Every year, perspective students are faced with the daunting task of selecting the place in which they will spend the next 2-4 years (sometimes more) of their lives. One’s college choice is also important because of the financial implications from an investment standpoint. Unfortunately, sometimes students find that they may have not made the right decision, and end up looking to transfer after one or so years. With that in mind, Derek Kraus decided to found myUsearch. Essentially, myUsearch allows students to search through colleges and find those schools that most accurately match what they are looking for in terms of higher education. Mr. Kraus was kind enough to grant College and Finance an exclusive interview to help shed some light on the service:
1. What would you say your main service is for those of us that are unfamiliar with myUsearch?
myUsearch is a free service for anyone looking to enroll in college. Our free service provides students with unbiased college matching results. We do not advertise or promote any specific colleges. We also fund and award scholarships to students that use our college matching service.
For colleges, myUsearch provides the opportunity to introduce themselves to new students, plus colleges have the ability to connect with those students actually interested in their programs. We provide colleges with a very targeted approach to marketing, and eliminate spam for students.
2. How did you design the survey on your site?
Our “Smart” Questionnaire is designed to eliminate irrelevant questions, and reduce the time to find the right colleges.
3. How is your site different from existing college search sites?
First, we do not promote nor restrict students’ college results based on whether a college is willing to pay us.
Secondly, we have a large list of over 3,400 colleges from across the country that students can match with. Again, we do not restrict colleges based on whether they’re paying us. We list them regardless.
Lastly, we make sure to ask students all the necessary questions for providing a proper college match, and we eliminate those questions that are not relevant.
4. What’s the philosophy behind creating the site/business?
Our philosophy is two-fold. First, we wanted to provide students with an honest and accurate method for determining which college is best for them. We were tired of seeing so many college search sites that either did not provide a valid service, or took advantage of students. Secondly, we are avid supporters of education, and we have always wanted to provide scholarships for students that have financial difficulties with college. By starting an education based business, it presented the opportunity to direct business funds directly into our very own scholarship program.
5. What’s your background prior to myUsearch?
Initially, I had a difficult time in college. My grades were awful and my family did not have enough money to pay for my college education. I was fortunate, however, because I was a college athlete and I had a mother that made me realize just how important my grades were. Eventually I improved my grades, graduated from college and passed the Certified Public Accounting exam, which I thought would never happen.
Recently I worked at an online college where I experienced firsthand the difficulties and inefficiencies colleges were experiencing with my competitors.
6. Where do you get all of the ideas/content/writers for your blog?
We are actively involved in multiple higher education forums, blogs, etc. and we also stay current with student and college topics through various newspaper publications.
We’ve gathered writers from posting job opportunities at college campuses, as well as recruiting others that already maintain blogs about higher education or the college experience.
7. How does the myUsearch College Matching making process work?
We pose the most relevant questions for students to answer and then objectively match them with the right colleges within our large database of college profiles.
8. Should students using myUsearch still visit their college before deciding?
You bet they should. myUsearch is focused on narrowing that group of colleges to visit to the best opportunities and to disclose those lesser known colleges that actually should be considered.
9. Colleges are constantly changing, new programs, acceptance rates, rankings, and more, how often is myUsearch updated?
This is a problem with several other college search sites. Our goal is to have any and all changes updated on the site the instant these changes occur. We have developed an operational process that allows for instant updating and a more accurate database.
10. Would myUsearch be useful for students unhappy with their current college situation and looking to transfer?
Yes. Ultimately, myUsearch is useful to any person searching for a college, regardless of whether they’ve had prior college experience or not.
11. Where does myUsearch draw its information from? Directly from the Universities?
Without going into great detail, yes we derive our information directly from colleges and universities. However, we also derive our data from other public resources if the college isn’t currently working with us. This allows us to provide the best information to students and maintain our objectivity.
12. How important would you consider attending the “perfect” college or university to fit one’s needs is to success?
We believe that it is very important to a student’s long-term success at that school. The problem today with peoples perception of the “perfect” college is that it is usually based on someone’s ranking system. The problem is that just because a college is highly ranked does not mean that it will be a good fit, nor does it mean that those that are not ranked are not very good, if not great colleges.
13. About how large is the catalog of colleges listed in your database?
Currently we’re over 3,400 colleges and growing.
14. What types of scholarship opportunities can students find on your site?
Currently we’re offering two $1,000 scholarships. Both are financial need based. One is for a student looking to enroll in a video game design program and the other is more general and only requires an essay recommending ways in which colleges could improve the admissions process.
15. Do you have any future expansion plans for the range of myUsearch’s services?
Most definitely. There are multiple improvements and additional services we’re researching. Two most likely additions include expanding our scholarships to include different offering types and increasing the dollar amounts of each scholarship granted, and including campus tour videos with each college profile.
16. Finances are a huge concern for many college students, does or will myUsearch offer something more regarding finances, in addition to scholarship opportunities and information?
In order to provide the best college financial service we would need to develop an arrangement with the Federal Department of Education and their online forms. Currently there are several other sites that provide more in-depth college finance information, and the DOE alone provides direct assistance with Federal Aid. Therefore, I do not anticipate providing more in-depth financial information outside of expanding our scholarships and our information and links to these other great sites.
17. What do you hope that students will get out of using myUsearch?
An honest and accurate approach to finding the right college. We want students to have a memorable and successful college experience. Ultimately, we want to assist in making sure that students actually graduate from college. We believe that selecting the right college is step 1 to improving college graduation rates.
18. Do you think that students who use myUsearch will significantly lower their chances of disliking their university, and deciding to transfer as a result?
Of course. This is what we strive towards. We continue to evaluate ways in which we can improve the matching process, so as to increase the likelihood of a happy and successful college experience.