PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA — Shantel Nock, founder of Empower with Words, created her college preparation company to provide students and their guardians knowledge to understand the college and scholarship processes via coaching, workshops and college tours.
The different areas of coaching involve individual coaching, college tours and group workshops.
Individual Coaching includes one-on-one interaction with Nock (or her team), the student and the parent to create an individualized plan for academic and financial preparation. She also partners with a professional, such as Princeton Review Instructor, Jessica Morgan, to provide SAT and ACT information.
College Tours have been postponed because of COVID. Before COVID, Empower with Words took students on college tours at Old Dominion University, George Mason, Hampton University, William and Mary and Christopher Newport University. They were scheduled to do tours at Howard and American University in 2020 but due to COVID-19, it was postponed.
Group Workshops include academic preparation like SAT and ACT, résumé building to be a more competitive student, leadership and community service opportunities, time management, goal setting and scholarships search.
Group workshops have transitioned into free online webinars every first Wednesday of the month. She says the webinars allow her to reach more people because it is virtual. This allows students to go on Empower with Words’ website and attend a webinar with a subject matter expert. To gain access to all 2020 webinars, visit Empower with Words’ website.
“I have been partnering with experts in various areas,” Nock said. “I am not an expert in SAT or ACT preparation, but I partnered with a college review instructor and a former student director of a college for a few webinars.”
Upcoming webinars discuss mental health and the military route versus the university route.
“One of the things we wanted to do was expand and be more versatile than academic prep,” Nock said.
Nock highlighted that mental health is important in middle and high school students because they deal with many stressors that affect them in college.
“When they go through school and have a life changing transition into college, a lot of people do not realize that a young person’s mental health is affected,” she said. “When you do not bring awareness to it early on, they get to college and start engaging in unhealthy behaviors. They are flunking out; they are drinking and smoking [excessively] because they never dealt with previous stress and triggers.”
The upcoming mental health webinar will have a licensed professional counselor to bring awareness to the different things that affects students. It will tell parents how to define those stressors.
As for the military webinar, Nock and her team want to help students create an individualized plan on career development.
“A lot of people think to be successful, you have to go to university,” she said. “Honestly, college is not for everyone. We want to show different options, different road maps students can take. A few people from the military will come in and shine light on the military as an option to parents and students.”
Empower with Words college prep is not just available to Prince William County residents, but residents wherever. She has provided these services to residents in Maryland and North Carolina. Her current public relations interns are from Hawaii and Colorado — receiving college credit for interning with the company.
“We service anyone who wants to be helped,” she said. “One of the things we have been doing is sharing what we offer through the community. It has been a slower process in the county because of COVID.”
Nock has published a college preparation workbook. It is divided into 3 modules:
- Module 1: Parents and Guardians
- Module 2: Students (how to academically prep and includes checklists, activities, notes section)
- Module 3: Financial Information (how to get the scholarship, reduce student loan debt)
There is a digital and printed version of the workbook, find more information on it here.
How early should college prep start?
Nock jokingly said college preparation should start when the child is in the womb. However, parents may think she has a point.
“Seriously, for parents – future planning is important. When you think about the financial aspect of a four-year university or a trade school – it is expensive. When advancing in anything in life, parents need to start planning as early as possible.”
She said by the time a bouncing baby becomes a student starting freshmen year of high school, financial planning for college should not be starting. It should have started years before. By the time the student is a freshman in high school, the parents should be a leg ahead.
As far as the students, students should start planning for college as an eighth grader. She said this is where the students can define what leadership roles they want and their community service opportunities. Nock said it is not easy to find, but there are scholarships that they can score as early as the ninth grade.
Nock realizes Prince William County residents need a college preparation program, but she said this type of college prep is needed everywhere.
As 2016 turned to 2017, her mentor/business coach knew parents at church who did not have the time to research college prep, scholarships and the various resources out there. The mentor was telling Nock her services were needed – especially with the single mothers who did not have the time to research.
Her mentor started promoting her in the church. Nock’s passion of helping others with college preparation was solving a problem in her community.
She put time and effort into it and still worked her full-time job.
While she started doing this in 2017, she officially launched her business in December of 2019 as a gift to herself.
Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship
People may wonder where Nock’s scholarship knowledge came from.
Her experience with gaining scholarships starts with one she earned in high school.
Nock earned the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship in high school.
“It allowed me to not be stressed about money,” she said. “With the scholarship, I could go to any college that I wanted to go to. It gave me the opportunity to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree.”
Nock said with the bachelor’s degree, she could have studied anything. However, for the master’s degree, the scholarship highlighted what concentrations and fields she had to study to keep the scholarship. The fields were in science, tech, mathematics and healthcare.
Her master’s is in Public Health.
For more information about the college prep services Empower with Words provides, visit their website. You can learn more about a scholarship they plan to have students receive – The Regina M. Ayres Memorial Scholarship.