How One Med Student Makes $190K a Year Selling Online Courses

The sting of rejection often lingers longer than we like, but rarely forever. See how Maggie Waters transformed her first-cycle medical application disappointment into double digit acceptances and a multi-six-figure side hustle the next time around.

Maggie Waters’ journey from confused pre-med applicant to fourth-year medical student and six-figure side hustler is a testament to how anyone can turn an everyday problem into a monetized solution with a little creativity and a bit of determination.

Initially overwhelmed by the complexities of the medical school application process and faced with multiple rejections, Water’s determination led her to seek out helpful resources, prompting a second, more informed attempt. The effort resulted in 15 interview invites and 10 acceptances, a sharp contrast to years prior.

Waters channeled her learnings from the rejection experience into “Road to Acceptance,” a digital course aimed at demystifying the medical school application process for others.

Now, as she navigates her final year at the University of Colorado’s medical school, Waters has managed to find a balance that allows her to indulge in her passions, buoyed by the confidence that her side hustle income will enable her to graduate debt-free.

Her journey shows that with the right approach, it’s possible to turn challenges into opportunities—not just for personal achievement but also for assisting others on their path.

A Spark Ignited

Navigating the complex maze of the medical school application process with little guidance, Waters initially found herself adrift. “When I first applied to medical school, I had no clue about the whole process and made countless mistakes,” regretted Waters.

After applying late to a handful of schools and securing one interview at Case Western, she ended up waitlisted and ultimately not accepted.

This initial stumble, far from discouraging her, ignited a resolve to not only reapply with a robust strategy but also to ensure others wouldn’t have to face the same hurdles alone.

“After my initial setbacks, I discovered Dr. Gray,” a former US Air Force flight surgeon turned podcaster who talks about the application process. “His advice was a game-changer for me,” stated Waters. The newly found resource transformed her approach to reapplying to medical school, despite her lower-than-average GPA.

This time, her efforts bore fruit: 28 applications led to 15 interview invitations and, ultimately, 10 acceptances.

It was this transformation that inspired Road to Acceptance, a comprehensive digital course aimed at demystifying the medical school application for other pre-med students.

road to acceptance course preview
Water’s flagship course shares actionable tips geared toward helping pre-med students get into medical school.

Waters’ mission was to create a resource that was both accessible and affordable, particularly for non-traditional and first-generation applicants.

“I wanted to provide the kind of help I desperately needed when I was applying,” she said. Through her course, Waters leverages her experiences to provide a path to pre-med students, ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to navigate their application process more smoothly.

“Creating ‘Road to Acceptance’ was about turning my struggles into a roadmap for others. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how it’s helping students achieve their dream of getting into medical school,” shared Waters.

It’s Life, By Maggie

Waters’ journey into the world of side hustles began with a moment of inspiration that came just as she was bracing herself for a second attempt at medical school applications.

“Before Road to Acceptance, there was ‘It’s Life, by Maggie.’ My journey started when I stumbled upon a blog post by Sophia Lee,” Waters recalled.

Lee’s post, which detailed how she made $12,000 in a single month from her blog as a college student, opened Waters’ eyes to the possibilities that lay in starting a blog.

“I was mind-blown. I had never heard of anyone making money from blogging before that. And she was just a college student!”

This revelation was the catalyst Waters needed to venture into the digital world herself. “That day, I thought, ‘If she can do it, I can do it,'” she shared.

Driven by this newfound conviction, Waters launched her blog and Instagram account centered around the medical school application process, the MCAT, and pre-med advice, laying the groundwork for what would eventually evolve into a substantial side hustle.

Balancing this endeavor with her demanding medical school schedule required a strategic approach. Waters adopted a variety of productivity strategies and time management techniques to keep her studies and business thriving without compromising on either.

maggie and her husband george
Maggie at her white coat ceremony.

“Learning about productivity strategies early on helped me build routines and habits that make balancing both worlds possible for me,” Waters explained.

Her discipline and ability to delegate tasks effectively allowed her to manage her burgeoning business while ensuring her academic responsibilities were met.

“Medical school and my business could easily take up a lot of my free time but, I am all about being intentional and creating balance in the process. Throughout medical school I have continued to make time for many of the things I love: CrossFit, getting back into horseback riding, lots of traveling, camping and outdoor adventures, and, of course, my wonderful husband, George, sweet pup Oakley, and our cat Maroon.”

Related: How to Make Money Blogging in 2024 (Expert Guide)

Course Creation, Marketing Mastery, and Financial Impact

While the success of her blog “It’s Life, by Maggie” laid the groundwork, it was the development and marketing of “Road to Acceptance” where things started to take off for Waters.

Launched in April 2021, the course quickly became a lucrative endeavor. By 2022, her business had earned $81,000, and in 2023, revenue soared to $190,000, showcasing the rapid success and wide-reaching impact of her flagship course within just a few years.

maggie's course earnings
Affiliate course sales and brand partnerships help diversify the income Waters earns through direct course sales.

“Creating an engaging and effective online course was uncharted territory for me,” Waters admitted. Her appetite for learning and adaptation led her to explore various platforms and tools essential for course creation. “I dove into everything from content strategies to technical setups, aiming to craft courses that not only inform but also engage.”

Waters attributed much of her success to Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy, especially when it came to setting up free live webinars, which she later turned into free evergreen webinars. This is also where she learned about different platforms frequently associated with creating and selling knowledge courses: Teachable, EasyWebinar, and Thrivecart.

Waters’ approach to marketing her courses was equally strategic. Leveraging the power of social media, especially Instagram, she tapped into her growing follower base to promote “Road to Acceptance.”

“I found that offering free value upfront through workshops and webinars was the key. It helped establish trust and demonstrated the quality of my courses,” she explained.

Her marketing strategies were not just about promoting her courses but also about building a community of like-minded individuals. “Engagement on Instagram, driven by genuine content and interaction, has been crucial. It’s about more than just selling a course; it’s about creating a network of support and guidance for pre-med students,” Waters shared.

“The journey from those first few sales to crossing the six-figure mark was both exhilarating and humbling. Every thank you note from a student who made it reminds me that this is about more than just income. It’s about impact, about making a daunting process a little easier for someone else.”

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Waters’ journey from initial setbacks to entrepreneurial success is paved with valuable lessons and insights, particularly for those aspiring to create and sell digital products.

In discussing her approach to marketing “Road to Acceptance,” Waters highlighted the effectiveness of combining genuine value with strategic promotion.

Her most successful tactic was offering a free workshop that concluded with a special course offer. “The key to attracting students to my courses was to first provide them with actionable, free content that demonstrated immediate value,” she explained.

Utilizing Instagram, she leveraged Manychat to automate responses to comments, streamlining the process of directing interested followers to her workshops. “Engagement on social media platforms was crucial. It’s not just about selling; it’s about building a relationship with your audience,” Waters added.

One significant hurdle she encountered was aligning marketing strategies with her values. Investing $20,000 in a course that advocated for withholding free advice didn’t sit right with her ethos.

“I once followed advice that didn’t align with my vision, and it felt disingenuous. I quickly learned that my approach needed to resonate with my values,” Waters reflected.

She ultimately advises aspiring educational entrepreneurs to stay true to their principles and focus on providing real value.

“Find your niche, share authentically, and don’t fear starting small. It’s about making an impact, not just income,” Waters suggested.

waters' course testimonials
Student reviews for ‘Road to Acceptance’.

Her experience underscores the importance of authenticity and value-driven content in building a brand that actually makes a difference in the lives of students.

On the Future

Looking ahead, Waters is enthusiastic about expanding her influence and support for the pre-med community.

Despite the looming, often grueling work associated with residency, she has plans to launch a new online course for those 2 to 4 years away from applying to medical school, aiming to fill a critical gap in pre-med preparation.

Additionally, a digital planner specifically designed for pre-meds is in the works, promising to help students manage their demanding schedules more effectively.

“These projects are close to my heart, as they extend the support I can offer to pre-med students at different stages of their journey,” Waters said in parting.


Ben Huber

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and save more money. A quoted contributor for Business Insider,, Discover, Intuit, MSN, NBC News, Yahoo Finance and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.

Anita Lane
Anita Lane

Maggie is my granddaughter and she is such a hard worker! Thank you for the blog. I’m so proud of her.

Her story is awesome! We appreciate her lending her time to help us with the article.

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