Name: Moira McCullough
Kids: Mark, 21, Megan, 19 and James, 17
Business: College Scoops
New Jersey Family: Tell me about your business and what makes it unique?
MM: College Scoops helps families with the answer to “What I Wish I Knew” during every aspect of the college experience—applying to, attending and graduating college. It is a comprehensive platform connecting and engaging with an active and growing student and parent community providing rich, curated and unique content in an interactive, fun and meaningful way. We highlight the inside scoops on everything college-related—where to eat, stay and explore when visiting or living on a college campus.
A lot can ride on a single, quick visit to a campus. College visits are expensive and time-consuming but College Scoops is not. Our platform and services save parents time, money and energy but more importantly, our curated information and experiences give parents and students the information they need to make a more informed decision about their college list. And if you can’t visit a campus, College Scoops can provide the information about student life that you need. Our eBooks have hyperlinks to restaurants, hotels and excursions, with an interactive map and student and parent guidance. With over 140 colleges online, 80+ college ebooks and virtual college experience videos, our content enables families to experience stress-free, informative and tasty college visits.
NJF: When did you launch the business, and what was your biggest inspiration to launch it?
MM: College Scoops, launched in 2018, after my experience exploring colleges with my oldest son. As foodies who love to travel and find the hidden gems wherever we go, our first college visit was a disaster. My son was stressed, we did not meet any students outside of the formal tour, we did not find the local lunch spot where students gather, and as a result, my son left the campus without a real feel for the community or surrounding area. It was a lost opportunity all around.
Knowing the inside scoops about a particular college takes time, energy and resources we do not always have access to. I spent hours conducting research, connecting with the current student body, reaching out to family and friends to create guides for our next round of college visits. Round two, we visited college campuses through the lens of current students making for a more productive, fun and tasty visit.
My kids inspired me to launch College Scoops after their college admissions journey. They learned more about the important aspects of life in college and the surrounding areas from the research I conducted and the people we connected with, than any other source that we were given. Whether they were able to visit the college or not, the content I produced for each college helped them narrow down their college list in a meaningful and thoughtful way. The college admissions journey is an opportunity to bond with your kids in a way that will create lasting memories, engage in conversations unrelated to the academic aspects of college and allow you to frame conversations that will help guide your children not only through the high school and college years but life beyond.
NJF: In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, small businesses are being hit really hard. How has this affected your business?
MM: With the COVID-19 crisis, our materials and information are more relevant now than ever before. Parents and students need to make decisions on colleges without being able to visit them. Outside of the formal materials from admissions, families need the inside scoops on why one school is a better fit than the next from the perspective of a variety of individual college students. College Scoops provides the information to help families make better-informed choices with real student experiences to learn from.
NJF: How have you pivoted your business to adapt to this stressful and uncertain time?
MM: The College Scoops team created virtual college experience videos to answer the burning questions many students have right now about their prospective schools. We know how unsettling, disappointing, and yet exciting these times are for students and families. So, we brought our College Scoops community directly to them. It has been a wonderful way for our team to give back and help high school students reduce their anxiety, stress and fears about the college experience.
NJF: What can others do to support you?
MM: Buy and use our eBooks. Gift our eBooks to high school students and parents.
Become a parent or student ambassador. Help us develop information about your college experience that can help others. Share our website with friends, family, high school college counselors and educational consultants.
NJF: How are you and your business giving back through this period?
MM: Eat local. We give student ambassadors who help with the production of our virtual college experience videos gift certificates to their favorite local campus restaurants as a way to give back to their local college community. Hire local. Many college students have lost their internships or college jobs. College Scoops has increased our current college intern program to provide more opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience while earning money.
NJF: What will be the first thing you do as a business when this is behind us?
MM: Meet face-to-face with our partners, student ambassadors, customers, high school counselors, educational consultants, college admissions teams and advisors to continue to create and deliver valuable content and services for parents and students. We also want to make sure we thank those who have supported and helped College Scoops from the start and through this challenging time.
NJF: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever gotten that you want to share with others?
MM: Listen with curiosity. Take the time to stop and ask your customers, partners, suppliers, and advisors for their feedback, suggestions and criticism. Be open and adaptable to change as every day brings a new challenge and opportunity. As entrepreneurs, we are running in many different directions, multi-tasking, and trying to keep our family life on track. We are doing rather than listening. Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply.