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Tom Pabin, President, Class 101

Class 101: Guiding Students and Families from High School to College

The world looks much different than it did a year ago. Quarantining has affected every aspect of our lives, including unprecedented shifts to the high school educational experience. But just as your teenager is getting ready again for high school, they also need to get ready for college!
Choosing the next step in education is not just about choosing the right college, but about location, finances, grades, interest, and much more. And it is very human to fall into a dilemma over choosing ’the right school’ for your kids.
The college preparation and admission processes can be confusing and frustrating for teenagers and parents alike. That’s where Class 101 comes in and makes college planning simple.
Class 101 believes that early engagement is a game changer, especially with what is happening right now in the world. When it comes to maximizing college and scholarship opportunities, the earlier the better. A student’s college application is a summary of all four years of high school, not just junior year. Class 101 helps students and families navigate the complex, multi-year process, beginning in the 9 grade. The organization works with students 1:1 to connect all the dots and make the process enjoyable for families with a comprehensive high school roadmap from 9 to 12 grade.
Strong Foundations
It all started when Tom Pabin, the President of Class 101, was a youth minister in his early twenties. He was charged with providing youth clubs and activities to encourage young people. It was by chance that a mom of one of his kids requested help in finding and getting her teenager into college, which led to more families asking for help.
“It all started in one community, with one person, helping one student find—and afford—the right college. That was me, 23 years ago, in Lexington, Kentucky, and now, we’re a nationwide college planning franchise with over 100 college planners in over 40 locations in 23 states,” states Tom.
Tom found his calling in college planning and set out to make a difference in the lives of young people through Class 101. Led by the philosophy that faith and family come first, Tom has devoted nearly half of his life to helping families across the U.S. make college dreams a reality.
“I believe we have been given a chance to enhance others’ lives. We are here not only to help students go to college and help families save money, but to help make a difference in a young person’s life. That, my friends, is worth everything to me!” says Tom.
Tom leads with purpose, integrity, and a clear vision to help people find their future, in both business and life, from Class 101’s students to their franchise owners. He loves to motivate and encourage people to become the best version of themselves. “From headquarters to our franchise locations, Class 101 inspires greatness in others,” says Tom.
Early Start – An Advantage for Class 101
College planning is still a relatively young industry in terms of global commercial growth, and Class 101 is evidently a market leader. Being in business for 23 years has allowed the company to establish a loyal customer base. This past year, it has started to serve the kids of its original and very first customers.
As a small business that started in Lexington, Kentucky, Class 101 has led within its local, midwestern markets before expanding out towards the coasts. Class 101’s numbers speak for themselves. It has only been franchising for 13 of the last 23 years. Within that time, it has helped over 6,500 high school students get into over 550 colleges and universities, and most importantly has secured families more than $482 million in scholarships. While the national average transfer rate for colleges (pre-COVID) in the United States is around 30%, Class 101’s transfer rate is 5%, which reflects how its business model helps students find the best schools, at the best price, for their best future.
Also, because it is a purpose-driven business, Class 101 has built a culture around serving others. Its mission is to empower students, serve families and inspire greatness. “Everyone under the Class 101 brand is here to make a positive difference in the lives of others and make a positive impact in their community,” Tom expresses.
How Technology Keeps Class 101 Thriving
Families are always in need of tips, advice, services, and expertise to help their students go to and afford college during COVID-19. Class 101’s services have never been more important, as it is helping families stay on track and navigate through the real-time changes within college admissions and standardized testing. Most importantly, the organization has been able to continue to help secure financial aid and scholarships during the economic downturn.
As a company, Class 101 is nimble and can quickly adapt its business with the ever-evolving landscape of technology and education. When the pandemic hit and most of the colleges went scampering with the online transition, Class 101 pivoted to virtual operations overnight and embraced webinars, virtual meetings and online classes.
Class 101’s digital platform allows students and parents to have everything in one place, available at your fingertips. From college reports to practice tests to parent updates, it’s all online and easy to find. With the impact of the pandemic and the shift to virtual learning, Class 101 is offering more services virtually than ever before. “Our operations went from being almost exclusively in person to now being almost exclusively online,” says Tom.
Bequeathing the Keys to Success
“My advice to other entrepreneurs and educationists would be the same advice I provide to our students. Find your passion, do the work you care about, believe in yourself, and the rest will follow. Skills will come through hard work. Remember, in business as in life, the best things are meant to be shared. Find people and find a community that will support, guide, and challenge you throughout your career,” says Tom.
The team at Class 101 believes that the coronavirus has shifted consumer behavior, and the pandemic has opened the door to innovation as the future of virtual learning is being shaped in real-time. With the shift to virtual learning in the higher education market, it opens the door to a global marketplace faster than ever before.
By adapting in real-time to changing consumer behaviors, needs, and trends, its services and solutions perfectly position Class 101 in the marketplace. “Going into 2021, we have more opportunities to grow our franchise and expand into new territories”, concludes Tom.
Class 101 helps students with:

  • Developing a college list
  • Identifying & exploring majors and careers
  • ACT/SAT/PSAT prep and score improvement
  • GPA improvement
  • Essay writing, resume building and letters of recommendation
  • Campus visits: Class 101 students typically visit 10 schools, apply to 7 and love 5
  • College applications & deadlines
  • Scholarship applications & deadlines, securing merit based or outside, private scholarships
  • Completing FAFSA/financial aid forms
  • Assisting w/ the college transition process

All of this is completed by the time a student graduates from high school!