Commanding the Current Market: Traditional Students

Career Outcomes: The Key to Effective Enrollment Marketing is a six-part blog series that explains how postsecondary institutions can use career outcomes to bolster enrollment, increase retention, and help graduates get on the path to career success. New to the series? Find Part 1 here.

While working adults – such as skeptical enrolleesaspiring career changers, and directionless drifters – represent what EAB calls “the next growth opportunity” for higher education, that doesn’t mean postsecondary institutions should disregard their younger counterpart, the traditional student.  

The good news is that the same career outcomes data that help convince working adults to enroll also help to attract, retain, and guide today’s traditional students. 

Most Young Enrollees Are Both Traditional Students and Working Learners 

A recent report estimated that 61% of all students currently enrolled in postsecondary education are in the traditional 18–24 age range. The NCES projects that, even as far out as 2026, traditional-aged students will still make up 60% of total postsecondary enrollment.   

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center 

However, today’s young student acts differently than they did a few decades ago. A massive survey of 137,000 first-time, full-time postsecondary students revealed that most were working while enrolled, with one in ten working more than 20 hours per week. This means today’s “traditional student” (by age) is likely also a “working learner” (by employment status).  

Source: The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2016 by CIRP 

Using Career Outcomes to Attract Traditional Students 

Given this workforce experience, it’s no surprise that these students think a lot about their career path – especially as today’s job market requires more education than ever before, with two-thirds of all jobs now requiring at least some higher education 

The student survey revealed that the No. 1 reason for attending college was to get a better job, which was identified as “very important” by 85% of students. Many already had a particular career goal in mind, with 78% indicating that getting training for a specific career influenced their decision to enroll. Earning potential was also important, with the ability to make more money identified as a key reason by 73% of those surveyed.  

Once a student has decided to enroll in higher education, career goals continue to guide them as they decide which institution to choose. When postsecondary students were asked why they had enrolled at a particular institution, their No. 2 reason was because they’d heard that graduates from the institution got good jobs. This came second only to an institution’s academic
reputation. The survey found good jobs ranked higher than cost, financial assistance, social and extracurricular activities, location, and size when it came to choosing an institution.

Source: The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2016 by CIRP 

As these prospective students shop around for the right fit (82% of those surveyed apply to three or more places), how can your institution stand out from the rest and prove its programs lead to career success? 

Career outcomes data are crucial in this decision-making process. Using program-to-career and career-to-program alignments, postsecondary institutions can clearly illustrate how their programs lead to the good jobs that prospective students are looking for. When those alignments are built using the high-quality, real-time data from Career Insight™ by Burning Glass Technologies, they show so much more than broad paths to general job categories: Career Insight reveals how specific programs prepare students for real career paths in their area, along with critical information like salaries, job openings, and projected growth. 

Using Career Outcomes to Retain Current Students 

Once a student has enrolled at an institution, there is no guarantee they will stay. More than one-third of all postsecondary students transfer at some point. In addition, incoming transfer students from other institutions are important for meeting enrollment goals for the majority of postsecondary institutions.  

How can your institution prevent current students from transferring away and attract transfer students from other institutions? 

One survey of transfer students found the type of assistance they most want from their new institution was help with identifying “work experiences or internships related to my major.” While 71% wanted help with this kind of career planning, a mere 23% said they’d received such assistance from their previous institution. This outranked wanting help with finding ways to finance their education (59%), tutoring (45%), or selecting a program or major (34%).  

The Attitudes of College Transfer Students by Noel-Levitz Research 

With Career Insight, counselors and other student support staff can provide the rich career insights that postsecondary students are craving. The real-time information from the Burning Glass Technologies database – the world’s largest and most sophisticated jobs and talent database – helps counselors show how a specific major connects to real-world career opportunities. Counselors can further use Career Insight to help students select courses or set goals, such as learning an in-demand skill, to further grow their job prospects, plus explore whether or not a desired career is a realistic outcome given the student’s program, the local labor market, and more. 

If students are leaving institutions because they’re not getting the career support they need – and choosing new institutions based on the career services they offer – then Career Insight is your solution for keeping current students while attracting new transfer students. 

Using Career Outcomes to Guide Graduates to Career Success 

While getting a good job may be the reason most students enroll in higher education, a large number of postsecondary students struggle with underemployment and student debt after graduation. 

Postsecondary institutions can set up students for success after graduation by arming them with critical information about the local labor market. For example, program-to-career alignments can help graduates pinpoint the occupations they’re most qualified for and the positions they should be looking for when applying for jobs.  

The best labor market data is constantly updated, geographically specific, and highly detailed. Career Insight provides real-time data that reflects how the labor market looks today (not months or years ago), in a specific location (not nationally), and with granular information (not general trends).  

How does Career Insight work? Schedule your personal demo today.

Ready to start leveraging career outcomes to strengthen enrollment, retention, and graduate employment rates, but not sure how to begin? Burning Glass Technologies is here to help. In the last post in this series, we provide clear action steps and ample resources to get you started. 

Next Post: Action Steps for Implementing a Career Outcomes Marketing Approach >>

Enjoying the series?

Sign up now to be the first to receive our upcoming eBook Career Outcomes: The Key to Effective Enrollment Marketing – This complimentary eBook will explain how you can enroll more working learners and traditional students by showing them career outcomes associated with your programs. Plus, it will include bonus content not featured in our blog series!
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