, A College Counseling Service, Launches Today To Level The Admissions Playing Field

Applying to college is confusing. Straight up. Especially so when your only reference points are a copy of the Fiske Guide To Colleges and an over-booked guidance counselor., one of ten startups to present at the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) demo day yesterday in New York, is out to give more students access to low-cost, informative college counseling when they might otherwise have none. The startup launches a free version of its site today, with additional paid features coming in January.

As CEO and founder Jess Brondo pointed out, the average ratio of high schoolers to college counselors is 476 to 1. And that’s only among the 27% of high schools that have a dedicated college advisor. Brondo has been in the college advising game for a while, having been a private counselor and founded The Edge In College Prep, an online test prep company.

The idea behind is to fill in those gaps by tracking students from their freshman year of high school through the application process in their senior year, an uncommonly proactive approach to guidance counseling. As Brondo explained, the aim is to get students thinking a few years ahead. If they want to be the editor of their school paper, it’s better to start writing as a freshman than as a sophomore.

The startup will ultimately offer services for students, parents, and college counselors. The team has also been at work on a mobile app, because we all know how much those kids love their cellular phones. Pricing runs on a flat fee or a monthly subscription under $10.

When it comes time to begin looking seriously at schools, uses a personality quiz and extracurricular and GPA data to offer recommendations for colleges and universities to consider. The personality quiz speaks more to lifestyle than anything else. If a student identifies as non-religious, isn’t going to match them with a Christian university.

For any given match, will tell the student if it’s a reach, a target school, or a likely. It will also offer advice on how to improve your odds.

Matching students to schools flips the typical dynamic of the college search. For many that involves flipping through the Fiske Guide or US News & World Report, an approach operates on the assumption that the student already knows what they want in a school.

Between test prep, guide books, and $50,000 private counselors, is looking to cut into a $6 billion market. Brondo announced onstage that has landed a contract with a 75,000-student school district, which they will be onboarding come mid-November.

While college admissions will always be something of a crap shoot, any tool that better educates students about their options and improves their odds of admission is a very good thing. We’ll be looking to see how that first cohort fares with the service.