From Outreach to Enrollment: Strategies to Engage Adults in Education Beyond High School

From Outreach to Enrollment: Strategies to Engage Adults in Education Beyond High School

Published: May 12, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica
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Associated Project

Evaluating Adult Promise: How States Support Adult Learners in Postsecondary Education

Time frame: 2017 - 2021

Prepared for:

Lumina Foundation

Key Findings
  • States and institutions should recognize that using appropriate messages is critical to engaging with adult learners because their priorities often differ from those of students enrolling in higher education programs directly after high school.
  • Adult learners often need more high-touch approaches such as the support of navigators to guide them through the enrollment and financial aid process, as well as additional support once they are engaged with an institution.
  • Online tools can help engage prospective adults and make enrollment convenient and efficient, given many adult learners are often balancing work and family demands with education.

Almost all states across the country have estab­lished ambitious college completion goals for their population. Most states’ goals emphasize achieving specific target rates and types of post-high school credentials required to address their workforce needs and improve people’s ability to thrive in a changing economy. Adult learners, that is, students ages 25 to 64, play a key role in reach­ing these goals. However, engaging these prospective students requires innovative marketing, outreach, and enrollment strategies because adult learners often have work and family demands that traditional students enrolling in higher education programs after high school do not have to balance.

This brief examines the marketing, outreach, and enrollment strategies that states with Adult Promise grants have used to engage and enroll adult learners in their respective higher education programs. The key takeaways that Mathematica presents provide states and institutions with new insights for engaging and reengaging adults in higher education.

Mathematica serves as the learning and evaluation partner for Lumina Foundation’s Adult Promise initiative, which provided multiyear state grants to engage and support adult learners in postsecondary education programs since its launch in 2017.

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