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Competition for new students will be fierce in 2016 as the national unemployment rate is expected to stay below 6% through 2020. This gives adults an incentive to choose work over higher education. Also, with the federal government’s new Gainful Employment regulations, it’s critical that colleges and universities, especially for-profit schools, show the effectiveness of their programs.

That said, most American adults believe higher education is valuable. Seven in 10 agree that having a professional certificate or degree beyond high school is essential to getting a good job, and that it will be more important in the future to have a professional certificate or degree beyond high school to get a good job. an> What’s more — half of American adults without a professional certificate or college degree aspire to obtain one, and 15% are likely to enroll in school in the next 12 months.

With the growth in online courses and degree programs, those prospective students have more flexibility than ever. Half of online learners look for schools that are less than 50 miles away, and three-quarters of them contact less than three schools. It’s important for advertisers to get in front of prospective students early in the decision journey. Location targeting, location extensions, and call extensions can help you reach out to nearby searchers and build brand awareness.

Higher education searches powered by Bing peak at the beginning of the year as prospective students look to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to learn something new or advance their careers. Search volume stays high through March, and peaks again in August and September. Advertisers need to plan their campaigns and budgets to cover both peak periods.