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Mytonomy PLUS Delivers 45% More Counseling for Students, Parents Welcome “Counseling MOOC”

We are pleased to publish our first case study on the usage of Mytonomy PLUS (“PLUS”) in a high school setting. Click here to download the one page PDF.  PLUS functionality offers counselors the ability to create a private set of video playlists and assign them to specific student groups.

PLUS’s reporting capabilities permits counselors to track viewership and provide more focused follow-up with students when they meet face-to-face.  The reports provide counselors with data to illustrate their service delivery and to help with SMARTER goals.

In the fall of 2013, a cohort of high school juniors and seniors at a high performing public school in Northern Virginia used Mytonomy to watch advice videos selected and assigned to them by their counselor; usage of Mytonomy was recommended but not required. Their peers were not exposed to Mytonomy content and were assigned to other counselors.

From September 1st to December 31st, students at the school who signed up for a Mytonomy account watched a total of 12.46 hours of videos.

For a public school counselor who spends roughly one hour a semester directly interacting with each student (like the one in this study), 27 minutes of watching Mytonomy’s videos corresponds to a 45% increase in the amount of counseling delivered to students.

School counseling does not get “seat time” in most schools, so many students must learn about academic course selection and the college application process on their own time. Mytonomy PLUS provides counselors and districts with the ability to deliver “blended counseling” to students and parents alike. For students with smartphones – an ever growing number - Mytonomy’s free mobile app makes it easy to watch “counseling homework” on the go. And, Mytonomy served as a “School Counseling MOOC” for many parents who need a crash course in college knowledge.

“Mytonomy is a valuable resource that we used while researching colleges for our son, a high school senior. The numerous short videos provided critical insight and helped us navigate the complex admissions process. As a parent, these first-hand experience accounts from students, parents, and counselors provided practical advice and enabled us to finalize our list of colleges. Information from this site included tips and pointers, above and beyond what you’d normally get from a college visit,” said a first generation parent.

To get a free 60 day trial of Mytonomy PLUS for your school, email us at info@mytonomy.com. Getting started is easy (video overview) and requires no special hardware or software, as Mytonomy is web-based like Naviance or XAP. A dedicated account manager helps schools create student accounts, and if your school uses Google Apps, then students can log into Mytonomy with their Google credentials.

Dec 6

Mytonomy Deemed “Rising Star” in College Access Technology Ecosystem

Yesterday, the Get Schooled Foundation released a report titled How is Technology Addressing the College Access Challenge? 

The purpose of the report was to highlight the need for higher education, and to address “ the gap between what our economy needs and what is currently possible”, with technology being a big part of the answer.  With funding from the Kresge Foundation, Get Schooled reviewed close to 200 digital tools “that aim to support high school students from the college preparation and application process through college completion. “

The tools were rated in four categories:

  1. Preparation
  2. Admissions
  3. Financial Planning
  4. College Success

The tools were assessed for their helpfulness with underserved students using the framework laid out by economics professor and college access researcher Caroline Hoxby of Stanford:  1) Cost 2) Quality of User Experience and 3) Quality of Information.  More details in the report itself, of course.

In the “Admissions” category, best-in-class tools were Cappex, College Board, College Greenlight, Naviance & Unigo. Rising Stars were Mytonomy, Applyful, College Mapper, College Reality Check, & Parchment.

In the “College Success” category, the best-in-class tool was MyEDU. Rising Stars included Mytonomy & CollegeSnapps (started by Don Fraser, friend of Mytonomy – way to go Don!).

Mytonomy was given high marks for “Quality of User Experience” & “Quality of Information”. We were scored lower on “Relative User Volume”.  Next week, Mytonomy will announce a distribution agreement with a Top 10 state, bringing our platform to potentially 400,000 high school students and hundreds of high school counselors. We expect this partnership to greatly increase our user volume!

We started launched Mytonomy in 2011, fully knowing that it would take time to build a comprehensive college planning & success toolset.  Instead of trying to boil the ocean, we chose to build something unique and needed: a story-telling platform for advice from people “like you” or folks in your local community. We believe that storytelling from near-peers, more than the rote consumption of facts and data, is more likely to influence & inspire young people.

That said, there is much work to be done on the Mytonomy platform so that we can evolve into a best-in-class selection.  The existing selections are the incumbents and are either owned by public companies, or have ad-based business models which allow them to subsidize other parts of their business. They have good products and we salute them. Mytonomy will turn 3 in early 2014, and we’re proud of what we have accomplished with a small team.

Lastly, the report highlights gaps in the digital college access world, as follows:

1)      Few tools serve the need of younger students, like middle school students and freshmen & sophomores in high school. Most tools focus around the application and financial planning process for upper classmen.

2)      Few sites offer “one stop shopping” for all assistance needs throughout the process. Most sites are strong in one or two areas.

3)      Few sites have meaningful distribution, so funders should focus on including this component in any investment decisions.

A big “thank you” to the Get Schooled team for their diligence in evaluating the digital landscape. We hope their report starts a conversation about how to best scale college access using technology. 

Mytonomy App for iOS and Android

We’re excited to share the launch of our Mytonomy app on iOS and Android! The app is a companion to your account on the Mytonomy website that lets you browse our video library and watch videos from your dashboard. Mytonomy PLUS users, your private playlists will also be viewable on the app.

This is just the start though; we plan on adding video capture in the near future.

Download the apps here and review our app to let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from our users about what you would want to do on your phone or tablet.

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mytonomy/id711650300?mt=8

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mytonomy.student&hl=en

Sign Up and Upload Instructions for Counselors

Signing Up:

Go to www.mytonomy.com and click “Sign up” in the upper right hand corner. Sign up using your email address.

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Enter your name (first name or full name are both fine), your email address, a password and choose a role.

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Choose the counselor sub role, agree to Mytonomy’s terms and conditions, and click “Sign up.”
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You will need to choose the high school that you work at using the autocomplete function.

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You will receive an email from Mytonomy asking you to click a link to activate your account.

Recording a Video:

You can record a video on your smartphone (hold it sideways for a landscape shot), a stand alone camera or a webcam.

Consider what topics would be helpful to your students and their parents. Read our list of questions for inspiration.

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If you record the video on your phone or another camera you must synch that device with your computer and transfer the video to your hard drive.

Uploading Your Video:

Once you have activated your account, log in at Mytonomy.com and click your name in the upper right hand corner.

Click “Upload a Testimonial” from the drop-down menu.

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On the next page click “Browse File.” 

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Next, select your video from your hard drive.

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On the next screen you will be asked to fill out details for your video.

Choose a title and a language. For “What’s it about” choose a category and question from our question list.
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Click “Finish Testimonial” and wait for your video to upload. An orange status bar will indicate your progress.

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Once your video has been uploaded you will see the following message. 

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Now you’re done! Your video is in the approval queue where it will be processed by our video hosting service and reviewed by the Mytonomy staff. It can take up to a business day for your video to appear on the live website. Contact greg@mytonomy.com if you have any questions.

The Importance of a Positive Online Presence

By Marcus Naramore

With the rise of social media’s presence in all aspects of life, a lot of attention has been given to the effects of people’s social media presence on their reputation. It seems like every week there is a new cautionary tale of a high school student or job applicant posting something inappropriate and seeing an opportunity dissolve because of it.

As a former high school teacher, I remember my students friending me on Facebook, then posting numerous questionable photos and statuses. Furthermore, many of these posts could be seen even if you weren’t their friend. Not only were these students posting inappropriate content, any college admissions officer or employer with a search engine could see it.

While being aware of how public your online presence is and filtering your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc are becoming essential habits, too little thought is given to the opposite effect: how can you use your online presence for good.

When teachers, college admission officers and potential employers see your online presence, they are not only looking for the negative, but also the positive. As a recent Fast Company article by Amy Jo Martin explains, having a positive online footprint can separate you from the pack and potentially help you land that prestigious college admission or job offer.

Martin portrays a compelling comparison of two hypothetical college applicants.

Imagine a college admissions recruiter evaluating two applicants side by side. They both look the same on paper. They shine academically, with impressive transcripts, essays, and SAT scores. Both have an extensive list of extracurricular activities and outstanding recommendation letters.

The difference is Applicant A has a large social following of Twitter followers and Facebook friends which they’ve used proactively to connect with future professors, industry leaders, and executives at companies. They’ve already built a network of people who they are sharing valuable content with, allowing their strengths to shine. You are able to get a genuine understanding of the applicant by seeing how Applicant A engages with their followers and posts about the issues he/she is passionate about.

Applicant B may have a social media presence (what college-age kid doesn’t?), but never took the time to fully develop it and turn it into an asset by having a “neutral” (read: a non-keg-stand) avatar photo, removing inappropriate language, and posting information that spotlights passions and strengths.

As the college admissions recruiter, you can only choose one. Who would you choose? In this case, Applicant A’s wise use of social media gives him/her an edge over an otherwise perfect Applicant B.”

From this example, it’s easy to start thinking about how developing a positive online presence can be an advantage instead of a disadvantage. 

Whether you are a student or a professional, Mytonomy presents an excellent way for you to begin developing an online presence that will help you instead of hinder you. By posting a testimonial on Mytonomy, you are not only showcasing your assertiveness, leadership, communication skills, but your willingness to contribute to the greater good. These are all qualities that any college or employer views highly, and qualities that may not be easily shown on a resume.

Create your Mytonomy account today and make a testimonial on a subject you know well. As stated in the previous blog, within fifteen minutes you will have started developing an online presence that you can be proud of. 

Apr 4

Why Contribute Videos to Mytonomy?

Whenever people make decisions, one of the first steps one takes is to talk to those who have had to make similar decisions. It is a natural reaction to seek people with more experience than you have. Mytonomy is built upon the belief that learning from others and sharing one’s own experience are the critical pieces in the decision making cycles. One may wonder what drives advice contributors to take the time to share their story, advice, and experience to people they will likely never meet?

We strongly believe that giving back is as natural as seeking advice. In years past, these cycles played out in playgrounds, backyards, college and high school campuses and neighborhoods as teenagers and young adults talked about life. With the shift in the use of the internet, these types of experiences are happening more and more online. Mytonomy is a platform that gives this natural cycle of sharing and receiving a well organized and structured home. Those who contribute by sharing their experiences understand the importance of such exchanges.

A benefit that advice givers might not consider is how Mytonomy testimonials can become a positive part of their digital footprint. It’s well publicized that employers often screen potential employees by searching for their online profiles, but much of the coverage tends to focus on avoiding a negative online presence rather than cultivating a positive one. A well thought out testimonial shows an employer the person that corresponds to the résumé.

One recent college graduate shared with me that his new boss had watched his videos on Mytonomy before hiring him. In his videos he speaks intelligently about his college experience and shows that he is interested in helping out students who might want to follow in his footsteps. The videos are not heavily edited and he is not dressed formally, but by giving clear and concise advice he humanized his application and impressed his employer.

An important caveat is that Mytonomy videos shouldn’t be vehicles for blatant self-promotion or the integrity of the format is lost. Both the Mytonomy curation staff and potential employers can see the difference between fluff and good advice.

Talented Low Income Students Need Help to Expand their Horizons

David Leonhardt’s piece in the New York Times Education section discusses a study looking at why most high-achieving low income high school students do not make it to elite colleges.

A major reason, according to to the research, is that low-income high school students have far fewer resources for learning about the breadth of college options available than to their more affluent peers. This information gap causes talented first generation college applicants to restrict their college options to what their support network can share with them.

This information gap is crucial for talented students because, as the study stresses, success isn’t just about going to college, but rather going to the right college:

If they make it to top colleges, high-achieving, low-income students tend to thrive there… 89 percent of such students at selective colleges had graduated or were on pace to do so, compared with only 50 percent of top low-income students at nonselective colleges.”

Mytonomy is a solution to this information gap. With voices from colleges all over the country, a student is able to expand massively beyond their immediate support network. Testimonials come from every economic class and demographic group so the user can find their near-peers’ answers to their questions, effectively demystifying the process.  From how to explore schools to the financial aid process and to the social life, all students can make more informed decisions about the future.

For example, a talented low income high school student from Southern California might only be exposed to community colleges and brand name schools. With Mytonomy that student can watch videos from college students of similar backgrounds at schools like Union College, Middlebury College, and Denison University to gain a broader perspective.

While this study looks at the most talented students, choosing the right college, from community to Ivy, is critical for every student’s future.

Overcoming Income Inequality at Top Colleges

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic wrote a great article last week titled Why Smart Poor Students Don’t Apply to Selective Colleges (and How to Fix It)” which looks at one problem in higher education that we at Mytonomy are keenly aware of.

According to a study by Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery that Thompson cites, one main reason that the students in question are not making it to top colleges is environmental. Thompson notes: “They aren’t surrounded by a network of teachers and college counselors who know what advice to give a top-flight student.” 

We’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that many schools view college counseling as important but not urgent. The impact of this is more pronounced in predominantly poor rural schools.  

Having diagnosed the problem Thompson asks: “If the antidote is more information and more encouragement for poor smart students, how do we reach them with more information and encouragement?”

Mytonomy fills this need by supplementing the work that parents, teachers, and counselors do to prepare their students for college. The researchers that Thompson cites even go on to suggest “turning alum networks into a proxy army of admissions officers” as Mytonomy does. 

At Mytonomy we’re working to increase the availability of relevant first hand insights on the college process so that every student has a fair chance in college and in life.

Jan 8

College Knowledge: The Academic Evidence for Video Interventions

Derek Thompson’s recent article in the Atlantic, “The Real College Crisis Isn’t High Costs, It’s Low Information”,  lays out the problem facing low income students as they consider college:  a lack of knowledge around the true costs of attending, and the potential benefits over a lifetime in terms of greater earning power.

What brought smiles to our faces here at Mytonomy, was the reference to a University of Toronto study, which asked low-income high schoolers to take a survey on the benefits of college. The researchers behind the study are Philip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto and Ryan Dunn, of Higher Education Strategy Associates.

The study used a video intervention to test whether attitudes around higher education could be influenced with a simple tactic. Half of the students were shown this video below stating the positive benefits of college:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kFFj791C_rw

When taking the second part of the survey three weeks later after watching the video, the video watchers recorded meaningful reductions in their uncertainty about going to college and being able to afford it. In other words, this “advertisement” worked to communicate the benefits of higher ed.

Thompson with New America researcher  Kevin Carey, come up with this compelling infographic highlighting the media’s obsession with news about elite schools, at the expense of educating the 21yr olds NOT in college about the potential benefits.

More details and analysis about the study can be found in Doug Lederman’s article on the same topic, in InsideHigherEd.

Mytonomy’s authentic video testimonials on the financial aid process can be a compelling “intervention” for counselors seeking to inspire, motivate, and educate high school students. 

Top College Communities

As the end of the year approaches, we want to thank everyone who contributed videos this year and recognize the most active college communities!

Here are college communities that have contributed video testimonials:

1.     University of Virginia

2.     The College of William and Mary

3.     Cornell University

4.     Washington University in St. Louis

5.     Duke University

6.     New York University

7.     Virginia Tech

8.     James Madison University

9.     University of South Carolina

10.   University of Notre Dame 

Thanks again to everyone at those schools and elsewhere who have made videos! We hope to grow these communities and others in the coming year.