Marketing to Non-Traditional Students: Everything You Should Know

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Understanding the demographics of non-traditional students is crucial for successful marketing efforts. Today, marketing to non-traditional students are more likely to seek personal interactions with an educational institution, and the preferred method of engagement is often email, phone, chat, and in-person interactions. Compared to traditional students, professional graduate students are less concerned with the student experience overall, and more interested in the quality of the online experience. Therefore, marketing to them should be transparent and multifaceted.

Challenges In Marketing To Non-Traditional Students

As the number of traditional college students decreases, marketers are faced with a new set of challenges: marketing to nontraditional students. While many of these students resemble their traditional counterparts – they live on campus, rely on their parents for financial aid, and take classes full time – these individuals bring with them a new set of challenges, as well. These students may be difficult to target, but marketers need to develop strategies to address their specific pain points and build a marketing plan to appeal to this diverse group.

For example, non-traditional students don’t typically have short attention spans. Often, they’ve been considering enrolling for a long time. But obstacles can prevent them from making the final decision to enroll. This type of student needs nurturing and personalized communications. Below are some tips for marketing to non-traditional students. But remember: there are several common mistakes that marketers make when marketing to non-traditional students.

  • Firstly, marketers must recognize that non-traditional students value higher education. The results of a recent study from the Thinking Cap and UPCEA found that non-traditional students see higher education as a worthwhile investment.

However, marketing to non-traditional students requires understanding the specific pain points of non-traditional students. For example, they balance work and school life. In addition to working full time, many non-traditional students also have responsibilities for their children.

When marketing to non-traditional students, you must keep in mind that the majority of these students are working adults who have had children and have no formal education. As a result, non-traditional students may have a more difficult time completing a formal education because they are employed full-time. By leveraging the internet and online tools, institutions can cater to these students’ specific needs. If the information is personalized, the chances of them enrolling are much higher.

Marketing to non-traditional students requires a different approach than marketing to traditional students. In addition to collaborating with other departments, the institution should develop a committee to evaluate its program. During the review process, they should ask prospective students about the program and its availability. Using social media, such social media can help non-traditional students feel welcome and comfortable. By using social media, they can share their enthusiasm for the educational pursuit.

Platforms For Marketing To Non-Traditional Students

In an age when more adults are attending college and pursuing higher education, institutions must adapt their marketing strategies to appeal to this growing group of potential students. As a result, implementing the following strategies can help institutions reach these prospective students.

  • Consider using social media to reach this demographic. Social media platforms are increasingly popular with people of all ages. A social media campaign targeting a traditional student audience will be different from that of a student who has interrupted their education and is returning to achieve their career goals. To get an idea of which platforms best suit these students, consult Pew’s “Social Media Use in 2021” chart. If you target this demographic, you may want to try using Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit.

Consider creating student personas based on the demographic data collected by colleges. These personas give marketers a proxy target of prospective students. While every college and school has its own set of demographics, creating a student profile for a non-traditional audience can help you create an appropriate strategy to attract and retain these students. Ensure that you personalize your messaging to meet the unique needs of these students.

Demographics Of Non-Traditional Students

Recent studies have shown that more students are seeking higher education after their military service. These students often have children and must balance family and work responsibilities, in addition to schoolwork. Another important consideration is transportation. Many students who are working also must manage finances. These factors can make it difficult to continue your education. The demographics of non-traditional students may be surprising to you. Here are some facts about these students.

85% of undergraduates today are nontraditional students. This group comprises students with jobs, children, and age restrictions. The characteristics that are most common among non-traditional students include being female, having young children, and working two or more jobs to support a family. Moreover, non-traditional students are likely to be low-income and/or have children. Thus, a non-traditional student’s background may differ significantly from the demographics of traditional students.

While the numbers are impressive, the demographics of non-traditional students can be confusing. The first is the size of the population. In 2010, 5.7 million students were enrolled in college or graduate school. Twenty-seven percent of college students were non-white. (For more info, visit this link: However, these numbers are misleading because the data collected from some institutions are based on standard binary gender definitions. Additionally, some data may be inaccurate or outdated.

Another important fact about non-traditional students is their age. Many of them are over twenty and have multiple obligations outside of school. They may have been out of school for a while or have children. Regardless of age, their commitment to higher education makes them a valuable asset to any college or university. Moreover, their diverse background and varied experiences make them an important demographic group to consider. And, as the percentage of non-traditional students increases, they can help you attract more students and increase your chances of attracting more applicants.

  • While fewer than one-third of post-traditional students complete a four-year college degree, a large portion of these students has dependent children. This means that 78 percent of students who are unmarried, or married, also have children. This group is disproportionately female, with more Black and Latino female students enrolled in college as student parents. The rate of non-resident non-citizen students increased 149 percent in a decade and 46.1% over the last five years.
Transparency Is Key In This Type Of Marketing -
Transparency Is Key In This Type Of Marketing – Photo by Courtney Wentz on Unsplash

Transparency Is Key In This Type Of Marketing

Marketing to students of all ages requires brand transparency. Despite what your marketing message may say, this demographic is eager for authentic brands that are honest and open. The best way to engage this segment of the population is to be transparent about all of your business practices. Moreover, this type of communication will inspire trust in your consumers. Transparency is a key element of brand trust and loyalty.

  • People want transparency.
  • Be upfront and honest in your communication with your stakeholders.
  • This means attending meetings and acknowledging emails from stakeholders.
  • Be transparent with your brand messaging. Make it clear what your products and services are and why they are valuable.
  • Transparency will make your brand stand out in the eyes of your target audience. You can start by identifying the differences between traditional students and non-traditional students. Make sure your message addresses the interests and preferences of non-traditional students.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you attract non-traditional students?

While traditional-style college marketing tactics often work, they often don’t work for non-traditional students. Non-traditional students have different needs and are unlikely to enroll without the strong support and a good fit for the institution. Consequently, attracting them requires a customized approach to your marketing. Listed below are tips for attracting non-traditional students. – Don’t assume they’ll be satisfied with your marketing efforts.

The first step is to understand your non-traditional student demographic. This group may not identify themselves as such, but they share many of the same challenges and struggles as traditional students. Often, they feel unwelcome and abnormal, which is another reason to collaborate with others. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and save your work. Also, avoid using dated, outdated information. Lastly, don’t overcomplicate your forms. A dated design can put off non-traditional students.

Make your marketing messages relevant to the non-traditional student’s life stage. Aim to target non-traditional students by focusing on their experiences outside of school. Many non-traditional students have real-world experience. Highlight these on your application and highlight the skills and knowledge that they have gained from these experiences. Use these experiences to build on your course materials. Relay information from the world to your students through class discussions.

Identify what they need. These students often have more life experience and have a difficult time attending traditional colleges and universities. They want to switch careers or advance in their current employment. However, many barriers may prevent them from enrolling in your school. You must nurture these students to make them feel welcomed and reassured in your institution. So, what do you need to do to attract non-traditional students?

Segment your messages. While traditional students might appeal to high school leavers, the number of non-traditional learners is growing. A study by Higher Learning Advocates revealed that 37 percent of today’s college students are older than 25. By segmenting promotional messages, universities can better cater to the growing group of non-traditional students.

How do I market my adult students?

  • While traditional students may have a more traditional website, you should make sure your site is tailored to non-traditional adult students, too.
  • The content you choose to present to these students should appeal to their needs, and they should be directed to factual and personal messaging.

You can improve your search engine optimization by hiring a professional. You can also include articles, blog posts, and videos that highlight the experiences of current non-traditional students.

As more adults over 25 are enrolling in graduate and undergraduate programs, it is imperative to understand these students’ needs and desires. This type of student is likely to have strong support for the institution and is a good fit for their needs. Therefore, you should focus your campaigns on them and try to make them as appealing as possible. While they might not respond well to traditional engagement techniques, non-traditional students are highly likely to find your institution appealing if you understand their needs and goals.

Understanding the unique characteristics of non-traditional students can be challenging, but if you are willing to take the time to learn more about them, you will be able to attract them to your institution. Whether you want to attract non-traditional students, reach out to them by modifying your marketing approach. It will pay off. So what do I need to do to reach non-traditional adult students? There are many advantages to doing so.

What is an example of a non-traditional student?

A non-traditional student is a student who doesn’t meet any of the traditional definitions of a college student. Nontraditional students are typically over 24, have children, and/or have jobs outside of school. These students often have to balance family and financial obligations, as well as school work and transportation. Many students don’t even consider themselves “nontraditional” until they reach their final year of high school.

A non-traditional student is a person with life experience who goes to college to advance in their profession or change careers. They are mainly focused on earning a degree, and see the diploma as the tangible proof of their hard work. Nontraditional students typically don’t value the traditional college experience, but rather the opportunity to connect with other students who have similar lifestyles and priorities. The following are some examples of non-traditional students.

Students in this category are most likely to be in the middle of a career transition. Changes in the job market or economy have prompted them to change careers. They may not wish to leave their current career, but higher education can help them prepare for a new job. Moreover, older adults may benefit from extra training or credentials. Besides, many retired adults are seeking to learn new skills, improve their skills, and broaden their horizons.

Non-traditional students also include students who have a gap year or have taken a GED. Usually, people won’t think much of these things if they are minor. A minor delay in high school education may not be considered a big deal, but an untraditional student might be facing similar time constraints and financial burdens. Some other nontraditional students include those who have a GED and are enrolled in college part-time.

In contrast, more than half of college students from the United Kingdom are over 25 years old.

Non-traditional students in the United States, United Kingdom, and selected OECD countries are over 25 years old on average. By 2026, they are expected to make up 13.3 million college students.

What is the best way to market to students?

Marketing to students is not as easy as it may seem, but there are some ways to find your target audience and tap into their interests. First, explore the campus for opportunities to advertise. Then, research the student body to see what types of experiences will appeal to them. If your products are geared towards young adults, consider using compostable packaging. Finally, think about the tone of engagement and timing of your messages.

  1. Free merchandise is another great way to attract college students. Free items are always appealing to students, and if they can get free food, they are more likely to become loyal to your product. Similarly, targeted social media ads are a good way to market to students. This generation loves social media, and they are glued to their mobile devices. In addition, the majority of college students use social media sites to keep in touch with friends.
  2. In addition to social media, marketers should print ads in campus papers. Campus newspapers are read by 72 to 80 percent of college students. This makes campus papers a more effective way to reach your target audience. Students are also often limited by funds, so they look for businesses that offer discounts and special deals. To attract the attention of college students, advertise a special offer or discount for those on campus. This way, you can win their loyalty and build trust with them.
  3. Another effective way to market to students is to feature high-profile alumni. These are similar to influencer marketing and feature well-known graduates promoting your school. Most institutions have famous alumni who can endorse them on television and in online ads. The employment track record of past alumni is an important factor for prospective students. Highlighting their successes and achievements will attract more new students. It is also a good way to get current students to check out your school.

Lastly, students spend a lot of time on social media. You must devote time to developing your brand on one platform and find a way to sell to students. This is called omnichannel marketing. If you’re looking to target college students, make sure you consider all these factors. The best way to market to students is to learn as much as you can about their preferences. Once you understand their habits, you can create a marketing strategy that reflects them.