Category Archives: Open House/Entrance Testing

Thank You For A Busy Saturday!

When we renovated the field at the Mentor campuses last summer and installed the Dome in November, we knew that our current families would be able to appreciate the difference. At our Open House last Saturday, I was inside the Dome to answer questions and three of the families who came in were actually current families! They had a son/daughter writing the entrance assessment but they were excited to see the Dome themselves because as one Mom put it “Our son talks about it every day but we haven’t had the chance to come inside it yet!”

Our current families notice the improvement but we were not expecting the “buzz” from people outside the Mentor/TEAM community. One family told us that their middle son wanted to come because in his words, “they have an awesome soccer field and a Dome” and “Mentor always has the best sports teams”. Even the casual observer has noticed; my mortgage broker (to whom I speak every 5 years) complimented me on how we have improved the community and that “it really looks sharp from the GO Train!”. Local training facility SWAT knows about our facilities and this afternoon brought CFL star Chad Owens to the Dome for a video shoot.

Our policy of re-investing in the school’s facilities, staff and instructional materials paid off with a very busy Saturday at every division of TEAM and Mentor but we continue to value the personal recommendations that you make to your circle of friends. Thanks again and we accept the challenge of affirming that trust.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Advertising Through The Years

We are preparing to welcome prospective families to our school this Saturday. At Mentor and TEAM, we have been having Saturday Open Houses for over 30 years and it is interesting to me both how things have changed and how they have stayed the same when it comes to new families.

When I moved from teaching to administration, one of the first duties I was given was to take care of the advertising for Open House. At that time, this meant advertisements in the weekly newspapers (Mississauga News, Brampton and Etobicoke Guardian, etc.) that had a list of all the things we offered. They were effective in the same way that our little square ad in the Yellow Pages worked for us and we would always have 20 to 30 families join us from these media.

Fast forward to today and I would imagine that most of our younger families have never owned a Yellow Pages book! The local newspapers were always ad-heavy but now they come with an extra kilogram of flyers and we know from speaking with you that these papers are immediately recycled more often than they are read. Today, we advertise just as effectively as we did earlier using online sources (Google, Facebook, etc.) but that it just where our actual dollars are spent. Our most effective promotional materials (and promoters) have been unchanged since 1981.

Word-of-mouth has always been how 90% of our new families come to us. Parents and students (and even teachers) talk about the school with their friends, family members, work colleagues and clients and have always been generous in sharing their stories (and our contact information). Word-of-mouth is probably an inaccurate term nowadays and “word-of-keystroke” might be a better description. I know that many of you send this email update on to your contacts when your child is highlighted. I see that you “like” and “share” our online posts on Twitter and Facebook and even as early as 5:45 this morning, a parent shared the Primary Campus Open House ad from Facebook to her wall. When the students, parents and staff are so enthused about the school, we are appreciative and it makes us want to work that much harder to back up your endorsements.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Anticipating a Busy Month Ahead!

Well we are four school days into 2016 and after three weeks of (relative) relaxation and re-energizing, everyone quickly got back into their regular school routines. For me, the only differences between 2015 and 2016 that I have noticed is that it is a bit colder and that the QEW from Erin Mills to Hurontario has much less traffic between 7:00 and 7:30 (I would be interested to hear your theories on the traffic part, by the way!).

We have welcomed a few new students into our schools this week and based on the phone calls and emails at the campus offices the past four days, we are anticipating one of the busiest January Open House Saturdays for prospective families we have seen.

Remember that if you have children who are not currently at the school, we want to see them in January so we know we have a spot for them. Please also realize that beginning January 18, we will be admitting 2016-2017 students to Mentor’s JK to Grade 8 classes so we would like to have those registration forms back as soon as possible.

There are many extra-curriculars next week and then the mid-year evaluations for many of our students are near the end of the month. Please take a look at the online calendar as we have a VERY busy month coming up.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Is There A Right or WOMM When It Comes To Advertising?

On Saturday, we will open our doors and let prospective families come and see why we think we have the best educational programme and facility in the GTA.

Over the years, we have tried various methods of advertising our school and the following pattern has emerged – the medium works in the short term only. In the past, we tried advertisements in local newspapers and magazines that varied from very information-rich ads to just a smiling student and the Open House date. Going WAY back, we even bought space in the Yellow Pages phone book but as parents like you (e.g.: the ones who don’t know what a phone book is!) changed the way you received information, we changed as well.

In reality, though, we have never changed. Even in the days when I would ask a roomful of prospective families how they learned about Mentor College, there was only a handful of hands for my questions of “Newspaper ad?” When I got around to asking “And who is here today because you have a friend, neighbour, colleague or family member who recommended us,” it was consistently 90% of the crowd who acknowledged this. Nowadays, we advertise (modestly, compared to many other schools) via Google, Facebook and a select few websites and search engines but we still find that 90% of our new families are coming to us because of our “old” (current and former) families. And even more interesting to me is that even this form of advertising is not really all that effective; in fact, 70-80% of all business and service recommendations are still made in face-to-face or phone conversations!

I was discussing this with a friend of mine in the automotive marketing world and he said that we are fortunate that our families are great proponents of WOMM…word-of-mouth marketing. He says he doesn’t remember the term being discussed when we were at university together in the late 1980s but that no matter what the latest trend in marketing and advertising might be, a quality car (or gadget or private school) product sells itself. So if you know of someone who is “kicking the tires” of private schools and might want to “take a test drive” this Saturday, please send them in and tell them to let us know that you were the one who sent them to us. If you do, I promise not to say “So…what can we do to get you into a blazer for the 2017 model year?”

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Acceptance Matters

This past week, a North Carolina teenager found her “15 minutes of fame” based on her response to getting an entrance rejection letter from Duke University. For those who did not see it, here is the message that 17-year-old Siobhan O’Dell sent to their admissions department:

Dear Duke University Admissions,

Thank you for you rejection letter of March 26, 2015. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me admission in the Fall 2015 freshman class at Duke.

This year I have been fortunate enough to receive rejection letters from the best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished, I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago.

Despite Duke’s outstanding success in rejecting previous applicants, you simply did not meet my qualifications. Therefore, I will be attending Duke University’s freshmen class.

I look forward to seeing you then.

Siobhan O’Dell

I didn’t look at the comments on social media when I first saw this story but my first impression was that it was an April Fool’s prank. It wasn’t, but snopes.com indicates that similar versions of it have been floating around for almost 20 years on the internet. If she came up with the idea herself then she might be admired for her spirit and/or sense of humour but if she was actually serious in trying to get Duke’s admissions to change their decision, she should have asked someone to proof-read it first to get rid of the errors in grammar!

Next Saturday, we will be opening our doors for a school-wide Open House and at the Main Campus, prospective Grade 5 to 12 students will be writing our entrance assessment test. Percentage-wise, we certainly accept a greater number of students than Duke on an annual basis and we think we are pretty astute when it comes to matching a student with our appropriate academic programme. Like Duke, we are a school with an excellent academic reputation and there are always a few Siobhan O’Dells seeking entrance…like the student who changed the creative writing topic “Why I Want to Come to Mentor” to “Why I Don’t Want to Come to Mentor” and ended up coming to the school because he was never told that he was SUCH a good writer!

Ms. O’Dell is just like our Grade 12s in that this is “decision time” for post-secondary education but there is one huge difference. While she is moaning about multiple rejection letters, our students are agonizing over the number of ACCEPTANCES and trying to weigh the pros and cons of the various schools, programs, scholarship incentives, etc.). I am sure you know which problem the parents of a high senior would rather have!

If you know a family who wants Grade 12 to be a year of “worrying” about multiple post-secondary education options, please invite them to come check us out next Saturday. Even the Siobhan O’Dells are welcome (she sounds like an interesting young woman and we would work on that grammar…)!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School