How Jennifer Ledwith helped teenagers boost their reading and math skills and PSAT and SAT scores in the wake of a pandemic

 

  • Course Instructor: Jennifer Ledwith
  • Website: www.scholaready.com
  • Course Topic: PSAT and SAT Preparation
  • Interesting Stats: 
    • 50% increase in enrollment
    • 14% of students from the PSAT and SAT Preparation courses signed up for other Scholar Ready courses
where to host your online course2

Would you like to learn exactly how to create, sell, market & scale your online course?

Join Our Free Event:

The Ultimate Online Course Conference

March 29th - April 4th

Registration Closes In

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

The World’s Economy Has Already Shifted Into The Virtual Space More And Faster Than Ever Before & It’s Time To Catch Up Right Now… Or Else You’ll Risk Getting Left Behind.

The Most “Future Proof” Way To Get Ahead And Run A Sustainable Online Business Is By Entering The Exploding Digital Knowledge Industry With The Guidance Of Tina and 30+ Experts Through Online Course Talks. 

how to create an online course

1. Who are you?

I’m Jennifer Ledwith, owner of Scholar Ready, an educational services company. Scholar Ready teaches math, writing and reading; conducts personal essay writing workshops; and prepares students for PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams.

2. What’s your course all about?

The PSAT and SAT Preparation course helps high school students boost their PSAT and SAT scores. In the course, I teach students how to do the crucial work of understanding passages, questions, charts, tables, and graphs. This understanding leads to higher test scores, and in turn, a greater preparedness for the rigors of college. 

3. What makes you an expert in this field?

I’m in my second decade of preparing students for the PSAT and SAT. I am the PSAT and SAT Prep instructor at University of Houston – Clear Lake. Currently, 3 of my former students are National Merit semifinalists. When they took the PSAT in the 11th grade, they scored higher than 99% other high school juniors.

Their National Merit achievement increases the likelihood that they will attain significant college scholarships. Additionally, in 2019, two of my students scored a perfect score on the Math section of the SAT. 

How to create an online course1

Try Thinkific for free here.

4. What is the transformation your course offers to the students?

Students develop confidence that they carry into the classroom and the SAT testing room. They also develop study skills and time management, for they have homework at least 3 days a week.

5. Which market does your online course serve and how did you get into it?

I teach students, but my paying customers are parents. These parents are often college-educated homeowners. Their families are in the middle class and typically both parents work outside the home. 

They are nervous about paying for college and about their children’s place in America’s future economy and society.

Because of my high PSAT scores, I attended college on scholarships and graduated with only $1,000 in scholarships. Pell Grants and other need-based aid were out of the question for me; my mother “made too much.” She also made too little to write checks for tuition, fees, housing, and food. 

My test scores, persistence, and writing ability were my salvation. I started Scholar Ready to help families who are in the middle. Students who score well on the PSAT and SAT can secure scholarships, regardless of their family’s bank account statements. 

6. Why is it important to you to serve this market?

Students from middle-class families belong to parents who make too much to qualify for need-based aid and don’t make enough to pay full price for college. High SAT scores can lead to scholarships that aren’t related to a student’s family income or assets. 

7. Describe the moment when you decided to create your own course. Where were you, what happened and why did you decide to do it?

In response to the pandemic, The University of Houston – Clear Lake announced that all classes would move online. I had just taught class #1 (of 6 classes) for the PSAT/SAT course in person. I decided to move the course online because it was the only way to continue.  

8. How did you overcome doubtful moments during your course creation journey?

I have learned to extend the same grace and patience that I grant my students to myself. Teaching a lesson online requires more time than when teaching a lesson in a physical classroom. 

9. What are some of your tricks to deal with imposter syndrome?

I am an African-American woman from the American South whose maternal grandparents (born in the 1920s) attained master’s degrees. I am a 3rd generation college graduate. I am well-educated. Because of my education, hard work, and family background, I believe that I belong in whatever classroom, boardroom, or office in which I find myself.  

10. How long did it take you to create your course?

It took minutes to transform the in-person course to an online course. Although the course initially met in person, the students were already completing assignments, taking quizzes, and finding resources within Scholar Ready’s learning management software; they were already accustomed to online assignments.

It took about 10 minutes to transform the in-person course to an online course because I only had to create a new space for instruction, a Skype room. 

11. How did your first launch go?

The first launch was rough because students, parents, and I were getting used to the dangerous reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new demands of learning online. During the first launch, I attempted to teach 22 students online with the same lesson plan and expectations that I bring to an in-person class. This was not as effective as I hoped it would be.  

12. How do you structure your launches in general now?

New courses are launched to fit the online space. Courses have been limited to about 12 students. Some courses focus on one subject: students can prepare for the math section; others, the verbal section. 

13. Where does your traffic come from?

Relatives of previous students; referrals from counselors; and people who attend the PSAT and SAT bootcamps visit the site and register for the course. 

14. Which content do you like producing the most?

Math quizzes are my favorite content to produce because I love math. When writing a math question, I’m simultaneously writing and solving a puzzle. Consequently, I discover new things about how I understand math. I enjoy watching my students react to the questions. Numerous students have answered these same math questions, yet the lessons never get old because each student has a different approach. 

15. What online course platform are you using?

Moodle.

16. What is amazing about this platform?

Moodle is easy for me and the students to use. Once Moodle grades the assignments, we can look at the score reports. I can also embed Google Forms and Sheets into Moodle.  

17. Which features do you wish this platform would have?

I wish it were easier for parents to log in to check on their students’ performance on course assignments. 

How to create an online course.2

Try Thinkific for free here.

18. Why did you choose this platform over other platforms?

It’s easy to use and it plugs in easily to my WordPress website. 

19. Which other tools do you use to keep your online business running?

I use Google Drive, Skype, Constant Contact, and Microsoft Office to keep my online business running. 

20. How many students have you served so far?

I have served about 64 students. 

21. How much revenue have you created during your first launch, and ongoing?

During the first launch, I earned $2,400 in revenue. Since the first launch, I’ve earned $5,400 in revenue.

22. What are you running costs to keep the online course business going?

To keep the online course business going, I must pay for internet service and web hosting. 

23. What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way?

The biggest mistake that I’ve made is trying to market and teach an online course like an in-person course. Before the pandemic, I would see prospective clients at libraries, my neighborhood pool, grocery stores, graduation parties, and community meetings. My clients would see other parents at large gatherings and talk about me. The pandemic pretty much confined communication to the online realm.

I had to learn to step up my digital presence; what I was doing before wasn’t working. The course enrollment increased by 50% by doing the following: sending newsletters every week (instead of just twice a month); offering continuing education to counselors; and appearing on as many online outlets as possible.

I’ve adapted the class size and the curriculum to keep students engaged online. 

24. How has your business changed since implementing an online course into the business model?

My non-PSAT/SAT courses have grown. Students from the online PSAT/SAT course are satisfied and register for other courses that Scholar Ready teaches. 

25. How has your personal life changed?

Since offering this class online, I no longer commute about 45 minutes to campus. My nutrition has improved: I have time to cook and don’t eat as much fast food. I also spend more time exercising. 

26. What’s the greatest transformational story you can tell about one (or more) of your students?

One of my students worked in person with another tutoring company to prepare for the PSAT and SAT. His mother told me that he really “clicks” with my teaching style. Here are his words: 

“This is David Szklaruk Traipe, a repeat student in your SAT prep course. I’m writing this email because thanks to your class, I scored a 1450 on my SAT, in the 99th percentile and almost 200 points higher than my latest PSAT score. I’ve tried some SAT prep classes before, but yours was the one that really improved my score. So thank you for teaching me so much.”

27. If you could use a time machine and send yourself back to the time before you started out, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?

Don’t even dare to teach an online class full of 22 teenagers! The limit is 12. 

28. What is your million dollar piece of advice to those who are just getting started in their online course journey OR for those who are looking to scale?

Create a supportive environment so students will be open about what they don’t know. Be vulnerable and let students understand that, just like them, you are human, and you get stuff wrong and have to read and concentrate and think to arrive at an answer.

If you’re looking to scale, focus on the mission of your company. As Alice Gugelev and Andrew Stern ask in Stanford Social Innovation Review, what is your endgame? What does your business need in order to make its maximum impact? 

How to create an online course.png

How to create an online course.png

Would you like to learn exactly how to create, sell, market & scale your online course?

Join Our Free Event:

The Ultimate Online Course Conference

March 29th - April 4th

Registration Closes In

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

The World’s Economy Has Already Shifted Into The Virtual Space More And Faster Than Ever Before & It’s Time To Catch Up Right Now… Or Else You’ll Risk Getting Left Behind.

The Most “Future Proof” Way To Get Ahead And Run A Sustainable Online Business Is By Entering The Exploding Digital Knowledge Industry With The Guidance Of Tina and 30+ Experts Through Online Course Talks. 

how to create an online course