Understanding adult learners, like these adult college students, is critical for colleges and universities.

Understanding adult learners is a major campus priority


Understanding adult learners is more important than ever if institutions hope to succeed and thrive

Major findings about understanding adult learners

A report from EAB takes a look at how adult learners are changing the higher-ed marketplace. Key to institutional success is understanding adult learners and their needs.

1. Adult learners need a clear return on their education. Students want proof that their educational investment will result in a “substantial, positive impact on their lifestyle.”

2. Adult learners are digital consumers–with high expectations. As advanced consumer analytics and smartphones have evolved, understanding adult learners’ expectations for brand interactions has become even more important. When researching and applying to schools, they expect to be able to use digital tools quickly and easily to find relevant information and complete tasks.

3. Adult learners are extremely pragmatic. Adult learners are savvy navigators of the application process, approaching it with purpose and focus, strategically limiting the number of steps and amount of time involved.

4. Adult learners require flexible options. To ensure that they can balance school with existing personal and professional obligations, many adult learners are interested in flexible options in program format and schedule, such as online, part-time, and hybrid programs.

Related content: Are you reaching the “new normal” student?

Future implications

Once understanding adult learners becomes more clear, it’s important for higher-ed leaders to examine the implications adult learners have on their recruitment strategies.

1. Ensure that marketing effectively articulates return on education
2. Use data to better understand prospects and tailor marketing to their intent
3. Reach students early with awareness campaigns and multichannel marketing
4. Craft messaging that conveys school-life balance

Laura Ascione