There are well over 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States, so how do you pick the right person?
Plexuss, an online platform called The Global Student Network, facilitates the decision-making process for prospective students.
The company has existed since 2011 but launched the platform in 2015. The Plexuss network won start-up investment funding Seattle Accelerator run by Microsoft Ventures in 2018, the first company in the higher education industry to do so.
“It connects students and colleges to each other,” said Dave Moniz, vice president of strategic partnerships at Plexuss. “The website is open, public and free to all. You can search colleges on a self-service basis, but we’ve added live admissions tips to keep students and parents wondering – any time of day or weekend, when it occurs to them – we help give them immediate answers. . “
This is especially useful for first-generation students and students in low-income or underserved areas, Moniz said. Many students in Arizona don’t have as much access to counselors as they need, he said.
“Even when there is a great cracker advisory service, there are usually not enough of them to work as directly with as many students as they would like,” said Moniz.
“What we do for the six million students who found us on their own because they were researching majors or colleges – we are here to answer their questions,” he said . “We’re here to guide them through all the resources we have. “
Plexuss’s mission is to help students make more informed decisions about higher education by following a pipeline from K-12 schools to higher education to the workforce. This means helping them choose majors, navigate financial aid, and determine which higher education system or program is best suited.
“There are excellent programs run by [community-based organizations] and placed in schools, but there are selection criteria, and students may need to achieve a minimum GPA, or they may need to match a certain profile to be eligible for the services, ”said Moniz. “We take everyone – rich, poor, homeschooling, any background. We’re available for everyone… We’ve built something kids love.
Moniz said that Plexuss is not like stepping into a library with all the possible information one could possibly need. Instead, the platform offers students a “tour” that allows them to ask questions, speak with a counselor about difficult issues, and compare institutions, all at no cost.
“There is a lot of information available from the federal government, so we are building college and university consistent, standardized profiles, ”he said. “Students can always find the information they want about admissions or financial aid in one place when they compare colleges on our platform. “
Plexuss is also available in a mobile app, another reason Moniz attributed to the platform’s success. Additionally, the website does not sell student data to colleges or other education partners unless the student chooses to be recruited by that institution.
“I don’t know if there is anyone else operating on the same scale as us, with millions of students, who conforms to this standard and gives the student so much control over their records and his profile, ”Moniz said.
He said he spent most of the summer in Arizona speaking directly with high schools, asking how Plexuss can improve to better serve students and schools and reduce pressure on counseling staff.
“When we partner with a school or a district, we don’t ask them for money, we don’t ask them for any data, but we ask them to tell us what we can do to be a better partner, to understand the opportunities, to be more effective when we advise students, ”said Moniz.
In this way, Plexuss does not pose a threat to existing counseling methods, but serves as an additional resource for students, he said. Plexuss works with state lawmakers, counseling associations, professional associations, and a number of other organizations to get the “lay of the land” and support schools without duplicating work already done.
Plexuss wants to know: Where are the gaps?
“It may be that in a school we were primarily focusing on completing the FAFSA,” said Moniz, referring to the federal student aid program. “In another, it is about helping the subclasses in high school understand what they want to do for a major.
In Arizona in particular, he said he believes every student can master the skills local employers are looking for, but guidance is needed to connect students to those choices.
“It’s not so much that [Arizona] schools don’t teach what students need is… [students] turn away or take another path because they don’t connect the dots and they don’t see some of these job opportunities as realistic for them or relevant to them, ”said Moniz.
Across the country and beyond, students who are perfectly capable of fulfilling certain roles have additional barriers to education, he said. They need constant encouragement, or “nudges” – which Moniz says is becoming a more “scientific” term – to pursue studies and career path.
Plexuss exists to help students articulate their goals and understand how to achieve them, Moniz said.
“We already have students from almost every high school in Arizona on our platform,” he said. “We would like to be 100% and we would like schools to feel comfortable telling us what we could do to be a better partner and improve the quality of our work so that their children perform better. “