further their career ambitions?
- Cost is critical:
- Do you have appropriate and flexible financial aid and payment options?
- Can you support student communications/negotiations with their employers to make the process work financially?
- Convenience is key:
- Off hours help is essential. Can your student services (registrar, etc.) offer evening hours by phone, on campus, via skype?
- Do you have adequate parking for commuters?
- Are there dining options for students without meal plans?
- Is there childcare on campus?
- Are faculty office hours and class times convenient for students working full-time? Are there multiple class times to choose from?
- Are there part-time options?
- Do you offer flexibility in terms of length of time to degree completion?
- How much of the education and support can be offered online?
Potential Completers must see in your marketing that you understand and serve their unique needs. These students will be juggling different responsibilities, and they need to know you are flexible. They are looking at quality, cost and convenience.
This is barely the tip of the iceberg. For more specific tips, check out our free e-book—Quality. Cost. Convenience. In it, you will discover innovative strategies to position your institution to effectively attract and retain these non-traditional students. Our extended version available to Intead Plus members, offering concrete marketing tactics and recruitment strategies, student personas, and market segmentation. If you are going into this market, you will want a partner able to help you target your marketing budget to those activities that will have the greatest return.
That’s us. Helping you be nimble.
Don’t just take our word for it, though.
Dr. David L. Di Maria, Associate Vice Provost for International Education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said, “This must-read primer will help anyone looking to better position their institution within today’s complex and competitive recruitment landscape. Read this publication, share it with your colleagues and then apply its insights to your marketing strategy. Non-traditional is quickly becoming the new traditional. This is your guide to adapting to the new competitive environment.”
Join us next week as we talk about “re-enrollers” within the scope of the Some College, No Degree population.