The 6 stages of the adult degree completer journey


The 6 stages of the adult degree completer journey

Recruitment tactics to boost enrollment at each stage

As institutions reel from the impact of COVID-19, enrollment leaders face renewed pressure to recruit new and different audiences to offset expected declines in traditional undergraduate enrollment. Some institutions have begun to focus on recruiting adult degree completers, or students 25 and up with some college credit but no bachelor’s degree.

But degree completers’ journeys to reenrollment are long and meandering—adding to a lengthy list of reasons why this audience is difficult to recruit, ranging from a lack of test taker lists to students’ own competing priorities.

Explore this infographic to learn more about the stages of adult degree completers’ journey to reenrollment. Discover their motivations, insights from EAB’s survey of 1,000+ prospective degree completers, and tactics enrollment leaders can use to recruit this important student group each step of the way.


Student mindset

“I want a higher-paying job.”

Survey insight


of adult degree completers say they want to complete their degree to “create better opportunities for myself.”


“I want to finish my bachelor’s degree.”


of adult degree completers who want to complete their degree say they have “a lot to figure out” before they can go back to school, most notably cost to complete.

Passive research

“I actually want to go back to school.”


of students haven’t done any research about going back to school despite their interest and intention to complete their degree.

A major professional or personal life event often catalyzes prospective degree completers to begin researching institutions and programs actively.

Active research

“I’m ready now.”


of adult degree completers rely on search engines to gather information about going back to school.


“I’ve chosen institutions or programs that will meet my needs.”


of adult degree completers say they want a “degree program designed for someone in my situation (with fitting flexibility, format, and content).”


“I’m doing it!”


of adult degree completers identify “being able to afford completing my degree” as the biggest barrier to enrollment. Plus, nearly half of students intend to use grants and scholarships to pay for at least part of their degree.

EAB and The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) conducted video interviews with 30 US adults with some college credit who indicated they were open to continuing their post-secondary education at a four-year institution. To supplement and quantify the insights from these interviews, EAB and CGK then surveyed 1,010 US adults.

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