We can give students all the advice we want about the college-application process, but what they really listen to are other students.
Now, a group of 45 students at Ivy League schools are offering their services as mentors to college-bound students through a new website called IvyAlly. Some of the advice is free; some requires a fee.
“Our vision is to level the playing field in the admissions process and shift it from one that favors those whose parents can afford advice,” says Greg Klimowicz, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the new site. The idea is to connect current undergraduates who got into their dream schools and can share their recent experience with high school students looking for a community of support.
Klimowicz says he got the inspiration for Ivy Ally from working at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at Penn in a program called College Access and Career Readiness. There he helped Philadelphia high school students with advice and support in the college-application process. While Klimowicz relied on his high school counselor in the college search, he says he would have liked to have had a network of students to contact for advice.
On IvyAlly, high school students can scroll through the site for advice or register for free weekly chats on topics such as making the most of a college campus visit and choosing the right high school classes. One feature on the site provides examples of accepted admissions essays, along with a video from that mentor explaining the planning and writing process behind the essay. The 45 student-mentors list their biographies online so users can get to know them personally and see how their perspectives are shaped, says Klimowicz.
For students who want more help, there are add-on services, such as editing essays with live feedback via Skype ($29.99 per essay) and personal mentoring sessions via Skype ($19.99 for 30 minutes.) For these add-on services, the mentors are paid. Otherwise, they are donating their time.
Is this the beginning of a big business? Not necessarily. Klimowicz says the mission of IvyAlly is to help as many people as possible and to keep all services free or competitively priced so it is affordable.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.