Episode 70 Transcript: Your Secret Weapon to Getting College Scholarships – Meet Pam Andrews, The Scholarship Shark

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Jill Emanuel: Well hello and welcome back to the fiscal fitness podcast. Everyone, I’m so excited that you are joining again because I have a super exciting guest that I have with me today. So I have Pam Andrews who is the scholarship shark and she is a college admissions coach and scholarship strategist who helps high school students to get into their dream colleges secure and help them secure scholarships to pay for it. So I know that this is a super important topic for so many of you that have kids that are getting ready to go to college or even kids that are the age of mine, which are 8 and 10. I’m already thinking about what do I need to do to start preparing them to get them ready. And Pam is your go to resource for this. So, I’m going to toot her own horn a little bit.

So Pam, the first thing that I had ever heard about Pam was that she was at a conference that I was at and someone was like, “Oh my gosh, did you meet the scholarship shark?” This woman helped her son get over $700,000 in scholarship money to pay for undergraduate and graduate school. And I was like, “what? Like I didn’t even know that was a possibility.” But Pam also does this for other students and that’s why I really wanted to bring her on the podcast and let her share some of her insights and knowledge with all of you so you can learn a little bit more about the possibilities out there when it comes to college and scholarships. So welcome to the show, Pam.

Pam Andrews: Thank you for having me, Jill.

JE Absolutely. So I guess let’s let, can you introduce yourself a little bit, just tell the audience a bit about yourself, where you’re from all of that jazz.

PA Absolutely. So again, my name is Pam Andrews and my business is a scholarship shark. You did such a great job introducing me. I’m just sitting here listening and and I’m a mom of four, so my oldest is in his last year of college and then my next up, so I have boy, girl, boy, girl. So my oldest is a boy and he’s in his fourth year of college and he’ll be graduating in the spring of 2020. Then next. Yeah, next is a daughter. She’s graduating from high school in the spring of 2020. So we will have a college graduate, a high school graduate. So 2020 is going to be a super busy spring with transition. Then right after that, I have another son who’s a high school junior, so I’ve got two back to back and then we have a bit of a gap and my youngest is just turned nine.

So she’s in the fourth grade and I don’t even know what class she’s in, 20 whatever. But so yes, I’m a mama with four and my husband and I are our family. We live in Delaware. I typically say the greater Philadelphia area because I know sometimes people don’t know where Delaware is, but we’re on the.

JE Out East. It’s one of the small states.

PA It sure is teeny tiny state. And so yeah, I’m on the East coast located between New York and DC. He gets it either one and within a few hours, but I’m, I’m a college admissions consultant and I work with high school students and their families, ideally starting in the 10th grade. Sometimes we start working together in the 11th grade, sometimes the 12th grade, but working with all parts of the college admissions process. And I really, really, really, I work one on one with the students, support the family, the entire family, but working with the student, helping them understand the process, helping them understand what they need to do to be a standout sought after applicant in the process.

But then also supporting the parents with understanding the pieces as well because it is a family decision. It’s not just something that a student does in isolation because that decision can impact the entire hospital. So working with high school students all the way through until the spring of their senior year and ending with some transition, first year experience stuff. And even talking a little bit about budgeting and avoiding those credit card tables at student orientation. You know, just continuing to make good financial choices all the way through high school. So that’s a, yeah, a lot in a nutshell of what we do.

JE I love it and I think this is just such an important aspect. Like my husband and I have already talked about this, about how valuable it would be to have someone like you in our corner coaching us, coaching our boys to get into scholar or to get into schools to get scholarships, to know where to look, to, how to do it. Because I know I look back at the way that I went about getting into college and I actually just did a podcast episode about my five biggest money mistakes and taking out so much in student loans was one of them. Like I totally did not pursue the whole scholarship route the way that I should have. I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t have anyone giving me any sort of insights or advice. And so, you know, I got out of school and I had a $150,000 in debt.

PA Wow. Wow.

JE I know when we went to Finance our house, the bank actually asked if it was our second home. Sadly, no, that is my student loan debt and they about fell out of there chair. But I, I mean I know there’s people with even more than me. And so knowing that there are so many opportunities for scholarships I think is so important because a lot of people are just like how I was and just didn’t realize how many were out there, how available it was, what the process was to even go about getting into it. It felt very intimidating or you know, all of that. So, you know, I went about it the wrong way by being scared and uncertain and unknowledgeable. And I think that’s really where you come in and can really shed a lot of light and help guide the way which is so needed and so important. So do you, can you tell us like how did you even get into this? Because this is such a unique, like specialized area of helping people. What got you started with, with doing this?

PA So I, I got into it after the, the success with my son families, you know, that I know personally started asking me if I could help them with their children. So what I did initially I wrote a book and put everything that I knew inside of the book. And, and then shortly after that I started a podcast just to get information out. But what I quickly found there some families that will, you know, they want a little bit more help and a little bit more support. And so that’s when I decided to get in back into, I, I had done college admissions coaching and worked with a few students years ago right out of high school, but got back into it formally and launched the business because the demand kind of picked up, not kind of, but it picked up where people want it more than just the book or a podcast to do it on their own. So that’s really how I got into it.

JE Yeah. And I can imagine that, you know, over the last 10 or 20 years, I mean like cost of college has definitely gone up exponentially. So I’m sure there’s just even more demand than there ever has been in the past of people looking for more creative ways to finance. Right.

PA Absolutely.

JE Can they avoid all of that debt?

PA Absolutely. And, and I, I just wanted to say even with your story, I think when we know better, you know, there’s a saying when when we know better, we do better. You know, I graduated with student loan debt. It’s just kind of what we did. I know that’s all I knew. I mean, I, I received a few scholarships but they were from my guidance counselor. They nominated me. One was a my mom was a teacher at the school, the high school where I attended, she’s a retired teacher now. So one was through the teacher’s association. So of course I got that. That was probably $500. And I remember getting one from like the daughters of the American revolution and that was maybe 500, but that was it. I didn’t submit an application, the guidance counselor either picked me records.

I had no idea. I just remember standing up at the baccalaureate service and they announced it and they gave me a check at the end. I said, Oh, so what is the prize? Right.

JE Yeah.

PA So a lot of us just didn’t know, you know, we didn’t know. We didn’t have podcasts, we didn’t have blogs and you know, so we just kind of did what we, what we knew to do. But, but but yes, you’re right in terms of, of the cost you know, there are, there are a lot of costs associated with going to school and those costs continue to rise. And so that’s why, you know, getting the word out like you’re doing is so important for families so that they can go into, did this with their eyes wide open and make smart college money choices.

JE Right. And you know, like some of the things that I still hear from people, and this is something that I believed, I guess when I was even going through the process myself, but I’ll hear from clients still and they’ll be like, there’s just not that many scholarships out there are like, Oh, it’s so hard to qualify. Our kids would never be able to qualify for that. Or maybe like they’ll say, but it’s so much work and all you get is $500. Like the example that you just gave of getting this $500 and people are believing, why am I going to jump through all of those hoops and do all of that leg work and all of that work and only get $500 at the end of it? Is it really worth it? So is there any truth to that? Like this feeling that there’s not that many scholarships out there or that they’re just not that available to people?

PA Right. No, not at all. I mean, there, there is a lot of money out there. There’s money that goes unclaimed or I’ll give a really good example. I was at a local meeting last year in the spring, just a local business meeting. And when we all got to share what we do, there was a gentleman who was a part of a fraternity, the chapter of a, of a fraternity who reached out to me and said, can you help me? We have, we have money to give for our Delaware chapter and we, we still have no applicants that, you know, no young men have signed up and we’ve been to every high school and we’ve gotten the word out. And I thought, Oh my word. So even if a student did not meet, maybe the GPA requirement at the end of it, they want to be able to report back that yes, we gave away X number of dollars in scholarships.

So, so yeah, so it’s worth it. I know it may seem like, well it’s only 500 or it’s only, you know, but it does require work. I mean we’re talking about money free money in terms of free in terms of money that you don’t have to pay back. It’s not free in terms of your time, but you know, if you put a system in place and you get it organized and what students will find, a lot of the essay topics are what I call rinse and repeat. So they’re just some common themes about, you know, what’s your story or kind of your struggle or describe a leadership opportunity or what do you want to, you know, what what do you want to do in college and why? I mean those, those things don’t change. Yeah. What changes are the word count? Maybe it’s 400 words instead of two 50 or you know, or 150 words or tell us in 50 characters.

And I think, you know, but overall, you know, you want to go into nursing, you want to go into nursing and if it’s because maybe you watched your mother care for your elderly grandmother, you know, that doesn’t change. So I think it’s worth it for students to put the work into finding it. Because one thing I do know for sure a lot of students really do have that mindset that it’s not worth it and that works to your advantage to actually the work because you have fewer people vying for the money. So fewer applicants. So I say if you’re eligible, apply, treat it like a club or regular activity, maybe get an accountability partner, your best friend you know, or a relative or maybe if you have a family member who’s in college and say, Hey, can you hold me accountable every week? I wanted to try to get in at least one scholarship application or for by the end of the month or whatever. But you know, let someone know what your goals are and to hold your feet to the fire and just keep going.

JE Yeah. Yeah. And I love that. That’s such a good point that they can essentially like use the same information over and over. So if they have like four really well thought out answers, chances are that they’re going to be able to just plug them into most of the scholarships that are out there and just reuse it.

PA Correct. That is absolutely correct.

JE: That’s great. And so like for people to have a little bit of perspective, Pam, I’m sure that you know, some of the numbers and statistics around like the costs of college and how many scholarships are out there and like are there X amount that go unclaimed or something like that. Like, can you give us any insights about what are people really looking at when they’re thinking about the overall cost of college and the benefit that they could see from applying for scholarships?

PA Sure, absolutely. So I’ll just start with the cost of college first and then talk about the money next. So and this is a 2017, 2018 data that the average tuition at a four year private college will cost around like mid, mid thirties, so about 35,000 a year. And then in state, yeah. And in state is typically around 25,000 a year.

But so that’s on average the cost, of course it can be much higher, a whole lot higher. I’ve seen a whole lot higher proceeded in the 60s. I’ve seen one school in the 70s. Yeah. And that’s what’s called the sticker price. And so when it comes to looking for money, I like families to know that you know, there’s the sticker price and that’s the price that is advertised as published in the, you know, on the brochure, on the website. It’s the one you get when you do the campus tour in the booklet and the one they put on the big screen, you know, when they talk to you and give you all that great college information at college night and things like that. But then there’s the net price and that’s the price that you actually pay. And this is important because a lot of times the most money that a student will get will be at the school level.

And so it’s important to, to know that going into it, it’s, it’s very rare that you pay what’s published. And I use the example of an airplane. You, you know, if you’re taking a trip somewhere, you’re sitting on the plane next to someone random person, you don’t know who they are, chances are you two are not paying the same price for that. Airfare and you’re leaving at one place and you’re both to the same place, but your ticket can be one price and their ticket can be another price based on a couple of factors. When did you purchase your ticket and you know, maybe you’re discounting it with points or you know, maybe they purchased it the night before because it in an emergency so they waited last minute. So it’s the same kind of analogy with planning when it comes to college and building what I call a smart college list.

Really finding a good college fit researching and making sure that the college is generous and loves you back with money cause they’re a great academic fits a school that’s going to lead you to your career goals as well as a great financial fit. One in a where affordability is a factor. I think a lot of times students focus on, they kind of get their hearts set on a school and they fall in love with it. But you have to, you have to look at the numbers, you have to look at the money and go into it with your eyes wide open and say, okay, this is what, based on my profile, meaning my grades, my test scores, maybe the program I’m going into, if they’re building a STEM program and you’re a STEM major, let’s say they’re liberal arts school and they focus a lot on humanities in the past and now they, they’re doing a hard pivot and they want more STEM kids, well they’re going to award you money because they’re gonna they want to attract you.

Or maybe they’re looking for students at a certain geographical location because they want a little bit more, you know, students from a different region or something like that. And so you know, you’re able to get money there. And then the difference, what I call the gap, that’s where you can fill it in with the private scholarships. That’s the Coca Cola and your Elks club and your credit union and your bank and you know, your local grocery store. I mean, just money from everywhere. So it’s important to do a combination of both for all dollar mountains. You know, I tell students don’t shy away from the big ones. I’ll say, Oh, everybody applies to that one. Well, yeah, everybody goes and if you know you’re going to fill out that application and don’t look at one and say, well that’s too small, it’s only 500.

Like, no, you’re going to apply to that one as well. So you really have to cast your net wide and do all the work. Yeah, that’s really the only way.

JE and there’s like no limit. Right. So you could apply to as many as you possibly want to. It’s not like they’re going to say you already applied to 20 other places you can apply here. We’re not going to award it or something like that. 

PA That’s correct. So there, there is no limit. And I tell students apply what I find your big, big, big dates. July, I’ll tell you exactly where to look as well. I’ll give some links for your listeners. December and then February, I find a lot of scholarships in the month of those three months, July December and February. . Okay.

PA Yep. Yes, for sure. Yeah. And so but yes, there’s no limits that you can apply to as many as you want.

What may happen. And, and I was, so family’s worry about this on the back end, but what may happen is this school, some schools will not issue refunds you overpayment or refunds if you kind of cap that your limit, which is fine. I mean at the end of the day, if your college costs are covered, that’s fine, but some schools will issue what’s called overpayment and they will issue you a refund of the difference. So that’s just the school by school as a small nuance. That is just something to think about on the back end. But but that’s no reason to not apply, if that makes sense.

JE yeah. Yeah. That is so cool. And so like the average costs, you went over that and like I love how you broke that down and like compared it to the airplane analogy. Cause that’s true. And I, I feel like a bit of a dummy cause I’m like, well I paid the sticker price because I did not do anything. It was like this is what it is. And I thought okay, you just take out a loan and that’s what you do. I did not know any better. And so I totally missed the boat on that one. And I love that you broke that down because I think that’s so insightful for so many people to see and like of the scholarships out there like tell, tell me a little bit about like, you know, what, what have you seen with the students that you’ve been able to work with? Like how, how much are they able to actually qualify for, are they getting like their whole college or most of it covered or is it like every, the people that you work with are getting like $500 or like give me an idea of like what someone expects.

PA Yup, So here’s the thing, it’s, it’s the hard part. And, and this is, I don’t say the hard part, the hard part with what I do is I see all of it because I see some students who do the work right and get results and some who simply don’t. So I’ll give a great example from one of my students who graduate in the class of 2019. So she graduated last spring. She’s in her first year of school this year. She literally did the work. She worked hard when everyone else was enjoying their holiday break last December. She applied to, I believe it was 38. Scholarships and that covered her. We didn’t know at the time it would cover her gap, but that covered her gap for her four years. Wow. Yeah. So she wanted enough tuition at the school where she’s going up. Not tuition. She wanted enough scholarships at the school level, but what she won that December made the difference and

JE So one, one holiday break, one break, she went just like all out, right pedal to the metal. 38 applications sent during her Christmas break and it paid for the gap in all four years of her undergraduate school.

PA That’s exactly correct. And she’s just messaged, yeah, like two weeks ago because he’s applying for a study abroad program for next semester. And ask, can you write my reference? I said, sure. And I’m, of course I’m now in question, but like, okay, so make sure your financial aid will go with you. You know, it’s going to be at your in state, and if not, I can give you some study abroad scholarships to apply to what you probably want to do anyway. So you have some fun money while you’re in Europe and whatever. So, you know, really experience it. So, yeah. So, so it’s a function of, you know, I think, I think when students do the work, they get the results, you know, and I’ve seen a different level. Students do the work and they get the results. . And I’ve seen some who, who don’t and you know, at a minimum I will say working with me at a minimum, I make sure they’re at least making smart school choices, at least one smart school choice.

Sometimes they’ll say, no, my parents are okay with me applying to this school. And I’m like, we’d run the numbers. This is what your parents can expect to pay if you get in. And because you know, . A lot of those decisions don’t roll out until the spring and you’re applying in the fall of your senior year. So I, I have a requirement. I actually have to, well, we’ll requirement that you fulfill one of two places. You’re either gonna re you’re going to apply to your in state flagship school. So you’re in state university or I supply them with the database that I have of full tuition scholarships based on GPA and test scores. I said, are you going to pick one of these and apply as it were? And of course it’s a good academic fit. But as it, worst case scenario, you come out with something that it’s a great fit.

It’ll lead you to your career goals. And if things don’t work out as we hope, then you at least have a strong financial option that’s affordable. And I think that’s important. That’s so important because again, I tell students over and over there are close to 4,000 colleges and universities. There’s going to be a good one for you. You know, if you just don’t focus on these big name brands and their rankings, you know, you’ll find a gym of a school that will offer you money to come to them. Like it’s like you’re, you’re, you fit the profile, it’s going to lead you to your next step. It’s a great learning community and you’ll absolutely love it. So so I encourage, I encourage families to think a little bit wider than what they typically think in terms of maybe, like I said, rankings or sports teams or, you know, think a little bit bigger and broader.

JE Yeah, yeah, that’s such, such good advice. Very insightful and like so smart that you have that laid out very clearly of like applying to this state school. And then also that you have that resource of knowing what are all of the other schools that you possibly would qualify for a full scholarship. Like that’s just such valuable information. Cause I, like I said, I just look back at my own choices and I’m like, I had no clue. Like I literally had no clue what I was doing. No clue.

PA I only applied to one school because I was working part time at the mall and my mom said, well you’re paying for your own application fee. And I remember it was $25 and I remember thinking I’m only paying one 25

And it was a good thing. I got it. Exactly right. You like knowing what you’re doing.

JE Yeah. Right. We live and learn. Right. So gosh, how things have changed. But no I think that’s so, so great. Like I think that what you do is such, such a needed thing and I’m so thankful that you have a little one who’s nine because that means hopefully you’ll be doing this long enough that well mine grow up. It needs to be applying. You’re still going to be doing it. Cause I so I mean I know that you like, I think what you said about, you know, the student has to do the work and it’s the same as what I do with my coaching clients. It’s like I can lead a fish, I can lead a horse to water, right? Like I can show you the way I can give you the information, but at the end of the day, like they have to actually have some ownership and follow through and do the work themselves.

Like this example that you gave them, the girl that did 38 applications over her Christmas break, which I’m like wow, that is, that’s a lot that if you like really buckled down and your focus and you can kind of recycle some of the essays and things like that. Like yeah, you could bust that out in one Christmas break, right? Like it’s not impossible to do that. So no, I think that’s awesome. And so do you think, you know, when you are working with students and when you’re coaching them, I know you’ve mentioned, GPA obviously is like a big player when it comes to getting scholarships. Is there like a secret sauce or like something that you advise your students to do and you’re like, this is kind of like how we check the boxes of those really important pieces to the equation to get you into these schools and get the scholarships.

PA So in terms of the secret sauce, what students can do to really prepare themselves for the entire process. Of course the more time that a student has on their side, the better because you’re able to be very intentional about the activities, the courses that you take. Even studying for the test, your standardized test, the, and the act of course when you show up your senior year is just pulling together whatever you’ve done. But for your listeners, if they’re in the, maybe the 10th or the 11th grade year, they’ve got some time to really think through those activities that are meaningful to them. And this is important because a lot of times students will ask, you know, what do college admissions reps want to see on my application? And I tell them, they want to see, you know, what’s important to you. So there’s no right or wrong, they’re not just looking for the captain of a sports team or the, you know, the head of the debate team and what is important to you.

And so it’s important that your application reflects who you are and what you value. And it shows in your extracurriculars and maybe volunteering because that’s stuff that you choose to do. I mean, your courses, you have to take so much math, so much English, so much science, but you decide what clubs you, you participate in and how much based on your interest. So that’s really important. So I, I always tell students, so when it comes to the ninth grade year, I think that’s a great time for exploration and really go wide. Don’t, I don’t, the reason why I start with families in the 10th grade, because I think ninth grade year is such a year of transition and they’re ninth graders that are, you know, the small fish in the big pond just come in, do well, you know, get your grades up and keep them up.

Just keep them there, you know, and that is the most important thing to do your ninth grade year. But in your 10th grade year, many schools start what’s called the either the PSCT or maybe the pre ACT, which is just practice for, you know the 11th grade a year and beyond. And so it starts to get a little bit more serious in the 10th grade year with, with planning. And this is why I tell students get a little bit more involved because in your ninth grade year, maybe you’ve tried a little bit of this, a little bit of that to see what you like and what you don’t like. But in your 10th grade year, go a little bit deeper. And definitely by your 11th grade year, you want to lead in an activity. So you want to go from just participating to leadership, whether it’s leading on a project leading people, but you want to really you really want to step out and be a leader in that particular activity or club or maybe starting your own project or your own initiative or getting plugged into something in the community or your community, whatever community you’re a part of.

So that leadership is really important because when you stepped foot on a college campus there, they’re looking for campus leaders. They’re going to need someone to run the student newspaper. They’re going to need someone to lead the marching band. They’re going to need someone to be a part of their debate team, you know, or whatever. So it’s important that as a high school student, you get comfortable being in a leadership role. And when you complete your application, you demonstrate that by, you know, either with your activities list on your application or in your essay or essays to show how you’ve learned and, and, and the good and the bad. You know that some questions will ask, you know, what was the struggle that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome it? And you know, just, they just want to see how do you, how, how are you resilient?

And you really only get those skills by actually stepping out and doing something that’s not textbook stuff. Right. You can read it. Yeah. You have to do it. And like, you know, it’s something you do and you will always do for the rest of your life. So, yeah. So in terms of the secret sauce, I would say 10. I love the 10th grade year because you have three more summers, at least two more going into your like coming out of your ninth one into 10. So you’ve got that 10th and your 11th grade summers to be very smart with your summers and even work. Work is fine. I think a lot of times students think, well, you know, work is not impressive. It’s, it’s not a matter of it being impressive. But you know, some students need to work, some students choose to work and work, you know, there’s so many skills that you gain when you work and schools look favorably on work and we’ll categorize that. I talked to so many admissions counselors, they look at that as leadership as well. So yeah, yes for sure. And so it’s important for students to know even scholarships, scholarship judges will view work as an activity, as a leadership activity as well. And so work is not something that’s frowned upon. So it’s not just a title, it’s really a role and it’s all the responsibilities that come with it.

JE Yeah. That was actually one of the thoughts that was going through my head cause I was thinking like gosh you know, for students that are working, because I did that, I worked in high school and I wasn’t involved in like a ton of other things because I was working. Right. So it’s like almost one or the other. Sometimes it’s really hard to like manage all of it, the extracurriculars and volunteering and then if you are at a job also like it can be very overwhelming to keep up with your students mode. Right. All of your school board too. So one of my thoughts as you were saying that was like what if someone is working, are they going to be like penalized because of that or is there still a way of showing that that’s some sort of leadership and so I’m glad that you kind of clarified that. It could be like a combination of those kinds of, and they can still work, but maybe they also still want to try to find some, some sort of volunteer thing on the side. Do you think to help complemented or,

PA yeah. Well yeah. So th the thing I like for me, I like about volunteering and I think I’m sure many schools do, well actually I know they do it from talking with them is that you’re giving of yourself, you know, you’re either giving your time, you know, this is time that you’re not being compensated for or you’re giving your talent. And, and students can be very creative. I have one student, he’s actually a senior he’s actually in California and he wants to go into a tech field and he actually creates websites. He created the website and maintains it at his grandmother’s nursing facility. And yeah, exactly. And so he’s, you know, and he wants to go into tech field and it’s just perfect, but it’s something he loves. It was an easy thing for him to do, a great natural fit. And so that’s a type of volunteer activity that could work.

So I think, yeah, so I think, you know, students can be creative, they can think out of the box. Again, I like them to not just think, Oh, I’ve gotta be the, the, you know, the captain of the football team. You know, none of, there’s so many ways you can lead and influence others and make a difference in someone else’s life. So, and then if you’re on a job, find areas where you can lead on that job. Maybe you can train new hires, maybe you can work with the management. You know, most high school students do fast food. You know, so maybe you’re able to train some of the new hires or you know, or maybe you see some inefficiencies and you can create, especially if it’s a small mom and pop business, create a standardized operating procedure. You know, this is how we check in.

This is what we need to do in terms of, you know, closing down and cleaning up and cashing out the register at night. And I’ve created these procedures for you, you know, and so you’ll be able to see to that on your application about some, some of the things that you’ve done. So yeah, that was actually one senior literally last night he was working on his application and he said, well, Ms. Kim, I really don’t know. I didn’t really do much. I just worked, which is true. We actually were able to pull out three things he did. He worked and had some volunteer opportunities, but he, he cuts over 50 lawns a week. And I said, that’s no lie. That’s major. Right, right. He does the land escaping the mulching. And then the more we talked, he shared about his 10th grade year where he went with his father to do the landscaping at a nursing home and to pay

For some light repairs. And I said, that’s really, you know, major and why, and you know, how did you start your business? I said, cutting lines and why, you know, he likes the money. He’s very entrepreneurial and, and so those kinds of skills, again, you don’t just get in a cladding behind a desk that takes a lot to market, to put yourself out there to maintain your schedule. He’s got great grades on top of it. So that, yeah, and that is, he does, I don’t see it does nothing else, but he’s not in a traditional club. This, this keeps him really busy. So it’s, I think in schools like all of that and they’re looking for, they’re looking for diversity in terms of experiences with their student body because again, they’ve got entrepreneurial clubs to fill and social clubs and they went activists and they went athletes and you know, musicians, they want all of it on their campuses. So it’s important for you just to present who you are to show up authentically you and to share that in your application.

JE Yeah, and so I’m listening to you and I’m thinking like you know how how valuable you are because you’re so right. Like we so often sell ourselves short of all of the things that we’re doing and I’m sure that as a high school student too, like they don’t have all of that life experience and confidence to like know like is what I’m doing worthwhile. Like how does it compare? I don’t even really know. They they have no nothing to like measure it against. Whereas you know what those colleges are looking at and you have that like broader view where you can say no, this is like absolutely something that you can kind of toot your own horn about and you definitely want to have on your application. Whereas they may have totally just overlooked it, glossed over it, not thought that it was that important.

Or I’m thinking like, you know, the students that are involved in different things at school, like they might not know how do I move into a leadership role? Like what are some creative ways to do that? Whereas you’ve helped so many students through it that you can so easily, like brainstorm that and suggest all these different possibilities. Like I’m listening to you and thinking, Oh my gosh, like there’s so much these kids can be doing, you know? And it’s like, you know that because you’ve seen it time and time again, which is why I think what you do is just so amazing. Like, I can’t wait when we have our kids at that age because I’m thinking, gosh, I wouldn’t know all of those things to suggest even guide my own child through it effectively, you know? Right. So, no, I just love it. And like hearing everything that you do, I’m like, Oh my gosh. Like this is a no brainer.

PA Thank you. And I want to say this too, if I could just quickly share this. I find when it’s, yeah. When a student has those kinds of just really meaningful experiences and activities and volunteering, experience, whatever those experiences are. I in my, in my experience working with students, I find that they get to their major and they get to their major in a more meaningful way and it, and that connection it sticks. So it’s not like, Oh, I’m going in undecided or I’m just going because it’s the next thing to do after high school. And I don’t know what else to do. But they’ve done one thing. And, and that next natural step is to learn a little bit deeper in a community with other people who are as excited or if not more excited or challenge you to become even more excited about this one thing that you’re interested in or maybe you’ve been exposed to and you want to study a little bit more.

And so I do find that they, they get to their major a little bit quicker. And that’s important for a couple of reasons. Yeah. Because number one, you know, if you’re going in undecided or if you’re changing majors, you’re going to spend more time in school. And more time could mean more money and there’s lost opportunity costs. You’re not getting out into the workforce that much quicker. You’re, you know, spending a fifth year, maybe six year in camp on in school, and those are one or two extra years that you’re not working, you’re not earning an income. So it’s really important to to know and to, and to have a little bit more meaning behind, you know, what you’re doing and why you’re, why you’re going to school and why you’re choosing this.

JE Yeah. Oh, 100%. It’s like this could be episode number two of all the things that Jill did wrong because I did that exact same thing. I went into school and I was like, I don’t really know what I want to do. And I wound up changing majors. I spent five years in undergrad and wound up going into pharmacy, which was what my background was originally. And I could have done pre pharmacy in two years, but it just five years because I didn’t really know what I was going to do. And granted, yeah, not everyone knows right off the bat regardless, like there’s just like people that wind up changing their mind. But had I maybe had more guidance or more insights along the way, like who knows, maybe I could have shaved a couple of years off. Right. So here we go, everyone to learn, not what not to do from me and listen to Pam and stuff.

So like I guess, you know, what, can you give some details of like how you actually help people, cause I, we’ve heard so much value from you and like what people can kind of be aware of and look into. But I’m imagining that there are people listening to this who are thinking much as I am. Like, Oh my gosh, I need Pam because this is so valuable. And like, how is it that you, like how would someone engage with you? How do you help them through the process? Like what would someone expect if they have on

Your website or give you a call? Sure. So the way to work with me, I have on the website, there’s a link that says, Oh, this to say work with me. It says Oh, I think it’s his book, a discovery call or start here. That’s what it says. Start here, I should know that. And, and I like to talk with it. I like to speak with everyone because I want to get to know your student first and kind of where are you in the process. And I, you know, I’m a mom, I’m going through it so I know what it is. Feels liked to have all those, all the emotions. I just want to make that initial connection with the mom and or the dad. And so the discovery call is about a 15, 20 minute call where I just talk with you about your student.

And we did this for students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades. And just I just get a little bit more information and for my, okay, in all three programs, they’re there. They’re pretty much the same, but they’re different paths or different roadways that we do. So 10th graders are working on certain things and then 11th and 12th and so on 12th grade is, you know, it’s like all the work and then the free. Yeah, time for sure. And then the frequency is a little different. So of course I’m meeting with seniors more than I’m meeting with juniors and juniors more than meeting with sophomores. But I’m, it’s either once a month with the sophomores once a month with the juniors and seniors. We’re actually at probably right now I’m in college application season about twice or maybe three times a week, but then it tapers off just to get everything completed.

Intense. It’s very intense. It is, it is. But what happens in my program, so there, there are two ways I show up. I show up in the you know, when we meet with our, my group sessions and I do it as a group for a couple of reasons. Number one, it’s nice for students to see others who are hearing the same thing. They get to support each other. We’re all in this together and we’re all working together. And then I also have the membership site where students can log in. So for some reason you’re sitting on the bus coming back from a band tournament and you can’t quite log in at seven o’clock that night. No problem. It’s recorded. You can still, you know, hop in and, and do the that particular assignment and watch the videos. But I also do it sometimes students want to go back over the particular assignment or maybe mom wants to sit down with them on a Saturday and go through it.

And so, you know, it’s recorded and I walk them through a very step-by-step my framework that tells that work some exactly through what to do and when to do it. And I call those roadmaps. I so that’s pretty much it. So it’s the live sessions and then the recorded sessions for them to move through it with all the worksheets and any handouts and videos and should be sharing my screen. And, and and I like, I’ll say this, I like working with students because I really want students to be financially aid aware and to understand all the terms. The process, I want them to be able to talk to an adult and financial aid, you know, because it’s their future, you know, I think, yeah, when they don’t know anything and they don’t understand cost, then they haven’t factored affordability and you know, they don’t know what to, you know, how to conduct a campus visit or how to do an interview or when they don’t understand any of that, it’s, they’re at such a disadvantage.

So I work directly with the students and the way I support parents. I have, I meet with parents once a month in our group program and then we have parent university, which is also the, I call the whole thing parent university. But also again, it’s recorded if a parent should miss it and walking them through no matter kind of this whatever we’re working on with the student, with the parent as well. And then sometimes there are pieces that only the parents can do, such as the financial piece, the FASA or the CSS profile. I’m talking with them about how to complete it. Common facet mistakes. If you’ve got two years on your side, you know, maybe you need to move some assets, you know, let’s, you know, talk to your financial advisor. This is where you come in. But maybe they can set up a five 29, the man never thought of that.

We’ll put $25 aside a month or 50 bucks or something. So yeah, I’m talking to them about that and you know, that it’s never too early or even in their senior year, they can still start to do some of that. So it’s just mostly the money, talk with the parents and even a lot of the mindset in terms of what do you want, you know, proximity to home that your student may want to run off to the university of Hawaii and go surfing every day and you’re like, Nope, you’re staying close to home. So, so it’s, it’s just having those conversations and encouraging families to have the money talk and keeping the dialogue open. And I love it. It’s, it’s just I, over the weekend it was homecoming for one of my students and the mom text me pictures. He said, I just thought you’d want to see, you know, she named her daughter, you know, homecoming, how it went. I thought, Oh my word. I love what I do. Yeah.

JE Oh that’s so cool. And like I imagined him like even though you’re meeting with the students and it’s in a group setting, like based on what I’ve been hearing, you know, you meet in a group setting but you are still giving them very like direct and customized sort of information about like these are the schools for you to be applying to. You’re not giving like a broad like go figure it out everyone. It sounds like really kind of coaching them through like let’s think through this process, what’s right for you or like how do you tailor your essays? Let’s talk about it for a second. Or how, what, what activities should you be in? Like you’re kind of helping them with that it sounds like. Absolutely.

PA I also do and I, it might, you know, like so many elements to the program. I have what are called office hours. So if a family ever needs to speak with me, they’ll get the link that’s like in the onboarding process. If they ever need to speak with me about their unique circumstance. Maybe the parents have recently gone through a divorce and this student is spending, you know, school year with mom and this summer with dad and they have facet questions like, you know, what does that look like? Or you know, just, you know, I have parents who own a medical practice and they’re like you, so how do we report this? What do we do? Or, you know, or if a student is stuck on their essay and you know, just needs extra support. So there are office hours each week and they log in and sign up for those hours.

And I do that for the students for a couple of reasons to provide support. But I tell them all the time cause I want to prepare them for those next steps. I say your professor’s going to have office hours and I want you getting comfortable reaching out. They’re not going to hunt you down. You know, they’re not going to say, Hey, you didn’t show up to your chem course, your chem one Oh one I didn’t see you in the sea of like 200 people. No, it’s up to you to go to your professor and say, I’m stuck. I need help. So I’m teaching them how to write paper selves a little bit early and just saying, Hey, this counseling we need. I mean, you know, I need to talk through this essay idea or you know, or I’m thinking about doing this project and we can we talk about it, whatever it is, office hours can be for anything. So yeah. So I tell them take advantage of the office hours. Right.

JE I think that’s like such a beautiful way of like setting everything up. You’re not only helping them to choose the right college that’s the best fit for them, helping them to get the scholarships, but you’re really helping them to become independent and prepared and like action takers and asking questions and being advocates for themselves. Like so much of that is happening through the process of working with you that I, yeah, I mean, hands down it, I, it seems that investing a little bit of money upfront to get help with all of this. Like it’s just such a no brainer to me. So I, I’m like tooting your horn. I will tell everyone like you should talk to because I certainly will be doing the same. No, this has been so wonderful. I think like as we wrap things up, Pam, what do you think would be like your number one best piece of advice that you could give to a student or a parent as they’re preparing for college? Like, is there something that’s like, this is the most important, the little gem that you can leave everyone with?

PA Yes. I think that the best piece of advice will be that it’s, it’s gonna, it’s gonna work out. It’s not, it’s gonna be okay, just breathe, it’s gonna work out and, and I want to speak again to fit. So there’s a great fit school for you, for the parent listening, you know, for your student, for the student, for you. And there are all kinds of scholarships for you. Like there’s this scholarship and many scholarships that’s a great fit for you as well. And so I, I think when, when people know that there are opportunities and options available, then they feel like there’s hope. So I want families to know that, you know, there’s a, you know, your, your kid can end up in the right place. That’s just, you know, they look back like, wow, these are just some of the best four years of my life. And they can also build a robust list of scholarships to which to apply and, and get cranky. You know, there’s never one like, Oh I can’t find anywhere. It’s a good match. No, they’re out there. So I want them to know that their bottom line, that there’s hope that, that it’s out there.

JE Yeah. Yeah. Oh that’s so great. Not just to settle for like whatever everyone else is doing that they can find their perfect fit and absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Oh I love it. Love. Thank you so much. This was so amazing. So many great like tips and insights and golden nuggets for people to get from that. And so really quick as we wrap things up, where can people find you? Cause I know there’s going to be people that want to be calling or is saying we got to get on Pam’s calendar where, where did they get connected with you?

PA Absolutely. So my website is www.Thescholarshipshark.com instead of loan shark. Think of a scholarship shark. So thescholarshipshark.com and then I also host the podcast, the scholarship shark podcasts of your pocket. Well of course are podcasts listeners and they can check out my weekly podcast, the scholarship, stark podcasts, but the, the website is the best place. And just click the start here button to schedule a time to talk with me.

JE Awesome, and we will definitely be dropping that in the show notes so that everyone can find Pam’s information there as well. And again, thank you so much. I’m so glad that we were able to get you on. This is so valuable and I’m super excited for everyone to get to listen to this. I know they’re going to love it. All right, well that is all that we’ve got for today you guys, I hope that you loved this episode with Pam Andrews, the scholarship shark. Please reach out to her if you’ve got a student that is preparing for college, if they are in high school and you want some help, some insights. Pam is your person, so reach out to her. I know that she will help to guide you in the correct way and until then I will see you next time. Bye bye.

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