Need to Recruit More Adult Learners?

Persona hero image from our Adult Learners website. "The Seeker", woman illustrated like a comics hero.

How to focus your marketing efforts on these four personas.

We recently concluded a comprehensive, data-driven research study on the U.S. adult-learner population with an eye toward capturing this massive segment of non-traditional students—approximately 95 million. While that number represents a huge opportunity for higher education, it also presents a tremendous challenge.

At a high level, it helps to put a face to an audience that is often thought of as very monolithic

Our online survey dug deeply into why adults decide to re-enroll in college or not, and probed on the expected outcomes or motivations for wanting to earn a degree. We also looked at the emotional aspects of the college search that might be preventing adults from applying.

Through this research we developed A Guide to Recruiting Adult Learners, which identifies and outlines four adult learner “personas” that are critical for recruiting non-traditional students. This research-intensive study helps colleges better understand adult students and their specific characteristics and nuances.

Four personas of adult learners.

  1. Reinventors: Interested in prestige, are exploring several career options, want part-time programs that are mostly online
  2. Scholars: Interested in the traditional academic experience, very certain of their career path, want full-time and on-campus programs
  3. Change makers: Interested in customizing their education, want emotional benefits, uninterested in prestige
  4. Seekers: Interested in a pathway to a job, want emotional benefits, more likely to feel stressed

The four personas above were enhanced with media and behavioral data mined from the Simmons National Consumer Survey.

Our insights also led to the development of specific marketing implications for each of the four adult learner personas. As Inside Higher Ed points out, colleges can now leverage these marketing best practices when crafting recruiting campaigns targeting adult learners.

More thought leadership from Lipman Hearne

What We Can Learn From Megadonors

Image text: The Strategist. Bold line illustration of a woman gazing confidently into the middle distance.

A toolkit for enriching donor communications. We’ve been hard at work finding new ways to listen to donors, especially donors …


Mining an Untapped Prospect Pool

A guide to recruiting LatinX learners.

A deep dive into the fastest-growing segment in higher education: Latinx Learners. What do we really know about Latinx students—the …