Quad Learning Employee Spotlight: Amy Ma
Today we continue to highlight how our employees are helping Quad Learning shift the higher education paradigm. Amy Ma, Manager for Greater China and East Asia, helps connect students looking for an excellent and affordable higher education experience with Quad Learning’s programs and partners.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My biggest responsibility is to build partnerships with local education counselors, schools and organizations that connect us with students. It’s important for us to understand the specific needs and challenges of different students and apply different development.
Another major piece of my job is admissions counseling. Once we begin working with our students, we provide one-on-one counseling for them from the beginning of the application process through the time they leave for their school in the US, and we make ourselves available for questions once they get there.
And then there’s market research. We research our competitors in China and East Asia as well as the overall international higher education market. Our management team in the US uses the research we do here as a tool to make improvements to our services and provide more attractive and better programming for our students.
How would you describe Chinese opinion towards American higher education?
The prevailing opinion among many Chinese people is that the American higher education system is one of the best in the world. When they consider studying abroad, they want to go to the best programs at the best universities, so they look at the United States first.
And what drives them to Quad Learning in particular?
I think it’s because the programs that we offer are unique among higher education pathways. American Honors specifically provides an experience that Chinese and East Asian students can’t really get from another international education company. We provide honors courses at two-year colleges and help students prepare to transfer to excellent four-year schools. Chinese and East Asian students are surprised and pleased that they can get on track to attend those top tier schools for a comparatively low price. It almost seems too good to be true.
And across our programs, students recognize and are impressed by the ways in which we partner with numerous colleges and universities. Ultimately, students want to feel confident they have a clear path towards achieving their degree, and our programs help them chart that path.
What are some common questions you hear from Chinese and East Asian students?
They of course are concerned about the school tuition and fees. This is also one of the reasons students come to our programs — because the 2+2 model is significantly less expensive than other pathways. Students also often ask if other students from their home country have been successful in the program. That’s very important to them, so student testimonials are a big part of our recruitment strategy.
What’s unique about Quad Learning?
Because we follow a 2+2 strategy, beginning with a two-year school and then transferring to a four-year school, we keep costs low for students. We are often around one-third the cost of other pathway programs.
But our advising system is intensive and the support our advisors provide really sets Quad Learning apart from other higher education providers. Before students even leave the country, they meet their advisors over skype. Together, they come up with a plan for the student to succeed over the next two years. Once students arrive, they make sure that students are enrolling in the classes they need, and they make themselves available for any questions. Our advisors are among the highest rated aspects of the Quad Learning experience, and our students often remain good friends with their advisors after their program is over.
How do you select your students?
We evaluate our students holistically. We have certain standards for student GPA and English proficiency, but we also make room for exceptions. As we look at student transcripts, we see a lot of students with great potential but who come in a little under our numbers. Students submit an online application with essay questions that give them an opportunity to stand out. We take into account all aspects of a student’s application.
How do you help students make the transition from life at home to college halfway around the world?
Advisors play a big part in easing the transition. Once students arrive, many advisors will take students out on the weekends for social activities, often tours of their new cities, to help them become familiar with their surroundings.
On the program level, we also have an acculturization seminar that helps students understand life and academic expectations in the United States. In that seminar, our students cover everything from how to open a bank account, to how to use the air conditioner in their apartment, to how to write an email to their professors. Our advisors have significant experience working with students and can generally anticipate students’ questions and needs in order to help with their transition.
Quad Learning partners with community colleges and universities to achieve strategic goals through improved student outcomes, domestic and international recruiting and student services, and increasing access to higher education.