College Contact Revolutionizes College Readiness with Innovative Near-Peer Model

PR Newswire
Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at 1:15pm UTC

College Contact Revolutionizes College Readiness with Innovative Near-Peer Model

PR Newswire

AUSTIN, Texas, June 11, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- College Contact, an innovative college readiness platform, proudly announces the launch of its new platform, designed by students to improve postsecondary outcomes. Founded by Sophie Smith at the age of 19 in her University of Virginia (UVA) dorm room, College Contact (headquartered in Austin, Texas) has grown from a dorm room idea to a groundbreaking college advising movement, sparking interest from thousands of students and families each year.

From Dorm Room to Dynamic Startup

Sophie's journey began when her TikTok video about college admissions went viral, garnering over 3,000 responses from students seeking affordable and effective assistance during the COVID pandemic. Noticing the significant gap in college advising—where parents either paid hundreds per hour for private counselors or relied on brief annual meetings with overbooked school guidance counselors—Sophie knew there had to be a better solution. Motivated by this overwhelming demand and inspired to serve the 75% of college applicants who applied alone each year, Sophie founded College Contact using the "near-peer model," where high school students are matched with certified undergraduate students who fill the counselor role after going through a rigorous onboarding process.

By age 23, Sophie and her co-founder Leah Guesman raised $1.025 million in pre-seed funding after helping 2,500 students earn admission to their top universities with the "near-peer" system. Upon graduating from UVA in May 2023, the pair joined the prestigious Techstars Austin accelerator and moved their corporate headquarters to Texas.

Innovative Near-Peer Model Is Loved by Parents

"College Contact took away 80% of the stress in our household," one parent remarked. "It was one of the best things we offered our son in this process." Sophie noted, "College Contact, built on our near-peer matching system, has been a tremendous win for our families. Not only do their students get affordable and effective advice on their postsecondary pathways, but they get to work with an older peer who is relatable and can show them the path forward."

College Contact's unique near-peer model sets it apart from traditional advising programs. By pairing high school students with mentors who are current undergraduates, the platform ensures relatable and relevant guidance. This approach bridges the gap between students and mentors, creating a supportive community where experiences and advice are fresh and impactful. One student expressed, "Getting college essay advice from a teacher or counselor is helpful, but it was life-changing to get advice from my mentor who goes to the university I am interested in, and could help me understand what is happening right now on campus so I could tailor my essay responses appropriately."

Launch of the College Contact New Platform Brings Exciting New Features for Families and School Districts

The newly launched College Contact platform includes several exciting features aimed at enhancing the student experience:

  • Personalized Mentor Matching: Advanced algorithms match students with mentors based on their preferences and goals.
  • Comprehensive Resource Library: Access to a wealth of information, from application tips to financial aid guidance and virtual campus tours.
  • Interactive Workshops: Live sessions covering a range of topics, including essay writing and interview preparation.
  • Progress Tracking: Tools to monitor student progress, deadlines, and milestones.
  • AI College Counselor: Database of verified university/college information and admissions tips accessible 24/7 for students.
  • Admissions Document Reviews: Fast & asynchronous feedback from our undergraduate students in 24 or 72 hours on admissions essays, resumes, and other documents.
  • Financial Planning Resources: Financial aid and student loan repayment calculators, and scholarship matching tools help parents make smart financial decisions when it comes to college planning.

Impact on College & Career Readiness in Texas

Texas school districts are increasingly focused on College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) bonuses, which under House Bill 3 (2019) can provide significant financial incentives. Texas is focused on improving access to universities, community colleges, and CTE programs, but often scalable resources for students are limited. School districts around the nation are experiencing a "counselor guidance gap" with school counselors managing caseloads of 400 students to 1 counselor. Software solutions have come in to fill the gap, but the 1:1 human element of advising remains a missing piece for many schools. College Contact's program is designed to help districts and in-school counselors provide more personalized support to their high school students while helping these districts earn Texas CCMR bonuses. Through personalized mentoring sessions, the platform has a proven track record of increasing university acceptance rates and placement into first-choice universities, directly contributing to higher CCMR bonus attainment. 86% of College Contact's students have landed a spot at their favorite university.

Strong Partnerships and Interest Propel the Young Female Founders Forward

College Contact's impact is already being felt across Texas. The company is an awarded vendor at Austin Independent School District (AISD), has initiated a program with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Central Texas, and is actively involved in Travis Unified School District. "We are thrilled to introduce our new platform and expand our reach in Texas," said Sophie Smith, CEO of College Contact. "The interest we've received from school districts and organizations across the state is incredibly encouraging."

Beyond working with organizations and schools, the platform is available directly to students and families who want to sign up. Leah Guesman, COO and Co-Founder, remarked, "We are equally excited to keep serving families here in Texas and nationally with our new platform. We encourage families to sign-up early so that their students can have the best chance at achieving their college and career goals."

About College Contact

College Contact is a Texas-based, female-founded college and career readiness platform that connects high school students with near-peer mentors. With a historical 100% university acceptance rate and an 86% placement rate into first-choice universities, College Contact has helped over 2,500 students nationwide. The platform's innovative model, combined with comprehensive resources and personalized support, empowers students to achieve their academic and career goals, while simultaneously helping school districts scale 1:1, personalized postsecondary advising.

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SOURCE College Contact