Frequently Asked Questions


What makes PrepWell Academy different from other college admissions prep programs?

Early. We make no apologies for starting our program in 9th and 10th grades. In fact, it's one of our primary differentiators. We believe that early preparation gives students a disproportionate advantage over those who wait until 11th or 12th grade. Remember, 70% of your child's body-of-work that will show up on their college application will have been spoken for before they even enter 11th grade.

Digestible and timely info. We send your child a concise, to-the-point video every week to make sure they stay on top of the relevant topics based on where they are in the school year. This is better than a book, or a full-day boot camp, or a one-time 4-hour marathon session with a college coach.

Perspective. My varied background and interests give me an uncommon perspective in the world of college counselors. I have seen and performed at world-class levels in several different industries and educational environments. It would be difficult to find this breadth of experience in any local counselor.

How does enrolling in PrepWell Academy differ from hiring a private college counselor?

I strongly support the work of private college counselors and work with them regularly. I am a college admissions counselor myself and enjoy working one-on-one with students inside my Private Mentorship Plan and during my "Size-Up" sessions. Private counselors are great for offering local expertise about high school-specific issues and local college knowledge. However, this option comes with some limitations: (1) cost: some students can't afford one-on-one sessions with private counselors, (2) timing: advice is often dispensed in large doses that don't always allow students and parents to digest and implement the advice in a timely fashion. PrepWell Academy addresses these issues and more:

1. Pacing: delivery of relevant information only as needed (no need to cram months of information into a few meetings).

2. Accessibility: review weekly lessons anytime, anywhere, on any device (no need to squeeze in another activity to your already busy schedule).

3. World-class advice: Phil Black shares valuable personal development strategies that will last a lifetime no matter what path your child chooses.

4. Cost: affordable monthly subscription options

5. Continuity: our program begins freshman year and continues through senior year, providing a thoughtful and coordinated approach that leaves nothing to chance.

6. Chunking: smaller bits of information delivered at regular intervals allow students and parents to understand and digest information more easily.

7. Perspective: Phil Black shares insights gained by real-world experience as a Division I College Athlete, Yale University and Harvard Business School graduate, Wall Street Investment Banker, Navy SEAL, Firefighter, Entrepreneur, 2X Shark Tank contestant, husband, and father of four children.

8. Shared platform: parents and children have access to the same material in order to share ideas, questions, and progress.

Take me to the Programs

Does PrepWell Academy have an "app"?

Yes. We recently launched a PrepWell app that allows PrepWellers to get into their video lessons with the tap of one button. No more log-ins, passwords, or portals. This makes it very easy to engage in the content - especially for today's teens.

Do I need PrepWell Academy if my child goes to an elite private high school that prides itself on readying its students for college?

It depends on your child. There are many private high schools that do a terrific job preparing students for the college admissions process. What these schools can't provide, however, is the unique set of experiences and insights that I share during the program. PrepWell Academy provides more than a checklist of things-to-do to enhance your child's resume. PrepWell provides vision and perspective from someone who has experienced success at high levels of athletics, education, military service, civil service, entrepreneurship, and private sector business. If your child has a remote interest in college sports, military, entrepreneurship, firefighting, banking, investments, consulting, or other demanding careers, these are not necessarily areas of expertise for most private high school guidance counselors.

Doesn't my child's high school guidance counselor cover all of these topics?

Theoretically, guidance counselors are responsible for providing answers and/or resources related to the college preparation process. However, the ratio of students-to-guidance counselors (often 500:1) can leave guidance counselors with little time to engage deeply with every student. Even at well-resourced high schools, there is simply not enough time in the day for even the best guidance counselors to provide the type of timely, relevant, and actionable information required across today's diverse student populations.

Why do counselors at my child's high schools often say that college preparation doesn't need to start until 11th grade?

Practicality. Implementing a college prep program that includes 9th and 10th graders could triple their workload overnight. And, it would be prohibitively expensive. Even well-heeled private schools sometimes don't have the resources, curriculum, or personnel to open up full-time college counseling to 9th and 10th graders. They would get buried.

When is the best time for my child to enroll?

The sooner the better. The earliest a student can enroll in PrepWell Academy is after 8th-grade graduation. This is an ideal time to start, as it delivers the flow of information and awareness at a smooth and even pace. In fact, we recently eliminated the option for 11th or 12th graders to enroll in PrepWell unless they were already enrolled as 9th or 10th graders. They are too far behind.

Is this program for my child or me?

Well, it depends. The lessons are for your child, but many parents follow-along so they know what's going on. By staying in the loop, you will be able to stay engaged in the process and can determine if your son or daughter is staying on track or drifting. How involved (or not) you get in this process is based on the needs of your child and your parenting philosophy. Either way, if your child is enrolled, you know for sure that they are receiving the guidance and mentorship that they need to make smart decisions.

What are the lessons like?

The lessons typically fall into five categories: (1) advice, (2) deadline reminders, (3) life skills, (4) inspiration, and (5) projects. Most lessons take 3-5 minutes to complete. Some "projects" will take longer in junior and senior year.

How much does it cost?

The investment in the online plans is $14.95/month. There are also options for individual 1:1 mentoring (pay-as-you-go) as well as "private mentoring" options.

Will this program cover all of my college preparation needs?

Yes, PrepWell Academy covers what your child needs to know to prepare well for college. However, there are areas where students search for additional and complementary support: college essay review services, standardized test prep classes, and financial aid counseling. We provide a list of suggested partners that deliver great value for these additional services. We offer many of these services ourselves.

What is the cancellation policy?

You may cancel your Plan at any time.

Will I get access to the lessons?

Yes. As a parent, you will receive your own username and password to access all of the lessons in "Your Locker." This access is empowering because it lets you know where you are in the process and provides a great excuse to open a dialogue with your son or daughter about how the process is going.

Is it too late if my child is already halfway through the school year?

No. If your child is already well into the school year, simply enroll in one of the Programs and you will automatically get access to all of the previous lessons for that school year back to June. We encourage parents and students to quickly review the past Lessons to ensure that they have not missed any time-sensitive projects or deadlines.

How do you gauge student success?

Importantly, I do not measure success by how many PrepWellers get into "elite" schools. My job is not to maximize the number of students who get into brand name schools. My job is to steer students to make smart decisions about their future (e.g. high school, gap year, college, job, career, calling). I do not post a list of where PrepWell Academy students have been accepted even though many have been (and will be) accepted to highly selective schools. This is not the point. The selectivity of a school is not the most important measure of student success for me. I measure student success by how a student is doing 6.5 years after graduating from high school. For those who attend four-year colleges, that gives them 2.5 years to put their education into practice. For those who choose a shorter stint in college, they get a few more years to find their path. I measure success by whether a 25-year old is (1) gainfully employed, (2) enjoying their work, (3) sees a bright future, and (4) is not unduly burdened by finances. These conditions can be met under infinite scenarios from a student who skips college to become a plumber's apprentice to someone who wins a Rhodes Scholarship upon graduation from Princeton.

What if I'm only in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade?

Sign up here and we'll make sure to get back in touch with you when the time is right.

What if I'm in 11th grade?

If you're an 11th grader, you can go here for more information.
Have a question we haven't answered? Ask us here
The PrepWell Podcast with Phil Black is the ultimate series for parents of, or students in, the 9th & 10th grade who are looking to excel in all areas that play a major role in your college admissions process.

These days, it takes far more than just having good grades or being an outstanding athlete to stand out from the rest of the applicants to your dream schools. Phil has mastered the art of out-preparing, proven by his one-of-a-kind resume, and he's made it his mission to bring his superpower to those who are looking to excel above the rest.  

Stay up-to-date and stand out by listening to the PrepWell Podcast and out-preparing for college admissions.

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