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The Art and Science of Generating Your College’s Audience of Right-Fit Adult Prospects

Strategically Expand Your Prospect Pool Using These Six Sources

In today’s tightening graduate and adult learner markets, enrollment leaders can’t afford to leave any stone unturned when searching for right-fit prospects. But identifying graduate and adult learners has only become more complex in the wake of the pandemic. Fewer students are taking graduate admissions tests, once a reliable source of prospective student names. At the same time, most graduate and adult learners are “stealth applicants,” or unknown to your institution until they start an application.

Adult Learner Statistics


of surveyed graduate students said they do not plan to take an admissions test


of adult learner applicants are stealth applicants

Explore How Different Sources Fit into a Complex Adult Audience Generation Strategy

Given these challenges, institutions need to tap into a diverse range of sources to identify right-fit prospects, including opportunities to pilot new sources.

Expand the examples below to learn how each source is part of the larger audience generation strategy, according to EAB’s team of experts.

Institution A

A large public institution in the South looking to grow enrollment

Illustration of prospective student funnel for Institution B


While Institution A had historically bought test-taker names, EAB discovered latent potential for Institution A to grow their audience through data-driven expansions to GRE name buys, which offered a readily available, largely untapped source of prospects.

Since EAB research has shown 20% of test-takers change their mind about their academic area of interest in between taking the GRE and enrolling, EAB’s audience generation analysts set relatively wide search parameters to ensure that Institution A saturated their local and regional markets. To maximize all high-potential audiences, Institution A also made sure to include their inquiries, alumni, and first-party digital sources in outreach.


Enrollment growth

Institution B

A small private institution in the North looking to increase diversity

Illustration of prospective student funnel for Institution A


Similar to institution A, expanded test-taker targeting also served as the foundation for Institution B’s strategy. However, since Institution B had specific class-shaping goals, their strategy needed to be more nuanced. For example, EAB recommended using a broader range of sources and a broader geographic reach to ensure that diverse candidates were being engaged.

Combined with partner specific historic admit data, years of best practices, and partners goals, budget, and other unique requests, EAB curated a list of additional sources for Institution B to contact, including National Student Clearinghouse, paid search, and consumer databases.


Increase new student diversity

The Six Adult Audience Generation Sources

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    Test Takers

    Although fewer students are taking admissions tests, test-taker lists remain a critical piece of a larger audience generation strategy. Use saturated test-taker outreach in your primary market and calculated selection of prospects in other markets.


    1.5M+ names purchased by EAB last year

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    Inquiry Pool + Application Starters

    To ensure as many high-potential audiences convert to applicants as possible, don’t neglect your institutional inquiry and application starter lists.


    30%+ of application starters convert to application after additional calls-to-action from EAB

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    Young Alumni + Current Seniors

    Leverage existing affinity for your institution by including your young alumni and undergraduate students in your audience lists.


    48% of contacts engage with communications

  • “”

    Consumer Databases

    Leverage consumer analytics to identify a large but highly curated list of prospects from consumer databases.


    200M+ U.S. consumers in EAB’s proprietary database

  • “”

    Unique Pilot Opportunities

    Consistently test innovative and unique opportunities to source new prospects, such as student names from honors societies, National Student Clearinghouse and GMAC Early Prospects.


    125K+ contacts through Clearinghouse match qualification

  • “”

    First-Party Digital Targeting

    Build awareness among select prospects through Paid Search, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube digital ads.


    910M+ impressions of display advertising