On an airplane. At a party. Ran into an old friend. In line for the bathroom. These are just some of the places you might be asked, “so, what do you do?” It’s the ubiquitous question of our times. We ask one another this question because “what we do” for a living goes beyond earning the income we need to survive. For a lot of people, in addition to ideally some financial stability, work contributes to a sense of identity and even purpose.
In our recently published research paper, The Hidden Motivations of Prospective Students, gathered from the survey of over 250,000 prospects in an array of program areas, we identified one motivation factor that outweighed others when it comes to future goals of individuals considering career school: Fulfillment.
More than financial motivators like “I want to make more money” or “I want to have more financial security”, which did rank highly. More than pride or material gains. The most common selection in the cumulative results of all prospects when asked to identify their goals for the future was “I want to feel fulfilled.”
When asked about their goals for the future, 87% of prospects across disciplines, age ranges and geographic areas selected “I want to be fulfilled”. Obviously, your graduates can’t live on fulfillment alone. But it’s an important reminder that even in times of economic uncertainty and rising costs of living, prospective students collectively share a drive for personal fulfillment.
These results were echoed elsewhere in the research where prospects were asked what they would change about their current employment situation. The response that beat out “better pay,” “better schedule” and “opportunity for advancement” was “work that interests me.”
In both of these research sections, prospects were able to select more than one response. Lots of people indicated they want better pay as well as work that interests them. But even still, at 64.37%, “work that interests me” was the top response across the board for all prospects.
We weren’t surprised to see the responses related to upward mobility such as earning more and opportunity for promotion ranked highly. But in multiple places when asked what they want for their future, more than earning more money, respondents expressed a desire for work that interests them. Today’s prospects know they need to work in order to survive, but they are tired of putting so much time into work that doesn’t offer any personal fulfillment.
“Whether I’m promoting Cosmetology or Automotive Tech, it never ceases to amaze me that ads with headlines like ‘Pursue Your Passion’ and ‘Love What You Do’ perform the best.”
– Trenton Crawford, Conversion Leader, Enrollment Resources
So, what does this mean for you as an EDU Marketing or Admissions professional?
Take a look at your website and landing pages. Do they speak to the potential personal satisfaction outcomes of the careers your graduates are prepared to pursue? In admissions meetings, do you and/or your reps take time to get to know the prospect and what’s important to them in order to determine whether the career they’re considering will have the desired outcomes, not only financially but also in terms of personal fulfillment?
When it comes to the way you present your career programs, things like employment statistics and wage data for your area can be incredibly important. But given the immense importance your prospects place on their personal satisfaction and fulfillment in their future careers, things like graduate testimonials and personal accounts from working professionals who can speak to what their job means to them can also be incredibly valuable.
Review your marketing materials and admissions process to see whether you communicate the ways in which your programs are a solution to your prospective student’s drive for personal fulfillment. Schools that recognize the importance of their prospect’s personal satisfaction in their future careers, and are able to clearly position themselves as a partner in that goal, will make meaningful connections with more prospects and ultimately serve more satisfied graduates.
Are you curious how you can gather prospect motivation insights unique to your school while also increasing your leads and booked tours? Click Here to Find Out How.
Want to see more from this in-depth research? Access the Hidden Motivations of Prospective Students White Paper here.
EDU Research Reveals Surprising Barrier to Enrollment
“Dream Big.” “Reach for the Stars.” “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” These types of sayings feel omnipresent in career counseling offices, right up there with the frazzled kitten precariously dangled from a tree branch whose soft face and dark saucer eyes implore onlookers with the caption “hang in there.”
Most people hear these platitudes about goal setting their whole lives, but far fewer are given the tools to follow through. What does it actually look like, in a practical sense, to pursue your goals?
Enrollment Resources recently published findings from extensive EDU market research that included data from over 250,000 prospective career education students across North America and a surprising finding stood out:
When asked about goals for the future, 35.62% of prospective students surveyed selected the response “I want a better life for sure, I just have trouble imagining the details.”
How Thoughtful Admissions Practices Can Help Prospects Clarify Goals & Remove a Hidden Barrier to Enrollment
The application of practical goal setting is something many people are never taught. Those of us in EDU, especially those at private career colleges, are in a unique position to help prospective students break down the practical steps that can help them build a brighter future. A student may inquire about a particular program or know that they need some sort of professional skills in order to get ahead, but it’s not uncommon for them to struggle to imagine details beyond that. That’s where you come in.
Below are three steps to keep in mind when you help prospective students to imagine their potential future.
#1. Break it Down: Practical, Achievable Steps
The gap from initial inquiry to new career can seem gargantuan when you don’t know the steps. It would be like trying to drive from L.A. to NYC without a road map, just two distant points with no clues of how to get from one to the other. If you had infinite time and resources that mapless road trip might be fun, but that’s not the case for our prospective students. As an Admissions professional, you can fill in that road map.
Much smaller than the gap between where a student is when they inquire and where they want to ultimately end up in their career is the gap between speaking with you and speaking with Financial Aid or other staff. That’s a manageable first step. What’s the next step in your enrollment process? And the step after that?
When you break down the enrollment, school and employment pursuit process into simple steps, you help prospective students gain an accessible road map to their future.
#2. Get Clarity: The Power of Specificity
Specifics take “pie in the sky” dreams and ground them in reality. It’s the difference between “I want a new car” and “I want a gently used 2012 Mazda3.” “I want to get married” and “I want to marry my best friend’s husband Todd.” Perhaps more relevant to our situation, it’s the difference between “I’d like to help people” and “I want to work as a patient care aide at the long-term care facility near my house.”
Thoughtful questions like “what motivated you to reach out today?” and “what makes you interested in this field?” not only help you get to know the prospect you’re speaking with, they help you to understand the prospect’s drive. This forms the foundation for the portrait of the prospect’s future you’re helping to build.
#3: Explain Potential Challenges
Have you ever hit the gym hard on January 1st only to fall off your “New Year New You” exercise regime weeks later? (No. Me Either :P). Often when we get off track from long-term goals it’s due to a failure to address potential challenges that may arise. Sometimes even just the fear of getting off track is enough to derail us.
As humans, we are motivated not only by achievement but by the anticipation of achievement. When you address potential obstacles, and help prospective students to visualize the ways they have within their means to overcome those difficulties, you go a long way to illustrating the way in which successful graduation and the pursuit of a rewarding career is within the prospects’ abilities to accomplish; this can provide incredible motivation.
TIP: Remember to Meet Prospects Where They Are
As an Admissions professional, it’s vital to remember what it was like to NOT know all the ins and outs of your school and things like education financing. Work from a place of empathy and remember that many prospects will be learning about career education for the first time.
In this role, you are uniquely qualified to provide clarity for prospective students about your school and their future. When you utilize goal-setting techniques you can help students to practically envision the steps along the way to their desired future and remove a sizable barrier to potential enrollment.