Online and Trade Schools: Is Age Just a Number?

published on
February 18, 2020

In Part 2 of our two-part series, Brian zooms out to examine a key difference between these two types of institutions’ students and what that difference means for industry marketers.

Age isn’t everything, but it sure is something.

Online- and trade-school students both choose to pursue their education outside of a traditional university setting. So it would be reasonable to assume these students find themselves in similar life circumstances, right? Turns out, the answer is not necessarily.

Looking at industry data,* trade school students are four times more likely than their peers to enroll in their chosen institution before the age of 25. In terms of enrollment, over 75% of a trade school’s students will likely be under the age of 35.

That’s a far cry from online universities where 20% of students enroll in their early 20’s, another 20% before the age of 35, and nearly 20% more before the age of 45. Significant enrollment declines only begin after age 55.

So while educational paths may be similar for non-traditional students, life circumstances couldn’t be more different. Which is why marketers shouldn’t simply take a page from the industry playbook.

Marketing Insight:

Efforts to increase trade school enrollment need to start early, likely while prospects are still in high school. Recruiting should involve education that elevates the industry and makes the career-pathing clarity of trade schools stand out amidst the ambiguity of more traditional 4-year colleges & universities.

Conversely, marketers at online universities should focus on attracting a wider array of adult students. Marketing should focus on significant career-inciting moments like industry-switching, promotion into management, and layoffs/recessions.

Whatever the student’s educational choice, the lesson for the marketer is the same: don’t rely on accepted labels to paint a complete picture. 

Want to see what insights our Strategy Team can uncover for you with our Digital Insights Suite? Contact us today with your most pressing business question, and we’ll help you find the answer.


*Source: S/M Hitwise Analysis

More Articles

Related Featured Work

No items found.

Related Case Studies

No items found.