Having trouble figuring out which colleges to apply to? Don’t worry! Admittedly has got you covered! Without giving too much away, Admittedly is a cool free web-based tool that helps you improve your chances of finding your dream college and getting in. Let’s find out more about one of Admittedly’s Co-Founders, Emily Cole:
To start off, could you describe your educational background?
Sure! I went to Boston University for my undergrad as a psychology major, then I did my Master’s in child development at the Institute of Education in London, and then my Ph.D. in psychology at University College London. My Master’s was on the relationship between trait emotional intelligence and communicative anxiety, and my Ph.D. was an examination of the relationship between birth order, the Big Five theory of personality, and trait emotional intelligence.
What was your professional background prior to Admittedly?
I was a teacher for 10 years. I taught everything from Pre-K through college-level Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods.
And what made you want to leave academia?
After finishing my Ph.D., I did a six-month post-doc at Imperial College in London. It was a great experience, and it made me realize I love education and teaching, but I was finished with the research portion of academia and wanted to do something more interactive, dynamic, and something with more of a direct impact on students outside of the classroom. I was also interested in doing something more entrepreneurial while still using my educational background.
Which lends itself to Admittedly. Before we get into exactly what Admittedly is, could you describe how you Jess met?
Jess [Brondo, Admittedly’s other co-founder] was in a startup incubator with one of my closest friends, Jake Peters. She was telling everyone about her idea for Admittedly. She had been working in test prep and one-on-one college advising for ten years and really wanted to make her services scalable to more students. This, she realized, could be done through technology. Jess announced she was looking for a co-founder with a very particular background – personality psychology. Jake said to her that one of his closest friends just moved from London to New York, was a teacher, had Ph.D. in personality psychology, and was looking for something like what she was doing. He really wanted us to meet and said that even if we didn’t go into business together we would still be really good friends. So, he introduced us. Jess and I had our first “date” on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and the rest is history. It was supposed to be 20-minute coffee, but we sat for three hours filling out notebook with ideas for the current features on Admittedly.
How did you both come up with the concept for Admittedly?
Jess had the idea for a while of bringing her in-person services online. She felt that the students who needed her help the most were those not getting it at school or at home, and she wasn’t able to reach all of them. She knew the best way to reach them all was through technology. It is very hard to scale with human services and she had the vision in her head for creating a virtual platform for what she did one-on-one. Both she and I started talking to students, parents, guidance counselors, and doing research to validate the fact that many students weren’t getting the help they needed.
So now for our readers who aren’t familiar with Admittedly, could you explain what it is?
Sure! It’s an online college advisory platform that helps students figure out which colleges they want to apply to. We provide relevant and timely tools to help navigate and manage the college process. Jess worked with hundreds – if not thousands – of students with everything from test prep to college admissions. She is also certified as a college counselor. She created algorithms based on high school resume data to help students figure out whether schools fall into reach, target, or safer categories. She also developed content and curriculums based on work with students and experts in the field that help break down the application process, give tips and tools, and make the process less over-whelming. At Admittedly, one thing that’s important to us is to prioritize not just the academic side of applications but how good of a fit a school is for a student. It’s really important a student is happy where he or she is. It’s important not to applying to schools not at top of whatever ranking but where they are best fit. So with my background in personality psychology, I’ve developed hundreds of questions you’ll see on Admittedly that will help students find their college matches.
Besides the matching tool, there is the ability to message other users interested in the same schools as you and current college students at specific schools. This August, we’re launching our application manager, which provides students with timelines, checklists, and content relevant to wherever they are in the application process. We also have a college visit planner where we help families organize and plan their college visits.
What has been the hardest part of starting your own company?
Jess and I spend a lot of time talking to students, parents, and guidance counselors gathering all of the pain points related to the college application process in order to build the most relevant tools for them. The most challenging part is that there is so much we want to do. Prioritizing which we want to do and in which order is incredibly difficult because we are so excited and passionate about helping students and counselors.
Where do you see the company going in the next year or two?
After we roll out the college application manager, we are piloting a program for guidance counselors. It will allow them to message their students and manage all of their students’ data in one place. It’s going to be a big tool to help counselors. We will also continue to add features for students, such as essay help.
Do you have any advice for students or budding entrepreneurs?
My biggest piece of advice for students is that there is not one straight path for whatever major you want to go into. I always knew I wanted to major in psychology but I never knew what type of psychologist I wanted to be. Then I found something outside of traditional academia and counseling that’s entrepreneurial – something that I’ve always been interested in. I’m also still using everything I learned in my educational career. It’s important to study what you’re interested in because if you’re passionate about it, you can find a way to incorporate it into whatever you’re doing.
As for budding entrepreneurs, I would say that when you’re passionate and excited about whatever you want to build, other people will be do, and that’s the number one thing to remember.