Sophomore Pathway Plan

If your sophomore aspires to attend a very-selective college (Top 200), waiting until next year to learn about the college admissions process is simply too late.

By the time your child steps one foot into junior year (when most students first engage in the process) 70% of the work that colleges care about will already be done. And guess what? That's less than one year away - and there is no turning back.

Pathway is an online education program that delivers weekly videos to your child during sophomore year. This early mentorship and attention will prepare your child to be the best they can be - when it matters most.


Teenagers often respond well to advice from non-family members - especially when it comes from a 6'7" former Navy SEAL, Div I athlete, entrepreneur, Harvard Business School graduate, and firefighter.

This positive influence can play an important role in your child's future. Phil Black has the unique ability to inspire, challenge, and connect with your child on many levels.

Lesson Topics

Pathway's weekly online lessons include topics such as: Note-Taking Strategies, Khan Academy, Active Reading, Computer Organization, Social Media, What Very-Selective Colleges Expect, Email Best Practices, Class Selection Strategies, Dealing with Failure, Wall Calendars, Importance of Writing, Summer Planning, Goal Setting, Service Orientation, Angular vs Well-Rounded, Demonstrated Interest, Study Smarter, Beating Procrastination, Extracurricular Activities, and much more!

Weekly Videos

In these short, focused, and timely videos, your child (and you) will learn what they need to know and when they need to know it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that your child is on a coordinated and organized path. Watch the lessons anytime and anywhere. Click video for a tour.

What Parents Are Saying

Listen to what these parents have to say about the PrepWell experience and how it's impacted their lives.

Yup, We've Got an App for That

We just launched an App that allows your child to access their full PrepWell video library with 1-tap on their phone. No more log-ins or clunky website portals. One tap and you're in!

Real World Skills

Pathway teaches more than just the nuts-and-bolts of college applications. We teach skills that transcend high school and will help your freshman develop into a self-aware, resourceful, and confident teen. We cover topics such as manual literacy, self-defense, entrepreneurship, how to shut off the gas to the house, goal-setting, patent searches, and more.

Weekly Text Reminders

Does your freshman go for days without checking or responding to emails? PrepWell teaches and reinforces this important life skill. In the meantime, we connect with your child where they feel most comfortable - on their phones. We send a courtesy text every week to remind them about their lesson.

A Family Affair

These four boys are why I returned to college to get credentialed in College Admissions Counseling - and why I spent the last five years researching, decoding, teaching, and developing this world-class curriculum. I took everything I've learned over my lifetime and built a program to help my sons become the best they can be. And now, thanks to the internet, you can join the PrepWell family, too!

Optional: Journal

Consider purchasing this optional 65-page, durable, spiral-bound, journal that your child can use while watching their videos. Each page corresponds to their weekly video. Keep your child organized, on task, and focused. ($28)

The Time is Now

Freshman and sophomore year make up 70% of your child's body of work on their college applications. Don't ignore these important and formative years. Enroll your child in Pathway today...
Enroll for $14.95/month


Is sophomore year too early to start?

No. If anything, it's borderline too late. In a perfect world, we want PrepWellers to enroll in freshman year. There are important skills, habits, and milestones that are best established early. Our program delivers the awareness and tools that children don't normally get - but desperately need - to position themselves for success down the road. If your child is a sophomore, the time to get engaged is now - and not a minute later.

Why do "college-prep" private and public high schools often say that it's not necessary to worry about college until junior year?

Oftentimes because it would be too costly and administratively burdensome to provide this type of advice to 9th and 10th graders. They would be doubling their workload and the number of personnel needed to manage these expectations. Some schools don't have any choice but to recommend waiting until junior year and/or to seek outside help. Don't wait.

What happened to the junior and senior year PrepWell plans? I no longer see them listed on the website.

These plans still exist but are only available for students who begin PrepWell Academy as a freshman or sophomore. A non-PrepWeller who waits until junior or senior year to begin thinking about college admissions needs a different level of attention and guidance and should seek help from our list of resources.

What's the PrepWell Journal all about?

The Journal is a great complement to your child's overall program. It provides a convenient collection point to record what they're learning, reflecting on, and considering. Each page asks a few simple questions to ensure that they understand the most important takeaways. It also serves as a tangible item that parents can glance at to gauge their child's progress. Parents love seeing the Journal on the countertop because it acts as a visual reminder for their child. Look for the opportunity to purchase this popular item during checkout.

What do enrolled PrepWellers do when they enter junior year?

They continue with Pathway throughout junior and senior year. This multi-year approach provides continuity and a success framework that walks them through the entire application, essay writing, and submission process from soup-to-nuts. For students who desire more personal guidance through the process, they may engage with me on an as-needed basis or apply for my in-depth 1:1 Mentor Program.

How does PrepWell Academy differ from using a private college counselor?

(1) Timing: PrepWell Academy starts in 9th grade and continues through 12th grade. Most private counselors begin their work with students in 11th or 12th grade. As we've discussed, this is too late for many students - especially for students who aspire to attend very-selective colleges; (2) Cost: PrepWell Academy is affordable. Private counselor fees, on the other hand, are often out of reach for many families.

What's the difference between Pathway and the Ivy Plan?

Pathway is intended for students who aspire to attend a very-selective college (Top 200). It's for students who may feel too intimidated by the expectations of the most-selective colleges (Top 20). The Ivy Plan goes a few layers deeper. It contains everything in Pathway plus extra content specifically for students who aspire to attend the top 20 most-selective colleges (e.g. Ivy League, Duke, Stanford, etc.). These schools demand more from their applicants and the Ivy Plan helps students meet those expectations.

What are PrepWell Academy's core benefits?

Pacing: delivery of relevant information only as needed.

Accessibility: review weekly lessons anytime, anywhere, on any device.

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

Cost: affordable monthly investment.

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

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

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

Shared platform: parents and child have access to the same material to share ideas, questions, and progress.

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 and the school. There are private high schools that do a terrific job preparing students for college. A few even begin the process in 9th and 10th grade. 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 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) often leaves guidance counselors with only enough time to cover the basics. They have a lot on their plate. Even at well-resourced high schools, there is simply not enough time for even the best counselors to provide the type of timely, relevant, and actionable information required across today's diverse student populations.

Does Pathway include 1-on-1 interaction with Phil Black?

While we love to hear from PrepWellers via email, text, and the socials, personal interaction with Phil Black is not included in Pathway.

Phil does offer separate, individual mentorship with a small group of students very closely in his "1:1 Mentorship Plan".

What if my child is still in middle school?

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

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 can engage in the process and determine if your child 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 video lessons like?

The lessons typically fall into five categories: (1) advice, (2) deadline reminders, (3) life skills, (4) inspiration, and (5) projects. Most lessons are 3-7 minutes long (just the right length for early teens). Some tasks take a little longer than others.

How much does Pathway cost?


Will PrepWell cover all of my college preparation needs?

We hope so! However, there are times when students require or request additional support: college essay review services, SAT/ACT test prep classes or tutors, or detailed financial aid counseling. We provide a list of suggested partners that deliver great value for these additional services when the time is right.

Will I get access to the lessons?

Yes. As a parent, you will receive your own username and password to access to all of the lessons in "Your Locker" if you choose to follow along. This access lets you know where you are in the process and provides a great excuse to open a dialogue with your child.

What if my child is already halfway through freshman year? Is it too late?

No. If your child is already well into freshman year, simply enroll in Pathway 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 what type of schools students get into. My job is not to maximize the number of students who get into brand name schools. My job is to help students 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 the most 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 in the real world.

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 college debt. 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.

Get Started With PrepWell Academy

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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