What were you doing prior to launching the business?
We both have backgrounds in education. Jackie has extensive experience in pre-college / university counselling, my background includes teaching and department head duties, primarily in business studies. In terms of qualifications, Jackie holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, and a Master of Education. I have undergraduate degrees in Economics, Political Science, a Master of Science in Education, and hold an Ontario teaching certificate.
What makes you unique?
Our business allows us to work in depth with students and their families, which isn’t always possible in other settings. There are some individuals who offer career / academic counselling, but usually on a part-time, home-visit basis. This is a full-time venture for us, with a busy office in downtown Burlington. We keep up to date on all education trends, and travel extensively throughout Canada, the US, and UK to attend conferences relevant to our practice.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far?
All start-ups are a challenge, especially in an emerging field. While our business is fairly commonplace in most major US cities, it is unique here. Most students typically receive a few hours with a guidance counsellor throughout their four years of high school, so we had to work to explain how our service was different. Once we concluded our second year of business however, we saw a sizeable increase in past-client referrals. This confirmed we were headed in the right direction.
What about your success to date and plans for the future?
The steady flow of students who work closely with Jackie, and gain acceptance to the colleges / universities of their choice brings with it a great feeling of accomplishment for us. On the UK side of the business, we have the opportunity to work with some very established schools who are recognized worldwide. In early fall we often receive updates from our students as they settle in throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. It’s an exciting time for this group, and we are happy to have been able to facilitate this pathway for them.
To date, a trickle of Canadian students have found their own way to UK Universities, but this is an opportunity we hope to see more students exploring, particularly for Master’s programs. Many of the Postgrad programs run on a concentrated 12 month curriculum, so this can be very attractive to our students looking for a Master’s qualification, with only one year of living / study overseas.
Why do you work with WEALTHdesigns.ca?
WEALTHdesigns.ca simplifies our insurance and financial planning, and provides expert advice. The hours we would need to spend researching all the options is time away from our core business. Plus, at the end of the day it’s all about relationships and knowing that our needs will be met as we continue to grow.
Barclay & Knap Educational Services