One of the most common questions we get about the proofreading courses I offer here on PA is “What percentage of your students are successful?”
People want to estimate their own probability for success based on how successful other people have been.
And it’s a recipe for disaster. Why would someone else’s efforts determine your outcome?
Let Me Be Brutally Honest… Quality Matters.
Most of my readers on PA know I can be brutally honest. I write posts that strike to the core, that call people out, and I love giving whiners and complainers a swift kick in the pants when I feel it’s necessary.
I’m also brutally honest if I do not think you are a good fit for the courses. I am so intent on keeping the wrong people out. I don’t want unqualified “proofreaders” or lazy people leeching resources from the students who are willing to work hard.
That’s why I put some serious exams in my courses. For instance, only students who pass the final exam in my General Proofreading course have access to the Self-Publishing School Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex. And in my Transcript Proofreading course, I changed the Module 5 Quiz into the Module 5 Midterm recently — from 10 questions and a 1-page quiz page to 100 questions and a 5-page transcript to proofread. Someone actually got mad at me for making the course more difficult. (Wasn’t the first time — that’s happened before on past improvements to the course).
The person accused me of making it harder just so fewer people can get through to marketing. I was like, “Uh, yeah, that’s exactly what I want to do — and you should want it too!” If you can’t pass the longer version of the test, you should be kept out of the marketing material. It’s only logical. You need to know the information on the test to do well in the industry. If you don’t do well on the test, then you don’t know that information… so why should I teach you how to market a skill you don’t have?
I split my Facebook group, PA Proofreaders, into separate groups. Talk about marketing in the “big” group is off-limits because I know there are beginners in there lurking and waiting for scraps of info they can use to skirt taking the rest of the courses. I’ve seen it happen. Students have even reported getting PMs from newbies asking if they can learn from them instead of paying for the course. It’s ridiculous and sad.
Quite a few unqualified people still enroll despite my rampant warnings and matter-of-fact posts. And because of how difficult I’ve made the courses, only a much smaller number of students make it past the practice transcripts and/or exams.
Finding Clients is EASY Compared to the Work it Takes to Get that Far!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s harder to pass the courses than it is to find clients. Finding clients is so easy in comparison to actually getting good at the work itself.
Many people ask the question about how successful the average student is because they want to gauge how good the courses are — do they deliver? Are they legitimate? But here’s what it boils down to: If someone cannot or does not pass the courses for some reason, that says far more about the student taking the courses than it says about the courses themselves. (Although the mere fact that the courses are difficult enough that not everyone can pass does say quite a bit about the courses’ legitimacy, methinks.)
And that’s why it makes no sense to give any kind of “ballpark” figure on the percentage of my students who are “successful.”
Difficult = Good… Easy = What’s the Point?!
Now, if you’re asking the question to try and gauge whether or not the courses themselves are of high quality, then you’re asking the wrong question. The fact that lots of people enroll and not everyone can pass is a good thing and a very positive indicator of their quality.
You may enroll in one (or both) of the courses and at the beginning hope it’s easy so you can pass quickly, find clients, and make money — Warning: almost no one passes as quickly as they expect!! — but if the courses were easy, and everyone could pass and find clients regardless of their skill level, that would really stink for the people who were really good at this work, wouldn’t it? I’d be flooding the market with tons of people who think they’re qualified — but actually aren’t.
Keeping the courses difficult and continuing to raise the bar on student quality serves the industry. I’ve got a responsibility to at least try to keep the quality of proofreaders high.
And I try very hard. I have regrets that the first versions of my courses weren’t nearly as difficult as they are now. They were laughably easy compared to today’s versions.
I know that because of me, there are some underqualified proofreaders out there that’ve made fools of themselves AND made me look bad. I’ve also publicly addressed the community about many issues and criticisms and written posts busting some ridiculous myths about me. It is important to me that only correct information is shared about me and the courses, and shedding some serious light on the incorrect information helps people sort through fact from fiction.
Again, I can only tell you that far more students enroll than graduate — if that scares you and makes you not want to enroll at all, then you need to ask yourself why you’re choosing to base your potential for success on other people. It would seem to me that the question goes a little deeper than simply trying to vet a course that’s proven itself time and time again.
Quality Over Quantity
The bottom line is that I stand for quality, and I will always choose quality over quantity. I’d rather have a small group of highly skilled graduates than an enormous group of underskilled ones. So that means if someone chooses not to enroll in the courses at all because they think the courses are too difficult for them to pass and be “successful,” then well… I’ve done my job 🙂
What’s going to make you successful isn’t some vague ballpark percentage of how many other proofreaders are successful. It’s not even a course that will make you successful. What’s going to make you successful is you. Your effort. Your skill. Your dedication. Your patience.