The time between accepting a college offer and the actual first day of class is not a ‘grace period.’ For students making the transition between high school and college, it’s one of the busiest periods of their life — the very first taste of adulthood, when you basically have to think about yourself.
Some students have an army of parents, relatives, friends and counselors to help with the post-admission tasks, such as filling out the paperwork to get financial aid. Some others don’t. Kirk Daulerio, co-founder of Harvard startup AdmitHub, fell in the second category.
“We’ve known each other for a very long time,” Andrew ‘Drew’ Magliozzi, co-founder and CEO of AdmitHub, said in an interview. “We decided to start a company with the idea… of leveling the playing field and allowing all students to have equitable access to high-quality college advising.”
The problem AdmitHub is trying to solve – defined by experts as ‘summer melt’ – refers to the phenomenon of admitted students saying in the spring they’re going to college, and not showing up to campus in the fall. Interviewed by NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, Lindsay Page, an education researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, reported some telling statistics from one sample in the Boston area: “We find that upwards of 20 percent of kids who at the time of high school graduation say that they’re continuing on to college — about 20 percent of those kids don’t actually show up in the fall.”
Reasons for this change of mind, according to Magliozzi, vary from lack to tangible help in completing the admission process to lack of psychological support in tackling the transition.
For students who don’t have enough support, AdmitHub built a virtual assistant that Magliozzi dubbed ‘the Siri to go to college’ as well as ‘the invisible application.’ The virtual tool, which works through text messages, reaches out directly to students, remind them to complete the milestones to go to college and answers questions. Tasks the virtual assistant can help with are sending the final high school transcripts, completing the financial aid and the on-campus housing forms and RSVPs to campus orientations, among others.
“You just get a text message and you respond, like it’s your best friend.”
“There’s nothing to download, nothing to log into, no website to register,” Magliozzi said. “You just get a text message and you respond, like it’s your best friend.”
The virtual tool can be branded as the school’s mascot, Magliozzi said, as the company makes money by selling annual licenses to the partner schools. Currently, AdmitHub partners with 19 schools, including Georgia State University, Winston-Salem State University and Northeastern University.
Based in the Harvard Innovation Launch Lab, the company – launched in September 2014 – has 12 employees. As of today, the company raised almost $3.7 million from Relay Ventures in Menlo Park, CA and other investors.