Meet a Dad: Andrew Zahuranec from Class 101
Tell me about yourself & your family!
I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio and received a degree in engineering from the University of Toledo. My wife Jackie and I married 30 years ago this August.
Today, we live in the Chagrin Falls area, having raised four children who now live around the country. Our son A.J. lives in Brooklyn, New York. Our oldest daughter Abby lives near Los Angeles. Our third child Alexis, just graduated from Miami University and our youngest, Aubrey, will be in her third year at St. Louis University.
Wow! Congratulations to you and Jackie on 30 years!! What’s your secret?
Jackie and I are blessed to be married almost 30 years. I would say our secret is we figured out how to get through the hard times together and enjoy the good times. Also, we were both very fortunate to have very good role models. Each of our parents were both married more than 45 years.
Let’s talk about your business, Class 101! Tell me about it!
My wife Jackie and I own Class 101, an independent college planning business in Chagrin Falls. We help high school students get into better colleges and qualify for scholarships in a fun, friendly environment.
How did you and Jackie decide to start Class 101 and what steps did you take to open your own business?
After watching our own four children go through the process, we felt there had to be a better way. We thought through all of the ups and downs we saw with our four children and decided to start the business.
Our original plan was to open our office about a year after we started, but we found an ideal location and opened our office within three months of starting.
Wow! That’s amazing!! The planets aligned for you!!! I’ve been telling our readers about College Prep and admissions recently, especially Class 101! Why are you so passionate about helping others get into the “right” college?
Looking back, I did not have the college experience I wanted. I enrolled at the University of Toledo not realizing it was a commuter’s school and quickly realized that many of the kids I went to class with went home at night and on the weekends.
We want to help students avoid similar mistakes, making sure they know as much as they can before they commit to a decision. That requires research, on-campus visits, and asking questions. It also means experiencing what college life is like firsthand.
Even after they are accepted, we suggest students visit campus for an overnight visit if possible. This visit gives them a chance to explore, try the local dining hall, and see what their accommodations might look like. By engaging with others, they can see if they like the other students and enjoy the atmosphere of campus.
We want to make sure the students feel “at home” when they go away.
If they know what they want to major in, we also suggest students visit with department heads. Through one-on-one meetings, students can compare what their options offer in terms of classes, facilities, and internship opportunities. We have found visiting a classroom is a great way to experience what it might be like as a student. They can see if they like the professors and fit in with the school’s overall culture.
We believe our oldest daughter said it best. College should be comfortable, like an old shoe. You know when it fits.
She’s very smart and 100% correct!!! Tell me why is it so important for teens to start planning early?
College planning is like planning for retirement. You do not wait until the year you retire to start putting money into a retirement account. With college, you need to start early to make sure you have a good application.
We work with our freshmen and sophomores to build their academic resume. We suggest they join clubs or volunteer for community activities. We also offer a free community ACT practice test that allows students to take an authentic ACT test. This practice prepares them for when they take the real ACT test their junior year. We also suggest they start planning their college visits early and not wait until after colleges accept them.
It takes years, not months, to be properly prepared.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give other parents who have teens who want to go to college?
It is simple. As I said before, start the process early and, if you don’t have time or you are not sure what to do, reach out to us at Class 101.
It is also important to understand what you don’t know can hurt you. For example, a one- or two-point improvement on the ACT could mean tens of thousands of dollars in merit scholarships and Jackie and I can help with that as well!
I’m so glad I know where to bring my kids when they are in High School!!
What is the hardest part of the job?
It can sometimes be difficult to convince a family why it is important to start the process early. From experience, we know how quickly four years of high school goes can go by. And since college applications open in August of a student’s senior year, there are really only three years of high school to apply to college.
Students who start early can take advantage of the time they have to do things like take the ACT more than once. One of our students, who waited too long, did not take his first ACT test until the summer before his senior year. During the exam, his calculator died. This caused him to lose focus, not only during the math section but also the remaining two sections of the test. He consequently had to squeeze in the ACT test two more times during the fall of his senior year, which made the application process stressful for him and his family.
If you follow our process, applying to college becomes stress-free.
That’s great to know there is there is someplace that can help both parents and kids navigate the College Admissions process in our backyard!!! And having the process be as stress free as possible is HUGE!! Speaking of stress, what is family life like for you right now?
Two of our four children were in college during the COVID-19 pandemic and returned home sooner than expected. Since we closed our office, we have found ourselves home together more often. The fact that we can have family dinners together again has been a blessing in disguise. Jackie and I know that eventually they will be on their own, so we both truly appreciated this unexpected time together.
What do you like to do for fun?
I am a member of the US Tennis Association and play tennis competitively, captaining a men’s team at a local athletic club. Jackie and I have also been fortunate to play together on a mixed team. The last mixed team I captained went to the Nationals.
Jackie and I also love to travel. We recently visited the Panama Canal on a cruise which was amazing! I enjoy watching sports, especially football. I am not embarrassed to admit I am a Browns fan.
What’s the best advice another Dad has ever given you?
My Dad taught me every day was a good day—make the most of it! This principle has served me well in business.
What’s one thing you wish you would have known when your kids were little?
You hear it all the time, but your children grow up very fast. Before you know it, they are on their own. Two of our children live on the East and two on the West Coast. Technology keeps us closer, but it is nice to have everyone home, especially during the holidays.
One piece of advice you would give a Dad who wants to be a business owner one day?
Running a business is a demanding task. It requires many different skills so it is important to identify the skills you need to develop to succeed in day-to-day operations. Developing those skills will provide your business with a solid foundation.
I started my first business right out of college, so I am wired differently than most people. It is something I love and am very passionate about.
As you know, Father’s Day is on Sunday! What does a perfect Father’s Day look like to you?
I enjoy spending time with our kids, and, because of the pandemic, it will look different this year. Starting in March, we have occasionally had “family game night” online. We gather around the television and everyone grabs whatever smartphone or tablet they choose. The best part, we can include our son and daughter that live out of town and it makes for a very entertaining evening.
What’s next for you and Jackie and Class 101?
We would like to continue to grow our business. With all of the recent changes going on around us, it was necessary to adapt to each and every circumstance. We were not sure we could provide our service remotely, but have found it to be a relatively easy transition.
In fact, our last ACT test prep course was done three different formats: in-person, as a “live” video conference, and as a recorded class. The key was we were able to give our students options. Thanks to technology, we can provide targeted offerings for the families we serve.
We first met Sarah Hood as one of our Monday Meet a Mom’s back in August 2019. Learn more about this inspirational mom who overcame a heart attack at 23 years old, had 2 kids, and how she finds time to take care of herself (and you should too!)!!
Boost your energy today! Making these small changes can increase your energy! Did you know that taking a brisk afternoon walk can give you the same buzz as a shot of espresso? Well, now you know. Click to read more!
Well Cleveland, it seems like we have once again bypassed spring and headed straight into summer! And summer means swimming, BBQs, bike rides, and lots more time outdoors, right? Right! Well, it also means that lots of people quit the gym they...