Start-Up Targets College Applicants

College Confidant, a networking Web site that aims to demystify college life and the admissions process, launched Monday.

Web site founders Amy A. Skaria ’10, Tej A. Toor ’10, Christopher “Kai” Wu ’09, Nitesh K. Banta ’08, and Amit S. Patel ’07 developed the site’s concept on the heels of a survey they conducted of 350 Harvard students. According to their survey, 62 percent of Harvard students had, during their own application and matriculation process, sought out college students for advice. 92 percent said they provided similar advice to other high school students.

College Confidant connects teenagers going through the college admissions process with college students from their college of interest, or with whom they share similar interests or backgrounds. It also provides admissions and application advice.

The site features profiles of current college students—“confidants”— searchable by college, high school, hometown, major, interests, and activities. A high school student is provided with the phone number of a college student of their choice and can schedule calls and meetings through the Web site.

Co-founder Skaria said that a high school student would feel more comfortable asking a college student questions than they would asking an admissions officer.

“It’s more personalized, you’re talking to someone who could be your friend,” she said.

Co-founder Toor said that College Confidant was particularly valuable because high school students are receiving advice from those who have recently gone through the college application process themselves.

Confidants typically charge $10 to $20 per hour. The founders cited the low price as an important difference between College Confidant and other college counseling services, which can charge up to $2000.

Skaria, Toor, and Wu all express optimism regarding their startup’s future. “Our goal for now is proving the concept,” Wu said. “We want to see if this model works and is comfortable for people to use.”

The business currently has campus managers and contacts at Stanford, Princeton, and Yale.

The founders said they hope to continue expanding its coverage, eventually incorporating graduate schools.

Wu said that increasing the number of institutions represented on College Confidant will allow for better match-ups between confidants and high school students who use the Web site.

College Confidant also operates a related blog featuring posts on topics such as admissions essays, sculpting applications, and college life.

The founders said they also hope to launch a non-profit branch to provide similar services to students who cannot afford the fees charged on CollegeConfidant.com.

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