Industry Spotlight

Valuable insights from UPCEA's trusted corporate partners.

The Top 7 Ways to Recruit Professional and Continuing Education Students for Higher Education

Your future continuing education students already exist — researching and searching for your programs right now. So how can you effectively tap into the continuing education market and recruit new students for your programs? 

Mother working on laptop holding infant

Who are your future students?

According to research from Thinking Cap Agency, professional certification students are an average of 31 years old (with a third over the age of 35) and two-thirds are women. Those who are seeking professional certificates also come in with work experience, as generally they are seeking a specific degree to further their skill sets and knowledge. 

What motivates your future students to enroll in continuing education programs?

Our research has found that 70% of adult learners start looking into education options about a year before they enroll. Prospective students in accounting, the arts, computer science, or health sciences start looking into their education options six months in advance, while those in architecture, engineering, business, and journalism start looking between one and two years in advance. Schools should promote their programs well in advance of program start dates. 

One of the most important areas to understand are the triggers that motivate prospective students to advance their education. Major life changes like new jobs (or loss of one), relocation or family changes often result in people to re-evaluate their path. 

Life changes that trigger education decisions

Here are a few strategies to effectively influence your future professional certification students. 

1. Make sure your website answers adult learners’ questions

Your website is usually the first place prospective students are introduced to your school so you should be continually optimizing site content. Ensuring that your website’s copy and content reflects students’ search queries is also a key pillar of an SEO for higher education strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

2. Get creative on social media

Adult learners are using social media to get to know your school’s culture, offerings, recruitment process, and their takeaways will help them understand their overall fit with your school. Our research found that professional education students trust social media the most when it comes to researching your institution — more than print materials, tours, and third-party higher education publishers. 

3. Highlight real-world application and emerging technology

When recruiting adult learners, emphasize the relevancy of your programs. Practical and results-oriented adult learners want to see clear connection between the covered material and real-world application.

4. Offer and communicate flexibility

Offering part-time, weekend, or night courses helps to attract adult students that have additional personal or work obligations. And offering online courses, if possible for your programs, allows students to learn from wherever they might be living and take courses they may otherwise not have been able to  access.

5. Create landing pages for each individual program

Each website landing page needs to position your program based on the student persona for the program, provide all relevant information, answer prospective students’ questions, and be optimized for SEO. Make sure each page is driving quality web traffic from students researching your programs.

Example: UCLA 

Example course landing page

6. Put yourself where your prospective students are

The range of continuing education courses is broad — so effectively advertising yours has everything to do with identifying your specific student niche and showing up where they are. Find the social media, forums, websites, publications, and industry-specific channels that your prospective students are reading and advertise there.

7. Use data to your advantage

Effectively utilizing the wealth of data available about your prospective students is the key to creating and optimizing a recruitment strategy that drives student leads and increases enrollments. 

Want to learn more about how to recruit your future students? Download our free ebook full of cutting-edge research.

Download enrollment marketing secrets ebook.


About Tim Gerstmyer, President of Thinking Cap Agency

At Thinking Cap Agency, we leverage our proprietary research on exactly what makes your future students tick — who they are, where they are, and what motivates them. As the leading data-driven enrollment marketing agency for higher education, we can turn your prospective students into your future students. 





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