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The Rising Demand for Adult Learning Opportunities

Aug 3, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Accomplishments are not bound to any age and the steady rise in adult learning enrollment has been a witness. Many non-traditional higher education schools are starting to create new opportunities that can expand learning for adults and help them maximize their talents in any area of their interest. However, for non-traditional schools to increase adult enrollment, factors that are important when aspiring students are considering a college or university for an undergraduate degree must be examined as well as the competition with other non-traditional and traditional schools. With the landscape of education changing due to COVID, how is this demand driving adult learning enrollment?

Currently, the adult learner market is attempting to discover effective ways on how to attract, recruit, and support a diverse student population. EAB, formerly the Education Advisory Board, found that the number of students aged 25-34 is projected to have twice as much growth in master’s degree enrollment than bachelor’s by 2022, increasing by 21 percentage points. This rapid growth is already showing in degree programs such as graduate online courses in MBA, MSA, and MSW. Additionally, community colleges are seeing major enrollment declines among adult learners because of increased competition from four-year colleges and for-profit institutions. Potential students are searching for online graduate programs at higher rates than they were less than a decade ago, showing more interest in what adult degree programs can offer.

With an increase in interest for adult learning programs, there is also an increase in other areas that prospective students deem as important factors for deciding where to attend school based on what is offered. Some factors for adult undergraduate and graduate degree seekers include program availability, financial aid/scholarship availability, affordability, and excellent academic reputation. When compared to key competitors, prospective students who decide to attend another university look for the same factors as above when looking at other universities. Factors such as affordability, highly ranked degrees, and family/friends’ recommendations are some of the needs that are commonly unmet in both the undergraduate and graduate degree seeking criteria as well as with its key competitors but could be met with improvement.

Knowing that there is an increase for adult learning programs – and online programs in general – and understanding the factors that are driving prospective students to pick their top schools compared to its competitors, universities can take immediate actions, make improvements, and drive enrollment for their school based on the demand.

Vennli works with higher education customers to better understand how and why existing and prospective students make educational decisions so that they can create brand awareness. Learn how Vennli helped a postsecondary education client increase enrollment by 175% by identifying different categories within potential students on our Higher Education page.

Lauryn Hill
Written by Lauryn Hill

Research Analyst, with 6+ years of professional experience.

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