CollegeBuddy by Anchron: Your Guide to Your Future
Because every child deserves to go to college.
Our mission statement to evoking joy and impacting the world, regardless of scale.
Anchron's first program, SimpleGrades - a mobile application that integrates the Home Access Center service to provide information on grades, final exams, and scheduling for students in the St. Charles Community Unit School District 303.
The Anchron logo.
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Eligibility: Date of Birth
October 7, 2000
Where are you located:
Illinois: St. Charles (60175), Chicago (60613)
Anchron was founded on September 31, 2016 when we started designing our first application, SimpleGrades. CollegeBuddy was conceived on April 20th, 2018.
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
We at Anchron are stepping up to make change in higher education admissions because we believe that low-income students should not have to fight an uphill battle to attend an elite institution. Companies like IvyWise are paid tens of thousands of dollars to have their students' applications analyzed and critiqued by a team of experts. Even individual college consultants are able to charge by the hour to prep students for standardized tests or the college application.
Michael Caruso, the founder of Anchron, explains why we are stepping up as changemakers and want to develop CollegeBuddy.
But what about students from low-income families who can't afford the hefty price tag of private consulting firms? If they have the same aptitude as their upper class counterparts, then they should have access to the same information about the admissions process? We want to ensure that low-income students have access to the information needed to attend an Ivy League school or other prestigious institution.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
We want to help enable low-income students to pursue higher education and fight the outdated and biased admissions process that elite institutions use. Universities like Yale and Stanford have more students from the top 1% than the bottom 60%. This fact bothers us because it reinforces that the American educational system prioritizes the wealthy, since higher income communities have access to more experienced counselors and private consultants.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
This is where Anchron comes in, through a new application - CollegeBuddy is a means for students to receive quality college admissions and standardized test resources at little to no cost. Students can download the CollegeBuddy app, where they can read articles, watch videos, and even do practice problems for the SAT, ACT, and various AP exams. The content is designed to tailor to the student's grade, so that they can be gradually guided to college rather than having to sort through potentially irrelevant information for their current position in the college admissions process. All of CollegeBuddy's content is to be both curated and produced by students who have scored high on these tests, so that the users know that the content they are being given is relevant and reliable.
However, there are many communities where a mobile application like CollegeBuddy wouldn't be a viable option as a college admissions information tool. This is why we are also developing a myriad of paper resources that will be available to low-income school districts - that way, students who can't access the CollegeBuddy application can still have access to CollegeBuddy's information.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
A low-income student entering high school hears about the CollegeBuddy app from their school counselor, and decides to install the app on their device. They're asked to self-report information about their grade, standardized test scores, and colleges they want to attend (if any). Through a simplistic interface, CollegeBuddy will guide the user to articles and videos that are relevant to students in their grade with similar test scores. All of these articles and videos are free to the user, period.
Over the next four years, the student will use CollegeBuddy for information about college admissions until they finish applying to colleges. Thanks to the vast amount of resources available in the CollegeBuddy app, the student is accepted to an Ivy League school, receives financial aid that makes college affordable to them, and create a future that liberates them from the cycle of poverty.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
We are utilizing students' natural love for technology as a means to provide clear information about how they can pursue higher education. Many students are able to access a mobile application and establish an Internet connection, whether it be through their own phone or from publicly available resources, such as their school or local library. Thus, the CollegeBuddy application will provide important advice and information about the admissions process to students through the technology that they are already starting to integrate into their lives.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We have already received over 4,000 downloads on our SimpleGrades app and have received a myriad of positive feedback, as students now have easy 24/7 access to grades, a final exam calculator, and a planner. We want to continue to provide easy access to information for students by replicating our local success with SimpleGrades via CollegeBuddy, so that students can have a resource that guides them through the outdated college admissions process.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
As we continue to develop content for the CollegeBuddy app and its complementary curriculum for school districts, we hope to launch CollegeBuddy in the near future for iOS devices, and use the success of our SimpleGrades app as a platform to create initial awareness of our college admissions resources. We're also looking to make connections with large school districts such as Chicago Public Schools, which serves many low-income students. That way, we can creating a strong initial user base that can spread the word about CollegeBuddy via word of mouth while also achieving our goal of empowering low-income students with the ability to attend elite academic institutions throughout the United States.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
We are primarily looking for funding, sponsors, and partnerships to create greater awareness of our college admissions resources once they are released. Even if we create the best materials for students looking to go to a prestigious university, CollegeBuddy will fail to achieve its goals if students and schools are unaware of its existence. Creating this awareness is especially critical when trying to reach low-income communities, such as the Chicago Public Schools. Finding access to experts in curriculum development will also be vital to creating an effective set of CollegeBuddy resources for communities that can't be expected to have access to our application.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
There are many companies and nonprofit organizations that are already reaching out to low-income areas to fight the vicious cycle of poverty. Thus, we can partner with other changemakers that already reach out to local impoverished communities by supplying the CollegeBuddy curriculum to school districts in their targeted area in order to work together to improve the futures of students in impoverished communities. We can also empower and encourage low-income students who succeeded in the admissions process with CollegeBuddy to provide information to other members about their college experience, so that members of local communities can help other students reach their maximum academic potential.
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
We learned about this challenge via Reddit.