Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from ConnectEDU

November 25, 2009 - Besides quickly turning the dial when I hear ‘White Christmas’ playing on the radio, every year during this wonderful Thanksgiving week I find myself taking a breath to reflect. Not only to give thanks for the many things that I have been blessed with – good health, family, and friends but also my extended family at ConnectEDU that has once again provided me with the opportunity to look back at a year filled with “moving the needle”…

2009 has brought ConnectEDU some outstanding milestones: 1) a game changer in the application processing industry - SuperAPP, 2) a state-wide victory in our own back yard - Massachusetts, 3) continued growth of the ConnectEDU National Network™, and 4) the ConnectEDU team. What a year!

Our application processing solution – SuperAPP – became the industry’s first tool that allows a student to send a complete online application package to a college, in fact multiple applications – oh, and apply to 1,400 colleges simultaneously with only having to fill out one interview. For this exciting innovation which students, counselors, and colleges have long needed, I am thankful.

For winning the college and career planning portal contract in our own state of Massachusetts, I am thankful. We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership with MEFA, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education as we help young people throughout Massachusetts maximize their college and career opportunities.

For continuing to grow our network of high schools and colleges so that students around the country have more opportunities and access to reliable and accurate tools and data, I am thankful. Our network now includes over 2 million users at over 2,200 high schools and 300 colleges.

For the folks at ConnectEDU that every day dedicate themselves to making the college and career planning process a better, more efficient process for students… for each of them, I am thankful. And for the addition of key senior leaders that have joined our senior team to make ConnectEDU a better place while accelerating our growth. For the ConnectEDU team, I am thankful!

So, while I will take some time this week to enjoy catching up with family and friends, and partake in my fair share of the Thanksgiving feast, I also will be reflecting on ConnectEDU’s progress in 2009 and looking forward to the goals and milestones that we have already laid out for 2010.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Times They Are a Changing

November 19, 2009 - The good news and momentum around SuperAPP continues to mount here at ConnectEDU. As you read in my last blog post on November 10, ConnectEDU, in conjunction with our partners at the Detroit Public Schools and numerous colleges throughout Michigan, was able to help impact the educational futures of over 3,000 seniors during “College Application Week” in Detroit — thanks again to all who made that 3 day event such a huge success. Check out some insightful and enlightening never before seen footage and interviews from inside the Detroit high schools.

Building off that tremendous effort in Detroit and the recent launch of our application management solution, SuperAPP, at the end of September, I am pleased to inform you that we have added 21 new SuperAPP partners in the past 30 days…a true testament to the need for and importance of replacing the antiquated paper system currently in place for sending and receiving college applications. These new SuperAPP partner schools will now receive all of their application data electronically, and in the preferred format, as they take advantage of the cost savings associated with receiving these applications electronically.

The new colleges represent a wide geographic base of small, mid-sized and large schools and some of the country’s foremost institutions of higher learning, including: University of Iowa, Michigan State University, University of Maryland, Stevenson University, Grand Valley State University, and Mount St. Mary’s College. For a complete listing of our SuperAPP partners, visit our college network. This is a significant paradigm shift in the industry and one that we are very excited about…and confident will continue as more and more colleges see the benefits and cost savings associated with paperless applications.

Allow me, for a moment, to provide you with some context and support. Rather than using my own words, I want to share with you some of what is being said by others, including Michael Barron, Assistant Provost for Enrollment Services and Director of Admission, University of Iowa and Marcea, a senior at Detroit’s Pershing High School.

“ConnectEDU is the first organization to have successfully solved for one of the greatest dilemmas in college application processing – the entire completion of an applicant’s information which includes their electronic transcript. And, ConnectEDU has done this in a way that dramatically improves the ease for a student to apply to multiple colleges from a single web form."

"Today, I filled out and completed five college applications in less than forty-five minutes and it was a breeze,” said Marcea. “I think SuperAPP is a much easier way to apply than other online methods. You can understand the process and you simply fill in one form and send applications to as many colleges as you want."

Everything we do revolves around one question “What can we do to help students find, apply, and finance a college education and transition to a successful career?” Helping students is our passion. And we believe that one of the best ways to help students is to provide support for those whom students turn to for help – from family, to school counselors, to the college admissions office, to employers. SuperAPP embodies that commitment and passion and we couldn’t be happier that it is gaining the traction we envisioned and helping to give every student, from every neighborhood across the country, the best opportunity to achieve their dream of a college education and promising career.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

College Application Week in Detroit a Success

November 10, 2009- More than 3000 high school seniors in Detroit participated in College Application Week held last week in the Detroit Public Schools. This first of its kind event included nearly 40 volunteers from Michigan colleges and universities working alongside members of the ConnectEDU Cares Team. The event, which took place at 28 high schools in 3 days, was spearheaded by ConnectEDU and several college leaders including John Ambrose at Michigan State University, in response to growing concerns over staffing and resource cuts in the Detroit Public Schools.

I could share with you my own personal perspective on the many successes to come from this event, but why don’t you listen to the words of students whose lives we impacted. These students not only applied to college in one day but applied to several colleges many of which waived the application fees for them!

"Today, I filled out several different applications and it was a breeze. It was actually easy. I think SuperAPP is a much easier to way to apply - definitely online. It takes the hassle out of keep having to write things over and over."

- Marcea, Pershing High School

"I applied to Saginaw Valley State University, Central Michigan, Michigan State, University of Michigan... and Harvard. It was useful especially with the help you guys provided because at home sometimes we don't know the answer and no one in the house may know how to answer the question."

- Kevia, Pershing High School

College Application Week in Detroit proved to be a great example of the impact that occurs when colleges and high schools come together and are empowered with innovative technology to help students succeed. Imagine if this same collaboration was sustained by all colleges and high schools in a state, in a region, or better yet – in the nation. The work that took place last week was important because it placed student’s and their future education at the center of the event – colleges in Michigan, and staff at DPS, along with ConnectEDU realized that the situation in Detroit (the students specifically) needed a lift – not a quick fix – but a sustained collaborative effort that will result in students being empowered, along with their counselors, to utilize technology on a daily, weekly and monthly basis as they plan for and manage their college education and career.

At ConnectEDU, we pride ourselves on our ability to enable success for each and every student whether they are in an urban area such as Detroit or a rural area such as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. To that end, College Application Week in Detroit is just the 1st, as far as I am concerned, of these type of outreach events that will take place throughout the country in the years to come.

In the end, College Application Week was about results – results and opportunities for the seniors in the Detroit Public Schools. In just 3 days, with the help of the ConnectEDU Cares Team and the college volunteers, students used SuperAPP to complete nearly 3400 college applications to over 150 colleges! Most students were able to complete all of their applications in less than 1.5 hours using SuperAPP.

Again – the students say it best. Here is just one of the thank you’s received from students in Detroit-

“I attend Cass Tech and I was just e-mailing you to let you know that I completed the application, and that everything is ok and going good and thank you for the assistance. It was greatly appreciated!” (student at Cass Tech High School that participated in College Application Week )

That is the reason we are here.