L3 member Bill Midon and his wife, Hilary, have four children. They have done the college application process four times. He also served on the board of a small college and saw that some graduates were leaving with heavy debt loads.
“I had been through the process with my children and I had an awareness that high school guidance, if available at all, wasn’t the best quality,” Bill said. “I felt it was borderline improper that kids who have minimal, or no experience in fact, had borrowing readily available and were able to build six-figure debt loads.”
Bill decided to attack the issue of high school guidance counseling with one of his favorite things – web-based service. Bill began to talk about an idea for an internet service with an old friend, Betsy Peters. Betsy had long been involved in web-based delivery businesses, most recently helping women get through health challenges on an online site.
“If I can change a 50-year-old woman’s diet online, using psychological tools, we can do just about anything!” Betsy said. “It’s really that concept of combining content and delivery on the web that can be engaging and go at each person’s own pace and style.”
Bill and Betsy saw an opportunity to work together and create a new method of providing guidance for high school students. Together, they spent about 9 months deciding what kind of organization they wanted to be, whether they were compatible as business partners, and what areas they wanted to focus on. Then, they dove in and started building the groundwork. Last week, the pair officially launched their brainchild, PossibilityU.com.
“We view [possibilityu.com] as a democratizing force,” Betsy said. “The point is to simplify the process: Help families separate signal from noise and come up with a best-opportunity matrix that looks at acceptance, compatibility, and financial aid.”
PossibilityU.com guides students toward creating a list of target “schools of interest” by matching criteria from among 4,000+ colleges and universities in the U.S. Video lectures and an online dashboard show students how the process works and helps them manage critical deadlines. Access to expert advisors provides further personal attention and necessary support. According to Bill, the cost of existing guidance counseling resources can range upwards of $35,000 – he wants to change that.
“We feel it is far more effective, offers higher quality of content and better control and can be done at a significantly lower price point,” Bill said.
Beyond providing cost-effective services and quality guidance and support, Bill and Betsy see PossibilityU.com as an empowerment tool.
“We’re teaching kids skills that they will use at every threshold,” Betsy said. “It’s the best time to learn these strategies. Knowing how to search and packaging and positioning to sell themselves are the very same skills they will use when they get out and get a job.”
To celebrate their launch, Bill and Betsy are running a contest that will award a $5,000 scholarship and a free membership to the service. Students submit a 5-minute video telling how they think a college experience will change their world. The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2011.