Conversations with higher education leaders about re-engaging, retaining, and graduating adult students.

Kristine is an experienced higher education leader with over 25 years of expertise in admissions, direct response marketing, and college operations. She has worked with online and campus-based institutions and has a strong track record of delivering mission-critical results.

Her industry experience includes Monarch EA (enrollment management) to Nuro (retention) to Greenwood & Hall (consulting/partnerships); she has seen virtually every aspect of the student funnel. Throughout her career, Kristine has demonstrated her ability to build robust admissions teams, powerful strategic partnerships, and deliver strong outcomes for higher education institutions, employers, and learners. Her collaborative approach unlocks the power of the team at institutions. Although she now works in the nutrition industry, her passion for graduating adult learners continues.

For our new series of Perspectives in Higher Education, Dr. George Rohde sat down with Glein to find out how institutions can focus on bringing back adult learners in 2023.

Rohde: What kind of background do you have in higher education, and how did your experience lead you to become an advisory board member for myFootpath?

Glein: Having spent more than 25 years in higher education, I have provided support to universities and colleges in various domains such as recruitment, marketing, financial services, and re-enrollment. My experience in these facets of the student journey has sharpened my focus on identifying the non-cognitive factors that may lead to students discontinuing their education and devising strategies to ensure their persistence and successful completion. MyFootpath’s goal of partnering with academic institutions to help students re-enroll aligns with my belief that one should strive to finish what they have started. I find that the mission of myFootpath is a mutually beneficial endeavor for all parties involved.

Rohde:  In relation to your role as an advisory board member, what do you hope to contribute in 2023?

Glein: In the year 2023, my primary objective is to expand the number of educational institutions affiliated with myFootpath, and to witness their resultant advantages in the field of higher education. Establishing a partnership with myFootpath is a low-risk investment that will ultimately have a beneficial impact on the academic success of students. Although my current career field differs from the realm of higher education, my considerable network within this domain will be a valuable asset in connecting educational institutions to myFootpath, which can serve as an instrumental tool to effectively engage with students who may have paused their education and effectively guide adult learners to attain their degrees.

Rohde: What trends do you see among universities in terms of re-engagement with adult students?

Glein: Many universities tend to prioritize their “net new” students and often overlook their existing stop-out population. Student retention is often delegated among departments, leading to a lack of singular focus on the issue. Institutions often need a clearer structure of ownership for the stop-out population. Taking responsibility for re-enrollment requires a passionate and comprehensive focus on adult students. Organizations such as myFootpath play a crucial role in addressing this issue and helping to slow down the stop-out rate.

Rohde: So, why is it important for institutions to focus on engaging with and understanding the adult learner?

Glein: As a mother of four, I completed my master’s degree online in my thirties, providing me with an insight into the potential barriers adult students might face leading them to drop out. There are several reasons why an adult may choose to return to school, and it is essential for universities to remind students of their motivation, their “why,” for returning to school, such as career advancement, change, or increased income. This reminder is crucial to maintaining their engagement and avoiding dropout.

To better understand their adult student population, universities should shift their focus to include re-enrollment, not solely new enrollment. Increasing the budget for re-enrollment marketing is an effective way to achieve this since a budget is a reflection of institutional priorities. Engaging with this untapped market is an opportunity for universities to encourage former students to return to school, ultimately driving higher completion and graduation rates.