C101 Franchisee

Franchisee Profile: Karen DeRosa

Class 101 is a rewarding franchise opportunity for a variety of professionals including both business professionals and education professionals looking to make a living on their own terms. One such example is Karen DeRosa, who owns a Class 101 franchise in Springboro, Ohio – halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. Below, in her own words, DeRosa shares her experiences and explains the “why” behind her decision to franchise with Class 101.

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On Her Background

“There is one constant theme in my life – that of education. My path in education is not at all traditional, but my passion for effective teaching and individualized learning is woven through each experience. I started as a teaching assistant as an undergraduate at Boston University. I’ve taught communication courses at colleges, including the University of Oklahoma, Boston University, and Miami University in Ohio. I met my husband, Tony, at Boston University. He was in Navy ROTC and the military career and then corporate life moved us often. Teaching at the college level allowed me to stay professionally engaged while moving with Tony’s career and raising our four children. Just prior to launching our Class 101 franchise, I was working as a communications director for a local school district and teaching dual enrollment classes at a community college – helping kids prepare for the transition from high school to college (sound familiar yet?)”

On Choosing an Entrepreneurial Future

“Working with dual enrollment high school students while also parenting four teens opened my eyes to a big problem: there was an overall lack of knowledge about college prep. For example, most of my students had no idea how to leverage their dual enrollment courses or even the college application process. At the same time, my husband and I were exploring opportunities to open a business. One thing we both have in common is our love of teaching, coaching, and mentoring youth.”

What Attracted You to the Class 101 Opportunity?

“Our research of franchise opportunities narrowed to youth-focused businesses as we were already involved as coaches and mentors in our community—in our schools, sports, and church. Class 101 seemed like a perfect fit. We love kids and being a resource for families. Our backgrounds lent themselves to this business opportunity, which is extremely relational. At the same time, I’ve always loved data, and college admissions is a puzzle with moving pieces that can best be understood with data – scores, demographics, socioeconomic characteristics, and even geography. The best college planning from Class 101 is built on both relationships and data. Once we met [founder and brand president] Tom Pabin, we became convinced that Class 101 was the right choice for us.”

Tell Us About Getting Started With Class 101

“We signed our franchise agreement in June 2018, then opened in August. We signed our first two students that same day. Even before we opened, we built excitement for this business at the community level. It’s really become a source of pride in our territory, a place dedicated to helping our students reach their potential. Within the first six months, the business took off. Our Class 101 franchise won the brand’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ the first year. The second year, we received the ‘Growth Award.’ The third year we won ‘Franchisee of the Year,’ and in our fourth year, we earned a spot in the President’s Club. And today we continue to grow.”

Why Do You Think You Were a Fit for Class 101?

“Well, I believe that Tony and I had the right background and experiences. But more than that, we both want to make a difference in the lives of young people. Every day is a different opportunity to help each student reach his or her potential. And it’s incredibly rewarding to see a student’s eyes light up when they finally realize what they’re capable of. When the structure of the Class 101 business model meets strong coaching - motivating and equipping a student to own their goals, decisions, and future, great things happen. There is nothing better than knowing you can make a difference every single day.”

What has This Business Opportunity Afforded You That You Wouldn’t Have Had Otherwise?

“I think there’s no greater privilege than to share in another’s story, and Class 101 is a business that serves that unique purpose. Class 101 allows me to be the teacher and the entrepreneur that I am wired to be. I started Class 101 with the goal of building a consistent individual stream of income while helping a few students as a college planner. In less than five years, I have touched the lives of more than 500 young adults and their families – far more than if I continued teaching in my college classroom. There are so many accomplishments that I never could have imagined when we started the business just five years ago. My husband stepped into a full-time college planning role in only our second year in business, and together we have gained full independence for our family through this business. Our staff has grown from one college planner to seven. We bought our building, so we can continue to expand, and we’ve leased the additional space to other youth-related businesses. And we created a non-profit scholarship fund this year to provide local scholarships. It’s become a real driving force in our community in just five years.”

What Does the Future Hold for You Both?

“I’d say, for the short-term, just continuing to grow our business in this area. We’re now up to 25 high schools that feed into our location. Our staff has grown from one college planner to seven. In our first year, we leased a location, in our second year, we doubled our space and then bought our building so we can continue to expand. And we’ve leased the additional space to other youth-related businesses. It’s become a real driving force in the community. That being said, we have room to keep growing. We also partner with schools and organizations, giving presentations, awarding scholarships, and teaching students and parents about college opportunities. Long-term, we just want to create a legacy for youth and families in our community.”

If you’re passionate about helping students find their future and want to do so with a supportive and effective franchise, look no further than Class 101. Contact us today to learn more.

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