Southwestern Advantage Mlm Review

College students are always looking for a way to make a few extra bucks. And if anyone needs a flexible work schedule, it’s college students. Southwestern Advantage caters to that particular demographic. In this Southwestern Advantage MLM review, I’ll take you through how it works. If you are a college student looking to make some extra cash, you might want to steer clear of this one.

Southwestern Advantage Mlm Review - LogoWhat is Southwestern Advantage MLM?

This company is the oldest company I’ve ever reviewed. Southwestern Advantage was founded in January 1855 and is based in Nashville, TN. They claim that they “help young people develop the skills and character they need to reach their goals.” Southwestern Advantage help college students “build their own business” by selling books. These books are educational books, subscriptions to websites and software. They are frequently found canvassing college campuses across the U.S. recruiting students.

Are Southwestern Advantage Products Worth Their Price?

The products that college students sell on behalf of Southwestern Advantage are school books for elementary school aged children. There’s no information on the website about what individual books will cost.

Southwestern Advantage Mlm Review-Math1&Amp;2

I did manage to find a math book online at Amazon. This book is priced new at $49.99 and was published in 2011. This book is already nine years old so I don’t think it’s worth the price new. It’s possible that there’s been a new edition but it’s not on Amazon and I could not find any other pricing information.

You’ll also be trying to sell subscriptions to websites. One of the websites is called Advantage4Parents this is designed to help parents with parenting problems.

The Southwestern Advantage MLM Opportunity

This opportunity is presented as a 12-week internship. As a Southwestern Advantage representative, your job is to sell school books door to door in a strange neighborhood far from home. This is deliberate. They don’t want you to be distracted by friends and family in your hometown so you are placed in an area that is unfamiliar to you yet has a lot of young children. Perfect target market.

If you are lucky, you will have a host family to stay with who has agreed to rent you a room during your internship. But that’s not always the case. If no host family is available, you will have to knock on doors and find your own place to stay. You will be expected to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. On Sundays, you will be expected to attend any meetings or training sessions all at your own expense.

How Much Does It Cost to Join Southwestern Advantage?

Once again, as with all MLMs, you will start by putting a lot of your own money upfront. Ok, wait a minute. Maybe not necessarily YOUR money because, let’s face it, if students had money they wouldn’t need this job.

Before you start, you will be required to supply the company with a letter of credit that’s been endorsed by two people, usually the student’s parents. This letter of credit ensures that the endorsers will be responsible for up to $500 each if the student fails to pay any money due to the company. That’s a total of $1,000.  You have to buy your own books to get you started. The standard set will set you back about $350.

Can You Make Money with Southwestern Advantage?

University students are recruited to sell books over the summer often times in areas they have no connection to. The students live in the homes of host families that are sometimes alumni of the college who agree to rent them a room for the summer and charge a small amount of rent. Students are responsible for all their own expenses.

You will be expected to try and make 30 presentations a day. It’s a 60/40 split so 60% goes back to the company and you will receive 40% commissions. Your team leader also gets a cut of your sales.


Impressive Credentials

Southwestern Advantage MLM is a member of the DSA (Direct Selling Association). In 2019, Dr. Ralph Brigham received the Charles F. Kettering Award for excellence in business or government internship education programs.

Other impressive names that you may have heard of are Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of Energy; Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Ken Starr, attorney who headed the investigation into the Clintons. All are listed as alumni.

Could Be A Good Learning Experience

You have to go to Nashville, TN for one week of training before you hit the pavement. The training is designed to give you confidence as a salesperson. This training could be useful to you later on when you are interviewing for jobs after college.

It Will Change Your Life

Because you are place in a town unfamiliar to you, you have to make it work or you don’t eat. You may have a host family to stay with but you will have to learn how to hustle for sales so you can get paid so you can eat and pay for your expenses. This is where you will find out what you are really made of. Kind of like military boot camp. You fail and you’re out. But the experience alone will teach you a lot about who you are and what you can tolerate.


You Pay All Your Own Expenses

You work as an independent contractor. Whether you make a dollar or a hundred dollars, you pay all your living expenses including rent, food, gas, and products at wholesale prices, out of your own pocket. Even if you attend company meetings, you will not get reimbursements. No minimum wage and no benefits.

Grueling Work Schedule

You will be expected to make around 30 presentations per day to prospective customers outlining why they simply must have these books!

Anecdotal Complaints

While the BBB (Better Business Bureau) gives Southwestern Advantage almost five stars, and they are accredited with the BBB, there are complaints about the company and its representatives scamming people out of money, not cancelling orders when requested, customers not receiving their complete order and inflated product prices.

Student Complaints

There have been many reports by students of misleading and deceptive marketing practices. In some cases, Southwestern Advantage representatives misled students into believing that they were working with the career services of the college in order to gain access into classrooms for recruitment purposes.

You’re Banned!

As a result of these complaints, many reputable colleges such as University of Maryland, Harvard University and the University of Idaho have banned Southwestern Advantage from recruiting on their campuses. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop them. In some cases, they resumed recruiting despite being banned.

Let’s Do The Math

According to one student in Minnesota, the hours are 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday. That’s six days a week, 13 hours a day. We’ll take away half an hour each for lunch and dinner. That gives us twelve hours a day times six. That’s 72 hours a week. The student says he earned $6,000 over the summer.

So now that we know all this, let’s run the numbers. The internship is supposed to last 12 weeks throughout the summer. Seventy-two hours a week times 12 weeks equals 864 hours. Divide $6,000 by 864 hours and you get $6.94 an hour. Now you’ll also have to subtract any expenses such as bus fare, etc. because students have to pay all their own expenses. So let’s say that after expenses, it’s probably closer to $5 or $6 an hour. This is probably the best case scenario. The real numbers reflect that in some cases, students average earnings of only $2.00 per hour.

Is Southwestern Advantage MLM a Scam?

If this isn’t a scam, it has to be the absolute worst way to try and make a buck. Long hours walking door to door trying to make sales has to be the most archaic way to earn money these days. According to my research, there are many who have claimed that Southwestern Advantage is a scam. It may not necessarily be a scam but it certainly has a few questionable marketing practices.

Final Thoughts

The most notable thing I found about this company is the door-to-door marketing approach that is almost unheard of with the advancement of technologies and the Internet. I also understand that the promise earning thousands of dollars in a 12-week internship can be pretty seductive as well. But this “opportunity” is not for the faint of heart. And in the end, you may not earn what you expected.

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  1. Hey Jay, I appreciate your blog and you posting information on some of the non traditional companies out there! However, I have worked for Southwestern Advantage for four years now and a lot of the information you’ve posted here is false and misleading. Just off the bat, Southwestern isn’t actually a MLM, it is a direct selling company. Unlike MLM’s students actually do not have to pay for any products upfront when you stated they need to buy a set for $350. There is zero upfront costs or hidden fees to the students who are selected for the program and Southwestern ensures there aren’t any financial risk to any students throughout the entirety of the program. Also, different from an MLM, student leaders do not get any cut of a first year students sales. Rather the company will give the leaders a bonus check based on how effectively the first year student was trained by his/her manager. This incentivizes leaders to train the first year students to the best of their ability to ensure their success throughout the summer. Lastly, in MLM’s, students are paid to recruit as many students as possible. Like I mentioned earlier, a manager is paid $0 to recruit, train, or run meetings. The only form of reimbursement is based upon how effectively the first year student is trained in which you will receive a bonus check from the company. Students aren’t even allowed to recruit by the company unless they complete at least one summer and is selected back for another. I could go on regarding a lot of the other misleading information posted here but it’d take a bit more time than I have. I appreciate everything you’re doing here by helping students become more aware of what companies are out there, but I do feel it’s important you fact check some of your information prior to posting it. Hopefully this helps and feel free to ask me any questions you may have, thanks!

    1. Anyone who is recruiting for the company and “training” other students as clueless as themselves after only a handful of trainings…is still recruiting. Direct sales or MLM, it’s still unethical to move a student across the country and saddle them with an immediate need to pay their rent and eat, and if they don’t find the “right type” of customer base they fail and have an expressed financial burden their families have to endure?? That’s a scam if I’ve ever seen one.

      These same kids could sit back and work at Chipotle or Starbucks, get benefits and save for nice vacations if they just stayed safely nearer their homes and campuses. 40 hour work weeks, scheduled breaks, not panicking if you have a “slump” at lunch rush that you’ll still get your (free) food or drink and have your job at the end of the day.

      There is no financial upside to Southwestern Advantage here, man.

  2. Hey Jay,

    Doing a great job by exposing MLMs continually on your website.  Many people are aware of the fact of how MLM ruin your personal and social life.  But unfortunately, its stay at home moms and full-time students who fell prey to MLMs, who are looking for a flexible lifestyle.

    You hit the nail on the head by this Southwestern Advantage Review, where they target the students by alluring them $8000 earning in the summer season.  But it’s very sad and adversely affecting the students on a financial and psychic level.  Students have to pay for everything for themselves, even the uniform or the sample books.

    Many students have raised concerns over methods of recruitment and The University has sent a letter to Southwestern Advantage and warned that it will be forced to consider limiting their access to campus.

    You have rightly pointed out that door-to-door marketing approach in this era of  advanced internet technology is outdated.  If only these students come to know the business opportunity WA offers, can help them for sure to earn more than just $2 for an hour.



  3. Great question asking if Southwestern Advantage products are worth their price. Generally to be honest I am not the biggest MLM fan, so to learn that Southwestern Advantage is the oldest company you’ve reviewed, having been around for over 150 years, I’m a bit surprised. Any company that’s been around for that long is easier to trust, but I have to agree that it smells a bit. That they have been banned from certain schools and yet still persist in these places tells me all I need to know, that despite its longevity, Southwestern Advantage is just another suspect MLM company. Your alternative in Wealthy Affiliate is outstanding and highly recommended. I’ll know now to steer clear of Southwestern Advantage, thanks!

  4. Southwestern Advantage offers a door to door sales “job” selling educational resources like books or online memberships. The sales reps will receive intensive training and live with a host family in another location.  Awesome company with wonderful staffs/sales rep! We have been enjoying the material for more than 8 years and will continue to enjoy our products for years to come! Thank you Southern Western Advantage, you guys  will always remain the best. 

    Thanks for the article. 

  5. Thanks for this review, southwestern advantage MLM is nice because it enables good sales and help young students to earn and also learn there by from making sales of books.College students are always looking for a way to make a few extra bucks. And if anyone needs a flexible work schedule, it’s college students.thanks to southwestern advantage

    1. Hi Joy,

      You will be expected to make around 30 presentations per day to prospective customers outlining why they simply must have these books. Imagine doing that along with your already busy course load!

      I recommend you read the review again as it isn’t something I recommend as there are a plethora of other ways to earn an income online.

  6. Hello Jay. I recently discovered your blog. I like what you do and write about. I want to ask you, can I, as a senior citizen, do your job? I mean, what I want to try. So I’m interested in your opinion as a specialist. Can the old man figure it out? In general, I liked this particular review. But I’m very scared of the guarantee that I won’t earn anything, thanks!

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