College Guidance Network today announced the launch of its virtual programming network that will help solve a major problem for students and families: Navigating the complex and competitive college admissions process, made even more complex by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company is initially launching as a free public service for Massachusetts schools, adding another tool to the state’s high school counselors’ toolkit. Looking ahead, College Guidance Network plans to offer free programming to schools nationally in 2021.
Not far in the rearview is the college admissions scandal which shone a light on just how competitive and expensive the American college process is. For families with the financial means, there are private services which can cost upwards of $5,000 or $400/hour. But for the overwhelming majority of families in America, high-quality, on-demand college admissions guidance is not accessible in a way that fits seamlessly into their daily lives.
High school-based resources are stretched thin
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor; according to Department of Education statistics, the national average is 430-to-1.
“Providing college admission guidance to students and families is difficult enough in a good year, but now with the numerous restrictions and challenges in the COVID era, school counselors will need even more tools in their toolbox to provide such assistance,” said Robert Bardwell, Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Counselors Association. “I am thankful that the College Guidance Network is filling that void to provide high-quality, relevant and targeted college admission information to Massachusetts students and families in the safety of their homes.”
How it works
The Network’s programming follows the college applications process timeline, with content – such as presentations by leading experts, live interactive Q&A sessions, and take-away toolkits – being offered each month so students and families can apply the insights to their own applications.
In this model, schools act as local affiliates who sign up to share the free programming with their communities. The Zoom link is sent to participating schools two days before each episode, and they distribute to students and their families.
“We are creating the first virtual programming network in the education space,” said Jon Carson, CEO and founder of College Guidance Network. “Like MasterClass, we are leveraging the power of going high on both top talent and production quality to deliver a valuable and personal experience for each user. Families and schools are overwhelmed; we seek to make their lives easier by bringing together the best of the best, through a single, easy-to-use solution.”
Every episode has three elements:
- A 40-minute interview or panel with recognized experts on the topic, with a focus on at least 5+ actionable insights
- A live 20-minute Q&A session
- A take-away toolkit with a session summary, a parent/student discussion guide, and free or low-cost resources
Like a traditional network, episodes are available for later viewing, and content will be available in multiple languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Hindi.
The Fall 2020 programming is available here: https://www.collegeguidancenetwork.com/programming
A Unique Partner Collation and Founding Team
Launch partners include Naviance by Hobsons, Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MSCA), and Boston.com.
“We are always looking for ways to support our school counselor partners in the exceptional work they do each day with – and on behalf of – their students,” said Kate Cassino, CEO of Hobsons (the parent company of Naviance). “When we saw what College Guidance Network was building to complement the college application process, we believed it could be a valuable resource for school counselors to support their students’ college pathway.”
The College Guidance Network team is comprised of entrepreneurs and education leaders from across New England and the U.S., including a multiple Emmy-winning producer, former SVP of education for PBS, a former senior executive from ACT, and an award-winning edtech entrepreneur. Importantly, most of the founding team are parents of current or former high school students who are experiencing or have experienced the high-stress college application process first-hand. The advisory board includes the former head of the National School Boards Association, the recent head of equity and access for ACT (formerly with the Gates Foundation), and a former college admissions officer.
About College Guidance Network™
College Guidance Network™ uses the power of virtual technology to demystify the college process in the time of COVID-19 and increase access to excellent guidance and the best resources, thereby addressing the ‘guidance gap.’ We enable schools to amplify their college support by bringing some of the very best experts to families virtually. Our free, ten-episode programming series, available in September 2020, offers a coordinated curriculum that provides expert advice on topics like finding the right college, the nuances of applying in the age of COVID-19, and how to pay for college.
For more information, visit https://www.collegeguidancenetwork.com/.