Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Southwestern Advantage?
Established in 1855, Southwestern Advantage is in Nashville, Tennessee. Southwestern Advantage is the oldest entrepreneurial program for college students in the world, with the sales and leadership program beginning in 1868. Utilizing the single-level direct sales business model, college and university students run their own business selling educational resources to families door-to-door through cold-calling and referrals. The students participate to make money to cover school expenses, gain life skills, and can even earn college credit hours.

Each summer, several hundred thousand families make the decision to incorporate the learning resources into their home learning. The products help with homework, make learning fun, contribute to the “whole child,” and enhance the texts and programs used in the classroom.

This experience is also is a gateway to a life-long career. Upon graduation, many participants in the program choose to become sales leaders with Southwestern Advantage, which serves as a training ground for talented top-producers who stay long-term. Many of these leaders launch and lead other businesses that make up the Family of Companies. Each company operates with the shared goals of building people and positively impacting communities worldwide.

Do the students work for Southwestern Advantage?
Each student is an independent contractor running their own business. They work for themselves and are their own boss. The students keep detailed business records and receive a 1099 tax form for them to file taxes on their business. They are able to write off business expenses such as mileage and meals that will help offset the taxes owed. This is the typical model used in direct sales. Southwestern Advantage is a single level marketing company.
What is a day in the life of a student dealer like?
The first interactions with families often begin at 8 am with pre-set appointments or cold calls. Students typically pack and bring their own lunch and dinner to save money. After the last call is made for the day, students head back to their headquarters or host family to finish record-keeping and for a coaching call with a regional leader. The most successful students choose to work long hours, often 12 or 13 hours a day, six-days a week, to maximize the short time they have to earn money for the summer. On Sundays, students meet up regionally for training, weekly recognition, and to enjoy some fun sites in the area.
Is the program safe?
Yes. Safety is our #1 priority. In training, students learn how to safely run their business. This includes what to do in the rare event of an emergency, how to know what homes to visit and which ones to skip, how and why to check in with local authorities, how to obtain proper business licensing, and how to avoid disadvantaged areas that may be a safety risk. An app is also used in conjunction with their sales leader to path their routes and track them via GPS.
Why do students relocate?
Relocation is a fun adventure that allows students to learn about another part of the country, gain independence and focus on building their business with fewer distractions. When students relocate to another state, they typically live with a host family. Host families have proven to be the safest and most affordable option as they are often empty-nesters, program alumni, families of other participants, or connections made through local churches or community members. Host families have been a part of the program since 1868. Some students may also stay in an Airbnb depending on availability of host families in the area.
Where do students live?
While the students are independent and can live where they choose, we have found the most successful housing situations are with host families. Often, students live with other students also participating in the sales and leadership program in the same host family home. Host families serve the basic needs of having a safe place to sleep and shower, keeping food and belongings, and pointing students in the right direction with questions since they know the community. Students typically pay $25-$35 per week each for housing. This comes out of their profits as a business expense and can be written off on taxes.

Southwestern Advantage’s Host Family coordinator, Lisa Riportella, can be reached at [email protected].
What is the duration of the program?
Typically, 10-12 weeks. The program starts with seven to nine days of company training in Nashville, TN after spring finals and lasts until the end of summer break.
How does the money work?
Students who participate generate their own customer base through cold call and referral selling. Like other small businesses, they receive products at a wholesale rate and offer them to customers at a retail rate. Students use the deposits collected with each order to pay the wholesale cost of the products, therefore they do not use any of their own money upfront for inventory. The student makes a profit on each sale made.

In our program, students run their own businesses. Things like food, gas, rent, and personal items are paid using the sales profit. Because this is often a first-time practice, all students are personally coached in business management and shown how to stay organized and keep their expenses low to maximize their profit.

Visit our Disclosure page to see the latest year’s average profit per student by year running their business.
What will the student be selling?
Students will sell educational learning resources for school-age children from Pre-K through high school. The products consist primarily of apps, websites, leadership programs and books that work together to complement and enhance the learning process.

For a full look at the product line, click here.
Who will the students be selling to?
The students generate their own customer base made of families in the communities they will live and work in during the summer. The sales are made in-person with the demonstration taking place with the parents and (typically) the children. Demonstrations can be made in the home if the students feel comfortable, on the porch, or in the yard. Occasionally, some demonstrations may be done from referrals via Zoom.
Is there training offered to prepare the students?
Yes! Students undergo approximately 100 hours of pre-season training prior to starting their business activity. Training covers business management, giving presentations, ethics, marketing, communication, and more. After Sales School, new participants continue with weekly training and daily coaching sessions. Students also receive free membership to LEΔD – a mentorship program that trains in life & leadership skills. All training and coaching that participants receive is company-paid. 
What are the hours like during the summer?
While students are independent and can set their own hours, the most successful students choose to work 12 or 13 hours a day, six days a week during the selling season. The selling season is comprised of the short time they have between semesters.
What do future career opportunities look like with Southwestern Advantage?
Students have the opportunity to grow within the program and enter sales leadership. Or, with their sales leader’s recommendation, they can join any of the other companies in the Southwestern Family of Companies that include industries such as real estate, travel, insurance, publishing, executive search and placement, exchange student sponsorship, or coaching and consulting to name a few.
Is Southwestern Advantage a pyramid scheme?
No, it is not. Southwestern Advantage is the nation’s oldest direct selling program. Misinformation online has made it common for people who are unfamiliar with direct selling to confuse it as being a multi-level marketing company or with illegal pyramid schemes. Southwestern Advantage student dealers make a profit on the personal sales they make while running their own business (single-level, just like any other small business owner). They are NOT paid to recruit others into the business. Our business model has been in effect since 1868 and has been a successful launching point for thousands of careers.
How do I get in touch with someone in Southwestern Advantage?
College/University Students: To learn more about being a student dealer with the Southwestern Advantage sales and leadership program, be connected with a sales leader, or apply:

Login or learn more about your Global Academy products.

How does the Southwestern Global Academy subscription service work?
Southwestern Global Academy - a suite of educational app and website learning services. It is the online component of the Southwestern Advantage Learning System. This service is available as a monthly recurring fee or as an annual fee. Charges for the online service begin only when a customer creates their online account, agrees to the terms of service, enters their billing information, and clicks through the email and/or text verification to confirm their service. There is NO trial period for the service, and it can be cancelled by the customer at any time, as it is not included in the Federal three-day cooling off cancellation period since it is an on-going subscription. Just like any other subscription platform (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.), the subscription stops when the customer cancels it.
How do I contact Southwestern Advantage?
If you have a question about your products, please email our Customer Care Center at [email protected] or call 1-888-551-5901 from 8:30am-4:30pm (CST) Mon-Fri.
How long do I have to cancel an order?
THREE DAYS from purchase date.

As a direct selling company, Southwestern Advantage falls under Federal Trade Commission guidelines regarding cancellations (Title 16, Chapter 1, Part 429, Sections 1 and 2). This provides U.S. customers with a three business day cancellation window from the date of the sale to cancel an order (10 days for Canadian customers under law in Canada). Saturday is considered a business day. This information is provided on the receipt which serves as a legally binding contract the consumer enters with the student. Please read the receipt upon purchase. Southwestern Advantage is a third party to the sale and can only legally cancel products during the three-day period.
What if I move between the time of my order and when my products are delivered?
Contact our Customer Care team at [email protected] and they will provide the dealer with your new address or will ship the product to your new address if distance becomes a factor in personal delivery.
Why have I not received my order?
There are two common scenarios:

1. It has not yet been paid for. We have a 100% delivery guarantee for all orders - as long as they are paid in full. Customers have the option of paying in full at the time of sale or dividing the balance due into payments - whichever they prefer. After payments clear the bank, a zero-balance triggers our warehouse to ship the order to the customer.

2. The scheduled delivery date has not yet been reached. It is common for orders to be personally delivered by the student dealer at the end of summer. If a customer prefers to receive their order sooner, they can have the products shipped to their home instead. Direct-shipment requires a zero-balance.

Customers can check the status of their orders, make payments or adjustments, or check a balance due at anytime by contacting our Customer Care Center at [email protected] or at 888-551-5901 from 8:30am-4:30pm (CST) Mon-Fri.
Why are the products sometimes delivered near the end of summer?
Customer orders and deposits are taken over the course of the summer by the student. The deposits are remitted to Southwestern Advantage to cover the wholesale product cost. Orders are then shipped in bulk to the student dealer, and then personally delivered as the fall semester begins but before the student must return to school or home. Most individual orders can be shipped directly to customers in lieu of a personal delivery. Some students may also have inventory on hand, allowing for immediate delivery if paid in full at the time of purchase.
Is the person who knocked on my door really contracted to sell your products?
Yes. Student dealers participating in our program are provided with a photo ID badge and lanyard which includes Southwestern Advantage company contact information. You can verify a student dealer by clicking here.
Is Southwestern Advantage reputable?
Yes. Southwestern Advantage has been in continuous business with the sales and leadership program for over 150 years. The company has been recognized by many organizations and has won many awards including the Torch Award for Ethical Commerce from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It is recognized as a Top Work Place by The Tennessean and was also recently named the Top Internship in the U.S. by the Cooperative Education and Internship Association.

Southwestern Advantage is an accredited member of the BBB and maintains an A+ rating.
Is it safe to open the door to the student in my community?
Yes. The students who participate have been carefully selected and have even been endorsed into the program by their parents. Once in their community for the summer, students visit the local police or sheriff and check in leaving behind info on who they are, where they are staying and how to get in touch with them.
Is there any affiliation between my local school system and Southwestern Advantage, the student rep, or the products?
No. The student represents themselves and the products we publish that they sell, which are supplemental educational resources meant for use outside of the classroom. Neither they, nor our products, are affiliated with your local school system.
Is there training offered to prepare the students?
Yes! Students undergo approximately 100 hours of training received on campus and for up to nine days in Sales School prior to starting their business.
A student visited me who was from another country. Is this normal?
Yes. Many international students participate in this program. For them, this is a cultural and entrepreneurial experience to enhance their resume/CV. They will learn about American or Canadian culture and communicate with thousands of families throughout the summer. International students who participate in the program come from over 25 different countries.

International students must also pass an Embassy interview and have a visa-sponsor that they stay in communication with throughout the duration of the program.
How much do your products cost?
Our prices are available by speaking directly with a student dealer or calling our Customer Care team. The reason for this is that prices may vary slightly depending on the location and cost-of-living and business expenses incurred by a student dealer as they run their own independent business. Southwestern Advantage supplies the products to the students at a wholesale rate, and they sell it at suggested retail prices. These prices also vary based on what line of products are purchased, the packages selected, and shipping/taxes. For example, products purchased in Nashville near the warehouse may be priced differently than products purchased in Alaska or Canada. In order not to compete with the business of the students, Southwestern Advantage does not have retail outlets or sell via ecommerce. The students are the preferred vehicle of sales so they can continue to support themselves financially without competition through other channels.
Why is my check made out to the student rep and not Southwestern Advantage?
If you purchase an appliance at a store, the check is made out to the retail store selling the appliance - not the wholesale manufacturer of the appliance. In our program, the student dealer is the retail store, and we are the wholesale provider. Students accept payments in the form of cash, check, credit card and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Since the customer is purchasing directly from the student, the check is made out to them.
Are the products sold in Canada in Canadian dollars or US dollars; and how will this affect a credit/debit transaction?
All products sold in Canada are in Canadian dollars. Credit card companies convert payments into US dollars because Southwestern Advantage is a US-based company. The amount appearing on a statement is converted back into Canadian dollars. Small discrepancies are typically due to changing conversion rates.
Can homeschool families use the Southwestern Advantage learning system, too?
Yes. Homeschoolers can use the entire Southwestern Advantage learning system to learn about all required core subjects and more.

With the inclusion of quizzes, worksheets, and teaching videos found on Southwestern Global Academy, our system can be used as a complete homeschool curriculum.

Note: Southwestern Advantage does not provide accreditation for homeschooling, only the materials that can be used to fulfill the requirements that vary from state to state.


Customer Care Department:

Host Families

Lisa Riportella:
[email protected]


Trey Campbell, Director of Communications:

For Parents

Campus Officials

Dr. Ralph Brigham:

For Alumni

Lucy Olosova:
[email protected]

Apply For An Interview With Southwestern Advantage.

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