[Update January 1, 2015: Collegewise is now back under old ownership. More info here].
It’s been in the works for some time, but now I can officially announce that on December 31, 2012, I sold Collegewise to The Princeton Review. This month, I’m starting my new job running The Princeton Review’s brand-new “Collegewise” division with my friend and mentor, Paul Kanarek.
Our job: open 100 Collegewise offices nationwide over the next three years.
For those who are interested, here are some more details about why I decided to sell and what’s next for me.
We’ve done some amazing things at Collegewise since I started counseling by myself in 1999. We’ve grown to four offices. Our counselors have helped over 5,000 kids find and attend the right colleges for them. Arun and I have created guidelines and videos. I published a book and have written over 1,100 blog entries. Our little company has had a great 13-year run.
But I think that hundreds of thousands of kids can benefit from our approach, and we can’t get to them on our own. With The Princeton Review, we can open offices nationwide. We can sell my book and all our products through their website and publishing channels. We’ll speak, teach, write and reach more than we ever have before. And we’ll be able to attract more counselors who appreciate our approach and want to learn the Collegewise way.
Emotionally, I was also ready to let go of the worries that every business owner lies awake thinking about. No matter how successful we became, those worries were always on my mind and sometimes prevented me from doing the work I love to do. This new venture is a combination of opportunity and security that I was looking for.
Good for us
Growing a business just for the sake of growing isn’t always a good thing. But in this case, bigger is better for us. The more kids we’re able to help and the more qualified counselors we have to do it, the better we all get at our jobs. When one of our counselors wants to ask our colleagues for school suggestions or needs advice on how to handle a tricky application issue, we’ll have a lot more people in-house with the right experience that we can reach out to. We’ll be able to put together special tours of colleges just for our counselors. We’ll make our counseling training and mentoring programs even more robust and we’ll experiment with new formats in which to deliver them to large groups and even through Skype. And the counselors who join us will have far more opportunities to learn and progress with us.
What if you’re a Collegewise family?
Neither Collegewise nor your Collegewise counselor are going anywhere. This change is about growing Collegewise, not shrinking it or changing the services we’ve been providing to you. So keep coming to your meetings, completing your to-do lists and calling or emailing your Collegewise counselor when you have a question. But now when you ask us if we have an office where your nephew, sister or business colleague lives, we’ll have a lot more opportunities to answer, “Yes.”
Over the next 12 months, Paul and I will be choosing the right cities to open the first new offices. We’ll be recruiting and training the best counselors and working to spread the Collegewise way. Arun will be working with us to grow both his local (Los Angeles) market, to increase our online counseling presence, and to keep creating new products with me for our online store. When the Common Application unveils its new format in August 2013, Arun and I will be doing the same with our new, completely revised guideline.
Right company, right time
It’s not an easy decision to sell your baby to somebody else. But it was time. And more importantly, it feels right. The Princeton Review and I have history together. Paul Kanarek is both a dear friend and a trusted advisor. I am over-the-top excited about what I’m doing next and the people with whom I’ll be doing it. For thirteen years, we’ve proven that families can take control of the college admissions process and actually enjoy themselves. This opportunity is our chance to fundamentally change the way that kids apply to college today, and I can’t wait to get started.
I plan to keep writing my daily blog entries. And when I have news to share about new cities, new products, new counselors or opportunities, I’ll share them here. For those of you who read and follow, thank you. I hope you’ll watch what happens
All the best,