Why Are Non-Traditional Students So Important?

There are currently 8.2 million college students aged 25 or older in the U.S. This is not only a significant portion of the student population but also an area that has been rapidly growing. We’ve seen a 35 percent increase in the number of college students aged 25 to 34 from 2001 to 2015. This group, commonly referred to as the non-traditional adult learner, isn’t following the typical track of pursuing post-secondary education subsequent to completing high school, and includes individuals ranging from the early 20s to retirement age

In our preliminary research, we found that there is a confidence gap that holds many of these students back from returning to school. We knew this was something we had to learn more about and decided to undertake a research project, which resulted in this white paper.


Download The Whitepaper


What Can You Expect From
The White Paper?

Our goal was to uncover the factors influencing the confidence gap that exists among non-traditional adult learners and how higher education marketers can communicate with this growing student population in a more meaningful way in a post-COVID-19 world. Areas you’ll see covered in the white paper include:

  • 6 Actionable Insights About Unique Students Motivations & Barriers
  • 4 Key Personas For Your Marketing Team
  • Quotes From Real Students Considering A Return To School

Actionable Insights About
Prospective Students

Whether you already have an in-depth understanding of this audience, or if this is an emerging audience that you are just now going to consider pursuing, there is something for you in our research. Some of our research findings validated previously held assumptions we had about these students, while other findings helped us realize this is an education marketing trend and audience that is largely underserved. You can expect insights in areas including:

  • Motivations & Barriers Of These Unique Students
  • Types of Marketing That Most Resonates
  • Analysis Of Student Demographic Trends

Share Insights With Your Team 

Whether you are in Marketing, Admissions, or the Office of the President there is insight in our research that can apply to your efforts in a post-COVID-19 world.


4 Personas For Higher Education Marketing

To better understand the non-traditional adult learner, four main personas were derived from the research findings. Although the makeup of the non-traditional adult learner is far more nuanced than these four personas alone, the insights drawn from each informs the claim that marketing to such a student requires a targeted messaging approach that speaks to the individual and his or her certain pain points. The four personas in which these non-traditional adult learners can be categorized are:

  • Military Affiliated
  • Job-Ladder Climber
  • Career Switcher
  • Person with Unfinished Business
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Opportunities Exist For
A Variety Of Schools

Because the non-traditional adult learner is comprised of such a diverse student base, this report can provide actionable insights for a variety of schools and programs. Whether you are a vocational school or an online university offering master’s degrees, there is something in it for you. Some of the types of schools we believe can use the findings include:

  • Online Colleges & Universities
  • Trade Schools & Vocational Programs
  • Public Colleges & Universities
  • Private Colleges & Universities
  • Community Colleges & Junior Colleges
  • Postgraduate Programs

If you are actively looking for a marketing or digital partner, you can learn more about our capabilities as a leading higher education marketing agency.

White Paper Download


"I wanted to thank you for the great relationship between LT and NCU over the last several years. I appreciate all the great work that has been done. We are in a better place because of LT!"

Michael Tolmie, Managing Director of Marketing
Northcentral University