Even amid a pandemic, colleges and universities can seize a golden opportunity to open new revenue streams by designing remote, high-quality professional programs — an increasingly in-demand service — for an incredibly loyal audience: Their alumni.
After all, the alumni base comprises eager learners, a word-of-mouth source of boosterism, and a potential audience that’s typically 10 times as large as the number of enrolled students. Indeed, the average number of alumni per U.S. colleges and universities has nearly quadrupled, to 60,000 from 15,000 in 1972, according to the Council for Aid to Education. 
Experts say universities hold a unique and trusted relationship with alumni, and can quickly layer add-on services beyond educational content that would meet alumni needs for mentors, advisors, career networks and academic support. As Chris Dellarocas, associate provost at Boston College, has noted that “the education provider who own[s] the relationship with the customer [will] control the flow of revenues.” 
Brand-name and Ivy League schools have figured this out. Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, and Columbia universities, and the University of Pennsylvania offer hundreds of free online courses. But big-name colleges and universities also provide short courses that can run as high as $6,000 apiece.
Robert Bruce, a dean at Rice University, says school leaders must identify skill gaps and barriers to education so they can anticipate future needs.  To become a leader in alumni-focused lifelong learning, colleges and universities must become technology masters, letting students access the material the way they prefer, Bruce said. By doing so, schools show their commitment to educational equity, he said, because their technological savvy erases traditional obstacles of time, transportation and health and safety.
HOW COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES CAN LEVERAGE THEIR ADVANTAGES
Any program aimed at lifelong learning for any age must be responsive; technology-enabled; assessed against learning outcomes; high-quality, flexible and personalized; relevant to job skills; and rest on a platform that delivers engagement and networking that accommodates a variety of learning experiences. The software must be designed for learning, rather than simply be free or repurposed, or meant for casual interaction.
A successful program also leverages the growing educational shift toward competency-based learning in which students advance based on their demonstrated mastery of a skill; receive timely, differentiated support, and are rewarded with explicit, measurable and transferable learning objectives.
A 2019 survey showed that 74% of institutions are adopting or are interested in adopting competency-based education programs,  according to 2020 Trends in Higher Education. The report noted that competency-based education may be a unique fit for adult learners because they value learning practical skills that directly affect their workplace performance.
Moving ahead, colleges and universities must abandon stale products, poor delivery methods and a plodding response to rolling out products that demonstrate excellence.
The ideal solution has these characteristics:
HOW AMESITE CAN HELP LAUNCH RELEVANT, ENGAGING PROGRAMS QUICKLY
Amesite, Inc., has the assets to deliver these essential underpinnings so colleges and universities can leverage their alumni relationships in a secure, deeper, brand-aware, hyper-personalized and technologically savvy way. That’s because Amesite uses artificial intelligence technologies to provide customized environments, up-to-the-minute, curated content, and easy-to-manage interfaces for instructors and students and learners.
By correlating learner behaviors with specific outcomes as identified by qualified instructors, Amesite trains its algorithms specifically for important learning outcomes, enabling it to be a useful tool for instructors. The combinations of information collected through Amesite’s educational products, and outcomes measured using our online learning products are unique, and constantly improving.
The importance of alumni loyalty and proper branding is key. It is also essential to create relevant learning products. Amesite’s products are branded to their customers, allowing customers to deliver on-brand and on-target products. Amesite’s creation services and platform delivery enable customers to launch 10 programs in just 30 days – ready to market to hungry alumni audiences, with no additional infrastructure required.
 AGN, Assessing the Alumni Population Boom, Posted April 29, 2018. https://agnresources.com/2018/04/29/assessing-the-alumni-population-boom/
 Dellarocas, C. (August 1, 2018). Higher Education in a World Where Students Never Graduate. Inside Higher Education.
 Inside Higher Education. Oct. 16, 2019. “The Evolving Space of Continuing Education.” https://www.insidehighered.com/sponsored/evolving-space-continuing-education
 2020 Trends in Higher Education. Hanover Research.