Bergen’s Next: Christopher Rim aids students in finding the right college career path
Melanie Anzidei | April 9, 2018 7:00AM
Christopher Rim always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
In eighth grade, he started his first business called Prestige Review Group, and tutored his younger peers in Paramus. That business earned $40,000 in sales in its first year, says Rim. When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Rim donated all his company’s profits to relief efforts. His curriculum was eventually acquired by a Shanghai-based education consulting business one year after it was started.
By his sophomore year at the Academies @ Englewood, the pre-professional program located on the Dwight Morrow High School campus, Rim started his first nonprofit: an anti-bullying organization called It Ends Today, inspired by the suicide of Tyler Clementi. The nonprofit would grow to 26 chapters, reaching 4.2 million students in six countries. It was eventually taken over by InspirED, an anti-bullying group run by Facebook and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
Some of Rim’s other accomplishments? He spent a summer working at Facebook; served on the advisory board of Born This Way Foundation, the group co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother; received President Barack Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer work; landed on Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list; and was featured in People Magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” series. The list goes on.
Now at 22, Rim focuses most of his energy on his current role: chief executive officer of Command Education Group, a growing college consulting company he co-founded three years ago while an undergraduate student at Yale University.
Since Rim graduated this past May, the company has, as one can imagine, taken off. “I always knew that I wanted to do something big that would have a lot of impact within my community and, ultimately, the world,” says Rim in a telephone interview in the middle of a busy work day. “But I didn’t realize it would be this soon since I graduated college that my company would be growing at this rate.”
After graduation, he moved out of his parents’ home and into a studio apartment in downtown Manhattan, and dove headfirst into growing his business. The company operates out of an office space two blocks from Central Park, and another office in Palisades Park. He said they will be opening another office soon.
A day in the life
Rim has a seven-day work week, and most days start around 5 a.m. But, each day is different. On Monday, he could be meeting a client’s parents in SoHo, and by Tuesday, he could be meeting with local school board officials.
“Sometimes I start the day with only six or seven things on the calendar, then I’m at the office until 2 a.m.,” he says jokingly.
Command Education Group is a unique consulting agency, where 20-somethings like Rim mentor high school students from across the tri-state area. Depending on the plan they choose, students can gain unlimited access to Rim’s team, who walk students through the college application process, from the early stages of figuring out what schools are a good fit, to scholarship searches, and eventually acceptance.
In an interview two years ago, Rim said of college consulting, “I want to literally disrupt the entire industry.”
The business works by setting up students with mentors, who help students determine possible career paths. The mentors help students identify what schools may best suit them based on their interests.
“We find what the student wants to do. Once we figure out how the student can excel, then from there success usually follows,” he says. “That’s the genuine way to do it.”
As chief executive, Rim runs the behind-the-scenes operations of the business, works as a mentor, and talks with parents of students interested in their programs.
He projects Command Education will generate close to $1 million in revenues this year. Rates vary between a whopping $950-per-hour for an “à la carte” service, or a 10-month unlimited package that starts with a $15,000-per-year retainer. The company also hosts boot camps, where students pay a fixed rate and in one week complete their college applications all at once. Rim says the unlimited option includes around-the-clock contact with a mentor. Students who opt for that usually start with the company during their freshman or sophomore years in high school, he says.
The company has about half dozen full-time employees, and about a dozen part-time employees, says Rim. The mentors range work with two or three students, or one-on-one. Rim estimates the company works with close to 100 students, of whom about 40 receive their services pro bono.
This year, according to Rim, is shaping to be a promising one. He is currently in talks with local school districts in Bergen County to see how his company can partner with schools and supplement their guidance counselor departments. The team is also growing.
“Our team is currently growing. We’re interviewing a ton of candidates from Ivy League schools,” he says. “They’re very interested in joining this movement or this unique concept, because we’re really incorporating emotional intelligence and really helping students – no matter what they’re background is – achieve their goals and dreams
More than just mentors
Emotional intelligence is a huge part of Command Education’s concept. Rim says his mentors try to “make our students as emotionally intelligent as possible.”
“Let’s say a student who works with us gets into college,” he says. “Then, he or she is thrilled and ecstatic before they even get there. But, then six months into college, they realize they’re not happy. That’s an issue, right? In order to be successful, you need to be happy, you need to be enjoying what you do. So, how do we have students not only be successful on paper, but also true to themselves and true to their everyday lives? How do we make students happy once we they accepted to their schools? Is it the right school? Feeling that part out is important to us.”
Another big part of the company’s foundation is its philanthropy. Rim estimates that for every student who pays through his program, he works with another student pro-bono. Rim always had a knack for giving back, but it wasn’t until last year that he realized how important it was to give back to students through his services. After all, not every student has the means to afford a program like Rim’s.
That’s why, despite his own accomplishments, when Rim is asked what the most memorable moment in his young career thus far has been, he tells the same story of a young student who reached out to him for help.
Last year, Rim received a cold email from a high school student interested in working with him. The student asked Rim what his rates were for a counseling session. At the time, the rates were in the few hundreds of dollars, says Rim.
The student, determined to get into a good college, emailed Rim back: “OK, I’m going to get a job at this market in my town to see if I could pay for it.” He was going to work 35 hours bagging groceries so he could afford Rim’s services.
Rim was moved. He told the student: “Absolutely not. We will work with you for free.”
That student, who eventually went through Rim’s college consulting program, is now studying at one of the most well-respected college institutions in the country: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
To Rim, success stories like that are why he does what he does.
Originally published on NewJersey.com on April 9, 2018.