Reaching Career-changing Prospective Students from “The Great Resignation”

Poor work/life balance. No opportunity for advancement. Wages that don’t rise with the cost of living. Toxic workplaces. Lack of flexibility in work arrangements. The pandemic disruptions have caused us all to rethink what is important to us, and people have been quitting their jobs in high numbers.

This trend will leave many people looking to change careers or upskill, which can be an opportunity for colleges and universities to reach new students and help them retrain for higher levels of employment or different career paths entirely. So you can think of “The Great Resignation” as perhaps more of a reshuffling of careers—people starting businesses, gaining better employment, or exploring new career pathways.


Which Employees are Quitting?

Many workers in hospitality and restaurant jobs are quitting, but there are high attrition rates in medicine and white-collar professions. Many sectors of the economy see their workers leave in record numbers, so training low-skilled workers for better jobs is just one part of what education can do for workers now. While creating opportunities for people transitioning from low-wage jobs is excellent, many mid-level workers are quitting, too, with different educational needs. Targeting mid-career professionals looking for more meaning and inclusion in fulfilling work can be very different from reaching those who seek an undergraduate degree or certificate to enter a more lucrative career path.

Looking at both the resignation trends and your institution’s offerings, you can find new opportunities to market your programs to people who can use the education you provide. Some seek career education that tracks them into higher-paying jobs, while other workers will be looking to enjoy the many benefits of education that are less tangible than career trajectory. The “Big Quit,” as it is sometimes called, is a great time to market the whole educational experience to non-traditional students. A fulfilling life is enhanced by learning about the world, spending time devoted to inquiry with like-minded peers, and growing as a whole person, not just a worker. How do your programs build community, advance social goals, connect broad knowledge to practical career paths, and provide a rewarding experience for students?


Meeting the Needs of a Changing Work World

While many workers have burned out, it can be challenging to ramp up educational programs quickly. For example, applications for nursing schools are up, but there are not enough spots for students due to faculty shortages. Since the health care sector has been overburdened and understaffed in many areas, consider tracking some prospective students into allied health or related professional programs.

But health care is far from the only sector crying out for workers. Businesses of all types need workers right now, so business certificate and degree programs that can bring in more qualified office staff and computer technicians will be valuable. First responders like police officers and paramedics are also in need. Educators and childcare workers are also in short supply. So pretty much any economic sector that offers secure and fulfilling jobs can see a need for more trained workers.

Marketing efforts can focus on helping prospective students explore the wide range of subjects they can consider as majors. Events introducing and exploring different campus departments and fields of study may attract the undecided career-changers to explore your school’s offerings.


Humanizing the Educational Experience

While large numbers of people are leaving the workforce due to inadequate compensation and overwork, you can also hear a consistent theme of people feeling alienated and undervalued at work. The human element is not there for many workers. Educational institutions need to avoid replicating the work world’s ambivalence about the people they hire and make sure that university employees and students are seen and heard. In addition, students need to feel strong connections with the institution and the academic community.


Employers can Offer Education Benefits to Aid Retention

As we talk about work/life balance, employers are looking to provide a more friendly and welcoming atmosphere, including more perks, flexibility, and job satisfaction. Companies can upskill and promote from within to retain employees, offering the chance to advance, which can do wonders for the company’s culture and the individual worker. Partnering with companies who wish to beef up their educational benefits can be a win-win-win for higher education institutions, with schools, companies, and employees all seeing benefits.


Finding Ways to Market That Attract the “Resigners”

You can discover who your institution can best serve by tracking the trends and analyzing the vast number of workers who have left their jobs. To serve people on the sidelines of our economy, your institution may need to make small changes in marketing rather than start from scratch. Analytics can help you uncover the most cost-effective ways to reach these unusual target prospects in a rapidly changing world.


If you need help with data analytics, hiring an outside resource like AMG Higher Education can help you market to prospective students who can use what you have to offer.


If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving education marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

Parent & Student Survey Whitepaper


The Annual PARENT & Student Survey

Advance Education conducted a nationwide survey to learn what students and their parents are looking for from institutions – and the right marketing channels to reach them.

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