For some states, college dropouts are an untapped recruitment pool
- Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana are reaching out to former college students who may have amassed enough credits to be near degree completion, asking them to come back to college, according to the Hechinger Report.
- Mississippi's Complete 2 Compete program uses traditional and digital marketing campaigns to encourage working adults to resume their studies in an effort to boost their chances at higher earnings. Tracking down former students can be challenging, so Tennessee has bought billboard ads and advertises on television and radio to engage students to return to college. It also deploys “reconnect ambassadors” to aid adult learners in completing registration and financial aid processes, and helping students to find resources for child care and to help satisfy existing debts.
- According to the Hechinger Report, 35 million adults over the age of 25 have completed some college credits without having earned a degree. Many of these students have exhausted their eligibility for Pell grants or are in default on students loans.
As working adults comprise more than 40% of the nation's total student population, most institutions recognize the need to boost enrollment by looking beyond traditional student pools. The targeting of adult learners is a notion spreading beyond recruitment practices, but into areas of research and investment from private foundations like Strada.
Recruitment efforts are also moving beyond non-completers; institutions including Stanford and Harvard universities are offering fellowships to older students looking to develop second careers while learning alongside traditional undergraduate students. These programs will soon become a blueprint for institutions of all types, working to meet workforce development demands and to help in forging a more educated, self-sustaining adult population.
But to make these programs possible, some campuses may want to look towards examples of institutions which have raised funds and investments for direct outreach to non-traditional students. The SUNY system is an example of how community colleges can create professional training pipelines with corporate partners while meeting students' needs for flexibility and affordability in accessing these hybrid learning and working programs.
- Hechinger Report States use direct mail, money, to get more of their residents back to college
- Education Dive Some colleges see online programs as a way to stay afloat
- Education Dive Strada invests $15 million to study adult learners
- Education Dive Institutions target baby boomers with hefty tuition fellowship program
- Education Dive Faced with skills gap, employers partner with community colleges