Surviving The Wilderness Of College

By Laura McGuire, Staff Writer

College campus

College is … weird. You are thrown to the wolves by your loving, caring family and you are expected to figure out who you are, what you want to do with your life, how to juggle a bunch of new work AND maintain a respectable GPA on top of it all. Sounds about as appealing as a Chipotle burrito without any rice (I’ve had one, believe me, it’s awful). If you’re anything like me—painfully awkward and shy with a weird sense of humor—you know that it takes a while to warm up to people and to assert yourself into different friend groups.

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University of South Carolina

By Katie Clapp, Contributor (Class of 2016)

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Location: Columbia, SC

Enrollment: 24,180 Undergrad

Tuition: In-state: $10,816 Out-of-state: $28,528

What are the academics like at your school?

They are average. USC isn’t known for it’s education program, but the program itself is very good. The College of Education is filled with some of the most benevolent people I’ve ever met and the professors will bend over backwards for you.

What is the Greek scene/nightlife like?

Huge. You can find a party every weekend whether on- or off-campus. Sporting events dominate the weekends.

Describe the housing options at your school.

The dorms are alright from what I know. I’ve lived off campus since I’ve been in attendance. That being said, off-campus housing is usually great and safe.

What do students complain about most?

Safety of Columbia. It’s vital to stay in large groups and never go anywhere alone at night. We’ve had some tragedies happen to some innocent students, especially this past year, and it has shaken the school.

Describe the students at your school.

The school is so large that it is hard to put the student body into specific categories. I’d say anyone can find their niche.

What are the dining options on campus and off campus?

Multiple dining halls on campus, food in the student center, and many food places in walking distance of campus.

What is your overall opinion of your school?

Amazing. Go ‘Cocks.

Moving Forward

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Dave Anderson from Supply Chain Ventures.

It’s been a few days since our last blog post but we are excited to give an update on what to expect in the coming months from nxtfour.  In the next few weeks we will be meeting with high schools, parents and students to demo our website and show them just how well nxtfour will complement their college application.  Nxtfour will be the place for students to upload content and credentials that will not only help them showcase themselves to colleges but also to potential high school jobs and other activities that may require a resume.  Our goal is for students to simply show potential employers, or anyone else, their nxtfour profile, which will serve as a 3D resume, ultimately a display of who they are.

We will also be enlisting the help of campus reps at different high schools.  They will be incentivized with nxtfour merchandise and even a little cash, but most importantly the experience of working with an early stage startup.  If you know any high school students looking for some experience in marketing and general business then feel free to email us at info@nxtfour.com.   

On the business side, we have met with some really outstanding individuals as of late.  Most notably, Dave Anderson of Supply Chain Ventures (see picture).  He is a Boston College alum class of 1973.  He is very influential in the biotech and supply chain startup space but is knowledgable in many other fields.  He provided us with invaluable advice and shared our vision.  Coming out of the meeting we have realized that there are two crucial and delicate tasks at hand: developing a strong business plan and a plan for customer acquisition.  Enough of the business talk…look out for nxtfour on twitter @nxtfour and on Instagram @nxtfour!

Development

The offices at Breakaway Ventures.  Met with Managing Director Max Seel to discuss Nxtfour.
The offices at Breakaway Ventures. Met with Managing Director Max Seel to discuss Nxtfour. One of our co-workers Jeff Parsons interned there this summer.

We are very excited to announce that some key, and much anticipated (by us at least!), features will be functioning on our website soon.  In addition to allowing students to create a 3D resume and showcase their abilities, they will soon be able connect with other students, message and receive notifications about activity on their profiles.  This will allow students to communicate with one another internally and share ideas and advice which may even lead to more student collaboration in high school!

We have been thinking about which features we will be implementing this fall and much of the decision depends on what kind of features high school students want to see.  For that reason nxtfour will be visiting high schools up and down the east coast in order to address the needs of both students and administration.  One feature that we are anticipating is the ability to generate your personal resume with just a click of a button.  More specifically, it will take the content that each student inputs into their profile and populate it into a clean resume which they can then print out and even use for a job application.

Nxtfour has been busy with many other tasks besides website development.  We have been meeting with VC firms, finalizing budgets, planning trips to high schools and even attended a few parties (see picture).  The summer flew by but we are just on the cusp of some of our best work.  We are excited for what the Fall holds and look forward to sharing it with everyone.  You may even begin to see some posts written by high school students themselves…

Learning

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Nxtfour with the other startups at the Soaring Startup Circle’s mid-summer mixer.

We just completed our second month in the Soaring Startup Circle and wanted to take a moment to share what we have accomplished, and learned, thus far.  The startup circle has allowed us to work with excellent mentors such as Tom Coburn from Jebbit and Dave McLaughlin from Vsnap. Both mentors have served as excellent advisors to Nxtfour, helping guide our team in the right direction.  Both mentors continue to connect us with others, expanding Nxtfour’s network presenting us with several opportunities. Learning from other entrepreneurs past experiences and making new connections has accelerated Nxtfour’s growth.  Besides the mentors in the startup circle, the city of Boston is filled with other entrepreneurs and people who are willing to go above and beyond to help. Boston presents young startups with several resources and veterans who are eager to help and share their experiences.

We have also enjoyed the fast paced nature of transforming a startup into a company. As we have learned from one of the startup circle’s guest speakers, Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital, “entrepreneurs have good hours and bad hours.” Every day is a new day where we are excited to wake up to check our emails and get in to work to continue to build Nxtfour. Whenever we face a problem, we see an opportunity to overcome a challenge and think outside of the box. Often times the solutions to these challenges lead us to even more excitement and opportunities. We also enjoy learning multiple facets of a business. Whether we are marketing, budgeting, building, or networking, we continue to learn different aspects of business that has forced us to learn quickly and manage our time efficiently.

We are excited for the next four weeks as we continue to work on launching and marketing Nxtfour to students as they are preparing to return to high school. As each day passes we grow more and more excited with our product and the value it will add to high school students across the country.

Showcase Yourself

After spending the week speaking with college admissions representatives, high school students and parents we thought it would be important to share some of our findings with current students and parents.  

We contacted admissions reps from Wofford and Washington and Lee, to name a few, and it became clear that college admissions believe there is value in a picture associated with an activity that an applicant may have participated in.  We posed simple open ended questions to engage in conversation regarding how accurately the common app, and other applications, convey student extracurriculars and who a student truly is.  If a student could provide just a snapshot from a service trip, an action shot from playing a sport or even pictures of an art portfolio then the admissions officer would have a better understanding of who that student is as a person.

As a result, we are encouraging high school students to create nxtfour profiles where they can showcase exactly who they are and what they have accomplished throughout high school.  They can use the platform as a way to catalog their four years of high school.  This will enable them to brainstorm for college essays with ease, as all of their activities are right in front of them, fresh in their mind.  College counselors will be able to review nxtfour profiles and get to know the student before they even come into their office.

Ultimately, if a college will accept a link from a student in their application then the student can submit their nxtfour link.  Nxtfour will, in turn, generate a one page summary of the student’s profile, accessible through the student provided link, which is able to encompass skills, accomplishments and activities in a much better way than a Facebook or other online platform can.

Why Nxtfour?

When we began we had a vision of a platform that connected high school students, college admissions counselors, and parents.  We thought we could build a product that could serve as a network, a database, a marketing tool and a forum.

However, after reading Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup, we soon realized that this would not be possible from the get-go.  We took a step back and said “what can we offer high school students right now that will benefit them the most” and we came up with our MVP (minimum viable product).  Our MVP lets high school students search and connect with other students by college choices and interests.  There is no other place on the internet where a student can search by a college name alone and get a list of specific high school students interested in those same colleges.

In a recent study, of 59 high school students, we found that 77% of students would be willing to share their GPA, SAT and ACT scores, publicly, if it enabled them to see the same statistics of other students.  We found that 67% of students would be interested in a Facebook alternative to connect them with other students.

After contacting college admissions officers at private colleges up and down the east coast we learned that when a student is ‘borderline’, meaning they are on the fence of acceptance and denial, admissions officers will turn to social media, essentially ‘googling’ the student.  We don’t want student’s Facebooks and twitters to be what colleges see.  Rather, let the colleges see the student’s nxtfour profile, which consists of their relevant experience, activities and statistics from high school that best represent them.

Thus nxtfour serves as a place for students to upload activities, pictures etc. and connect with other students, while gaining insight into what their prospective colleges will bring.  Users will have access to profiles, articles and blogs concerning each of their top schools, giving them exposure to campus life before they set foot on campus.