Louisville Magazine

NOV 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/891238

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Page 16 of 180

14 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.17 LIBA Partner Pages bestcollegematch.com All high school students and parents of college- bound kids will want to listen up and hear this story about a hidden gem in Louisville. Retired JCPS school principal Opal Dawson and her husband Greg launched in January their company, Best College Match, which for a modest fee helps students articulate their college goals, create a "business plan" for college success, and methodically compile documents to make college and financial aid applications a smooth process. "We're a college coaching service that helps students find the right college at the right price," says Opal, the company's CEO and Chief Education Officer. "Selecting and applying to colleges is such an overwhelming process that if you don't have a system, you've missed the boat." The Dawsons have proof that their system works. Two years ago their son Blake received widespread recognition and vast media attention when as a high school senior he landed $1.2 million in merit-based scholarships and was offered full rides to five of the 11 schools to which he applied. Now a sophomore at Florida A & M University, he has already completed paid internships at Brown- Forman and Domino's Supply Chain, in addition to saving $50,000 cash for graduate school. He's pursuing a 5-year MBA at Florida A & M — fully paid for — and then plans to go to law school. "So often some parents, students and academic advisors approach college way too casually," says Greg, COO and Chief Opportunity Officer. "We tell our clients that college is not 13th grade." Rather than a student choosing a college because they like the football team or it's where their friends are going, Best College Match starts early and takes teenagers through a 5-step M.A.T.C.H. process using a book written by the Dawsons, a workbook, a training session and private coaching if desired. The building blocks include Character, Competence and Confidence. A conversation with Opal and Greg Dawson, founders of Best College Match By Rachel Reynolds The program is remarkably affordable. The 3-hour seminar costs $89 for a student, and their parents are encouraged to attend free; the book and workbook cost $35; and any additional private coaching needed is $35 per hour. The book and workbook, Best College Match: 5 Steps that Earned $1,000,000, can be purchased at Carmichael's Bookstore and at the company's web site, www.bestcollegematch.com. "We want to make it affordable for everyone," Opal says. "This is work that we want to do to support Louisville and build our community. Good works start at home." Greg, a former Community Development Banker, says that often young college students hit a bump in the road and don't complete their degree. "Only 25-40 percent of Kentucky's students who begin, actually finish their post-secondary degree," he says. "That's abysmally low. The national average is 50 percent. Most of the time it's not because they can't do the work. It's because they are not connected to their school, have too much freedom or encounter financial aid issues and they quit." Greg says there are over 4,000 college choices in the U.S. and their 5-step M.A.T.C.H. process helps the student and their family narrow their best choices down to 10. The Best College Match plan also helps each student create a 21-file "war chest" of necessary documents — hard copy and electronic — and contains many templates including those that help students create or request resumes, student profiles, letters of recommendation, transcripts, financial aid and a list of personal mentors and support people. Seminars are held weekly on Thursday evenings at the Best College Match office, schools, churches and other locations. Let's hear it for the home team – the Dawsons and a successful Louisville.

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