Awardees: Yilan Yang (College) and Mario Gutierrez (College)

Summary: Awardees are trying to increase applications to top universities from underrepresented and low-income regions. At Harvard, and other top universities, admissions officers continue to see successful applicants from the same regions and high schools each year. There are tons of promising and bright students from underrepresented high schools and districts who do not apply simply because of a lack of awareness. The existing recruiting programs sponsored by Harvard Financial Aid Initiative and the admissions office are not reaching enough these communities. There are certain connotations associated with the Ivy League and renowned private universities. It can often be quite daunting to students who have no contact with anyone that has a connection to the school. The potential applicants have no way of knowing if the school could be a good fit because they often lack a connection with anyone who can have an honest and sincere conversation with them about the school. Awardees have done a lot of on declining engagement and lack of encouragement from families and school administrators, and have found these to be major factors in students’ decisions not to pursue higher education. They understand the problem personally since we are both minority students from low income, and underrepresented regions. Applying to colleges was extremely difficult since even our guidance counselors did not have much information about out of state universities. Their peers were often just as ambitious and academically successful as they were, but the lack of guidance prevented many of them from even considering Harvard. Awardees know from experience that students from high schools like theirs have enough motivation and academic drive to be interested in the help that their organization will provide them. Harvard and other schools like it constantly stress the importance of representation and diversity.

The main purpose of YourCampus is to provide an educational networking platform for prospective applicants to connect with current students from their top choice universities. Awardees plan to build a website/mobile app where university students can sign up to be part of panels and be mentors and connect with the high school students that choose to sign up for our app. The panels will visit high schools in low income districts to provide students with information and promote our app/website as a resource for students to use for guidance. Awardees plan to match up high school students who make accounts with mentors from their top choice colleges. Since the issue is that these students lack informed guidance counselors and are unable to connect with colleges on a personal level, YourCampus will help them get to know college students that they can relate to. This will provide them with genuine insight into the culture and the application process associated with competitive colleges and higher education. The goal isn’t just to get them to apply to schools like Harvard, they are trying to provide them with motivation and support to apply to college in general.