If you’ve been paying attention to any of the major headlines when it comes to the college admissions scandal, you’ll see words like:

Money. Fraud. Blame. Scandal. Prosecution. Guilty.

Image: Yale University was one of the many schools wrapped in the web of the college admissions scandal.

These are not the inspiring or hopeful words that high school students – the majority of whom have worked so hard to get to the place where they’re ready to apply for college – want to read. And sadly, when a student searches today for college admissions, this is what they are most often seeing. Isn’t the college application process stressful enough without headlines like this?

We’re hoping that CollegeAdvisor.com can be a supportive and trustworthy solution.

It’s time we focus more on empowering students to achieve their college dreams. So, how can we do this effectively?

  • Free, simple, streamlined technology accessible for all
  • Affordable, reliable, quality college advising support

Our overarching goal at CollegeAdvisor.com is to make peer advising accessible to all through our great mentor community.

Hiring a personal college admissions consultant is cost-prohibitive for nearly all applicants. The Independent Educational Consultants Association reported that,

“The mean college advising package fee was $4,620, with most packages costing $3,000 to $6,000.”

And our own research through conversations with parents backs this up: 40% of them spent more than $2,500 on counseling services – that’s a lot of money!

Even more importantly, we recognize that there is incredible variability in the resources and support that high schools are able to offer. We don’t need data to be able to tell that public school counselors are often spread too thin and under-resourced, but according to Education Week,

“The average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 482-to-1.”

And it often works out that students attending the most affluent schools are the ones with the highest quality support, whereas students in higher-risk, higher-poverty areas often face greater barriers in getting meaningful and quality support.

In the wake of the college admissions scandal, it’s time for a new and socially responsible model of private advising.

CollegeAdvisor.com is committed to leveling the playing field for as many students as possible, offering pro bono counseling to high school seniors from underserved areas that otherwise wouldn’t have access to such resources. For every three students that pay for CollegeAdvisor.com services, we’ll offer the same quality services to one student coming from lesser served communities.

That means our mentors will spend on average 25% of their time advising students who come from high schools without strong resources. This college application season, we’ll start with Washington D.C. public schools and local nonprofits, advising students for free on their essays and application strategy.

Video: Our mentors will spend 25% of their time advising students from less privileged backgrounds.

This social mission is a huge draw for our CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts, a community of 100 recent college graduates, all of whom excelled across the nation’s top universities. And lots of our mentors were deserving recipients of real scholarships or first-generation college students, all ready to help pay it forward.

Many of our mentors had people to help us through the process, or wish they had access to trusted peers to advise us. Some were fortunate to have family members or guidance counselors review and edit application essays. Some took on the process with minimal support and were extremely successful. Regardless of how our mentors got into their schools of choice, they all had to go through the same channels and jump through the same hoops to get that coveted acceptance letter.

What we all have in common today is the desire to help all students feel supported, guided, and confident in the college application process so they can get into their dream schools. And we want to shift the headlines in higher education away from the underbelly of the college admissions scandal, and toward a set of principles that mentorship and advising can bring to the table:

Achievable. Trustworthy. Inspiring. Inclusive. Celebratory.

Special thanks to Alex Brown, one of our exceptional mentors, for helping author this piece!