Does Your Institution Provide What Online Students Really Want?

As COVID-19 continues to impact college enrollment, higher-ed recruitment and admissions leaders are looking for ways to stabilize and grow their online program enrollment. The challenge is that students considering online degree programs have very different goals and needs than a traditional student. 


Can you identify some of the top priorities for online higher education candidates? Ask yourself whether prospective online students care that:

  • Your institution’s programs or instructors are better than those at other schools?
  • Your institution is highly respected or hard to get into? 
  • Their program of interest has received many accolades?
  • Your institution is known as a leader in academic, cultural and philanthropic matters?
  • Your campus/dorms/food/sports are terrific?


And the answer is…none of the above. These are all important considerations for traditional college students who arrive on campus straight out of high school — and their parents. However, students considering online program enrollment have concerns and constraints that are drastically different. 

Traditional undergraduate enrollment focuses on students aged 16-18. These students care about college reputations, location, campus life, dining and housing options, sports and extracurricular activities. Students interested in online degree enrollment, on the other hand, are typically adults, aged 28-45, who work full time and have families to support. They need programs that fit into their lives, increase their competitiveness in the job market, and will result in higher-earning jobs. 

We have worked with thousands of these prospective online students, and they all ask the following questions, in this order of importance: 

  1. How much will this degree cost?
  2. Will I be accepted or are there requirements I need to fulfill? 
  3. How long will it take to complete the program?
  4. What can I use this degree for, and how will it help me in my career?

 This list of questions provides critical insights into what matters most to non-traditional students considering online enrollment at your institution — and they’re very different from the concerns of traditional students. Your enrollment management services therefore need to be attuned to the urgent needs of your online prospects. Recognizing and embracing the enrollment criteria for online new student enrollment must serve as the foundation for success in any strategic online enrollment plan. And the communication and enrollment interaction strategies that work for traditional students are no longer enough to engage effectively with today’s tech-savvy prospective online students. 

Instead, higher education institutions need to address the technological expectations and  communication preferences of today’s online students. Prospective online students want to have the information they need in the palm of their hand — on their mobile devices. 

This is why institutions are turning to Perdia Education for Emma™, a mobile enrollment management app. Driven by artificial intelligence and behavior science, Emma responds to the shifting communications preferences of today’s students by delivering clear, concise and real-time information where they want it, when they want it. With Emma, institutions are able to deploy dynamic, user-friendly mobile enrollment technology that functions as a 24/7 recruitment and enrollment management solution, guiding students from their initial inquiry to their first day of class—and beyond. 

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