In this part of the world education is a business. In fact after offshore oil and gas, and palm oil, education is the third largest industry in Malaysia. The competition for students is fierce, and all the programs here at Taylor’s College have to compete, not only with other colleges, but also with each other. For the most part this competition is civil and respectful, but with enrolment and even jobs on the line – for all of us are on yearly contract – our program has to fight for every student we get.

Much of that recruitment is conducted on what is called College Days. The College packs about 60 of us into a large hall and thorough the media direct the parents to come and get us. They do. By the hundreds. It is an exhausting three days during which I seldom get time to take a breath, let alone get lunch. This is followed by three weeks of Open Days; a similar marketing free for all, but in a smaller venue with fewer parents.

Many of my colleagues struggle with the promotion of our program as if it were the burger-of-the-month at McDonald’s. This is not the way that education is “sold” in Canada! But this is not Canada, and when in Rome, one must learn Latin. Although I find this recruitment both demanding and exhausting, I enjoy meeting prospective students and their parents and explaining to them the options available to them. I find it instructive to get back in touch with student and parental expectations. Apparently I am quite good at it, signing up (they call it ‘converting’ here!) 11 new students in the past two days alone. I would sign more if the program were more widely known, but I end up spending a lot of my time just overcoming the reluctance to consider a program that the parents have never heard of. It can be a tough sell.

Taylor’s College originally started in Australia, which also ranks education as its third largest industry. The Australian Program is still top dog at the College, followed closely by the Cambridge A-Level Program which draws upon its British heritage in this former British colony to sells its product. Canadian education is largely misunderstood and underappreciated, so it is an uphill battle just to get an opportunity to speak to parents. I figure if I can get a word in, I can sell them on the program, and my 80% conversion rate – yes, Taylor’s tracks that kind of thing – speaks to my effectiveness in doing so. But having put in six days out of the last seven on this service to my employer, all of it on a ‘voluntary’ basis, it is now time for a few days of R&R, and a chance to celebrate the birth of my Saviour. We are on our way to Singapore in the morning so Pam can touch base with her colleagues at TWR’s head office for a couple of days. I have promised not to talk about my work until after our holidays.

As a footnote to what has been a largely successful period of recruiting, in my enthusiasm to sign a new student, I called our rental agent, Rosy, to see if I could find the young lad some accommodation. Instead, I called Rosey, my sister in England and ended up talking to Claire, her daughter, who was visiting from up north. Imagine our collective surprise, and my delight to be able to get in some Christmas greetings with my family. I believe that is called serendipity. And yes, the student ended up enrolled in our program and I upped my conversion rate. Now if only I could convince Taylor’s to pay me a bonus!

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