Adult Learner Recruitment Guide

Published by Edu-Advisor on

We often focus on the wrong things, as recruiters, when engaging with adult prospects.  This guide will help you find and convert adult prospects into graduates that give back and support your institutions for years to come.

Your school has so many great learning activities offering opportunities to engage with prospects. Unfortunately, without a framework, it is a challenge to map every learning experience to and through every degree program. You will need a way to organize all of your learning on-ramps into a funnel structure that will engage with students, so they see their pathway to success.

Horizontal Industry Framework

Horizontal Industry Framework

The Horizontal Industry Framework (HIF) allows schools to develop clear pathways and enrollment funnels that can run sequenced communication plans that relate to the cluster activities the prospect attended or engaged with online. The HIF framework increases outreach opportunities with the right messages, and it inspires adult learners with new information about why and how to pursue full degree programs. This process also integrates certificates and other learning experiences that your campus offers into one organized, user-friendly solution.

Furthermore, the HIF allows cross-promotion of similar programs and events from different schools and divisions in a structured way. When using the HIF, you also collaborate with other institutions. The HIF organizes the information so that any prospect can see what is available and make your program part of their decision-set.

Here is the step-by-step plan to implement the HIF framework:

Step 1: Organize All Programs using the HIF

Cluster your adult learning degree programs, certificates, events, webinars, and activities into these six learning funnels using the Horizontal Industry Framework (HIF). Simplifying the learning on-ramps will help prospects understand your programming and the pathways offered to see relevant cross-related programs and experiences. If you can, organize your website using these career signal clusters.

Step 2: Personalized Communications using the HIF

Set up HIF-focused evergreen funnels that educate and connect prospective students to the learning experiences in each cluster. Use opt-in criteria and past events to qualify prospects for each of the six communication plans.

Communication Pro Tip: Stop profiling students based on age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Start exploring who your customers are on the inside. Using the HIF clusters, you will learn what motivates prospects and how to reach them on a personal level. This will make your job and their experiences more engaging and fun! You can help them find and prepare for their dream career and not just a job that pays the bills. The messages need to be simple, inspiring, and show pathways to success.

Step 3: Improve Communications Workflow and Set Automations

The Horizontal Industry Framework (HIF) is being adopted in the K12 space which will lead to enhanced communications between secondary and post-secondary institutions. The HIF expands the benefits of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to all other industries for curriculum development, social-emotional learning, and career-readiness.

The HIF is also being adopted by businesses who will use it to identify types of workers to hire. The common language that the HIF provides make the entire recruitment process more efficient and helps students find on-ramps to dream careers. Building this process for the adult learner will give your school the opportunity to pilot the HIF before considering adoption on the entire campus. Your institution will be ahead of the curve when it comes to implementation across the entire work-learn ecosystem.

Step 4: Making Degrees Fashionable Again

The number of students enrolling in degree programs is steadily declining and it will take collaboration from higher education institutions working together to fight the forces that are pushing prospective students to faster, easier, and cheaper options like certificate and badge completion. At Dream2Career, we see faster credentials as add on opportunities and we believe they should not be designed as a replacement for degree programs. Working together and structuring the user experience with the HIF will help to return degrees to a place of great honor and achievement in the minds of graduates. The HIF helps to develop happy, global citizens and not human production machines.

Overcoming Adult Learner Objections:

The Why Issue: The new concept needs to be that college is an EXPERIENCE that will change your life. You will be forever impacted by what you discover about yourself and the world around you. There is no other experience that will change you as much.

Cost Issue: I spent over $10K on a vacation for myself and my husband and that is only for one week. College is a bargain!

Undecided: I hope you were able to use this time during the pandemic to discover who you are and what you want out of life. If not, let us discuss your pathway to success. You can use the HIF here, too. Instead of telling them you have over 100 majors say, “We have learning on-ramps that lead to careers in all industries and they are organized into these six clusters”. This information is easier to consume, and the choices are not overwhelming. Once they choose a cluster, you can drill down more specifically into the major.

No Time: How many hours do you spend on social media? That is time wasted. You can use the same number of hours per week to stop feeling bad that everyone else is living the great life (which they are not) and get busy living your own life. The way I see it is, if you want to free up time you need to make yourself a priority. Education is the best way to find, prepare, and live your dream life.

Adult Learner Recruitment Phases

The Adult Learner Recruitment Phases are very different than for a traditional student who is prompted by their high school and their family constantly, over 12 years, about the need and benefits of college.

Adult learners have fears and challenges that need to be overcome before and after they decide they want to return to school. Life events: death, divorce, loss of a job or income, child leaving home, and other occurrences trigger education as an option for the adult learner. Therefore, your recruitment needs to occur at the right time, with the right message, and you must have a detailed clear pathway forward for them.

DO NOT SAY, GO CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE! Send them a direct link to your recommendation and capture their email and connect it to one of the six HIF clusters. If you don’t communicate within seconds, the window has closed for you to develop a meaningful relationship with this prospective customer, and they will likely never engage again.

  1. School Awareness
  2. Free or Low-Cost Information (Helpful advice about the industry cluster, not your school)
  3. Inclusion in Decision-Set (Benefits of Enrollment)
  4. Appealing Specific Offer: Overcome objections
  5. Program Application: Short – Offer to waive application fee
  6. Promote certificates and related HIF cluster options
  7. Ensure gainful employment upon graduation
  8. Repeat

If you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s work together to make the world a better place in learning and in life.




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