Friday, March 25, 2011


Take a trip with me. A trip back in time....where are we headed?

To the year 2003.

(For those of you who can't think back that far, here's a refresher: Justin Timberlake had just released his 1st album, skinny jeans weren't in fashion, and everyone was sure Bush was months away from being kicked out of office.)

Most importantly, I was a senior in high school, and there was exactly one thing on my mind: COLLEGE.

I won't bore you with the details of my obsessive-compulsive college search habits (I mean, hasn't everyone had their guidance counselor file a restraining order against them once or twice?)

The important thing to note is how well-prepared I was to navigate the maddening world of college applications, scholarship deadlines, school visits and alumni interviews. I credit a lot of my preparation to my older sister. Having been through it before (and done well enough to go to Princeton, no less), she had a really strong grasp on what it would take to turn me into the essay-writing, SAT-killing, future-billionaire I was destined to be. What a lot of people don't know is, I wouldn't have even *applied* to Harvard if it hadn't been for Lauren. And look at me now! I'm practically swimming in Alumni-of-the-Year Awards.

I was going to put a pic of Harvard here, but they frown upon non-approved uses of their image. Even from their most esteemed alumni, which I clearly am.

The fact that one suggestion from my sister changed the course of my life considerably got me thinking: what do the people without an amazing big sister (or mother/father/mentor) do? I suspect most of them end up applying based on things like proximity, tuition requirements, and their friends. And while all of these are perfectly fine considerations, they're certainly not the only considerations. I would argue that they're not even the most important ones.

What if someone had stepped in at the beginning of senior year, and told one of those 17 year olds "Hey, you've got great grades and you're interested in computer science. Have you ever considered the University of Texas? Their CS program is ranked top ten, and they give out thousands of dollars in scholarships to budding programmers."

Well this idea aims to fill in that gap: a website for college seniors that provides school recommendations based on the student's GPA, interests, test scores and extracurriculars.

Let's call it: would act as a mentor to all of the college seniors out there in need of a little extra guidance. Students would give us their stats, and we'd give them a top-ten list, separated into "safety, fit, and aspirational" schools.

The list would contain a link to each school's website, so the students could browse their options easily. There'd also be a "compare schools" tab, that would allow them to do side-by-side comparisons of their top choices.

Make the right choice. (PS Harvard please don't sue me)

Once the students made their decisions about which schools to apply to, they'd plug in their choices and be given instant access to a "Deadline Calendar," which would clearly mark application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, FAFSA requirements, Prospective Student events, and so on.

How would it make money:
....Well...I'm still working on that part. My first thought was to have Universities pay a small fee when students apply via my site. I see that being problematic, however, because I imagine top-tier colleges may feel that paying for applicants is beneath them. I could also charge students to access the site, but I don't really see that being feasible either. So basically...I'm still working on it.

If you have comments or suggestions (especially concerning potential revenue streams...), holler back.


  1. I think the internet is all ready ridiculously saturated with tools of this nature. But perhaps you could market it as a tool to high schools and guidance counselors. They can pay a fee to gain access to this database for their students. And to make money you should charge fees based on their status (ie private vs public, number of students, et. cetera) Students if not in a high school that has this adopted this tool can then pay an even smaller price to gain individual access. Marketing it to the school, differentiates your product and gives it more clout.

  2. @ Ms. Jones I agree that a number of sites that "help" students find schools exist...I just don't think any of them do a great job at it. These sites typically ask you to input what you're looking for in a college (location, class size, potential majors), etc. But I think a good number of 17 year olds aren't really sure about that stuff. That's why I'd have students input their stats, and possibly fill out a short survey that tries to grasp their personality, and make suggestions based on that.

    I really like your suggestion about marketing the site to guidance counselors. I think this is a group who would probably appreciate the tool a great deal, but I'd likely run into some issues getting schools (especially public schools) to pay for access. Those sorts of decisions would probably have to be made at a higher level, which could prove to be a complicated barrier to entry. But it's definitely worth exploring.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  3. You know this post sparked my interest! At Decorative Elegance, we market ourselves as the "one-stop-shop" for weddings and "budget weddings that look like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." We pay for leads through sites like and The brides are usually looking for only one service at the time we contact them. We lure them in the office for a free consultation and expose them to the plethora of services we provide including but not limited to flowers, catering, cake, and dresses. Brides love the variety of options available. They can choose a no frills $50 ceremony and get hitched on the spot or they can have the $50,000 platinum package. After experiencing the world of weddings for a few years now, I could not see the huge return of housing my company within another company that wants a piece of my profit. The idea reminds me of a year round bridal convention. Some brides leave bridal conventions feeling overwhelmed and more confused than before they stepped in door. I think a website would be more effective, but of course you have to find something that would you’re your site apart from similar websites.

    P.S. I accept all forms of free marketing so…..