In this week's podcast, I share an embarrassing story about how I recently flip-flopped on one of my long-held parenting policies:
If you have a child, and you spend money on them, you may want to give this a listen...
Hello, friends, and welcome back to the PrepWell Podcast. In today's episode, I have an admission to make and it's an embarrassing one. I founder and creator of PrepWell Academy, paid my ninth grader 100 bucks to watch his first 20 prep videos. That's 20 weeks times five bucks a week. And despite my misgivings of going down this path, it was worth every penny.
Let me explain. This whole payment scheme actually started out as a joke. I was driving my son to school on a monday morning and I happened to ask him about what he thought about the latest prep video that had come out the day before on Sunday, which I believe was called What Colleges Will Expect from You in two years.
And he admitted that he hadn't gotten around to watching it yet. Surprise, surprise. Well, I probed a little more and came to find out that he had missed or skipped quite a few prep well, videos. In fact, he estimated probably half of the videos he missed. So I'm thinking if my own son can't summon the energy, time or interest to watch one five minute prep video per week and he lives with me in the same house, what could I possibly expect from the thousands of random prep dwellers out there who don't know me from a hole in the wall?
Now, mind you, since he has three older brothers who've been through the admissions process before and I run the company and he hears me talking all day long ad nauseum about this stuff, I have admittedly been pretty hands off with him. I didn't want to come on like gangbusters on day one of freshman year and freakin out. Believe me, he knows a lot about the process by now, just by osmosis.
A lot. But I also didn't want to just assume that he knows it all or that he doesn't have some questions particular to his situation. So in jest, I said, Oh, that's too bad. If you had actually watched all the videos from the beginning and filled out your journal and given me feedback on what you thought about each one, this one was good.
This one sucked. You made a mistake here. You need to change the backdrop, that type of thing. I would have paid you good money. That would have been really valuable information for me because you're my target audience. And his ears perked up and he said, What do you mean? Like, how much money? I said, I don't know. It depends on how good your feedback was.
If you gave me bare minimum effort like handwriting with crayon on the back of a napkin, you get paid accordingly. If, on the other hand, you put some work into it and the intel was valuable to me, you'd get paid good money. I basically pay you like you were an outside consultant, and that was it. He didn't say another word.
He made a sound, and then it was back to his phone. Well, a week later, he walks into my office. He hands me a typed out synopsis of his feedback on all 20 videos along with his journal that was completely filled out starting from week one, which went all the way back to June. And the comments were things like week 11 when you talked about getting out of your comfort zone.
You put some weird examples in the journal. No kid would ever do those things. Or week number eight. Love the activity list. I checked off most of them, but it reminded me of other things that I should do. Week Number 14 Whiteboard Checklist was helpful, but got kind of boring at the end. Week number ten I really enjoyed Reflection Week.
This needs to be stressed. More kids definitely need this. We never think about these questions unless we're asked. Week 15. I like the scenery. Change Good energy. This would make sense to a ninth grader. Good questions to keep in mind. Week 18. Loved the script on this one. Very interesting, very informational, great show of benefits. And on and on and on.
Well, I'll be damned. My off the cuff, impulsive, theoretical, nonspecific proposal to pay him for his consulting services motivated him to go back and watch every video, even the ones he had already watched to take detailed notes, fill out the journal all in one weekend. Well, that got me thinking. First off, I intend to keep paying my son a nominal amount of money if he continues to give me formal feedback on each proposal video because it really is valuable to me and the product will improve over time.
Based on his feedback. And it does take extra effort on his part and he's actually functioning like a consultant and he gets paid based on the quality of his work. I think that's a good life lesson to learn. And by the way, whether he acknowledges this or cares about this or not, the fact of the matter is he has actually engaged with the prep, well, content.
He listened to the advice, thought about my suggestions, and now at least he has an opinion. He can't unlearn what he just watched. He's got it. And that's all I really care about. Now, does that end justify the means? I don't know. But it led me to a bigger question, which is the following Should all of you prep Well, parents out there pay your children to watch their prep videos.
I know it sounds crazy, and I can't believe I'm even saying such a thing out loud, especially since I've always rolled my eyes at the parent who pays his son or daughter ten bucks for every goal they score in a game or $20 for every day they get on the report card. I never believed in that. I thought it was lazy parenting and didn't really teach the right lesson.
My theory was, why should I pay you for something that is in your best interest? It's your soccer game. It's your report card. It's not mine. If you don't want to try hard to score or you're okay with getting crappy grades, that's on you, it's your life, not mine. Why do I need to pay you to do stuff that you should be intrinsically motivated to do to better your life?
When would that ever end? Every time your child faces a big challenge, are they going to be looking for some kind of a payout? That seemed crazy to me. However, after seeing my son's feedback and how detail that was and how he was actually learning, or at least making himself aware of these very important lessons, I had to wonder, should parents be paying their kids to learn this stuff?
So there are two questions. One, is that the right parenting strategy? And two, would it be worth the money? Let me put it this way. Let's say you have a daughter that plays club volleyball or a son who plays ice hockey. How much money would you say you pay over the course of a year to support team dues and flights and rental cars, hotels, food, gas gear, embroider duffel bags, custom skate blades, banquets, fundraise raisers, coaches, gifts, and the list goes on and on and on.
I know this is painful to think about, but hang in there. It's got to be close to 15 to $20000 a year if you're being honest, and a lot more than that in many cases. Now, I'm sure that there are other sports that aren't quite that expensive, but we all know what we're talking about here. It's a dirty little secret that no one wants to acknowledge.
Compare that expense. Let's call it 15 to 20 grand a year, which admittedly, in a best case scenario, may bring some joy and fun and family bonding to a few hundred dollars that you might spend paying your son or daughter to learn, or at least to become aware of prep well, content and lessons that I would argue will be orders of magnitude more valuable than their volleyball or ice hockey experience.
The lessons they will learn from their prep well videos during their most formative years when they are so clueless and looking for guidance are extremely valuable. I would argue way more valuable than their actual academic classes. How many of them will actually ever need to do a math proof over the course of their careers? I didn't realize how valuable the prep lessons were until my own son started talking about them with me and trying to incorporate them into his life.
And again, I'm not trying to imply that if a student listens to their prep videos that they will immediately implement every great idea and strategy and become super human teenager. That happens every once in a while, but it's not a given. The point is, if they are coerced into watching the videos and by that I mean you pay them a small stipend just to keep them interested.
Whether they know it or not or like it or not, they will understand what's happening around them from ninth grade to 12th grade. When it comes to college admissions decisions, a decision I consider one of the single most important decisions and investments in their lives. And of course, once they have the information, it's up to them to do something with it or not.
And that's the point, I guess, where we as parents have to leave it up to them. They have the information. We all know the information works. And if they execute the plan, they are nearly guaranteed to succeed. Whether or not they take that information and do something with it and succeed or not is, of course, one of life's great mysteries.
But wouldn't you, as a parent, sleep better knowing that your child actually spent 5 minutes a week learning what it takes to succeed in the college admissions process? And dare I say, life, would that be worth five bucks a week? If so, I dare you to consider the unthinkable. I dare you to consider paying your child a nominal monetary reward if they watch their prep videos and report back to you what they learned.
And as a bonus, not only will they learn, but you will learn as well. If you're willing to pay 15 to 20 grand a year for volleyball and ice hockey, what a few hundred dollars spent on prep while learning be such a bad idea. Another dirty little secret that's related is that most high school athletes, no matter how much you spend on their sport, will not be good enough to use their athletic talent to help them get into college.
So why not spend a fraction of that high school athletic budget to equip them with something that will? That's all I've got for you today, folks. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for your continued support. Case you didn't know this podcast supports prep academies, online mentoring program or high schoolers and their parents receive weekly videos from me where I break down important topics and give timely advice about college admissions, particularly for top tier colleges, service academies and for ROTC and athletic scholarships.
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This podcast is brought to you by PrepWell Academy. PrepWell Academy is my one of a kind online mentoring program that delivers to your ninth or 10th grader a short, highly relevant video from me every week. Every Sunday, in fact, where I give them a heads up about what they should be thinking about, to stay ahead of the game to get these valuable lessons into your child's hands.
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PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank (2X), etc.
Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.