5 Alternate Paths Education Marketers Should Advise Instead

As education we can sometimes get a little caught up in the race to get applications into the system and the right candidates through enrollment.

Education marketing should be about matching prospects with the right student experience, but more importantly it's about putting them on track to a future which is right for them.

Expectation vs. Reality

A recent study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 37% of first-year students surveyed in England have symptoms of depression and anxiety. This statistic is significantly higher than the UK average for young people aged 16-29 (22%).

Data published this year by Student Loans Company marks an overall rise of 28% in the number of English university first-year dropouts in 2022.

That's a huge amount of potentially depressed, anxious and dissatisfied young people.

Yes, education marketing is a hugely competitive space where every single lead counts. But should we be pushing prospects to start something they may not be ready for?

Today we’re going to look at five alternate paths to a degree or into higher education and how we, as education marketers, can be more aware of those alternatives.

1. Try before you buy

Some universities offer 'try before you buy' solutions, which allow prospective students to get a taste of what their chosen degree program will entail before committing to it.

These solutions can include attending taster sessions, virtual open days, and work experience placements.

For example, Springpod offers a range of virtual work and university course experience programs that give students an insight into what different degree programs or careers and industries are really like.

By experiencing what their degree program will involve, students can make a more informed decision about whether it's the right choice for them.

This can also help to boost their confidence as they enter their degree program with a better understanding of what to expect, which can lead to a more successful and enjoyable experience overall.

Credit: Springpod

2. Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great alternative to a traditional university degree. Usually made up of multiple qualifications and blending a variety of experience.

This approach enables individuals to learn a skilled trade or profession through on-the-job training while earning a wage. This is a great option for individuals who want to earn while they learn and get hands-on experience in their chosen field.

3. Vocational training

Similar to apprenticeships but crucially different, vocational training is a great alternative for those who want to focus in and gain a specific vocational qualification.

These programs offer practical training in various fields like plumbing, welding, automotive repair, culinary arts, and more.

Vocational training programs typically take less time to complete than traditional degree programs or apprenticeships, which is ideal for those who want to enter the workforce quickly.

They are also excellent for individuals who may need an introduction to a degree area they are interested in, but do not yet have the requisite qualifications to apply.

4. Remote and Flexible Degrees

These programs provide the same level of accreditation as traditional degree programs but offer more flexibility in terms of when and where students can study. This is great news for those who have competing demands on their time, such as work or family commitments, or those who find attending university in a new location problematic.

Some flexible remote degree programs also allow students to step in and out of their program as finances and other demands on their time dictate. 

For example, Tomorrow University of Applied Sciences offers a flexible degree program that allows students to specialise in Business Administration, Computer Science, Sustainability, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Studies are completed entirely online.

Nexford University also offers a range of remote degree programs that allow students to study from anywhere in the world, for 120 USD per month.

5. Certificate programs

Certificate programs are designed to provide specific skills and knowledge in a particular field. These programs are usually shorter in duration than traditional degree programs and can be completed in a matter of months. Certificate programs are a great option for individuals who want to advance their careers or learn new skills.

As education marketers we are here to align people from different walks of life with a future which is right for them. Sometimes, that means advising them on alternative paths to higher education, different learning models or even putting off going to university until they are ready.

It sounds counter-intuitive but the results are there to be seen. You could even:

🫶 Increase trust in your university.

💎 Differentiate yourself as an advocate for choice.

💖 Manage student expectations.

🌱 Weed out the suck-it-and-see applicants.

If you need help communicating alternative paths into higher education or would like to build a recruitment strategy that works, check out our Higher Education Recruitment Stack framework.

Words On Brand are also here to help if you want to dive deeper into your recruitment efforts.

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