Driving Adult Enrollments: Five Factors that Attract Working ProfessionalsHelen Sabell | Chief Executive Officer and Principal, The College for Adult Learning
In an age of unrelenting technological and social advancements, it is crucial for working professionals to maintain relevant industry knowledge and practices. Adult training is an excellent solution for individuals who would like to excel at their career, expand their skillset and open their ways of thinking.
There are many adult education courses available to mature students. So, how do they choose the right course for them? As non-traditional students, their values can be varied. In order to attract the best working professionals, postsecondary institutions will need to drive these key factors:
Returning to study can be intimidating for many adult learners. This is why it is important to remove communication barriers that may make the process more difficult. Delivering information in a simple and succinct fashion will help make students feel more at ease and alleviate the pressures of studying.
This means making sure all program staff and faculty employ an “open door policy” and are responsive to any queries that students may have. Learning facilitators are usually the first point of contact adult learners prefer to make, so it’s important to emphasize that they will have a constant stream of communication with their educator and plenty of learning support.
You may also create online discussion boards for students so that they are able to address each other’s questions and work collaboratively. Often, adult learners prefer to work with other students their own age. It can be useful to create a study group or discussion board tailored specifically for this.
Flexible Learning Structures
Working professionals often have to structure their study lives around their other commitments. To deliver effective adult training, postsecondary institutions must create programs that can be completed alongside other commitments such as full-time work and families. This means incorporating options such as deferring semesters so that the student has full control over the course of their learning.
It is crucial that assignments are clearly scheduled and faculty are open to working with students in order to work through any obstacles that may come in the way of completing their work. Flexible delivery of learning—through mechanisms like online videos and quizzes—can also be an excellent selling point to working professionals.
Decreasing contact hours and increasing online resources is the best way to create flexibility within your program. Having program staff frequently checking in with students will also help to monitor their progress and keep lines of communication open.
Adult education courses must take into account that some students may return to study with no knowledge of the area they are entering into. There may also be adult students who have not completed their high school education. It is important to cater to these groups and create programs that help get them to where they want to be.
Some postsecondary institutions offer students the chance to complete their high school education and gain immediate entry into their desired course. They may also offer students the opportunity to complete a bridging course to build the fundamental skills they need to be successful in completing their qualification. This helps to open up options for those seeking to undertake adult training but have had prior learning barriers.
Most adult learners will return to study with the intention of completing their qualification as quickly as possible and returning to the workforce. Postsecondary institutions that offer such pathways tend to attract more working professionals as they deliver the required knowledge and help students achieve their goals in the shortest amount of time possible.
Bachelor’s degree programs usually take a number of years to complete which is why they are an unattractive option for adult learners. Offering accelerated programs will help your postsecondary institution attract more students and increase retention rates. Institutions who offer winter and summer semesters are also quicker to attract working professionals as they allow students to utilize all their free time.
The financial responsibilities of an adult learner are far more than a young learner. It is important for postsecondary students to take this into account and create programs that are affordable for adult students. Adult education institutions that offer scholarships or payment programs provide a much more appealing financial option for adult learners so it is important to incorporate this is some way.
Often the first question working professionals ask is how much the program will cost in total. A good way to attract potential postsecondary students is to emphasize the advantages of completing a qualification and the subsequent likelihood of employment. Institutions who also offer opportunities to network with professionals in the field or direct pathways into employment are also highly regarded.
Creating programs structured for adult learners can be a challenge as they have a set of needs that must be considered. It is important for postsecondary institutions to deliver programs that work around the commitments of adult learners and allow them to complete their studies in a reasonable amount of time. This will ensure that working professionals choose your institution.
Author Perspective: Administrator