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How Sara Cavalieri helps American students save time and money and improve their employability by getting a college or graduate degree from abroad



  • Course Instructor: Sara Cavalier



  • Course Topic:Applying for College or Grad School Abroad (there are 5 courses)


  • Interesting Stats: More than 6,000 visitors looking to study abroad came to the site in the last 6 months
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1. Who are you?

I’m the founder of College Apps Abroad and an educational consultant who specializes in helping students apply for college or grad school overseas in places like the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. I’m originally from Ohio but am now San Diego-based, and I offer personalized assistance to help students find and apply for programs abroad that are a good fit academically, socially, financially and geographically. My goal is to spread the word about the power of international education and all it has to offer–both personally and professionally.



2. What’s your course all about?

My courses are for U.S. students interested in applying for college or grad school overseas in places like the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. Every year, more and more students apply for their degrees abroad; in fact, there were just over 5,000 American high school students applying for their bachelor’s in the UK alone in the 2019/20 cycle, and at any given time, there are about 20,000 American students in the UK. But students often feel confused and stressed about how to make this happen.

My courses are designed so students can go at their own pace and complete exercises and worksheets along the way, and they will learn exactly what to do, how to plan and what to know to start the application process. Students will also hear directly from many overseas university representatives themselves about some specific program examples and opportunities.

They will also learn about the differences in the student experience, college admissions and financial aid process for U.S. colleges vs. abroad; for example, many students don’t realize that Greek life doesn’t exist on university campuses overseas. And that whole thing about sharing a room with a total stranger? Also not super common abroad! Students will be delighted to know they’ll have their own dorm rooms and avoid all of those awkward roommate moments that are so common at colleges in the U.S. These are the types of nuances that are covered.

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3. What makes you an expert in this field?

My background is in international recruitment and admissions; for 10 years I worked for some of the top universities in the world, including The University of Edinburgh in the UK and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

In these roles, I traveled all across the Americas recruiting students and assisting them with their applications. I also lived overseas for 10 years in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil, so I have a strong understanding of the culture abroad. Finally, I studied overseas twice myself–once at the undergraduate level for a semester in Australia and then going back to Australia to complete my entire Master of Education program, so I know firsthand how amazing it is to study overseas and the benefits that come with it.



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

My courses give students the tools to discover whether or not doing a degree overseas is actually right for them.

They help students narrow down their key preferences and criteria and properly prepare for the admissions process. Students will also be equipped with the knowledge to apply not only for a degree but also for financial aid to support themselves during this period.

They’ll also learn about a range of higher education systems around the world and possibly become more open to studying somewhere they hadn’t considered before.


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

My courses serve students who are interested in applying for college or graduate school overseas but don’t know how to get started, what to consider, how to finance it and where to search. It’s for students who maybe can’t afford my personalized support and/or who want to have a go at managing the application process on their own.



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

People always assume that studying overseas is just for the elite, but that’s a huge myth. Students can save both time and money by doing a degree overseas; in many cases the degrees are just three years.

With student debt now in the trillions, it’s important for me to spread the word that students don’t necessarily need to take out loads of debt just to get a degree, as there are many top tier universities overseas charging tuition at a fraction of the cost in the U.S..

Looking back at my own college search, I didn’t even know going abroad was an option, and I’m sure most people don’t. But a college degree is arguably the second largest expense one will have apart from buying a house, so I really want students to carefully know and consider all their options.



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?

I remember sitting at my kitchen table reading an email from a prospective student that she wouldn’t be able to go ahead with my personalized services because of her family’s financial situation. I started thinking, how could I reach more students in a more affordable way?

Then, the idea of creating courses somehow popped into my mind, and I haven’t looked back.



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

I overcame doubtful moments through trial and error. For example, I was afraid the video or audio quality wouldn’t be good enough, so I invested in a professional microphone and camera stand.

After that, it was just playing around with the settings and trying different things to produce a product I could be proud of. 



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

Imposter syndrome is real and a constant battle; at first I told myself that my personalized consulting packages and courses were too expensive–until I realized that there were people who would actually pay for my specialist knowledge.

Now, I just remind myself that I have a unique set of skills, knowledge, perspectives and experiences. I allow myself only one day per week to feel insecure; the rest of the time I get focused and stay busy so I don’t have room to think about it!



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

When I’m super excited about a new idea, I go all in. I can’t sleep. It probably took me a couple days to write the script, another couple days to create the slides and another week or so to record. All up, I had my first course ready to go in under two weeks! It was easier than I thought. My goal was to get the course out this year, and instead I got five courses out within the first month of the year!


11. How did your first launch go?

I would say my first launch was successful; colleagues within my industry and even from others congratulated me on my unique idea. Many parents liked the idea of doing the course first before signing up for my personalized services, resulting in a nice marketing funnel.

I also created social media content and promoted my courses during a webinar I participated in. I also redesigned my website to put my courses at the forefront of my services. But I do think I overpriced my courses at the start even though they’re unique to the market. So I later had to go back, reduce and adjust.



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

I’m planning another course launch in the next few months on Everything You Need to Know to Apply to the UK. My plan is to offer an early bird discount to anyone on my mailing list, then go hard on the social media promotion with both paid and unpaid content.

I’m going to be more strategic when it comes to pricing this one though. Even though the UK is the most popular study destination, I don’t want to price myself out of the market from the start.



13. Where does your traffic come from?

My traffic mostly comes from targeted Google ads, but the second largest source is via referrals–either from friends and family of previous clients or from other U.S. college consultants who aren’t specialists in international college admissions.



14. Which content do you like producing the most?

My favorite type of content is blogs; I studied journalism as an undergraduate student with the hopes of becoming a sports writer. Although I later decided to go into the field of international education, I never gave up on my passion for writing (or sports, for that matter).

Now, I release a new blog post related to studying abroad every Thursday on my website. But I’ve recently joined Clubhouse and am keen to explore how I can use this in my business, too.


15. What online course platform are you using?

I use Thinkific to host my courses.


How to create an online course.2

Try Thinkific for free here.


16. What is amazing about this platform?

I found it to be much more customizable in terms of the look and feel than other platforms. It’s also very intuitive to use, which is important for entrepreneurs and business owners already strapped for time.


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

I offer consultations to students who sign up for a bundle of courses; it would be great if there were a Calendly integration where students could book this session directly from the platform. Of course, there are workarounds, but this would be a much smoother option if it were available.



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

Two things stood out to me when I was searching for course platforms. The first was Thinkific’s support; they responded extremely fast to solve all my issues–crucial for someone just getting set up.

And secondly, I thought their templates for the hosting site were the most modern and most closely aligned with the look and feel of my actual website. I really wanted that close integration between the two sites, and I think I got pretty close!



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

I use Dubsado to manage my proposals, invoices, payments and expenses and Trello to manage each individual student’s application process/project. I also use Calendly for booking appointments and Zoom for the actual sessions themselves.


20. How many students have you served so far?

So far, I have 16 clients–a mix of high school students from all years as well as two current college students applying for their master’s programs abroad.


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

I launched my consultancy in July 2020 and have brought in about $20,000 in revenue to date from both my consulting packages and my courses.



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

My overall business costs (consulting and courses) are minimal–around $500 to $1,000 a month. They include website hosting software, other professional subscriptions and professional development conferences, but my largest expense is marketing.

The business costs for the course, however, are even smaller. For example, the course platform itself is around $80 a month. Besides that, it’s just marketing!



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

My biggest mistake was not knowing where to spend my money when it comes to marketing. I didn’t target specifically enough in social media posts, I was advertising on every platform rather than being strategic about it, I was paying for lots of media releases, joining every professional society I could (like the Chamber of Commerce, etc.).

I just wasn’t sure where I would get business, so I tried to do everything. Now, I understand where my clients come from and how to reach them, so I’m much more targeted.


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

My process has changed; sometimes I’ll get emails from a parent regarding my consulting services whose child is somewhat interested in applying abroad but not 100 percent sure yet. In this case, I direct them to my courses first, which are a minimal investment compared to my consulting packages.

Students should be sure they want to apply abroad before signing up for a package, so my courses are a great way for students to vet themselves and their interests before getting too far along in the process.



25. How has your personal life changed?

In my previous jobs, I was on the road 9 months out of the year. Sure, the frequent flyer miles, airline statuses and hotel points were fabulous, but I missed my husband and my dogs. Now, I’m definitely working more than I was in those roles, but nothing beats the flexibility that comes with setting my own hours.

I actually wake up before the alarm, excited for the day ahead. I’m sleeping better, I’m eating healthier, I’m more motivated to exercise and walk my dogs, and I like the feeling of being in control of my own success.



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

One of my students came to me late in her senior year of college and hadn’t applied to any universities abroad yet for her master’s. The deadlines were in three weeks, and she wasn’t confident she could meet them even though it was her dream to do her master’s in Italy.

She just assumed the programs were too competitive anyway, even though she had an amazing profile, super high GPA and was on track to graduate with two bachelor’s degrees in four years (Biology and Art History) after overloading her schedule.

She already seemed defeated before even trying. I encouraged her to go ahead with the applications, set a schedule, helped brainstorm her essay, decide who to ask as a reference and coached her through the whole process.

She regularly thanked me for motivating her and helping to calm her nerves and did get all the applications submitted in time. She even got a reference from one of the most respected academics in the art history industry, a person she almost didn’t approach for fear of being let down. Now, we’re just waiting to hear back, but I’m confident about her chances and happy I may have made a difference in her life by encouraging her to pursue her dreams and helping her get there.



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?

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to listen to others but in the end, follow my instincts. So many people were offering (unsolicited) advice about how to structure myself, what to charge, etc., but after thinking about it, I’m not like everyone else.

I’m a unique consultant with unique experiences and offerings, so it doesn’t matter what other consultants are doing. Their way of doing things didn’t work for me. So my advice is to not be afraid of trying something new.


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?

If you’re like me and super eager and anxious when you get an idea, slow down! There’s no need to rush. Do extensive research into course platforms, for example, and be sure you pick the one that’s best for you because once you get going, it will be really difficult to switch.

I chose Thinkific after only a day’s research, and it worked out really well for me. But I need to remind myself to take a breather sometimes! My second piece of advice is to be careful about pricing–just because you’re offering a unique course doesn’t mean the price is right. Start low, and you can always increase.

And my advice for people looking to scale their businesses–create courses! That’s the easiest, simplest and most cost effective way.


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








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