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Incoming Harvard Freshman Creates Platform to Supplement 'Virtual Visitas'

A pedestrian walks through Harvard Yard in front of Sever Hall on a November morning.
A pedestrian walks through Harvard Yard in front of Sever Hall on a November morning. By Allison G. Lee
By Raquel Coronell Uribe, Contributing Writer

In the wake of campus's closure due to COVID-19, Harvard undergraduates have developed a personalized video call platform which aims to mirror the experience of the College's in-person admitted students’ weekend, virtually connecting the incoming Class of 2024 with each other and with current Harvard affiliates.

The platform, Admeeted, groups users into a series of small, intimate video calls based on factors such as hometowns, interests, and intended majors. Every 15 to 30 minutes, the platform randomly shuffles the groups so each user can meet new people.

“Imagine you’re at a party. You’re not going to want to talk to all 300 people at once. You’d much rather talk to small groups of people,” said Albert W. Zhang, the platform’s creator and a future member of the Class of 2024.

“Now imagine the people you talk to share your interests, hobbies, and hometown,” he added. “Every conversation is better for leading to lasting friendships. That experience you get on Admeeted and nowhere else.”

Several students who say they intend to enroll at Harvard as members of the Class of 2024 said they have enjoyed using the platform to meet their peers.

“I’ve met a lot of people who I’m close to now, and I’m really excited to go to school with them next year. I have my own group chats with these people, and we all do our own Zoom calls,” Alexandria R. King said.

Boluwaji E. Odufuwa said that while Admeeted cannot perfectly capture the in-person Visitas experience, it is “the best we can do” under the circumstances.

“Everybody is pretty bummed out that Visitas has been cancelled,” Odufuwa said. “But then at the same time, we’re really excited that Albert is providing this service for all the prefrosh.”

Currently, Admeeted boasts more than 6,000 users from 20 institutions and organizations, including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, according to Bill W. Zhang ’21.

Several Harvard student organizations — such as the Undergraduate Council, Harvard College Consulting Group, and Harvard Student Agencies — have joined the platform and will host informational events for prospective students, according to Zhang.

Christina Yee ’21, HSA’s Chief Marketing Officer, wrote in an email that HSA plans to hold its first event on Admeeted this Friday.

“We are excited that [Admeeted] has given us another avenue to be able to meet the Class of 2024!” Yee wrote.

The UC plans to host a “Meet the UC” event on the platform this Friday, according to Mini Ganesh ’22, secretary of the Council’s Finance Committee.

“Pre-frosh seemed really engaged on the platform from what I can tell, and I thought it would be a cool way to meet them,” Ganesh said.

Zhang wrote in a text message that his brother, Bill Zhang, has been a “tremendous help” in developing Admeeted. Bill Zhang, who studies Applied Math and Computer Science at the College, said he has worked most closely on the technology and website development aspects of the platform.

“I believe the world is sort of like a rubber band, and it’s been stretched by COVID-19 to such an extent that even when it’s gone, the rubber band will never go back into place and then social interaction won’t be the same anymore,” Bill Zhang said. “In a fundamentally different world, I believe Admeeted has a place to connect all types of people.”

Admeeted’s website offers users the opportunity to join multiple organizations and has regularly added new features since it launched. Bill Zhang said he hopes to “take the best” from different social networks in order to form a platform that allows for real-time video chatting and other networking features.

The Zhang brothers contend on a fact sheet about Admeeted that the platform has grown “much more rapidly” than Facebook, Twitter, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams at launch. They said they have received attention from investors.

“Less than two weeks after the launch, we were reached out to by a seasoned venture capital firm that is interested in investing in us,” Albert said.

The brothers said they hope to expand the platform beyond admitted students’ weekends to accommodate other individuals and organizations.

“Our goal is to become the next Facebook, which is pretty interesting considering we’re starting from Harvard just like Mark [Zuckerberg] did,” Albert Zhang wrote in an email.

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