We are Halp - a personal online university counseling platform. High school students (grades 10-12) use Halp to get into their dream universities and succeed once there.
In 2008, we were grade 10s in high school. Life was great - and then everyone started talking about university. It felt like we needed to have our lives figured out at age 15, and then magically understand what to do over the next few years to be accepted to increasingly competitive programs. Our school counselors gave us pamphlets and Reddit confused us. The process was really stressful.
Since then, we’ve interviewed hundreds of high school students and their parents. Not only does this dynamic persist - it’s gotten worse. The path to higher education is broken, causing millions of students to suffer every year. Here’s why:
- It’s a long process - many students start university admissions prep in their grade 10 year.
- There are so many options - over 6,000 institutions offering 1,000+ programs exist in North America. All of them say they’re the best.
- Programs get more competitive every year - entrance averages and international student acceptances increase every year, making it harder to earn a spot.
- The stakes are really high - this is the biggest financial and future-optimizing decision of every student’s young existence. Just ask their parents. It takes ~4-years, costs ~$80K, and is meant to launch your career and life. No pressure.
To navigate the process, high school students have an involved set of university counseling needs: (1) what is the right path for me? (2) which extracurriculars will strengthen my application? (3) what should I know about the admissions and financial aid process? and (4) once accepted, what do I need to do before my first day of university? However, current support systems are not enough:
- High school guidance counselors are great humans. However, their departments are shrinking. They operate on a ‘one-to-many’ model that forces them to provide generalized advice (e.g. a school pamphlet). In addition, the student-to-counselor ratio can be as high as 540:1 and they see students for an average of 20-minutes per semester. Their school-mandated software solutions leave a lot to be desired and careers class is one semester in grade 10.
- Traditional and online education consultants offer personalized support, but cost thousands of dollars and work with a limited number of privileged students each year. They price out ‘the 99%’. In addition, many are known to take kickbacks from schools or operate outside of the legal system.
As a result, students across North America are under-supported. Their needs are not being met. 70% of high school students report being often or always worried about getting into their top universities.
Don’t get us wrong - university is freaking awesome. But getting there and doing well should not feel like pulling teeth. Students need personal university counseling and program-specific guidance that is effective and affordable. Meet Halp.
Halp offers personal university counseling, delivered through online courses. Students take our courses to improve their chances of getting into their dream programs and succeeding once there. We offer a deeper layer of personalized, program-specific guidance than a school counselor, without the price tag of traditional education consultants.
Halp courses are made up of bite-sized projects, mentorship sessions with successful undergrad students, and individual feedback from instructors. Students can start a course anytime and complete the modules around their schedule. By progressing through Halp courses, students get consistent coaching from the time they start thinking about university until the day they land on campus.
How it works
The courses map directly to student’s university counseling needs: finding a path, developing into a top candidate, getting admissions support, and preparing for life on campus. Students select the course that matches their stage in the process and move through the modules to overcome the hurdle. Students simply:
Complete projects - follow the course instructions to complete, submit, and iterate on projects with their Halp instructor - all on our platform. The projects are not make-work, they inform real-actions that every student must take on their way to university. Parents are able to opt-in to progress updates.
Meet with mentors - in each course, several modules are dedicated to having students complete mentorship sessions with Halpers. Halpers are undergrad student-mentors that are vetted and trained. Students schedule the sessions through a marketplace built into our platform (like AirBnB for booking mentor time). Halpers offer program-specific guidance as well as inspiration and coaching throughout the process. This allows students to learn from undergrads that were just in their shoes and succeeded.
Get results - moving through the courses allows students to optimize each pain point along their admissions journey. This makes them more likely to get into their top programs and succeed once there.
We can Halp
School boards have worked hard to bring learning online. We think they are doing a great job. In speaking with them, it has been difficult to move their university counseling offering online. Not to worry - Halp is well-positioned to fill this gap for students during and long after COVID-19 is done.
On April 23, 2020 we introduced Halp to a small group of students on our waitlist. Since then, over 700 students have enrolled. Now, we are excited to offer our courses more broadly. Students shouldn’t suffer from factors outside of their control. For this reason, we are heavily discounting our courses. This makes Halp even more accessible while allowing us to ensure the instructors and Halpers (undergrad-mentors) still get paid.
If you are a high school student (or the parent of one) and you want to take control of your university-transition - we can Halp. If you feel stressed about finding your path, developing into a top candidate, accepting the right admissions offer, or preparing for life on campus - we can Halp. You can enroll here.
If you are an educator, guidance counselor (or school board/ government employee) and want a scalable way to offer personal university counseling to your students - we can Halp. Fill out this form, we will be in touch.
Together, we can unlock every student's potential.