Student Recruitment Challenges

Hello Program Management colleagues,

The past few years most programs, especially ESL/ESOL, haven't had problems recruiting students. Many have had waiting lists. Now, however, because of the pandemic, when in-person classes quickly shifted to remote learning, many programs have found it more difficult recruit students, and some potential students are not even aware that online instruction is available.

Has your program faced such challenges? If so, what new recruitment strategies have you tried, and which ones have been especially effective? What articles, directives or advice from your state or city adult basic skills staff have been helpful?

Here's a link to a new paper on student recruitment by the Florida Literacy Coalition that you may find of interest. Let us know what you think.

Adult education programs in the U.S. only serve about ten percent of the population in need, and many have experienced declines in enrollment particularly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Literacy Coalition (FLC) published a white paper that explores this topic, including key messages, terminology and communication methods that may be effective in recruiting adult learners.

Using a market research approach, FLC conducted focus groups with students attending English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes to gain insight into how best to reach prospective new learners.

Building on a similar 2019 white paper which examined recruitment practices for adult basic education and literacy students, this article includes recommendations on strategies that may help ESOL programs interested in refining their recruitment practices.

The whitepaper is freely available at

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management group