Recruiting Modern Learners for Online Programs: A Guide for Admissions Advisors

Choosing to take the leap to pursue higher education is one of the most significant decisions of a prospective student’s life. Between the cost and the time commitment a degree requires, the stakes are high, and success is essential.

Because of this, choosing the right program and then completing the enrollment process can often feel overwhelming to students and, in some cases, can even deter them from moving forward.

Thankfully, many programs and universities connect prospective students with admissions advisors who can share information with a student, break down a program’s requirements for them, encourage them to take the next steps, and, ultimately, provide a helping hand at any point during their decision-making and enrollment journey. 

A Conversation With an Admissions Advisor

We sat down with Sarah Mullen, an admissions advisor at Archer Education, to discuss how she supports one of our partner school’s prospective students in planning their futures. 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as an admissions advisor. 

My background has always been in education. I taught elementary and middle school, and I was briefly an administrator before moving into the higher education world. At its core, education is about helping students of all ages find their path to success — and understanding that it’s going to look different for everyone. Admissions is the same! It’s all about the approach, and making sure the student’s best interests are at the center of everything. 

What does an average day look like for you?

The exciting thing about being an admissions advisor is that no two days are alike! Generally, though, I spend my time communicating with students via call, text, or email to talk them through the admissions process, provide them with program information, and, for students further in the process, advise them about any updates and what their next steps are. 

Why should students take the time to talk to an admissions advisor

My goal as an advisor is to take as much stress out of the equation as possible, and to make what can be a daunting task easy. I not only monitor a student’s application, I’m also their point of contact for answering any questions and guiding them toward school resources. School websites have a lot of helpful information, but I can summarize it, give them the highlights, and, hopefully, save them some time and energy.

What do you learn about a student when you first make contact with them? 

The first time I make contact with a student, my goal is to learn about their motivation, educational background, concerns about going to school, and what they’re looking for in a program and institution. This allows me to help the student better and make sure they’re getting all the information they need to make a decision or take the next steps. 

What are common questions you’re hearing from students?

Inquiries around flexibility and affordability are easily the most common questions asked by students. Students want to understand the time commitments involved and get a better idea of how the program will fit into their lives. 

How do you help support students?

Going to school, or going back to school for some, can be intimidating. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made, and students just want to know they’re making the right choices. A big part of the role is guiding them through the process and helping them tackle the physical and mental hurdles along the way. 

What are students most excited about? What are they hoping to accomplish by going back to school?

Students usually have pretty concrete goals in mind. Some need a degree to advance in their career, and others simply want to finish so they have their full degree. When there’s something within their grasp, it’s very exciting and motivating to them to be actively taking steps toward their goal. My favorite situation is when students have identified their passion and are going back to school to work toward a new career. Something about a passion project is the most exciting!

What makes students nervous about going back to school? How do you talk them through it? 

I have found that the biggest source of nervousness tends to be around time management. Making sure that schoolwork is going to fit into their life, and that they have the time to be successful, is a huge part of students feeling confident. I explain to them that, while changing their routine may be difficult, it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. A lot of the time, this requires helping them identify time in their day or week that they can set aside for schoolwork, or even techniques they can use for staying on top of their schedule. More than anything, it’s letting them know it’s OK to start small. 

What areas of study are students most interested in or excited about in the current landscape? 

Logistics, accounting, nursing, and most tech-related programs have been big points of interest in the last year!

What are the common questions about nursing/healthcare programs?

Students enrolling in nursing and healthcare programs are curious about practicums and clinical experiences, and how that works within an online program. It’s also important to them that the program is accredited by certain associations and taught by professors with industry experience. 

What do you see as your role in helping students start school? 

I see my role almost as a tour guide. I walk them through the process, share information, and answer questions along the way. 

What part of your job do you enjoy the most? 

The educator in me loves helping students work toward their goals, all while talking about a great school and what makes it that way. But, above all that, it’s when a student thanks me for helping them, or says that I made this process easier for them. 

Tap Into the Support of an Admissions Advisor

Marketing and enrollment professionals do their best to capture all audience types in their communication efforts, offering targeted information through as many points of contact as possible. However, being able to provide all the answers prospective students need to make a decision with confidence requires extensive research and planning.

Admissions advisors are able to provide one-on-one, highly personalized guidance to each individual student. As Sarah mentioned, every situation is unique, and Archer Education’s team of admissions advisors are prepared and excited to provide students with the support, reassurance, and whatever else they may need to get them closer to their goals. Admissions advisors want to help students find the program that offers them the best possible fit for their goals, and they do so with a student-centric approach. 

Sarah is one of many talented and experienced professionals at Archer Education who helps ensure we’re guiding our partners in a way that speaks to the students of today. We partner with leaders and marketers at accredited universities to help them accelerate their online learning growth and enrollment

At Archer, we believe that education is the great equalizer in our society, and we strive to help institutions make education more accessible for all adult learners. If you’d like to learn more, contact our team and explore our offerings today.