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Personal Relationships Are Key to HSE Success

by Amanda Vellake, Director of Adult and Continuing Education

Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division

Several years ago, Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division conducted a survey of its students. The primary purpose was to ascertain how students heard about our programs, specifically our high school equivalency diploma preparation classes (HSE).

While the number of respondents comprised only about 15% of our total enrollment, the results were insightful: Well over half of the students said they learned about our HSE program through a friend or family member who had previously graduated. Typically, this is referred to as word-of-mouth and is defined by one online dictionary* as “the process of telling people you know about a particular product or service, usually because you think it is good and want to encourage them to try it.” In the parlance of product and service marketing, what better endorsement could you ask for!

Since that survey was conducted, Facebook and other social media sites have emerged as digital word-of-mouth platforms. And our Adult Education Division has come to rely on those for getting the word out on all of our programs and special events such as Career Fairs. But we still recognize the power of personal relationships when it comes to effective and successful communication with potential students as well as ensuring their success.

There are two important reasons why we believe our former students are singing our praises: Undoubtedly, the skill level of our instructional staff ensures that students are enrolled in a quality academic environment. Just as important is the personal interaction our teachers and advisors cultivate with students who often come to us having faced many challenges in their lives. What they find in our classrooms are people who care about their success.

The Adult Education Division regularly produces and publishes success stories about students who have graduated and embarked on a career path. Evidence of the relationships that our staff builds with students can be found in these interviews where students express praise and gratitude for a particular teacher or advisor.

Ieshia Brooks earned her HSE diploma in 2020 and credited her Adult Education Division teachers for their unwavering support and for seeing things in herself that she did not know she could do, such as becoming an entrepreneur in the field of cosmetology. “Surround yourself with positive people and you will get positive results,” she said. (Read the full story here.)

These stories are shared across social media platforms and with a database of community partners and leaders. They have proven valuable to our recruiting of new students. And they will continue to be incorporated in our marketing strategy as we move forward.

As many adult education educators have likely learned, the nature of earning a HSE diploma is a very distinct and, often, an emotional undertaking for most students. Personal pride plays a big role in the decision to come back to school and try again. People might spend a small fortune on a cell phone and not think twice. But making the investment in earning their HSE is priceless.

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