By Published On: September 18, 2013

Adult students look different, react to different opportunities and are found in different places than traditional students. They might be a ballerina who’s looking for her career after life on stage, or a civil engineer looking for the RIGHT graduate program.

After all, non-traditional students are the driving enrollment force for U.S. colleges (a recent statistic states that 55% of all undergraduates can be defined as non-traditional*). This huge shift changes how we think about undergraduate AND graduate students.

At d.trio marketing group, we help our clients find and recruit their unique non-traditional students.

Here are ten tips from the d.trio team for successful recruitment marketing.   It’s all based on knowing your students in order to find more like them and engage them.

#1 Create a current student profile if you don’t have one. Click here for a sample.

#2 Segment your non-traditional students from your traditional undergraduate population and study their characteristics.

#3 Study your non-trad demographics as a whole – and then within specific degree programs. Remember the ballerina!

#4 Use current data, the last 3 – 5 years of admissions records, if possible.

#5 If you have 5 years+ data, create an FORMER profile and compare it with your CURRENT student to see how trends in population and higher education are affecting your institution.

#6 Update your profile(s) yearly. Create multiple profiles for individual programs or degree levels as needed.

#7 Uncover the Pyschographic elements of your profile – including AIO (activity, interest, opinion), attitudes, values, and behavior.   You can begin to gather psychographic data by building it into enrollment information or admissions surveys.   Or, plan a focus group to find out.

#8 Use the profile to build your marketing strategy.  From creative and messaging to SEO and SEM keyword development, social media or direct marketing strategies/tactics, your student profile becomes your guide to more targeted, effective recruitment marketing.

#9 Test marketing channels and tactics. Based on your student demo, you may find email and online advertising are more effective than traditional tactics. You want to contact students through the channels that they pay attention to and prefer.

#10 Test creative and messagingThen measure.  Then refine.   Remember, knowledge is power and the beauty of marketing is its tangibility.

Once you have your student profiles created, you can build more relevant marketing messages and create more effective campaigns for ongoing recruitment efforts.


*Education Department Data:


Related articles we like:

Back to the Books:  A Profile of Non-Traditional Students,

Number of the Week:  ‘Non-Traditional’ Students Are Majority on College Campuses


I hope you will call or email me with questions on this blog or suggestions for additional topics.

Victoria Hoshal


About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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