2018 Adult Student Marketing Conference

Clearwater, FL
February 6–8, 2018

DRESS CODE ALERT: Leave your suit jackets at home. Our topics are serious, but our wardrobe will be casual. Resort-wear welcome in all sessions. (Our goal is comfort, so if you can only relax in business attire, bring your dress shoes and enjoy.)

We’ll see you:

February 6–8, 2018


Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, Florida
100 Coronado Dr, Clearwater, FL 33767

Who should attend:

Higher ed professionals who affect the planning, strategy, and implementation of marketing and programming directed at adult and graduate students

This includes:

  • adult undergraduate/degree completion programs
  • graduate programs
  • continuing education programs
  • certificate and professional programs
  • online/hybrid degree programs


This purpose of this advisory board is to shape the sessions and topics that will be presented at the conference. These experienced higher education marketing professionals were selected from a strong candidate pool of applicants from institutions across the country. We congratulate the following individuals for their appointment and thank them for their service:

Pam Allen
Campus Director
University of Redlands

Brent Mishler
Director of Admissions
Mid Michigan Community College

Dan Predoehl
Assistant Dean, Division of Community Education, Emeritus Institute & K-12 Partnerships
Saddleback College

Christian Blome
Assistant Vice President
Vincennes University
Dean of the Jasper Campus (Jasper, IN)

Santhana Naidu
Associate Vice President
Indiana State University

Interested in becoming a sponsor or exhibitor? Contact Tami Vande Weerd for more information.

Sponsorship prospectus (PDF) >




Bring your team!

Teams of four or more from the same institution receive a discount per attendee.
This discount cannot be combined with other discounts.

Teams of four or more:


Per attendee, registered before 1/3/18

Early-bird registration:


Per attendee, registered before 1/3/18

Regular registration:


Per attendee, registered after 1/3/18

Add a post-conference workshop:


Per attendee


Mon, Feb 5, 2018

2:00 p.m.—5:00 p.m.
Pre-conference registration

Tue, Feb 6, 2018

8:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.
Conference day one

Wed, Feb 7, 2018

8:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.
Conference day two

Thurs, Feb 8, 2018

8:00 a.m.—11:00 a.m.
Post-conference workshops

Monday, February 5, 2018

2:00-5:00 p.m.
Pre-conference registration

4:30-6:00 p.m.

Dolphin Boat Tour

See abundant wildlife, mangrove islands, and dolphins in their natural environment as you cruise aboard a 40-foot excursion boat with 25 of your conference colleagues! Stop at Compass Island to explore, hunt for sea shells, and even snorkel! Beverages and a light snack will be provided on this 1.5-hour water adventure. The excursion is FREE if you’re one of the first 60 to register for the conference AND sign up for your preferred tour date.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

6:30-8:00 a.m.
Pre-conference registration/breakfast

8:00-8:15 a.m.

8:15-9:15 a.m.
General Session

Stamats 2018 Adult StudentsTALK™ – Fresh, Forward, Focused

Presented by Becky Morehouse, Stamats

Shining a brighter light—through intensive usability testing—on an area critically important to marketing and recruitment, Stamats’ 2018  Adult StudentsTALK™ Study examines how prospective adult undergraduate and graduate students interact with institutional websites as they seek and gather information. The study tests and measures how real students looking at real sites react and respond to site navigability, intuitiveness, clarity of information, and ease of task completion. The goal through this laser-focused study is to help colleges and universities of all sizes design a more successful online experience to reach and engage adult students.

Key Takeaways

  • Primary tasks of prospective students when visiting institutional websites (researching academic programs, tuition and fees, delivery methods, degree completion time, etc.)
  • Top challenges users face on institutional websites
  • Differences in online behavior between adult undergraduate and graduate prospective students
  • Best practices for site design (navigational cues, content, calls to action, etc.)
  • Critical touch points in the online journey of prospective students
  • The potential brand impact of user frustration and disengagement

9:15-10:15 a.m.

Data-Driven Change: Measuring Success in Nontraditional Enrollment

Presented by Katie Booth, Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Measuring success in the world of nontraditional enrollment is challenging. Year-round enrollment cycles, varying graduation schedules, and irregular billing periods can make it seem nearly impossible to show enrollment progress. However, guided by the adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies has reinvented how it creates enrollment projections, tracks conversion rates, communicates data, and applies information to improve enrollment.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Ideas to reshape your school’s reporting on nontraditional enrollment
  • Ways to “chunk” information so data-hungry readers and skimmers alike can find what they need
  • Methods to define and track new metrics using existing customer relationship management (CRM) or reporting tools

Service Excellence in HE: 27% is not good enough!

Presented by Christopher Tremblay, Michigan State University Gifted and Talented Education

In a recent national survey, just 27% of adult learners reported receiving excellent customer service from their college or university. With a focus on the adult student population, this session introduces the nine characteristics of service excellence and shares strategies on how to transform the customer service experience at your institution.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Expectations of adult learners
  • Reasons why customer service matters now more than ever before
  • Behaviors that demonstrate outstanding service
  • Tips and real-life examples to develop more effective skills

10:15-10:45 a.m.

10:45-11:45 a.m.

Demand More

Presented by Sabra Fiala and Randy Burge, Stamats

The pressure is on. Inquiries and applications are up. Enrollments are not. In this session, we will look at how some graduate programs are using the techniques of demand generation marketing to build awareness, engagement, applications, and enrollments in a way that provides accountability, and maximizes their investment in marketing. We will help you determine:

  • Are you demand ready?
  • Is your funnel broken?
  • Why your pay per click (PPC) isn’t producing qualified leads
  • If you are using the full power of your customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Why marketing and enrollment are not talking to each other

We will show you how to:

  • Map your communications to understand what is and is not working, and build a robust, data-driven strategy
  • Use strategic content to turn cold inquiries into hot prospects
  • Build brand preference without “brand advertising”
  • Understand what integrated marketing looks like in 2018
  • Use your CRM to overcome enrollment management resource issues
  • Understand what key performance indicators (KPIs) are the really critical measurements
  • Prove return on investment (ROI)

Across the Pond: Adult Student Marketing Insights from the UK

Presented by David Roberts, Managing Director, The Knowledge Partnership

When it comes to engaging adult students, the UK is experiencing pressures similar to the United States. A declining number of teens (tomorrow’s adult students), highly competitive markets, and post-Brexit uncertainty all conspire to make adult student marketing more challenging than ever before. In this session, we’ll explore how schools in the UK are responding to shifting trends and what lessons have universal application.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Motivational differences between traditional and adult student populations
  • Barriers colleges and universities need to address in order recruit and retain adult students
  • Practical initiatives to engage adult learners on and off campus

11:45-1:00 p.m.
Box Lunch (Provided/Optional) or Lunch on Your Own


Mind Over Muscle: Why Working Smarter, Not Harder, Is the Key to Success

Presented by Bob Sevier, Stamats

Today, success isn’t just about working harder—it’s about working smarter. Designed for staff members, managers, and senior leadership, this session focuses on ways to work with intention and with an eye toward constant innovation. Explore techniques to cultivate optimism, leverage your individual strengths, collaborate more effectively, and tap into the hidden talents of your team.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Reasons why working harder isn’t the answer
  • Ways to become professionally indispensable
  • Tips for working smarter

1:00-2:00 p.m.

Seismic Shift: Reinventing Content Marketing for Graduate Programs—Higher Expectations, Same Resources, Better Results

Presented by Christie Campbell, St. Edwards University

We’ve heard it all before: differentiation, segmentation, communication clutter, marketing return on investment (ROI), and doing more with less. But what we really need are practical tools to meet the goals of our schools, our programs, and our departments. Learn how one team evolved to meet the complex demands of marketing graduate programs.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Ideas for creating innovative marketing initiatives
  • Methods to improve graduate marketing strategies, executions, and measurements
  • Ways to generate new content ideas to market your school’s graduate programs

Start Strong: Making New Student Orientation Work for Adult Learners

Presented by Wendy Robinson, Inver Hills Community College

New Student Orientation (NSO) is a critical moment in the transition from prospective student to enrolled student. But many times, orientation is targeted to traditional-age learners, leaving adults feeling unwelcome, frustrated, and disengaged. In this session, we’ll explore how one community college made NSOs more inclusive—and more relevant—for adult learners.

Session takeaways will include:

• Methods for determining if your school’s NSO is adult-friendly
• Strategies to make orientation more engaging for adults
• Life readiness checklist designed to assist adult learners

2:00-2:15 p.m.
Session transition

2:15-3:30 p.m.

General session

Simple Steps to Reduce Stress, Create Balance, and Enjoy Life and Work!

Presented by John Chappelear

John Chappelear, renowned author, speaker, and consultant, works with institutions of all sizes to create positive and permanent change—in individuals and across organizations. Customizing principles from his book, The Daily Six, John’s session is designed to help higher education professionals overcome burnout and thrive in spite of budget, staffing, and enrollment challenges.

Key Learning Points:

  • How to begin and end each day focused and emotionally balanced
  • How to “Change your Focus” which will “Change Your World”
  • How to minimize control to expand influence

Learn why this fluffy sounding stuff is practical and powerful.

3:30-4:00 p.m.
Sponsor Presentations

4:00-5:30 p.m.
Networking Reception

4:30-6:00 p.m.

Dolphin Boat Tour

See abundant wildlife, mangrove islands, and dolphins in their natural environment as you cruise aboard a 40-foot excursion boat with 25 of your conference colleagues! Stop at Compass Island to explore, hunt for sea shells, and even snorkel! Beverages and a light snack will be provided on this 1.5-hour water adventure. The excursion is FREE if you’re one of the first 60 to register for the conference AND sign up for your preferred tour date.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

6:30-8:00 a.m.


Leading Up: How to Exert Influence Even When You’re Not in Charge

Presented by Bob Sevier, Stamats

Opportunities to lead and influence exist at almost every level of an organization, and while we may not always have the chance to be the leader, we all have the chance to be a leader. In this session, we’ll explore the concept of “leading up”—the revolutionary idea that effective leadership can occur regardless of position or title. Join us for this unique discussion on thinking outside the org chart!

Session takeaways will include:

  • Personal and professional benefits of leading up
  • Practical ideas for investing in yourself
  • Methods of cultivating authentic influence
  • Techniques for building trust and leading your boss

8:00-9:00 a.m.

The Future Is Virtual: Building Adult Student Enrollment Through Webinars and Virtual Degree Briefings

Presented by Bill Gibbs, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

In the business world, webinars and virtual Information sessions are used to grow businesses and attract new customers. Still, colleges and universities have been slow to integrate these tools into the recruiting process. With more than 130 campuses around the world, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide has changed that dynamic and is using webinars and virtual information sessions to grow enrollment across the globe.

Session takeaways will include:
• Success strategies for webinar managers
• Webinar and virtual degree briefing benchmarks
• Qualities to look for in effective presenters
• Webinar platform options and how to choose one that’s right for you
• Promotion and marketing tips

Across the Great Divide: Communicating Effectively with Every Generation

Presented by Beth Fitzgerald, Trinity Law School, a campus of Trinity International University

Now, more than ever before, higher education marketers need to be experts in communicating their message to a wide variety of age groups—groups that have competing expectations and vastly different social norms. A phone call may seem like a nice gesture to a Baby Boomer, but a Millennial would consider it a stark invasion of privacy. In this session, we’ll define those generations most likely to pursue higher education and explore the messages and communication techniques that resonate best with each.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Communication strategies for Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers
  • Channel preferences by generation
  • Principles behind matching message to medium
  • Best practices for building long-term engagement

9:00-9:15 a.m.
Session transition

9:15-10:15 a.m.
General  Session

Informed Insight: How Data Can Guide Strategic Decision-Making

Presented by Grant De Roo, Stamats

Now more than ever before, data is essential for shaping effective recruitment, branding, tuition pricing, and program development strategies. In this session, we’ll explore the power of data and discuss the data points that guide strategic decision-making with adult student populations.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Insights that can be generated from IPEDS data
  • Methods for applying institutional data to model predictable behavior
  • Ways collected data on current students, prospective students, and non-matriculating students can be used to inform awareness/perception, marketing, and business processes
  • Tips for using secondary data sources to generate insights into recruitment markets, labor markets, market demand, and more

10:15-10:30 a.m.
Session transition

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Proof of Performance: Using ROI-Based Metrics to Tell Your Marketing Story

Presented by Colleen Howes and Kaia Fowler, University of Wisconsin-Extension

In an increasingly competitive higher education marketplace, meeting enrollment goals requires agile marketing strategies that respond to reliable campaign performance data. This session explores a successful model for implementing metrics tracking, analysis, and reporting—a model that supports strategic decision-making and tells the marketing ROI story in a way that institutional leadership will easily understand.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Roadmap for using marketing analytics to better understand the enrollment funnel, monitor campaign performance, develop responsive marketing plans, and allocate resources
  • Methods for selecting and defining key metrics
  • Techniques for conducting ROI analysis and using dashboard tools to quantify campaign impact

True You: How Student Testimonials Can Power Marketing and Revitalize Your Brand

Presented by Davia Rose Lassiter & Rob Smith, Kennesaw State University College of Continuing and Professional Education

In today’s competitive higher education landscape, how you define, express, and market your brand is more crucial than ever before. In this session, explore how Kennesaw State University College of Continuing and Professional Education unified its branding through the “I Did It” campaign—and how that brand is continuously reinforced through powerful student testimonials.

Session takeaways will include:
• Fundamentals of developing an authentic identity; how branding can shape the student experience

  • Tips for creating and maintaining a testimonial database
  • Resources any institution can use to plan and launch a campaign using student testimonials
  • Best practices for effective content marketing and techniques to encourage the sharing of stories
  • Consent requirements for student photo and video use

11:30-1:00 p.m.
Lunch on Your Own

1:00-2:00 p.m.
General Session

The Revolution is Now: Meeting the Needs of Adult Students Today

Presented by Joe Guzzardo, Thomas Edison State University

The needs of adult students have changed rapidly in the past 10 years. This session will examine the changing demographics, expectations, and preferences of adult students today and how Thomas Edison State University has modified its recruitment model to align with the adult market it serves. The session will briefly review the history of adult student demographics in higher education and focus on how changes in the marketplace and consumer behavior have affected colleges, universities, and the work they do to attract and serve nontraditional students, especially working adults who are interested in degree completion and graduate education. Attendees will learn how to leverage current demographic information and other market data to evolve and expand their recruitment and service models aimed at adult students.

2:00-2:15 p.m.
Session transition

2:15-3:15 p.m.

Putting the SOCIAL in Social Justice: Using Social Media to Recruit and Retain Diverse Adult Students

Presented by Jami Hornbuckle, Morehead State University

Based on national demographic trends, America’s colleges and universities will continue to become more diverse in the years ahead. Today’s adult student markets not only include differences in age and life experience, but also key facets of identity such as gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, ethnicity, and social class. In this session, we’ll explore simple, cost-effective, and scalable social media practices to help universities target diverse populations, remove barriers, and create community.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Ways educators and marketers can respond to demographic and psychographic shifts and meet the needs of diverse adult students
  • Methods for using social media strategically as a recruitment and retention tool
  • Communication best practices with diverse audiences
  • Tactics for promoting community across social media channels

New Beginnings: Building a Holistic Initiative to Re-Recruit Adult Learners

Presented by Samantha McAuliffe-Raynor, University of North Carolina General Administration

One of the most profound challenges in higher education is re-engaging adult students who have not completed their undergraduate degrees. In this session, we’ll explore the comprehensive approach used by the University of North Carolina System to recruit, retain, and graduate prospective students from this category. With a focus on building a sustainable recruitment and retention strategy to scale, UNC will share what they’ve learned and program best practices.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Methods for using a logic model in project plan development
  • Techniques for bringing projects to scale through systems-thinking
  • Strategies for developing an adult learner initiative that’s focused on stopped-out students
  • Key findings from stop-out/return research and population characteristics

3:15-3:30 p.m.
Session Transition

3:30-3:50 p.m.
Capstone Celebration

4:30-6:00 p.m.

Dolphin Boat Tour

See abundant wildlife, mangrove islands, and dolphins in their natural environment as you cruise aboard a 40-foot excursion boat with 25 of your conference colleagues! Stop at Compass Island to explore, hunt for sea shells, and even snorkel! Beverages and a light snack will be provided on this 1.5-hour water adventure. The excursion is FREE if you’re one of the first 60 to register for the conference AND sign up for your preferred tour date.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Post-conference workshops (optional, extra fee)

8:00-11:00 a.m.

Meaty Program Pages to Drive Enrollment

Presented by Joan Benson, Stamats

Prospective students spend a lot of time on program pages, yet these pages are often inconsistent, incomplete, and unpersuasive. Walk away from this workshop with a detailed recipe for tasty academic content, including well-developed tools for managing content and an improved version of one of your program pages, which will serve as a model for all others.

We’ll cover the essentials of content strategy, audience planning, and content structures, as well as optimizing content for scanning and for search. Throughout, Joan will guide you through applying the principles to actual content. Together, you’ll wrestle the complicated parts and talk over the challenges you face in creating, managing, maintaining, measuring, optimizing, and governing content. You’ll leave with an understanding of the relationship among your audience’s tasks, your institution’s goals, and your content’s structure that will simplify your future content labors. You’ll also leave with a draft content strategy, editorial calendar, audience persona, and structured outline for your academic program pages.

8:00-11:00 a.m.

Democratizing Data: A Workshop on The Applied Uses of Data

Presented by Grant De Roo, Stamats

Beyond simply providing conceptual insights, data is a tool of action. In this workshop, we’ll examine how to apply data tactically to learn more about current and prospective students, design high-demand academic programs, and dramatically improve marketing results.

Session takeaways will include:

  • Methods for using IPEDS data to determine academic program demand regionally and nationally
  • Tips for using sample data to build predictive models on enrollment and/or persistence
  • Techniques for using marketing data to segment audiences
  • Ways in which choice-based questioning can inform pricing decisions


We are pleased to announce the following presenters for our conference:

General Session Speakers

Breakout Speakers


Hotel reservations

All sessions will be hosted at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, a beautiful newly constructed property located in the heart of Clearwater Beach.

Our group rate is set at $239 per night. Make sure to secure your room before January 3rd 2018 to receive the group discount rate.

Valet parking is $20 per day.

Book online here or call (727) 281-9500 for reservations.

Please contact Tami Vande Weerd (tami.vandeweerd@stamats.com) if you have any questions or troubles booking your room.

Tampa International Airport

Fly into the Tampa International Airport (TPA), located 20 miles away from the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater, Florida. Or, fly into the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, located 12 miles from the conference hotel.


Tami Vande Weerd, Stamats

Contact Tami Vande Weerd
Event Manager

Phone: 319-861-5167
Email: tami.vandeweerd@stamats.com