Recapturing Adult Learner Enrollments

Strategies to recruit students through employer partnerships

This study examines how colleges can recruit adult learners by removing barriers to enrollment, aligning program options with career goals, and facilitating the hiring process for graduates.

Recapturing Adult Learner Enrollments

Since the height of the Great Recession, community colleges nationwide have seen substantial enrollment declines among students age 25 and older. Although adult learners commonly leave college during economic recoveries, this decline is more than just a cyclical trend—it also reflects growing enrollment competition from for-profit and four-year universities.

Adult learners may value the convenience of for-profit institutions and the brand of four-year universities, but career relevance ultimately guides their college choice. Within this context, community colleges' greatest assets are their employer partnerships. This study examines how colleges can leverage these partnerships to recruit adult learners who seek to advance or reboot their careers.

Download the full study or explore the table of contents below to discover 11 best practices to help you recapture adult learner enrollments.

What deters adult learners from enrolling?

Many adult learners do not return to college despite the professional advantages that further education can confer. Some of these potential students face financial, administrative, and psychological barriers to enrollment. Others find that available program options do not align with their career goals—or duplicate content they’ve already mastered on the job. Even unemployed and underemployed workers may hesitate to invest in training because they are uncertain whether it will benefit their job search.

These 11 practices will teach you to remove barriers that prevent adult learners from enrolling at your institution.

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