Non-traditional students need more than just a catchy sales pitch.

These potential students struggle with the financial and practical aspects of returning to school. They need clear and reliable information about the potential benefits of a particular program, and the resources the college has to help them through the process.

The most effective way to reach non traditional students is with a content marketing strategy.

Whereas typical advertisements rely on short, punchy slogans to win over potential students, content marketing provides the engaging, detailed content focused on informing students about how community college programs can help them reach their goals and improve their lives without breaking the bank.

A successful content marketing strategy for non-traditional students must focus on creating engaging content that answers the questions non-traditional students are asking when considering going back to school.

Your content should:

1. Highlight programs which lead to local jobs that pay well.

Education is a good in itself, but it’s also the way to establish a more lucrative career. Prospective non-traditional students may never have thought that college was for them, but most will be preoccupied with achieving financial stability in their lives.

Predictably, nontraditional students favor technical education, and see a close connection between what they learn and their work experience. Glossy brochures of smiling eighteen-year-old students at a campus event are unlikely to grab their attention.

Community Colleges need to highlight programs which do not take too long to complete, lead to careers in the local economy, and pay well.

2. Make non-traditional students feel at home.

Non-traditional students are already more likely to feel alienated from their peers, and often find campus unwelcoming. A study last year of at-risk, non-traditional students by Barnes & Noble College found that only 3% strongly agreed with the statement “I have friends at my school. Only 5% felt socially connected. Only 8% felt like they belonged at their school.

It’s important that your school highlight initiatives that help non-traditional students feel connected and part of the campus community. This can be achieved by getting prospective students on campus with a campus tour, and telling them more about campus life, events, and student organizations which may appeal to them.

3. Show non-traditional students the resources your college has to help them succeed.

Non-traditional students are far more likely than traditional students to be balancing multiple commitments, to family, work, and school. While this probably is the secret to their laser focus, other things in their lives will take precedence over academics sometimes.

Without flexible course offerings, student services, and financial aid they may become frustrated by the financial and emotional toll that school is taking, and drop out. Creative course offerings and support services, like childcare, can make a huge difference to completion.

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