Meet Jackie, Mom of 4 and Co-Owner of Class 101
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in a small town in Indiana called Ligonier, the youngest of seven children.
Where did you go to school and what is your current profession?
I went to West Noble High School. After graduation, I followed in my family’s footsteps and attended Indiana University where I pursued a degree in education with an emphasis in coaching.
Today, I work as an independent college adviser with my husband at a company called Class 101.
Where do you live today and how long have you lived in this area?
During the spring break of my final year at Indiana University, I met my future husband Andrew and after graduating from IU, I moved to Twinsburg, Ohio. After we were married, we lived in a couple of homes in Portage County and eventually settled in our current home in 1998, near Chagrin Falls.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have four children, two of which have graduated from college. A.J., who is 26, works at New York University as a researcher. Abby, 25, works as an assistant director living in Los Angeles. Our younger two children are still in college. Alexis, 22, graduates from Miami University in Oxford this year and majors in zoology and premedical studies, with a minor in disability studies. Aubrey, 20, is at St. Louis University to study hospital administration.
What is your favorite things about NE Ohio?
My husband and I have always loved the area. There is always something to see and do near us, whether that be going to a sporting event, a movie theater, or a museum. I especially like attending the Indians and Browns games in downtown Cleveland.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Many people do not know that I love to watch NASCAR races. My first introduction to NASCAR was the Daytona 500. I was hooked.
Tell me more about yourself! What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love being active, so whenever possible I play tennis. I have competed for many years in leagues around Cleveland and have had the opportunity to participate at the National tournament at various levels. Tennis is my way of relaxing and interacting with other women throughout our area.
I also love to play the game of Euchre. For several years I was part of a league that played once a month. We traveled from home to home and it was a great ladies night out.
Tell me all about Class 101!
Class 101 is an independent college-advising business that helps high school students get into better colleges and qualify for higher amounts of scholarships while creating a fun, friendly environment. We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop for every student’s college needs. While some advisors only help with one part of the college process, such as essays or ACT/SAT prep, we know that students often need help on more than one thing. We work with kids from the moment they start thinking about their life after high school. We have a 12-step process and often do not finish with a student until May 1 st , the National College Decision Day.
What’s the one thing you are most passionate about?
My husband Andrew and I opened Class 101 because we recognized it filled a huge need. As our own children were going through the process of finding the right college, filling out applications, and looking for scholarships we realized there is so much information for parents to know. The strain of the process causes both the student and the parent stress and friction.
Today’s counselors just don’t have enough time in a day to really provide the individual care that is sometimes needed. We want to help others find their way easier than we did. A student’s senior year should be enjoyable, not stress- inducing. We want parents and students to feel excited about the future instead of dreading the common app.
How do you rely on the women of NE Ohio and what is the biggest resource you have used to help make your business successful?
For us, we have found that referrals and social media are great. However, it is the moms that drive our business. Moms are engaged in every part of the process. The mom goes on college visits. The mom works with the student to keep their grades up. The mom pushes the student to be engaged in extracurriculars and complete their application essays. We take the pressure and burden off the mom and work with these individual items and more. This constant involvement can cause strain on a parent–child relationship. If we can relieve that friction, life at home becomes a little more enjoyable. Once a mom sees how we have helped to create better harmony at home, the word of mouth spreads.
What is it like working with your husband? How do you handle the personal side vs. the professional side of your relationship?
Working with Andrew allows us to have both parents’ points of view as we work with students. We can call on our personal experiences as well as well as the knowledge we’ve developed together. Also, we had two different college experiences which we are both able to share with the families we work with. For many working with their husband may not be a manageable situation because they consider that as to much time together. For us, we recognize each other’s expertise and know our own limitations. We have discovered my strengths are Andrew’s weaknesses and vice versa. We are the same whether at work or home.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
It’s rewarding to see our children become successful both in college and their careers. As parents we want only the best for our kids. As we work with students, they become part of our family. We often refer to them as our kids as well.
We love watching our students reach their goals. It isn’t always the brightest student that wows us, but often the one who wants it the most. What I mean is, helping an average student with an average GPA get into her dream school with scholarships is as rewarding as helping the student with a 35 on their ACT with a 4.0+ GPA get into Georgetown University. Each student is different and has a different story to tell.
At Class 101, our job is to help each student tell that story so they can find a place for themselves. This past year, we have had amazing success stories. One of our students increased their ACT by 8 point, 14 in the reading section alone. This gave him more options for college and he received more scholarships. Another student with autism was told he would need to stay close to home to attend college. We showed him how he could expand his horizons and he is now heading to Georgetown University. Another young lady received a full-tuition scholarship to a college she was not aware of until we coaxed her into going for a visit. She fell in love when she arrived to campus.
We have so many wonderful stories like this and each is special to us.
What was your biggest failure?
As a mom, I wish I would have known then what I know now. The pressure of college planning caused a lot of yelling and tears in our household. It wasn’t until our last child, Aubrey, that we finally figured it all out. I want to save other families that experience so parents enjoy the time they have with their child. Our children
grow up fast enough and get busy.
What is the most important piece of advice you would like parents to know about the college admissions process today?
The college search and application process can be somewhat overwhelming, so start early. COVID-19 is a perfect example. Many students were planning visits to colleges during their spring break and are now everything is temporarily on hold.
Families often get lost in the essay process without help. When that happens, deadlines pass, and scholarship opportunities get lost. At Class 101, we take all of the burden off the parent and we help the student find the right college fit. We work to save money for the family and make sure the deadlines are met.
What are your thoughts about social media and teenagers. Do colleges look at those to determine if they will admit a student to their school?
Colleges do look at student’s social media. We tell kids not to put anything on their social media they may later regret. If they are going to post pictures, they should promote positive activities. I think everyone has read stories of colleges rescinding offers after inappropriate post were made by the student.
How many colleges/universities do you recommend kids apply to and why?
With the opportunities students have today and the many different degree programs, we try and have students apply to at least eight to twelve colleges. We often tell students, “have two reach schools, two safe schools, and then pick a middle group that you would be happy attending no matter what.” This generation is much more willing to leave the area and should be encouraged to spread their wings. Our own four children are perfect examples. One is in New York, the other in Los Angeles, a third just graduated from Miami University, and the last one is at St. Louis University.
Please tell us why you decided to open Class 101! How do you juggle being a mom of grown children and a business owner?
With all of our children having gone to or graduated from college, we have the ability to help others and at this stage of our lives, we are able to focus on the business. Andrew and I feel it is our turn to give back and allow other parents to be just the parents while we manage the college application process.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Since we love what we do, in 10 years we expect to be continuing to grow our business as a trusted advisor to families with high school students. With regard to college admissions, it is always changing so it is important for us to stay current. For example, standardized testing in colleges is changing. We’ve also seen signs that testing for the ACT might head to an online process in the very near future and we are prepared for when that happens. We have seen more colleges go test optional as well as join the common application. They also recently introduced the coalition application.
Where do you see college admissions going in the next 5 years? How will it be different than today to apply to school?
Colleges are also changing the way they look at applications. They look for what a student does outside the classroom; how do they give back to the community they live in. Extracurricular activities can be just as important as grades and GPA. Many professions will be developed with the increase in technology. At Class 101 we stay current so we can provide accurate and current information to our students. As the college process changes, we will too. It is fascinating to watch and learn the nuances from these changes.
Ten years from now, the process we know today will probably be much different and we will change along with them.
Last question – is there anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
Parenthood can be both amazing and scary. There is no cookbook to follow, no directions. Everyone puts their own touches into how they raise their children. However, the example set by one’s parents can make the challenge a little less daunting. It took me a long time to appreciate all my parents did for me, but I often hear my parents’voices when I speak to our own children.
It is a cliché, but I wish I knew then what I know now. Since that is not an option, I use my mom’s advice, “remember where you came from, be happy with what you have, and reach for more.” This applies to owning a business. It is humbling, I love giving parents and students some relief, but I want students to reach for the stars. As Andrew and I say, “We are doing what we love, and we love what we do! For anyone that wants to start a business, no one can want it more than you.
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