Starting with the “Epic of Gilgamesh” through to the “Odyssey” and even “Siddhartha,” so much of life’s great art and literature is an examination of the innately human quest for something more. Just ask Frodo.
To help more adults take concrete steps along their path toward fulfilment — to aid in so many individual searches for meaning — we partnered with Charles Darwin University, or CDU, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Nearly a decade ago, researchers there delved into the motivating factors of Australian adults who consider — and eventually undertake — further education. CDU researchers conducted scores of interviews with adults age 30 and older about their lives, asking why they had not previously attended (or did not complete) university courses, and about their present lives.
The research culminated in a profile of a group called Next Lifers, a term we embraced and used in a collaborative endeavour with CDU called the Next Life Finder.
Meet the Next Lifers
So, who are the Next Lifers? In short, they are adult learners over age 30 who are seeking a life “beyond” their current daily tasks. They are people seeking that intangible “more.” Next Lifers are also gainfully employed homeowners with children. They’re perhaps asking themselves that most universal question:, “Is this all there is?”
NextLifers may have active, lucrative careers. But these may have been borne out of choices selected out of necessity along the way, as this video describes. Immediate needs for security, money or work may have dictated choices in early adulthood. Perhaps these choices led to financial success — but not much personal fulfilment.
NextLifers are characterised by the compelling need to build more meaningful, altruistic careers. And yet, they may lack key credentials or skill sets a university can help provide. These adults are turning to university study as a way to gain the skills or qualifications necessary to create opportunities for themselves. Generally, they aren’t seeking to abandon their current commitments during their study — they still need to provide for themselves and their families — but are committed to finding new career pathways more aligned with their altruistic need to make a positive impact.
Evolving past the idea phase
At the end of a long day working an unfulfilling job, struggling with grumpy young children as well as the home repair project of the day, everyone dreams of “more.” Many of us who didn’t attend university or who left before we completed our course work often wish we had earned our diploma. Some of us may have the chance to see more altruistic careers “up close” through our social circles, volunteering or while on holiday. But how to move from dissatisfaction — from languishing — to being prepared to undertake university studies as adults?
The internet is full of ideas, most of which involve taking a series of small, measurable, concrete steps: reach out to a recruiter, decide how you’ll manage the practicalities of study and integrate course work into your day. Start with just one class at a time and build up.
With the aim of adding more momentum to the recruitment of Next Lifers, we collaborated with CDU on their Next Life Finder program, contributing our expertise in creating personality profiling for adults. Our personality quizzes for mature learners interested in studying at CDU were created to prompt prospective adult students to:
- Identify their strengths
- Consider how they could make a difference
- Understand prospective career pathways
Approximately 26,500 adults took a Next Life Finder profile. Uniquely tailored for CDU, the profile utilised MyCareerMatch Recruit personality profiling expertise and provided those who completed the profile with unique insights into their personalities. Providing adults with this kind of insight proved to move them closer to applying for study programs: A full 30% of adults who completed the NextLife Finder profile were more likely to apply than those who did not complete the profile.
Realising this outcome ultimately moved the needle on enrolment figures at CDU, particularly in the online arena. For finding this unique way to inspire adults to transform their lives through education, CDU won an Australian Institute of Education Marketing award — the first organisation in the Northern Territory to win a national AMI award.
Just like school leavers, all adults want to learn more about themselves as they continue to search — as we all do — for greater meaning and fulfilment.
Contact MyCareerMatch Recruit to discuss how we motivate and encourage “Next Lifers” to study at your institution