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CollegeVine Discusses Near-Peer Mentorship on Cheddar [Video]

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What does it mean to be successful in high school? Many parents would likely say that a successful high school graduate is one who has gained admission to a good college and is on track to prepare for an adult career.


However, despite these expectations, many high school students often lack access to the necessary resources and support to make informed plans and choices about college. In a world of sinking acceptance rates and rising competition for spots at prestigious schools, students aren’t getting what they need to succeed.


In this interview from online news source Cheddar, Jon Carson, the CEO of CollegeVine, explains the substantial challenges that high school students face in applying to college, and explains how CollegeVine’s unique approach to mentorship can help fill the gap.



Interview screenshot
Click here to watch the full interview.


Why do high school students need more college application guidance?

Obviously, getting into a college of their choice is hugely important for high school graduates, and a major concern for their parents, too. Guidance counselors exist to help fill this need, but their positions are vulnerable to budget cuts and overwork. CollegeVine has found that, on average, there is only one guidance counselor for every 472 public high school students, and the average student only spends 38 minutes total with their guidance department over the entire course of high school.


The reality, says Carson, is that today’s guidance counselors aren’t able to provide high school students with the personal attention and advice that they need to successfully navigate the college application process, even as the stakes become higher every year.


On a larger scale, the problem is what Carson calls “information asymmetry.” Students simply don’t know what to expect or how to effectively manage the complexities of what college applications expect from them. “They’re going through a process [that’s] very complicated, and they’ve never done it before,” he says, pointing out that “Mom and Dad might have done it, but that was thirty years ago.”


When it comes to making an informed decision about college, these students are, according to Carson, “really flying by the seat of their pants.” Without college admissions guidance that’s personal, up-to-date, and informed, students are at a major disadvantage when planning for the future.


This is where CollegeVine comes in: with mentorship services that fill the gap between the resources available to most students and what they need to successfully navigate the admissions process and become competitive college applicants. Our “near-peer” majors, who are current undergraduates at prestigious universities, are uniquely equipped to build relationships with high school students and help them to succeed.


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What makes CollegeVine’s near-peer mentoring an effective way to fill this gap?

As the interviewers suggest, high school students and their parents might worry that mentors who are currently college students won’t yet have the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively guide their slightly younger peers through the college admissions process.


Carson reassures them that there are a number of reasons why near-peer mentoring can not only be effective, but also have its own special advantages, especially with the help of CollegeVine’s high standards for hiring and training mentors.


  • Our near-peer mentors are relatable. They have relevant, recent personal experience in applying to college, and they’re uniquely able to connect with high school students on their level.
  • Our near-peer mentors are motivated. They have a strong desire to “pay it forward,” in Carson’s words, and help younger students get the information and advice they could have used themselves.
  • Our near-peer mentors are thoroughly vetted. “For every person we hire, we have five or ten applicants,” says Carson. Through on-campus recruiting at well-regarded colleges, this selective hiring process targets prospective mentors who not only are smart and accomplished but also possess the emotional intelligence and coaching skills necessary to be effective mentors.
  • Our near-peer mentors are well-trained. CollegeVine’s mentors aren’t just accomplished students and skilled advisors; they’re also specially trained and kept up-to-date about the latest developments in the world of college admissions.
  • Our near-peer mentors have access to CollegeVine’s network and data about college admissions. The statistics we’ve compiled about our clients, their profiles, and the application process — what Carson calls CollegeVine’s “data-driven decision-making tools” — help mentors to guide students in making informed choices. Mentors can also reach out to their network of fellow consultants at other competitive colleges to get quick, personal answers to their clients’ questions about individual schools.


For More Information

Are you interested in learning more about how CollegeVine’s near-peer mentoring program helps high school students prepare for and get through the college application process? Take a look at our CollegeVine Mentorship Program page for all the details.  


To find out more about our approach and its benefits, check out these posts from our blog:



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Monikah Schuschu
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Monikah Schuschu is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University. As a graduate student, she took a job at the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid and Admissions, and discovered the satisfaction of helping students and parents with the often-baffling college admissions process. She also enjoys fiber art, murder mysteries, and amateur entomology.