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:
- Financial Planning
- 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.