Jennifer Bernstein is a former full-time college English professor. Over the past twenty years, Jennifer has served on admissions and hiring committees, worked as an academic advisor to gifted freshmen and sophomores at a groundbreaking honors college, successfully mentored hundreds of students from a wide range of majors and backgrounds, and provided extensive support to undergraduates applying for prestigious scholarships, internships, and graduate schools.
Entrepreneur Interview Q & A
1. What is your business/Business Name? What does your business do?
I’m the founder and president of Get Yourself Into College, Inc. I help students in 8th – 12th grade transform the overwhelming college preparation and application process into a meaningful, exciting and empowering experience.
2. Why did you get into this field? What opportunities did you see?
I left my position as a full-time college English professor because I wanted to devote myself more exclusively to mentoring young people. I loved my teaching and research, but ultimately mentoring was what mattered most to me and was what made the biggest difference in my students’ lives. I saw that I could take all the expertise that I’d developed through my twenty years in higher education—as a professor, a literary scholar, a mentor, a member of an admissions committee — and use it to help students transform their high school experience and excel in the college admissions process.
3. What have been your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge has been learning how to effectively delegate. I work directly with all of the students in my comprehensive Get Yourself Into College™ program. I don’t secretly outsource any of that work to editors. I now have an amazing virtual assistant who handles an increasing amount of my administrative work as well as some technical projects. I also have a web developer, graphic designer, accountant, and bookkeeper. Now I’m starting to delegate in my personal life by hiring a regular housekeeper. I’d love to have a personal chef four days a week. With this kind of support, I can give more to my students and spent more quality time with my family.
4. What has been your greatest reward?
I don’t think that I’ve experienced my greatest reward. When I read this question, I was reminded of one of my favorite parts of Krista Tippett’s interview with Fatemeh Keshavarz. Keshavarz describes how Rumi “reminds us that the destination is the journey itself. There isn’t a point where you say, `OK, I’m here, I’ve reached, I’m done. . . .’ In the incompleteness of that, the need to move forward is inherent in that incompleteness, in the process of going forward you make yourself better and better.”
5. If you could change something, what would it be?
I would love for all motivated high school students to have access to high-quality, customized and ongoing mentoring that helps them discover and tap into their potential, stretch past their limitations, and make their dreams a reality.
6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be?
Don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out ahead of time. If you have a clear, well-formed intention and take regular action that’s in alignment with it, things will usually fall into place.
7. Social Media. Yay or Nay?
Absolutely! I love Twitter and Google+. I don’t post every day (or even every week), but I have connected with some amazing people through these social media platforms.
8. How do you market your products?
I don’t spend a lot of time engaged in what might be considered traditional marketing. Instead, I focus on providing great free content on my blog and YouTube channel. I started doing this because I wanted to make some of my advice on college admissions available for free to all students. However, it turns out that many of the families who hire me have first discovered me through my blog posts or videos. It’s pretty cool. I don’t feel like I’m selling at all!
9. Is your business a service or a product? If you are a product, how do you handle production?
A large part of my business is service oriented, but I have created a fully developed online program that guides students through the college application process. Because it’s an online program, I can easily update it and don’t have to deal with traditional production issues.
10. What is unique about your business?
I think one of the things that makes me unique is that I have experience on all sides of the table. I’ve been on an admissions committee, created my own successful application packages (which have earned over $60,000 in funding from institutions like the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women), and worked as a professional editor.
11. How can people get in touch with you? What’s your website/Contact information?
Come visit me at www.getyourselfintocollege.com. That’s where you can get free access to “What Really Matters to Admissions Officers (and Why): Surprising Facts About What You Need to Be Doing in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade.”