Career Colleges Employing Unorthodox Marketing Tactics

On January 29th, 2009, one of Canada’s flagship newspapers published a somewhat prophetic story. That story was designed to put students (and potential students) of community and career colleges at ease regarding concerns over how the autumn 2008 “recession crisis” would affect their studies – and them – financially.

The article was a question and answer-type ‘session’ in the Globe and Mail, and was authored (in part) by “guest writer” Alex Usher: identified as the Director of Educational Policy Institute Canada. In the piece, Mr. Usher stated “many are looking to higher education for a brighter future” in light of the sudden increase in unemployment due to layoffs (‘convenient’ downsizing) or outright job evaporation (outright closure). Students from across Canada were invited to participate in an open, online Forum (hosted by the Globe and Mail newspaper’s interactive portion of their website), and the results of the question and answer session were summarily published.

It certainly was an interesting discussion. Mr. Usher, while valiantly attempting to assuage the fears of many students (most of who were already enrolled in a degree or diploma program), also made some hard-hitting, grave statements in regards to the financial realities facing Universities, Community Colleges and Private Career Colleges alike. Without going into a tremendous amount of detail, it was Mr. Usher’s belief that while “cutting costs will not be the first instinct”, putting additional pressure on the Federal and Provincial governments to either increase grants or allow for higher tuition fees would be followed by decrees of “there’s no new money, so muddle through as best you can with very small tuition increases.” In addition to demurring or taking an education guess as to how each institution would cope with these constraints, Mr. Usher seemed to predict that all higher education facilities alike were likely facing decreasing student populations, higher tuition costs and hard financial decisions for “at least five years.”

As outlined above, that online Forum discussion took place months ago (and it should be noted was held during the height of a bitter and protracted strike by educators and assistants at York University in Toronto). North America has “evolved” since that time: From a heightened sense of collective hope with the election of President Barack Obama in the United States, and the sense of relief to Canada’s emerging relatively unscathed from the 2008 financial crisis; to the deteriorating confidence and disillusionment in the Obama administration south of the border and the global financial uncertainty surrounding the literal bankruptcy of certain central European nations. The effect on the higher education system – in both Canada and the United States – has been quietly remarkable. There is an almost subtle desperation in the way that Universities and Colleges are going about trying to raise enrolments – and thereby raise their ever-trickling away revenues.

In Canada’s largest city (Toronto), one cannot simply walk down the street it seems, without encountering the latest in a seemingly unending string of educational institution enticements in the way of stereotypical, derivative advertisements. Each one of these uninspired, mediocre and sometimes even vapid graphical pleas more or less virtually parrots their own competition. The message has tended to be precisely the same – whether the program being offered is as short as a Personal Support Worker diploma or as long as an MBA – regardless of which school has purchased prime advertising tenements along Toronto’s hyper-busy subway and transit systems, commuter thoroughfares and pedestrian walkways. For close to two years, now, continuing education advertisements have featured repetitive, “cookie cutter” images of mature students and eager young hopefuls alike, each allegedly extolling the virtues of the portrayed University or College. Some of these advertisements have even featured the exact same (obvious) student image – even though the institutions themselves are quite apparently in direct competition with each other, and therefore completely unrelated and unallied.

Despite the best advertising efforts of these schools, from the massive federal universities like York, Western Ontario and the University of Toronto on down to the smallest community and/or private college such as Centennial, Seneca, Humber or even BizTech Institute, enrolments continued to drop at an alarming rate. Due, in part, to the massive influx of Government (E.I.) Second Career applicants and the agonizingly slow process of processing them all as well as the aforementioned raise in tuition prices, it should be mentioned. If Ontario’s post-secondary institutions were going to continue to grow (let alone merely survive in some cases), clearly more aggressive, if not revolutionary recruitment tactics had to be employed.

Unfortunately, what has followed has been a nearly ridiculous, if not outright laughable, series of overtly unorthodox, atypical – and downright weird – marketing ploys by some seemingly respectable schools in their efforts to entice potential students. Everything from offering $500.00 “scholarships” for purchasing pizza, to what amounts to “perpetual study vacations” within a tropical island setting have been utilized as “legitimate” marketing vehicles for some continuing education establishments recruiting in Ontario. While it is true that certain large food corporations do, in fact, have extremely attractive scholarship programs available to potential post-secondary students, the application process is a little more involved than merely receiving a “guaranteed note” in exchange for the purchase of a pie. Yum! Brands, the mega-corporation that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchising monster and Canada’s Boston Pizza, to name the two largest and most visible examples, have been offering fairly attractive scholarships (to their employees and, in some cases, immediate family members) for years but have stopped short at allying themselves via the way of a blanket “voucher” with any one identifiable institution.

Many long-established community colleges, throughout Canada and the United States, have been exploiting the meteoric interest, and near demand, in popular culture-related industries and offering seemingly lucrative opportunities (at reduced tuition, of course) to study, for instance, as music or recording engineers, or chefs. The Culinary Arts program at George Brown College in Toronto’s downtown core is one of the rare exceptions: their respected and modern Culinary Skills diploma program is highly in demand and prospective students can expect to be placed on a six-month wait-list before being invited to commence studies. However, similar programs at George Brown that are directly related to their professional Culinary Arts and/or Hospitality and Tourism programs (Hospitality Management, Food and Nutrition Management, for example) are attempting new initiatives in the competition to register students. Even a tried and true, near-or-above chair capacity program such as Sheridan College’s Film School (or the equally prestigious Toronto Film School, which just opened a new location within the city’s central core) has joined the fray of daily advertisers that can be found within the city’s free daily commuter newspapers.

Very obviously, then, the competition between Ontario’s post secondary institutions is fierce, and said competition doesn’t just extend to the various universities and major colleges. The private career colleges – from film schools to health care and business schools alike – are virtually all locked in a daily war of printed words, each trying to secure rising enrollments. While Canada (and especially Ontario) has come through the latest recession scare almost unscathed, the uncertainty surrounding the job market has resulted in a number of recent graduates and mature students alike seriously contemplating a complete overhaul in their careers. The Government of Ontario’s Second Career re-training program has been a veritable boon for those recently unemployed, and who have given serious consideration to expanding their future job opportunities by training (or re-training) for employment in a wholly new field of expertise. As outlined above, some of those enticements towards these “second career” students have run the promotions gamut from the outright bizarre (“Buy pizza and we’ll give you a bursary!”) to the almost pathetically desperate (“Study in a tropical location and be virtually on vacation!”).

Smaller schools, like the aforementioned BizTech Institute, have preferred to relay on considerably less ‘understated’ marketing methods in the effort to convince prospective students to sign on with them. For example, BizTech Institute has developed, in a very short period of time, a solid reputation as an exceptional Business School – and the Institute offers a revolutionary, truly unique Diploma course in becoming a certified Payroll Compliance Practitioner, as an example. For students who may wish to be actually “on the job” within a few short weeks, this particular program (while giving a good ‘general instruction’ on overall Accounting procedures) can have graduates job-ready as a certified PCP (Payroll Compliance Practitioner) in 18 weeks. The full Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Administration program at BizTech Institute, by comparison, takes twice the commitment (36 weeks). Another of these short programs is the popular Personal Support Worker training program (24 weeks), which features a much smaller, more intimate and hands-on learning environment than most programs offered at larger colleges. Rather than rely on (what amounts to) marketing trickery, BizTech Institute is advertising these two programs in particular for approximately half the normal price of tuition. Their Personal Support Worker and Payroll Compliance Practitioner courses are undoubtedly affordable and attainable, then, for anyone with the desire to embark upon a second career.

It’s a simple approach, and one designed to address an immediate need: many of the PSW (Personal Support Worker) programs at other colleges, for instance, have full classrooms and have placed new enrollments on lengthy waiting lists. In the case of Payroll practitioners, it’s also a simple matter of need, but in a far different way. There is a dearth of qualified payroll practitioners in Ontario, and the BizTech Institute diploma program aims to try and alleviate that issue by training more professionally qualified workers. No pizza, no vacations – just straight-forward, aggressive and old fashioned price rollbacks on in-demand diploma programs.

The end result has yet to be seen. Only time will tell which approach (if any, in this uncertain economic time) will ultimately prove to be the most successful at attracting new students. In this competition for student enrollments, however, perhaps the old adage about “keeping it simple” may prove to be the best solution, though. It just seems to make common sense, after all. In other words, which student wouldn’t rather save hundreds of dollars by taking advantage of a half-price tuition program at a quality, reputable college – and put that saved money to better use, like buying books, supplies and yes, even pizza – than utilize what amounts to a ‘coupon’ (masquerading as a ‘bursary’) in exchange for a one-time purchase of their favorite pie? You surely don’t need to be a college graduate to figure out which educational offer contains the actual highest, and best, value.

Discover Lots to See and Do Along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche

If you’re looking for a holiday destination that has it all – glorious sunshine, pristine sand and plenty of culture – you can’t go wrong by booking a break in Abu Dhabi. The emirate is renowned for its lovely climate, breathtaking buildings and perfect beaches, all of which you can access from the city’s costal thoroughfare, the Corniche.

The walkway runs alongside the water of the Arabian Gulf for almost 6 km, taking in beaches, gardens and cultural sites on its route, and is the perfect place to stretch your legs after a long flight.

Whether you want to amble along and admire the sea views, or get the blood pumping with something a little more active, the Corniche is definitely the place to do so. The wide pavement makes it ideal for rollerblading or cycling, so why not hire a bicycle and exercise those muscles?

If you’re happy with a gentle stroll down the Corniche, you’ll find plenty of places to stop for refreshments after disembarking from your cheap flights to the emirate. The walkway is dotted with cafes where you can sample some famous Arabian coffee, which is known for its rich flavour.

Choose a good vantage point and you can sip your drink and watch the boats bobbing up and down at the nearby marina.

The beaches are one of the biggest draws for visitors to the region and if you want to relax then there is nowhere better than on the sand. For a nominal fee you can spend some time on the public stretch of coastline with a good book, or, if you’re feeling active, playing volleyball.

You might also like a refreshing dip in the sea, or perhaps trying your hand at the thrilling pastime of wakeboarding. You can also take a trip out on the water aboard a speedboat, or embark on a coastline tour of the area.

Green spaces abound along the Corniche and you’ll find excellent areas for picnics – many of which also have children’s play areas. A particularly popular spot is the Family Garden, which runs along the walkway and offers a tranquil spot for a nice stroll in pleasant green surroundings.

If you fancy taking a tour of the area on land, climb aboard an open-top bus, which you can hop on and off as you please. The bus will take you along the length of the Corniche and also into the city centre, making a stop at the Marina Mall.

This is a great place to get off if you want to indulge in a little retail therapy, and you’ll find a whole host of big brand names stocked under one roof. The mall also houses a leisure complex, where you can take in a film, go bowling and be entertained by the musical fountains.

Inside the mall you’ll also find a 100-metre high viewing platform, from where you can admire stunning views of the city, and numerous restaurants and cafes where you can sample some tasty local cuisine.

Hop back on to a bus and you can disembark in the city, where you’ll be able to see landmarks like the eye-catching Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – one of the largest in the world. Central Market is another spot worth stopping off at, as the bazaar is both a commercial and social hub of activity.

You can also take in the sight of the islands of Yas and Saadiyat during a bus tour. The former is known as Abu Dhabi’s main centre for entertainment, while the latter is shaping up to be a haven for art fans, as a variety of museums and art galleries are currently being erected here. Why not test your sporting skills on the beachfront golf course at Saadiyat Island during your time exploring?

From the Corniche, you can also access the breakwater where the Heritage Village is situated, and the attraction is certainly worth calling in at. You’ll find the settlement to be a replica of an oasis village, featuring reconstructions of Bedouin tents and a lively souk. There’s also a craft shop where you can purchase locally-made goods and experience life as it was in the emirate during a bygone age.

If you want to visit the emirate firsthand, take a look at flights to Abu Dhabi and start planning your getaway today.

Milla Jovovich Takes on More Zombies in “Resident Evil: Retribution”

Milla Jovovich has taken on some very memorable roles in her movie career, which began at the tender age of nine. Among them are turns in the cult hit “Dazed and Confused” as Michelle Burroughs and in “The Fifth Element” as Leeloo, opposite Bruce Willis. Despite her admirable resume, she is probably best known for her work as Alice in all of the “Resident Evil” films. To simply bill her as the actress from the “Resident Evil” films would be to do her a disservice. Acting is actually only one of three careers Jovovich has embarked upon in her life.

Though she was acting by the age of nine, she soon took up modeling, as well. Blessed with preternaturally good looks and a way with the camera, Jovovich left school at age 12 to focus full time on modeling. Both her parents had struggled since leaving the former USSR, so she knew the money she was making from modeling would help her family. Her face has graced more than 150 international magazine covers in her career, and she once ranked as the top earner among all models worldwide. She did it because the money was good, and it allowed her to be choosier about the acting roles she was beginning to take on.

Jovovich enrolled in acting school and began taking small parts in television shows such as “Married… With Children,” and “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” She courted controversy by appearing nude in “Return to the Blue Lagoon” when she was just 15. The controversy only boosted her career, however, leading to more movie roles. Eventually, she took on the role of Alice in the first “Resident Evil,” probably not knowing just how many sequels it would launch.

“Resident Evil” began as a video game which was adapted into a film. Many video games have been made into movies, but the “Resident Evil” franchise stands apart because it is the most financially successful video game-movie franchise in history. It has spawned four sequels, the latest of which is “Resident Evil: Retribution,” which will be released on September 14, 2012. Milla Jovovich ‘s Alice is one of the few characters in the series who has lived long enough to be in all five of the films. In this fifth installment, Alice sees the destruction that her former employer, Umbrella Corporation, has wreaked on the entire planet. The company’s experimental drug, T-Virus, has gone global, turning many people into flesh-eating zombies. After all she has been through in the first four movies, Alice is in the mood for a little retribution, hence the title of the film.

So, what exactly would lead a woman across the planet from the United States to Asia to Europe and back, just to get some revenge on a company? In the first film, “Resident Evil,” Alice is a security operative whose mind is wiped by Red Queen, who controls the Hive. The Hive is the underground experimental unit of Umbrella Corporation that is top secret. There, they experiment with the T-Virus on unsuspecting humans, including some employees. Alice is not happy about her memory being wiped and plots her revenge by the end of the film.

In the sequel “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” the T-Virus has reached the surface, meaning residents of Raccoon City are at risk, The mayor closes all major thoroughfares leading out of the city, and Alice’s only choice is to hop on a helicopter. The helicopter crashes, and Alice is rescued and then experimented on by the Detroit branch of Umbrella Corporation.

In “Resident Evil: Extinction,” Umbrella Corporation sees Alice’s value as a fighter and wishes to replicate her power. They make several Alice clones, testing them to see if any have her skills. Some end up being worthy opponents; others do not. By the end of the film, the real Alice is suddenly confronted by thousands of her clones.

In “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” Alice has the clones do her bidding, leading to the takedown of the Tokyo branch of Umbrella Corporation. The clones are then destroyed, leaving Alice as the only one of her kind, complete with superhuman capabilities as the result of all the experimentation on her. She hatches a plan to start a survivors’ colony, and all seems to be going well until the end, when her greatest nemesis turns out to be alive.

After all that Alice has been through at the hands of Umbrella Corporation, is it any wonder why she would want retribution? The fifth installment of the series is aptly named and completely appropriate. There are hints that if this entry is financially successful, there may very well be a sixth film. Where the script for that one would take Alice is anyone’s guess. Whatever happens, though, don’t be surprised if she wants more revenge on Umbrella Corporation.