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Friday, 17 October 2014 05:18

Student recruiters on the run all the time

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“Have suitcase, will travel” could be a motto applied to Medicine Hat College student recruiters Jennifer Fleckenstein and Markus Selkirk.


Walking into their office which is neat and tidy, yet filled with pamphlets and brochures, conspicuously sits a duffel bag on the floor and a wall calendar which is filled with the names of communities and educational venues outlining their busy itinerary.
Selkirk was just in Swift Current, Assiniboia and this week will be Drumheller. Fleckenstein was in Calgary for a week. It’s a tough road to hoe, literally, but the love of travel and the admiration of the school is what helps. They also know that it will slow down, eventually.
“Typically, September-October is the busiest for us. Our main focus is the roadtrips in the fall,” explains Fleckenstein of the hard-working two-person group making the trips. “Personally for me, I have to have that buy-in about the school ... it’s in everyone’s best interest to be excited about the college.”
Fleckenstein likes the direction of the college and appreciates what it has to offer for courses. She says that makes for easy relationship building.
The reason there is a focus in the fall for widespread touring on recruiting of students is not only for post-secondary institutions wanting high-school students thinking about 2015 already, but because they are following a schedule set by the Educational Liaison Association of Alberta (ELAA).
According to its website, the “ELAA was established to provide information about post-secondary opportunities available in Alberta through the co-ordinated activities of its members.”
Fleckenstein says there’s a 13-week travel schedule set up by the ELAA where post-secondary institutions meet up at various trade shows and open houses at various schools in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan.
“It’s a travelling roadshow,” explains Fleckenstein, who adds MHC generally stays in the communities south of Red Deer and into southern Saskatchewan from the middle of September until the middle of November. If there is an area in northern Alberta for example  they feel may not be worth the expense and time i.e a week at a time, they will stay closer to home.
“Even with the (ELAA) tour, we can do our own separate thing. For example, we’ll go to Oyen, which is outside of the ELAA schedule.”
Besides hitting the road Fleckenstein and Selkirk also enjoy bringing senior-aged high-school students to the college itself. They will actually bring in students from nearby communities such as Taber and Oyen for a Student for a Day-type events.
“We can actually bus them in here. It’s more meaningful for them because they actually see and experience what the college is about,” says Fleckenstein. “If you bring them here, you’re more likely to get the message across.”
The students when they tour the area or at one of the post-secondary junkets Fleckenstein and Selkirk are speaking at, fill out survey cards.
College administration determine from the responses, the lack thereof or comparing the responses with the number of new students enrolled the following semesters to determine whether or not they will go back to that community or school.
If it sounds like pure fun going to post-secondary festivals, job fairs and college/university days at high schools in Calgary or B.C. one has to consider the travel. If there is a trip to a far away place such as Trail or Nelson B.C., there’s a five-night commitment with perhaps up to three events a day. There could be anywhere from 10 to 14 events within a week trip.
It is difficult work and like anything, sometimes there are bad days, but Fleckenstein says she doesn’t get down because she knows what’s at stake, not only for the Medicine Hat College, but more importantly for the inquiring students.
“Smile, it’s always the way I look at it,” she explains. “If the student is asking a question for the first time, it could be a make or break it situation on whether he (/she) even goes to college — let alone Medicine Hat.”
For those interested there are more information meetings and tours being set up about the college.
One takes place Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. for Medicine Hat and one starts at 5:30 p.m. for Brooks Nov. 19.
To register, phone 403-529-3819 or see the website at: www.mhc.ab.ca.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor