7 min 47 sec

Psychologist Earns $74,000 Helping Students Make the Cut

After overcoming childhood barriers, Shirag Shemmassian leveraged his educational success to launch an admissions assistance side hustle.
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What It's About

A clinical research psychologist launches a side hustle helping students get into their top choice universities.

Business Model
Skills Required
Writing & Application Knowledge
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Though Shirag knew very little about running a business, he didn’t let that stop him. He dove straight into reading books and online articles about everything from business structure to sales and workflow. He also signed up for a course called Zero to Launch to learn how to grow an online business.

Fun Fact

Shirag offers advising and application services to prospective college students and graduate and medical school students, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $7,000, depending on the student’s plan of choice. Though he had no experience running a business, he’s been able to carve a niche in this competitive arena by offering free live speaking engagements to schools and community organizations, guest posting, and writing articles on his own blog.

Notes from Chris

Episode 133

Growing up, Shirag Shemmassian did not have it easy. Around the age of 8, he started exhibiting the symptoms of Tourette syndrome, and leading up to being formally diagnosed, Shirag was mocked by his peers. This teasing, however, was not as tough for him as the lack of understanding and acceptance he experienced as a result of his condition—from his peers, as well as from his own Armenian family.

Though at the time Shirag didn’t fully understand the effects the condition would have on his life, he knew it would significantly shape his future goals. And it did.

Despite the early challenges, Shirag went on to achieve significant success: he studied human development at Cornell and attained a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. He was also able to graduate from both schools completely debt free. Now, he works as a clinical research psychologist, developing tests used to assess children for mental health conditions.

Out of this success, his side hustle developed organically. About nine years ago, his friends and family starting noticing his track record of getting accepted to and receiving funding from great schools, so they began to ask him for help with their own applications. He obliged, assisting them free of charge.

Then, those he had helped achieved similar results of getting into their dream schools, and they started telling others, who also requested Shirag’s services. With more and more people knocking at his door, Shirag eventually decided to make the side hustle official—launching Shemmassian Academic Consulting in 2013.

So far, Shirag and his team have supported more than 200 students through 1-on-1 support and online courses, and he's earning around $74,000 annually on the side. And their track record is impressive. For college, 90% of students have gotten into at least one of their top three colleges, and for med school, over 90% have gotten into at least one US medical school. Talk about acing it!


  • Shemmassian Academic Consulting: Learn more about Shirag's academic consulting service on his website
  • Zero to Launch: The online course that Shirag used to up his business savvy and launch his website. Ramit Sethi is actually a friend of mine, and his course rocks!

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"People look at mature businesses and don't realize that it took years to grow to their current states. It's like staring at a mountain and thinking you have to take a single leap to the top when you actually have to take one small step at a time. Eventually, you'll make it to the top."
—Shirag Shemmassian #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau