Questions Potential Students Should Ask

Archtkd

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It seem like there's lots of threads about people getting charged exhorbitant monthly dues and belt testing fees by suppossedly crooked teachers. Rather than just complain and since many MT posters sound kind and appear to be in the know, wouldn't it be a good idea for us to help the said gullible public. i.e. Are there things a potential student should ask before enrolling in a dojang? I can think of a few things, but please correct or add to the list. This are questions that are easy to ask before one enrolls in a school and gets emotionally tied to a teacher.

1. Does the instructor have verifiable evidence (meaning can be confirmed by an independent third party/organization) of ability, experience and qualification to teach whatever he or she claims to be teaching? Ask to see copies of certificates and take notes. Observe classes and compare said instructor with teachers of similar style at other local schools, etc.

2. Does the instructor have other training such as CPR and First Aid? Ask for copies of certificates.

3. Does the instructor have a criminal background check? Ask for evidence.

4. Does the dojang have current liability insurance? Ask for evidence

5. How do the instructors montly fees compare to other local dojangs.

6. Testing fee: How much does it cost? Is it mandatory and how often is it done? What kind of certificate -- Gup and Dan -- do you get?

7. How do the dojang's fees compare with others in area -- shop around.

8. Is the dojang a contract business and if so what are the terms and durations of said contracts?

9. Is competition at the dojang mandatory and if so how much does it usually cost?

10. Do some serious hard and internet research on the dojang and instructor/s.
 

Earl Weiss

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I agree that prospective students should watch classes at several schools and compare what they see. Sadly however I doubt the newbies and their parents really have any idea what they are seeing or how to measure the product.

I would suggest that they ask for a disclosure about all required fees and purchases which would include uniform(s) sparring equipment, weapons or other ancilary materials.
 

Steve

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While a criminal background check strikes me as a little over the top, I ensure that he/she isn't a child molester before enrolling my kids.

I agree that watching classes is important, but I'd pay particular attention to upper belt classes. If they're not really good, that's a big, red flag.

Personally, I encourage people to remember that they're interviewing the school owner. Not the other way around.
 

granfire

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While a criminal background check strikes me as a little over the top, I ensure that he/she isn't a child molester before enrolling my kids.

I agree that watching classes is important, but I'd pay particular attention to upper belt classes. If they're not really good, that's a big, red flag.

Personally, I encourage people to remember that they're interviewing the school owner. Not the other way around.

I guess it is a it over the top...but maybe it depends on the setup you are getting yourself into: If you are dealing with situations were you had to leave your kid in their care for an extended period of time, like for overnighters or tourney trips it could mean peace of mind. If you are always around the kids and the instructors it probably is unimportant. But the list ought to be separated and pinned to the top. Those are some very important points one should keep in mind. While it is true that the absolute newcomer won't know a spear hand from a reverse punch, one can learn a lot about the place by sitting in the lobby and talking to the parents and soaking the climate up.
 

shima

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I really like this page the dojo I train at has on their website for helping students pick a school:
http://www.grossmanskenpo.com/choosing.htm

It has some good points and questions for potential students to ask our school and other schools when they're looking for a place to study.
 

bushidomartialarts

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Those are good questions, but there's one that can overshadow them all

Does the dojo/dojang/studio/academy have a low-cost trial period?

The first aid/criminal history/insurance stuff is one thing, but when it comes to prices....finding the right martial arts family is far more important than saving a few dollars on tuition. You'll only know if this is the right school by trying it.
 

shima

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Those are good questions, but there's one that can overshadow them all

Does the dojo/dojang/studio/academy have a low-cost trial period?

The first aid/criminal history/insurance stuff is one thing, but when it comes to prices....finding the right martial arts family is far more important than saving a few dollars on tuition. You'll only know if this is the right school by trying it.

Most good schools will let you do 1-2 classes for free, I highly recommend trying a couple schools out for lessons like this first and then after you've done the 1-2 samplings per school, then go and do the 1-3 month trial period at the reduced rate if they offer it. The last thing you want to do is hop schools every 1-3 months because you're doing long trials at places that may not even be a right fit. Generally within a day or two you can get an idea if a place has potential or just doesn't click with you.
 
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Archtkd

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Those are good questions, but there's one that can overshadow them all

Does the dojo/dojang/studio/academy have a low-cost trial period?

The first aid/criminal history/insurance stuff is one thing, but when it comes to prices....finding the right martial arts family is far more important than saving a few dollars on tuition. You'll only know if this is the right school by trying it.

I personally am not in favor of low-cost trial periods. Too many dojangs use them as switch and bait. Why should someone be paying a low fee for exactly the same thing that other dojang members are paying a full fee? I think One or two free classes should give a someone a good idea about a dojang.
 

bushidomartialarts

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I personally am not in favor of low-cost trial periods. Too many dojangs use them as switch and bait. Why should someone be paying a low fee for exactly the same thing that other dojang members are paying a full fee? I think One or two free classes should give a someone a good idea about a dojang.

Disagree. One or two free classes is short enough that they can remain on their "best behavior." A month or so and you'll get a really good sense of how a school is actually run.

Now, if the school doesn't have contracts then the trial period's not necessary. But if a school wants you to commit to a 6 or 12 month contract without at least a month on a trial, run -- don't walk -- across the street to their competition.
 
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Archtkd

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Disagree. One or two free classes is short enough that they can remain on their "best behavior." A month or so and you'll get a really good sense of how a school is actually run.

Now, if the school doesn't have contracts then the trial period's not necessary. But if a school wants you to commit to a 6 or 12 month contract without at least a month on a trial, run -- don't walk -- across the street to their competition.

I don't operate a contract dojang and have never enrolled in one.
 

Carol

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A low cost trial period also gives the student long enough exposure to get hooked ;)
 

ralphmcpherson

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This isnt a money issue but one that I feel is relevent. Most non martial artists looking into starting Ma generally dont know their is a difference between a "sport" MA and an MA focused on self defence. This is something that potential clientel should question if they are likely to be swayed either way. I have known many people to sign up at a "sport" club only to realise 3 years down the track that they really cant defend themself. I have also known people who after 3 or 4 years at a non sport club realise they would like to start competing and take up tkd as a serious sport only to find out their club is not kukkiwon affiliated and that that affects their ability to compete in almost all tournaments.
 

Carol

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bushidomartialarts

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I'm not one who stubbornly refuses to change and maybe I oughta try that one of these days. For the most part I've been lucky to get serious students who can make up their minds pretty fast, but it never hurt to grow business.

It worked well for me when I was running a school. Some that worked well...

One month for 1/2 off.
Free uniform for trying one month.
Whole family's first month for the price of one (with all the uniforms and sparring gear they have to buy to start out, this one is really appreciated).

One a little more controversial, that worked for me.....20-35% discount if you pay in advance for 4 or 6 months.
 

ralphmcpherson

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At our club the first lesson is free and if you sign up for 3 months you get 15% off the total cost plus you get a free uniform and belt. This particular promotion brings in heaps of students and because they have paid for 3 months it gives them time to get into the routine of it all and get past the 'awkward' stage of being a newbie and not knowing anybody etc. Generally I have found the retention rate to be better when this promo is running.
 

andyjeffries

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While a criminal background check strikes me as a little over the top, I ensure that he/she isn't a child molester before enrolling my kids.

In the UK, you should be a BTC Registered Instructor before opening a class (a lot of halls require it now, you may still find some groups/venues that let you do it without) and that includes an Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check (so all you have to do is ask to see an up-to-date BTC Instructor certificate/card).
 

Balrog

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While a criminal background check strikes me as a little over the top, I ensure that he/she isn't a child molester before enrolling my kids.
Not really. ATA started requiring background checks on all instructors for initial certification and every time we recertify. If nothing else, having a clean background check gives prospective new students a warm fuzzy about putting their kids in your school.
 
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