Our College-Prep Expert Interview series gives parents and students an opportunity to meet an expert who can help them on their college-bound journey. We ask each expert how they got into the business of college-prep, why their work is so important and to share their biggest tips and tricks!

Expert: Monica Matthews

Company: How to Win College Scholarships

Location: Michigan

Catchphrase: Helping ease the burden of student debt, one college scholarship at a time.

Why we interviewed Monica: She helps parents and students in the college scholarship process by sharing with them what she did to help her son win so many scholarships and graduate from college debt-free.

How long have you been working in the college-prep world?

I’ve been doing this since 2009.

How did you get into this work?

After my son won so much scholarship money, I had parents approach me and ask me to write down and publish the strategies that I developed. I had felt so lost when I started the scholarship process that I knew I had to do it and my guide, How to Win College Scholarships was born!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your experience?

I have learned never to assume your student isn’t going to win scholarships, even if they do not win the first awards that they apply for. Never give up, just keep learning how to apply smarter!

Why is your work so important?

After I received the first few emails from parents sharing how my guide helped their students win scholarship money, I was hooked. I realized that I could play an important part in decreasing the burden of student debt that our country is plagued with.

What have you found your clients struggle with the most?

Parents struggle with motivating their students to find and apply for scholarships. Finding time to write essays is also another struggle. Students are so busy and overextended these days.

What is the most important piece of advice you give them?

I share with parents how they can play a huge role in the scholarship process with their students. By taking some of the pressure off and working together, more scholarships can be applied for and more money for college won. When students win scholarships, parents also win with smaller tuition bills!

Do you have any tips or tricks to share with families on the college-bound journey?

Families need to be open and honest about how much they can realistically afford for college. When students know that their dream school may be out of reach because of finances, they will be much more motivated to apply for scholarships.

What is your favorite college-prep resource?

I highly value the advice of Suzanne Shaffer, the Parents Countdown to College Coach. Suzanne has amazing insights into how to best parent students while they are in high school, applying for college, and while in college.

What is one thing that makes what you do unique?

This is a GREAT question. I would say…that I am a strong believer in parents partnering with their students in the college scholarship process. My guide walks them through each part of the process and gives families clear concise steps to follow that help students apply for more scholarships in less time with less stress.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

I love to run! I coach middle school cross-country and love to interact with the kids. Running is a real stress reliever for me and I actually do some of my best writing in my head when I’m running the roads.

Anything else we should know?

Parents and their students should never assume they cannot win scholarship money because of financial status, grades, ACT/SAT scores, or that all good scholarships are for high school seniors only. Learning how to apply smart is imperative and I share exactly how ALL students can do this in my guide, How to Win College Scholarships.