Shellee Howard

Shellee Howard is the owner and president of College Ready. She is a college graduate and is a Certified Educational Planner. Shellee has traveled around the world, helping students plan for their “perfect match” college. She knows what it takes to compete in Ivy schools and find the best fit for all students. Shellee believes that no two students are the same, and each student must have their strategy and plan to be successful. Each student has a gift/talent and a passion that will set him/her apart from their competition. Getting to know your student one on one is the key to success. College Ready has clients all over the world and each one is important. Her focus is to find the best academic, financial and social fit college for each student to thrive at and graduate debt-free!

In this episode, Pamela puts the spotlight on the spectacular journey of Shellee. Among the highlights are:

– Who are Shellee’s cheerleaders, and how did they help her along the journey?

– How did College Ready come to be, and what is it all about?

– The wise words she’d like to impart

To know more about Shellee and College Ready, check out the following:

Website: https://collegereadyplan.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shelleehoward/

Email: Shellee@collegereadyplan.com

Listen to the full episode here:

Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/underdog/id1534385651

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6FbSDu0aNtuxAEiderUAfB

Website: https://theunderdogshow.com/

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Click To Read The Transcript

Shellee Howard Shares the Secrets on How to be College Ready

Pamela Bardhi
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of underdog. Today I have an incredible guest here with me, Shellee, how are you?

Shellee Howard
I’m fantastic. Thank you so much for having me.

Pamela Bardhi
Thank you so much for being here. Shelley, you are a total Rockstar and I can’t wait to get into your story. This is my favorite question to really go off of because it just branches off into so many beautiful ways. And my question to you is what inspired you on your journey to where you are today?

Shellee Howard
I was fortunate I had two parents that were entrepreneurs, both of them. And they really raised me with an entrepreneur mindset. Since college ready is my seventh business. I started from scratch. It helped me to have the foundation and support of family who believed in what I did and didn’t tell me no, that’s not possible. They just said, Okay, there’s a speed bump. How are you going to get around it? But the reality is, it’s my two oldest children that got me to where I’m at today because they kept me challenged. They kept me they kept questioning me, they kept asking why I always lead back to it started with my parents and then on to my children.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s incredible. So you just mentioned something crazy. Did you just say seven businesses?

Shellee Howard
Yes, so I have started seven. And the first one started when I was 12. So I literally knew from the day I was born that I thought a little bit unique. I don’t understand the word no or I can’t those that were never part it was like, Okay, how high or how I can do this. Just give me a moment to figure it out and so each business actually came to me. I did not seek one of them and college ready happened during my son’s high school graduation. And so again, I was doing something completely different.

My son was standing up giving this salutatorian speech and the young man next to me said, Dude, I didn’t even know that kid was smart. And he was talking about my son and I’m like, brilliant. Here’s a kid going off to Harvard and his friends don’t even know that he’s smart. I won. Yeah, yay for me and so it really just launched the next passion of mine. And that is helping students get into college and graduate debt-free.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s amazing. This is the seventh, that’s so insane. So I want to reel it back a little bit. Just because you have such a brilliant, great mind. I’m like, I need to know the source of where this started. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Growing up,

Shellee Howard
I knew I wanted to own my own business. But I wasn’t sure what that looked like. Because my dad, bought land Bill property and fold it. So basically, he was in real estate, but not in sales. He was more of the build it sells it flip it kind of thing. And my mom was a hairdresser and she owned five different salon. So she didn’t just stand behind a chair and do hair, which is fine. She thought differently once again, so I knew I had a creative side and I knew I had a go-get-it side.

So it was just a matter of what it was going to be and I remember in high school asking my parents if they thought college was something I should do. And my dad said you might want to look into it. It’s probably a good idea and my mom says no, go out and make it just like we did and you know. It was this really odd thing because I was the first to go to college on both sides of my family.

Pamela Bardhi
Wow. And what’s crazy is like you knew you wanted to own your own business when you were a kid. That’s so awesome, I feel like every entrepreneur I talked to it’s like it was written for them. Because they all wanted to have their own business when they were a kid like myself. I was always like, you know, one day I want to have my own businesses I want to get super-rich, is when you’re rich, you then have power. You can do whatever you want. And then you have the respect and then you can do things for good.

Shellee Howard
Yeah, my mission since I carry member was always how can I help people be the best version of them? I didn’t know what that meant. And I remember after graduating college, I wanted to be an entrepreneur straight away and my dad said, No, I think you should go work for a Fortune 500 company. Let them teach you everything they screwed up all these years and figure it out. And just skip all of that and go right for the great opportunity and then go and launch it. So I made it eight and a half years in corporate America, which was a long time for me.

And it was brilliant because I learned how to hire and train and fire and build and grow and market and it was a beautiful training ground. So for those young people who think it’s just graduate from high school and woohoo, we have the next Facebook, it doesn’t always work out like that. And so we help students figure out what are their gifts and their talents. What do they want to see changed in the world, and then lead others to do that. That could be any major any career they want it to be, as long as they start with that foundation.

Pamela Bardhi
Amen. I love that Shellee, I love that so much. So it’s interesting that you took that route too, in terms of going into corporate America and then kind of learning from their mistakes, which is awesome. I mean, that’s such a solid way to do it, because then you see their systems and their processes. And then when you leave there, you can implement it in your own business, which is genius. So tell me about your first business. How did that start? I want to hear all about them.

Shellee Howard
They’re all very unique and my first one because my mom owned five beauty salons. I was very creative as a child and I saw this, this girl wearing a burette that had this really pretty ribbon and it dangled into had beads. It was necessary and I’m like, I can’t do that. So I asked my parents, can you give me this, I started just creating these beads and this hairstyle. And I made really good money like Christmas time. I was rolling in the dough and I’m thinking this is awesome. My parents were buying my supplies, so I had no overhead. So it was just ching ching ching. And so I’m thinking this entrepreneur thing. I’ve got this, and then the trend changed and I realise okay, there’s more to it than just one style. That was my first business.

Pamela Bardhi
That is awesome. Oh my gosh. And then after that, what was the second one? I’m just intrigued because I always love hearing different businesses.

Shellee Howard
Yeah, so I’m trying to think my second one, I was a new mom. And I was taking pictures of my six-month-old and I couldn’t find a photographer who could really bring out his expression. So I said, You know what, I’m just gonna give it a shot. I pull out my little point and shoot camera and I get everything set up. And I send out the Christmas card and my mail and email blew up. Who were my photographer and they’re like. Well, can you do mine I went back to school and I got my professional photographers certification from NYU.

And I made six figures as a photographer. Because I sent out one picture that everybody fell in love with and I knew how to sell. I wasn’t all that talented in my opinion. But I do believe there’s no ugly babies when they’re your own, I was really good. Like, they’ll never be this young again, this cute, whatever. And so it was really brilliant and then the iPhone came out and then I changed my career. So it was just an opportunity. As I said, every one of my businesses was kind of just handed over to me and I was just open-minded to go. Yeah, why not?

Pamela Bardhi
That is awesome, that was number two. Now. Number three of like these.

Shellee Howard
So three, four, and five kinds of were wrapped in tight together. And what it was, is I was helping people take their gifts and talents and market them. I started helping young entrepreneurs because that’s always been my passion is the teenage young. Brilliant minds who just don’t know what they don’t know. And so I was helping them market and get free advertising by providing this retail building with their stuff. So it started with my photography because I was able to get my photography in every hospital in Riverside and it was just because they had ugly walls and they wanted pretty walls.

And then I got tonnes of clients as these maternity ladies are walking the halls before they give birth. So it’s just a way that I was thinking so that one led to being part of several other businesses. But then I decided that I was getting older and I wanted to get healthier. And so I became a nutritionist and a personal trainer and then I started opening personal training facilities and training clients on how to get a little older and stay young and healthy and happy. So again, it was in training in teaching and loving it and then I had the opportunity to work with high school athletes in ding ding ding that was my next.

I just knew that was my world because I love teenagers. And then from there, the college-ready was just a very natural thing. My son had seven full-ride offers, ended up going to Harvard graduating with zero debt. And making $106,000 a year his first job and everybody’s like. Well, I want that for my student and again, it was just teaching my process and my procedure and taking the emotion out of college and just helping people get return on investment from a business mind perspective.

Pamela Bardhi
That is fantastic. Shellee, I just love your array of businesses and how they came about, and just like casual, you’re like, start a business off of it. Like, this is awesome. This is the coolest thing ever. Oh my gosh. And now entrepreneurs, we’ve seen the worst of it, right? Like we, we love our businesses, but it always comes with its challenges. What were some of the challenges that you faced throughout your current business? Or are businesses in the past? What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur or one who’s maybe in it right now. And kind of like in the muck of things or is like, bored with it and wants to scale or move on to something else? So anything that you’d love to share would be great.

Shellee Howard
Absolutely. So here’s something I do with my high schoolers. And you know, they’re having a tough time at 1516 and 17, figuring out who am I and why does it matter, let alone how do I pick a major or a career right there? Like, I don’t know, so here’s a little thing that I recommend. And it works brilliantly with all entrepreneurs, our side hustle. So if you first figure out what are your gifts and your talents, what was I born with? Was I born with a memory like a photographic memory, was I born with desire, tenacity, you know, empathy, and really focus on your five core values.

These five core values will make you successful at anything in life, as long as you stay true to yourself. The second thing is, what is your mission? Why were you put on this earth? And what do you want to get out of your time here, and then once you have your core value, and your mission for your life, put them together. That should be your side hustle, your career, your dream. College Ready mission is not monetary, it’s to help students get into college and graduate debt-free, that is our mission. It just happens to be we need a business to be able to do our mission.

And so if you lead with a mission that’s aligned with your core value, and what you want to see happening in the world, it’s brilliant. So our students in order to work with us guarantee me that they will do at least 200 service hours. If they do not, they are not in alignment with our vision, because what you learn by giving is, am I good at leading or following? Do I want a desk job? Or do I want to do something different every day you are giving to others and you take away the focus of you and what you’re not good at. And you start to give and give and give and then all of a sudden people are like. You’re really good at this and you’re like, oh, here we go. This is right where I’m supposed to be

Pamela Bardhi
That is awesome, that’s a great tip for anybody who’s looking to the college realm and it’s interesting because I wish like in high school. I viewed college from an ROI perspective. As for me, luckily, I got pretty much almost a full ride to my college. So I was cool. But like, there were a lot of friends of mine who are stuck in this horrid debt right now and they’re like. I don’t even know I went to school for this and I’m like, did you just mindlessly walk into college? And think that because you went to college, that it entitles you to a high-paying job, or whatever else? It means nothing.

I know, people at Harvard who graduated from Harvard with like. More than one master and they don’t qualify for jobs, they’re overqualified, or are they just so all this craziness? And I’m like, did you look at this from a business perspective of what you know. That piece of paper is a piece of paper until you activate the network within it and utilize that like network is everything. It’s who you know, not what you know. And it’s like, if you’re a hustler, people will go out there, they will see you, they will recognize as you said. Like the presence of being in alignment, like being a giver. You know, what you get is what you give, it’s a universal law.

That’s just how it works. So it’s really fascinating to hear that and I love that you and your current business are helping students kind of understand that from a young age. Like, Listen, this isn’t an investment. Because you know, when you’re a teenager, you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re like, oh, I’m supposed to apply to college, cuz that’s what you’re supposed to do, because if you really ask kids. Especially the ones, like in my neighborhood and stuff, and I’m asking, I’m like, Dude, why are you going like, why? What are you doing, what are you going to college for? God? I don’t know and I’m like, why are you doing it? And they’re just like because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I’m like, no, no, get intentional. Get intentional.

You know about every move you make, not just college you know. Not just college but I mean, if you’re built for the trades, go to the trades, but be intentional. About every movement that you make, because I feel like the job world is really shifting. And if I’m not mistaken and based on these are my forecasts of planet Earth. But I think there’s more entrepreneurs being born because during COVID happened was people woke for the first time. They were literally taken from their routines and forced into something new and different. And what happened with that is you had more time and then you had more time to think and reflect is like, what am I doing?

That’s why I think this massive weather called the massive resignation is happening. Because people for the first time are like, why am I doing this? Why am I stressing myself? Is this really worth my time and my energy? So it’s really, really cool to see this, like shift and kind of like, it’s really awesome. Because I remember when I went to high school, I graduated over, I think like 12 years ago now. 13 probably like it and at that time, like you just did things because that’s why you kind of walk through life a little bit mindless, you know. Sometimes and it happens when you don’t ask those questions. So I think it’s really important that you’re doing that.

Shellee Howard
It is game-changing. Honestly, my firstborn, they’re always the guinea pig-like. Will this work, will this not work in eighth grade. He came to me and said, Mom, I want to be a brain surgeon, can you help me? Whoa, that’s very different than the conversation I had with my parents should I go to college. And now he’s an orthopedic surgeon, resident UCLA at 27 years old was zero debt ladies lineup. Because the funny part about it is he was raised by a mom, who’s an entrepreneur, which is dreams big but has a plan. Don’t just go through life, hoping and waiting and drifting. I meet with families all the time.

That said, I think this is a good time for my 17-year-old to figure this out on their own. And I’m like, Would you allow them to buy your home at 17? Because it’s the same amount of money? Yes, or would even allow them to go buy a car without you being there? No, you will not. They need help, they may not act like they want the parents help. But that’s why people hire me and my team because they want to spend those last few years getting along with their child, but the reality is. When we tell them something that you may have told them, oh my gosh, yes, that’s what I need to do.

And that’s the beauty of having the team. I always say it takes a village to raise a child these days. It’s not just in your little bubble, because they’re hearing globally by the internet. And so if we don’t address the global issues and the things that they can influence, they feel overwhelmed and stuck. So because college ready is a national or international organization. We help them to connect with students all over the world. Which allows them to think in a very global matter, which is where we’re at right now in their life cycle.

Pamela Bardhi
That is incredible. I just love that you’re giving those resources, especially at an age where it’s so necessary. Because again these kids are fully aware, I’m not gonna say kids, teenagers are fully aware of what choices they’re making. And that it’s wise isn’t like I wish someone went to my friends and showed them like. Here’s what you’re going to spend, here’s what you’re probably going to make your first job. Is this career worth it here?

Does this make sense for you? Kind of thing, when you ask those questions. It’s like puts things into perspective like, whoa and it’s, it’s fascinating, It’s so fascinating. In your world, Shelly of the multiple businesses, what would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur or one who’s got a business, but it’s kind of stuck right now? What based on your challenges, what are some things you experienced? And what advice would you give

Shellee Howard
So early on, I just went with tenacity I just went with put my head down, and just keep going. Now that I’m older and wiser, I would tell them, a business coach is so valuable. If not a business coach, a mastermind with people that you want to be not that are trying to gain from you. But the ones where you’re like, Whoa, I didn’t even know you could do that. So once I started networking and building my team of these big thinkers and aligning my thoughts to their methods and processes and procedures. Life got so much easier because it wasn’t Shellee figure it all out.

It was pick up a phone and ask my bookkeeper or as my investment person or as my marketing team or you know, college-ready, we have 11 of us. It’s not just me, I have a professional essay editor, I have a professional test strategist. I have independent college consultants, I have all of these amazing people. Well in the entrepreneur space, you need a CPA, you need an investment team. You need a good realtor, whatever world of investing or entrepreneurship you belong to doing it alone is not the best way to do it. It is really painful.

Pamela Bardhi
Right? Amen. Having that team around you and people to inspire you and not just sinking in this whole. Like, I feel like entrepreneurs, most especially like they’re afraid to ask for help. Because it’s like a pride thing and it’s like, listen and I was that way too. I’m not gonna lie to you, I struggled in certain parts of my business, like businesses, you know, my two restaurants that I had, by the time I was 21. Like, that was a struggle. I was just a teenager trying to figure it all out and then dealing with all this other stuff.

And it was weird, because I hated cooking. But yeah, I like so there’s all these things, right and then going into real estate and just like so many pivots and transitions that I had to make. And there were certain times where I just wish I asked myself, like, Damn, you should have just asked for help him. You really should like, instead of just taking the beating yourself up. Someone could have told you don’t do this, do that. Instead, try this don’t you know.

Shellee Howard
I can think of one recent example. So I decided to go for I had a long-term rental. And I decided I was going to sell it and go to a short-term rental philosophy and I had no concept of what I meant. I just thought it was a great idea, so I listened to podcast. After podcast I subscribed to a network of emails, I started building my team of information. And I will tell you, my very first short-term rental was a massive success. Because I didn’t do it alone, I had an incredible team, and now that I’m older and wiser. I would say skip the tenacious determined, you know, keep that too. But don’t do it to yourself, because it was all much more difficult path than just hiring a great team.

Pamela Bardhi
Amen. I 100% agree with because I mean, that’s the thing is like, we think we know it all. And then if we ask for help, that for some reason, it makes us look weaker. Like we don’t know what we’re doing when truly it’s just going to amplify everything. And we’re just all here learning little by little, especially entrepreneurs, you know. So fascinating and I love the way that you’ve built your business, Shellee. I mean, I truly do to look at it from an ROI standpoint on the college front and it’s international, you mentioned.

Shellee Howard
Yeah. So again, happened organically because I was helping students locally in the US. And then they have cousins and uncles, brothers, sisters and they’re calling me from all over going. Hey, how do you do this? So I help families understand that’s important.

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely. That’s fantastic, Shelley. And I mean, what have been some of your favorite stories?

Shellee Howard
I think one of my favorite stories is my best-selling book. And the title is How to Send your student to college without losing your mind or your money. I felt like the first time my oldest went through, I felt like I was stressed out overwhelmed, didn’t know where to start. He was just stressed out frustrated. And I was determined to help but I didn’t know how to help him. So when I wrote this book, I don’t like writing like you built a restaurant and don’t like to cook, I wrote a best-selling book and I don’t like to write.

That is something that is so funny in this world of I lead with my heart to give others this information. And I did that by providing a book that I am happy to give to somebody who can’t afford it. It truly is my mission to serve others, if they can afford it great. But that the point was to give massive value to children who don’t have structure or the ability to go and get this information. So my book was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

Pamela Bardhi
That is so funny. But honestly, it’s so necessary because I know so many parents that have gone through it and they’re just like oh my god. I don’t even know where to start, I don’t even know what to do. So it’s incredible that you’ve provided that resource and I’m sure saved a tonne of people’s lives with that you know that’s amazing. That’s amazing Shellee and like in your world with this like where’s everything headed for college ready and in your world that what’s next for you?

Shellee Howard
So college ready is growing and expanding because colleges getting so competitive. It’s not getting any easier for these poor kids to get in and I tell families all the time. Even my age group when we went through it was so easy. You did an application, you sent it out there and you heard back. It is so incredibly different even from the time my son graduated in 2012. It is so incredibly more difficult all the way around, so college readies mission is to help A million families. And our goal is not to do it one at a time. So where we’re headed is I want to speak on stage. I want to get out my message.

And that’s why I love podcasts. If we can’t be in person, which I miss podcasts are great. But I do really love to engage with families and say, listen my son is not that different from your son or daughter and he had seven full-ride offers. Our students in 2021, during COVID, earned over $10.7 million in scholarships. We’re in California, our cost of living is huge. And yet our students are still getting scholarships. So helping families understand it’s not just need-based. Anybody can do it. There are 12 colleges that are tuition-free. So I don’t like families to think they can afford it. It’s just they don’t know what they don’t know and so college readies mission is to help them to understand.

What Would Shellee Older Self Tell Her Younger Self

Pamela Bardhi
That’s incredible Shellee. That’s incredible and touching on this. You kind of briefly mentioned it, but you don’t know what you don’t know. And so my question to you is, what would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now, what you didn’t know?

Shellee Howard
Right, I was just very tenacious and I think I would have, I would have learned sooner to be humble and ask for help much sooner. And I definitely would have surrounded myself with people I aspire to be. I was in that group of college students. But it wasn’t the most aspirational group. It was a fun group, I really wish I would have pushed myself a little bit harder to maybe be in the entrepreneurs’ group. They were just very intense. I was intimidated, because back then they seem so amazing. And so I would have pushed myself a little bit more in my connections. Definitely.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that Shellee, thank you so much for sharing that. And you know, what’s really cool about your story is you mentioned that your parents never told you no. They never discourage your creative mind, which I think is really, really incredible. When you have cheerleaders in your life, that root for you and don’t say no to you. I feel like it just opens up a whole new world because you don’t know limits, right? This society places all these limits on us, but like, internally, from a young age that you’ve been inspired to do that is really, really cool. And hearing those affirmations because it was the same thing. A lot of people ask me, Pam, you know, like, how did you know. How are you not afraid to do certain things?

Well, when you’re encouraged as a kid, that fear goes away, right? Like my dad would always tell me like you’re a leader, you’re gonna be a boss, you’re gonna have your own businesses, you don’t have to worry about anybody. You know, it’s like I had these thoughts in the back of my mind because my dad was my cheerleader. I didn’t realize how important those affirmations are. And it’s really cool to see how your work is basically doing the same thing. All across the platforms. I’m like, what your parents did for you, you’re doing for others, which is the coolest thing in the world. I just want to thank you and appreciate you for that. And now you’ve got to let everyone know where to find you.

Shellee Howard
The best place to find me or where I’m at is the website and that’s collegereadyplan.com. I’m on every social media channel and I just joined Tik Tok. I struggled with that one for a very long time. But because I have four young adults, they said, This is where you need to be. So I’m giving a tonne of great value there. And then my best selling book is on Amazon $15 That will get you connected to what you need to know and I would love to give any of your listeners a free discovery call with myself. All they have to do is go to the website, sign up for the free discovery call and just let them know it was based on this podcast. And I’d be happy to meet with them.

Pamela Bardhi
Thank you so much, Shellee for sharing that and for sharing your story and all the awesomeness that you’re up to in the world. I appreciate you so much. And I just thank you so much for being here today.

Shellee Howard
It is my pleasure. And I love your mission and I hope all your listeners appreciate the value that you’re giving.

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Shellee Howard.