Key Elements for Success There are four key elements that AppSuccess needs in order to be successful: qualified Applicants, dedicated Mentors, effective Campus Leaders, and a user-friendly and functional web-based platform.
Qualified Applicants For a high school student to be eligible for AppSuccess, they must meet two criteria:
1) they must be enrolled at a Title I school 1 and 2) they must be college qualified.
*Title I schools are those with at least 40% low-income students. Students at Title I schools are twice as likely not to enroll in college as students at non-Title I schools that have taken the same classes (ISAC 2003). Students at Title I schools are not only more likely to come from a low-income family, but are also less likely to have access to a guidance counselor. They are also less likely to see their peers enroll in college, and more likely to decide that going to college “isn’t for me.” 2 In order to be college qualified, students must 1) have a 2.5 GPA or higher; 2) take the SAT or ACT by November of their senior year (if an Applicant is signing up before having taken the SAT or ACT, they must have already
Applicants sign up for an AppSuccess Mentor during September of their senior year. They will supply basic information about their academics, interests, and career goals, so they can be matched with a Mentor with a similar profile. Before being matched with a Mentor, Applicants will have to watch a series of video tutorials about the basics of applying to and attending college. This is both to give the Applicant some foundational information as well as to ensure that they are willing to put in the necessary effort to persist throughout the application process. There will be information on the website specifically for parents, so that they can be involved and understand the process that their child will be guided through with AppSuccess.
Each Applicant will be matched with a Mentor who has recently gone through the college application process and has successfully gained admission to a top-tier school.3 Unlike the Applicants, who automatically qualify to be an AppSuccess participant as long as they meet the eligibility requirements, the Mentors will be subject to a rigorous application process. Specifically, we are looking for Mentors who exemplify our three criteria: responsible for their work, respectful of others, and relentless in their commitment to help others. Mentors will fill out a questionnaire which will gauge their interests and background, similar to the questionnaire that the Applicants complete, in order to facilitate the matching process. They will also go through a series of training videos to ensure that they learn 1) how to navigate the website, 2) the timeline and their responsibilities as Mentors, and 3) the process for helping the Applicants. Mentors will also be trained on the ethics behind helping Applicants, including the difference between helping the Applicant and doing the work for them. Once recruited and trained, Mentors will be responsible for several tasks, including:
Applicant on who to seek out for recommendations;
• Reviewing application essays;
• Navigating the financial aid process;
• Ensuring that their Applicant completes requirements, meets AppSuccess milestones, and submits applications on time; and
• Answering questions, offering general advice, and providing strong encouragement throughout the process. In total, Mentors will devote 30-40 hours to working with their Applicant during the course of the year. Effective Campus Leaders Campus Leaders are college students that we will select to run the AppSuccess chapter at each university in which we operate. Rather than AppSuccess directly recruiting large numbers of Mentors in each college, we will recruit one or two Campus Leaders, and the Campus Leaders will be responsible for recruiting Mentors at their respective universities.
The ability to recruit effective Campus Leaders will be a top priority for AppSuccess, as the strength of Campus Leaders will drive our supply of Mentors. We will look for four criteria in Campus Leaders: drive, responsibility, ability to motivate others, and dedication to our mission. Potential leaders will be required to go through a rigorous selection process, which will include a written application (see Appendix A) aregistered to take the November test); and 3) complete a college preparatory curriculum (4 years English, 3 years Math, 3 years Science, 3 years Social Studies, 2 years Foreign Language) 3 During our first five years, we will for the most part accept Mentors from US News’ Top 100 schools.
• Helping their Applicant think through which colleges to apply to;
• Advising theirnd a phone interview. In addition to recruitment of Mentors, Campus Leaders will also be in charge of communicating regularly with Mentors to ensure that they are on track, communicating with AppSuccess staff members to ensure alignment with AppSuccess curricula, and maintaining a community of Mentors at their university through social events and meet-ups. Web-Based Platform The interactions between the Applicant and Mentor will take place through AppSuccess’s web- based platform. The website will have several important features:
• Applications for both Applicants and Mentor, and a matching algorithm which will pair up the Mentors and Applicants based on their background, interests and hobbies, and career goals;
• Foundational videos for Applicants and their parents;
• Tutorial and training videos for Mentors, which will prepare Mentors to guide their Applicants through the application process, as well as a series of assessments to ensure that Mentors have learned the training materials;
• An interactive platform where Applicants and Mentors can edit simultaneously, chat, and video chat
Our product creates value both to the Applicant and to society. Value for Applicant AppSuccess’s primary value proposition is to reduce the cost of achieving education to the Applicant. We do this in three ways:
(1) Reducing information costs: By making information that is relevant for college applications free and accessible for all high school students, AppSuccess allows both students and their parents to learn about the details of applying to, attending, and paying for college; (2) Reducing application support costs: By providing low-income students with free college counseling services, AppSuccess gives them an opportunity to compete with their high-income peers who often have adult support and assistance with their applications; and
(3) Reducing dollar costs: By assisting Applicants to identify and apply for college fee waivers, scholarships, and grants, AppSuccess works to save each Applicant hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to make college affordable. In addition, because the end goal of AppSuccess is to get its Applicants into college, we offer our “customers” the added value that comes with a post-secondary education. Studies over the last decade have confirmed that college graduates reap significant benefits over those that stop at high school (College Board). Compared to high school graduates, college graduates:
• Earn nearly $1 million more over a lifetime;
• Have half the unemployment rate;
• Have one-third the incarceration rate;
• Require $800-$2,700 less in social programs each year; and
• Have more educated children. Value for Society The financial return to society for a program like AppSuccess is substantial. Not only does it provide intangible benefits to the Applicant in the form of increased exposure to diversity of ideas and cultures, but also to society in the form of economic benefit. A first-pass analysis suggests that the net present return on investment in an AppSuccess Applicant is over $45,000, the bulk of which is derived from the increased income open to college graduates and graduates of higher tier institutions (see Figure 5). We expect this sort of return to attract strong foundation investment, especially after proof-of-concept.
To ensure high-quality, high-efficiency delivery of AppSuccess services, we expect to track our progress in four critical target areas of performance.:
Driving Operational Success for Our Applicants Getting students accepted into colleges that match their qualifications is the fundamental goal of our organization. Leading indicators that will allow us to measure this success include the percentage of Applicants “on-track” with curriculum and the portion of available Mentor capacity being used in a given reporting period. Lagging indicators include the percentage of Applicants accepted to at least one college, the percentage of applications that result in acceptances, the number of dollars saved (e.g., via scholarship or application waivers) per Applicant, and the Applicant attrition rate. In addition, we will track growth indicators such as year-on-year growth in number of applications. With time, we will build the capacity to track Applicants post- application, measuring enrollment and matriculation rates, as well as conducting fit surveys to measure the effectiveness of our Mentors to help match Applicants with good fit schools.
Providing High-Performing Platform Functionality To provide Mentor services, we must have an operational platform that can handle high levels of Applicant/Mentor traffic. Metrics include the number of unique site hits by our Applicants, results of Quality Control audits, and feedback from Applicants and Mentors.
Ensuring High Levels of Customer Service Our services are only effective if all of our stakeholders are satisfied with how our processes work. To this end, we will regularly survey Applicants, Mentors, and Campus Leaders to gauge satisfaction and solicit their suggestions for continuous improvement.
Sustaining Success While Maintaining Cost-Efficiency We believe we can deliver superior service at lower costs than private counselors by leveraging volunteers and consolidating the disparate information available on the college process into a concise and navigable framework. To ensure this cost-efficiency, we will measure the number of dollars spent per Applicant (expecting huge scale advantages over time) and our fundraising ratio.
Together, these four categories of performance will comprise our executive scorecard that will holistically guide our operational, financial, and growth decisions.