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.