A Design Brief of Uprospie
Uprospie is a social platform that connects prospective high school students (prospies) with college undergraduates based on shared interests and backgrounds in order to increase transparency and improve accessibility to higher education.
Uprospie solves three major problems of the status quo along with many positive externalities.
First, Uprospie aims to improve transparency in the college admissions process. During the college application process, information about universities is often generic and unspecific. While non-unique statistics like admissions numbers can be found online, genuine sentiments about daily campus life and culture as well as personalized feedback from current college students are often nonexistent but in high demand. Even when prospies visit colleges, they are often subjected to generic information. By matching prospective students with current undergraduates who share common interests, goals, and backgrounds, Uprospie will provide tailored and specific information for prospies, thereby improving transparency in the application and choosing process.
Second, Uprospie seeks to close the information inequality gap that many low-income, high-achieving students encounter when applying to universities. These students often face information inequality during the college application process, due to:
- guidance counselors who are stretched thin
- a lack of role models in the community
- unfamiliarity with the financial aid system
This leads to a phenomenon called “undermatching,” where high-achieving, low-income or rural students don’t apply to prestigious universities that they would not only qualify but receive substantial financial aid packages for. Given the weightiness of the college decision, Uprospie believes that students should have fair access to comprehensive, personalized information, regardless of where they come from. By introducing low-income or rural students to relevant and tailored insights into the college experience, Uprospie hopes to maximize the academic and social potential of students across the nation.
Third, Uprospie allows universities to drastically lower recruiting costs by licensing our technology. In 2014, The University of Chicago spent on average $585 recruiting each applicant and was still unable to send representatives to or market to most rural or inner-city high schools. For smaller colleges who can’t run large marketing campaigns or universities who wish to increase diversity on campus, Uprospie will be able to provide colleges with critical data about student engagement on our platform and a way to facilitate campus visitation.
Uprospie aims to reduce the number of students who enroll in college without a genuine understanding of the student body and opportunities that the school offers, reduce the number of transfers and dropouts, and thus improve the quality of the millions of college decisions made each year.
Before we began building our platform we conducted extensive market research to assess the viability of our product. According to our survey of 250 high school students, of those applying to college, 88% are visiting campus. When asked what they’d like to experience on a visit, the two top responses were attending class and staying with a host with similar interests — both of which we decided to target directly.
For the service of matching students and arranging meetings, we’ll be taking a 40 percent cut per transaction through our escrow based payment system. This means that 60 percent of revenue goes directly to the student host. With flexible hours and high salaries, this model proves to be beneficial to college students of all socioeconomic status. For safety reasons, all hosts will be verified via their .edu email address and checked for current enrollment. In addition, in-person visits will only occur on campus between the hours of 7AM to 7PM.
How to Book a Visit:
- The prospie will be able to book a visit either by selecting just a university or selecting a specific host at a university. They will also be able to specify time frame, preferred activities, and add additional notes. Booking a visit will place them into the “prospie pool”.
- If the prospie selects a specific host, the host will have 24 hours to accept the booking before the booking is openly shown to every other host at the university. If the prospie does not select a specific host, the booking is automatically shown to every host.
- Hosts will be notified via email or text whenever a prospie books a visit. Hosts will then have the chance to “bid” on the prospie by choosing a time and letting the prospie know they would like to host him or her.
- The prospie will now choose a host and go on a visit. Each campus will have one or two campus leaders who will be responsible for making sure each visit goes smoothly.
Beyond the in-person opportunities, Uprospie also facilitates one-on-one student interactions online. Uprospie’s online community provides authentic insight into daily college life through photostreams, Q&A Feed, and video chat sessions. Hosts will be encouraged to contribute through a review and reward system. Unlike anonymous forums, we provide context to conversations.
For students that live in rural communities or low-income students for whom visiting campuses isn’t a possibility, the Uprospie online platform is especially valuable. All of our online services, with exception of one-on-one video call sessions, will be free to students. As a social enterprise, we intend to subsidize college visits for traditionally under-matched students and pair these high schoolers with college undergraduates who come from similar backgrounds to serve as role models and guides during the college application process, including navigating the maze of financial aid.
Watch our Youtube Video Here.
For the platform, there would be two views: host and prospie. Both views would show a school’s feed, hosts, and photos. The host side would additionally display the prospie pool, upcoming meeting schedules, and specific school information. The prospie side would display hosts who have bid on them, upcoming meeting schedules, and host reviews.
Through user testing, we realized we had to cut a few visuals to focus on our key features.
Uprospie’s consumer base includes prospective college students as well as parents, high school counselors, and others. While the Uprospie revenue model is targeted at middle and high income students, we aim to help all students and related parties learn about the college application process by subsidizing cost of private tours for identified low-income students and offering free online services.
2.2 million high school graduates matriculate to college each year. According to the Department of Labor Statistics and the National Center of Education Statistics, this translates to 11 million applications and 3 million applications to top 100 4-year colleges.
In our model, prospective students can select from a variety of activities, paying their undergraduate host an average of $25/hr based on the activities involved. Our revenue model is based on a 40% commission from each meeting transaction. Our escrow based payment process will ensure security from both parties. In addition to generating revenue from our student user-base, we will also be licensing our product to universities who don’t have the infrastructure to host tours virtually or on campus.
Meetings arranged through the Uprospie platform largely only compete with existing, school-sponsored tours. In terms of other websites offering information about colleges, some like College Confidential, Niche and Unigo exist. However, none of these websites can offer the same degree of personalized, relevant engagement that Uprospie can. We can also be compared to private guidance counselors, but such services are extremely expensive and only cater to the top 1% of families. Uprospie wishes to serve all students regardless of socioeconomic background and reward students based on merit.