Chang drops half a million on ads

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Ryerson’s continuing education school will spend up to $500,000 on its advertising campaign this year in a bid to attract more students. Associate News Editor Carolyn Turgeon reports

The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education will spend up to $500,000 on advertising this year alone.

The cost is only 1.7 per cent of their total expenditures, meaning the total funds can be estimated at over $29 million. The majority of that comes from tuition, making the Chang School a significant source of income for the university.

The school has at least 70,000 enrolled students and spending on advertising is the primary way to attract additional potential learners. Similar campaigns do not exist for undergraduates programs.

“Every year we conduct a campaign and part of the reason why is the competitive market for adult education,” said Gervan Fearon, dean of the Chang School.

Last year the school spent $300,000 on advertising for potential students.

“We’re actually relatively modest [when spending] because we’re so deliberate in where we advertise,” said Fearon.

The picture ads, featuring actual Chang School graduates and their stories, have been in subway and bus stations around Toronto, while their radio and YouTube ads target adults outside the city.

“We looked at places for which we can really access and communicate to the adult learning community,” said Fearon.

“The only way you can meet society’s needs is to let them know these programs are available to them.”

According to Fearon, potential students fall into three categories: those who wish to reshape their career, those who are looking to gain more skills in their field, and those who are looking to get back into the education system after a long period of time.

“[The campaign] can’t rely on traditional methods because they aren’t traditional students,” said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.

The distinct difference in their prospective students is the main reason the Chang School advertises more obviously than Ryerson.

“If you’re a high school student, it’s one strategy, if you’re currently employed and looking to further your education, there’s another, and there’s another one if you’re finishing undergraduate and you’re looking for a graduate program,” said Levy.

The more typical routes for communicating with high school students include university fairs and speaking at high schools, which are less noticeable to the public.

“In this day and age, there is the assurance that a bachelor’s degree is high-valued,” said Nicole Foerschler, vice-president of JMH Consulting, a firm that specializes in advising and improving continuing education schools.

The public can take something from the campaign as well.

“The advertisements can really attempt to not only make a statement about adult learning but also makes a broad statement to individuals about continuing education as an important component of life,” said Fearon.

“It really speaks well in being able to garner public support for post-secondary education.”

Ryan Edwards Communications Inc. was hired for the campaign and has worked for Alterna, Canadian Association of Optometrists, Enbridge and Union Gas.

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