What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur in Higher Education

Many of my students and social contacts ask what it takes to become an entrepreneur in higher education. Well, the answer is not that different than becoming an entrepreneur in any other sector.

The basics are the same such as organized business skills, extensive knowledge of the sales process, and a competitively nerdy level of admission knowledge. Top it up with a pinch of finesse in counseling, and voila, a higher education entrepreneur is born.

Now find an organizational tool so you can focus on counseling. Because not one of us comes to this profession because we are savvy business people. We want to counsel, not juggle, not push paper, not write invoices, not chase payments, not copy and paste old emails....we just came to counsel students!

Did you know that at CounselMore, the majority are female staff with high school counseling and admissions counseling experience? While building a software company from the ground up takes some super powers, building a modern college counseling software from the inside out, was another beast to tackle all together.

I first met CounselMore by a phone call. A pleasant voice on the other end of the line said "Hi, we are college counselors who would like to know you." That was weird. Then I found out about their research project and their goal to build a common denominator process that would automate the admin-work out of my counseling job.

Today, I am a college counselor with my own consulting business to help kids find suitable colleges and prep their applications. However, things were somewhat different when I started my business because I was clueless about where to start. I figured, website, check, business cards, check, certificate, check. And still no clue.

I conquered each learning curve that came my way, and it took 10 (TEN!) years for me to gain some kind of rhythm. However, I was still not able to take on more than 7 students at a time. I knew I wasn't making this easy on myself.

Then I had to make a choice. When my daughter was about to enter her freshman year of college, I realized that I needed my side hustle as a college counselor to become my primary source of income. Therefore, I decided to go full-time and started my journey to become an entrepreneur in higher education counseling.

I knew if I want to create a success story out of this, I will need to take on more clients. Seven might be a lucky number for many, but it takes more than just luck for a rookie to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture.

I examined my process and found that I was repeating things and I tried to find ways to find ways to standardize. I thought through a few solutions, made my own tools and again came to a complete stop. I needed a business infrastructure, a service process and a technology solution to streamline my communications, progress tracking and operations automatically.

I spoke to my peers and sent out an email, and they suggested CounselMore. I was delighted to learn about the founders and find the a college readiness list of assignments baked into the software. I knew I needed an infrastructure but I couldn't build one - I'm not a business person!

CounselMore filled in the missing links that were stopping me from reaching my full potential. If you are from the industry, you will know that parents are the hardest to please. CounselMore enables me to keep my students’ parents updates on their progress.

Now I can create summarized reports and deliver them directly to parents’ inboxes. Moreover, CounselMore allows me to offer my students prepared academic resumes, robust communication, high school course progression plans, and a parent portal.

All of this helps me keep both my students and their parents in the loop at every step of the admission process.

The Takeaway

If you are a part-time education counselor thinking about starting your own business, CounselMore is what you need, just like I did. This software offers a free trial to use processes and tools you will need on the road to becoming an entrepreneur in higher education counseling. I wish you luck and Happy Counseling!

-Brandi Marcioni

After majoring in English literature and then mastering in education, I planned to embark on an academic writing career. I sobered up and now serve students and families as they navigate the many choices to consider after high school. If I could have majored in college counseling, I would have found my calling sooner.