Changing the college application process

Looking for: Designer, Developer

Let’s change the the education matching system. Here’s the problem as I see it. High-school students are not being adequately paired with the right university, college or other institution of higher learning. I used the word “being” as though there’s an outside force. A 2013 study on admission matching from two economists — Eleanor Wiske Dillon of Arizona State University and Jeffrey Andrew Smith of the University of Michigan — found that exact phenomenon to be true.

Maybe it’s the guidance counselor ignoring the average student or it’s the fact that a large percentage of students choose a school due to word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends or family. Or, it could quite simply be due to their close geographic proximity to a particular university. Students aren’t actually paired with the institution of higher learning that is best for the student AND the university. Or, here’s another way of looking at it. What? Let’s quote some stuff: “Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of applicants, a new low among the most prestigious schools, with the odds nearly as bad at its elite rivals”.

In other words, students are applying and/or going to the wrong universities. Ipso facto, universities are getting the wrong students.

SOLUTION: Social Akademia (as I’m calling it just for giggles and inspired from Plato’s first academy) could be a social network that works similar to LinkedIn for professionals and businesses; however, it seeks to enable high-school students (and potentially their parents) to better connect with institutions of higher learning (and no, it doesn’t exist … yet). Specifically, it would:

  1. build a balanced student portfolio including a myriad of high-school and extracurricular experiences utilizing relevant, validated student test scores and other rich media to share and show the student’s real life experiences (e.g.: athletic, music or debate high-light reels, school plays, etc.). Thanks mom for video-taping all of my soccer matches!
  2. allow students with similar interests to network with one another to share ideas or concerns over school choices or … hum … maybe to find their next roommate. Whaa? You like Titanfall on Xbox One, too? Awesome!
  3. match students with universities or other institutions of higher learning that are the best fit for that student based off of the matched algorithms that look at student AND university capabilities (e.g.: a music school needs more blues musicians than they’ve received applicants for and  there are a subset of  students out there who may never have heard of the university (i.e.: see PROBLEM statement above)). Gee … I didn’t even know there was a blues musician school in Seattle.

What about the super cool features, Dave? Glad you asked. Not only can students follow particular universities that are of interest but, if you didn’t know already, they would also be served up relevant universities based on the information within their personal profiles as a sort of “matching” service provided within the network (hello TripAdvisor-style reviews and five star ratings). Additionally, universities could identify alumni that are “ambassadors” for the school and they could act on behalf of the institution; connecting with prospective students within the network as a resource to influence or simply help the students make better, more informed decisions on the colleges they’re interested in attending.

Call me crazy but I believe this could potentially change the way in which students identify and are paired with the best university for that student.  A robust community could even remove the application process and fees altogether. Without a doubt, students would have greater insights into which universities — across the globe — are best for them; not just the universities they’ve heard about from friends or family.

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