Creating Virtual Opportunities for High School Students

Use technology to engage with students through a coordinated platform in real time throughout the application and enrollment processes!

Photo of Laura Bartel
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Creating Virtual Opportunities for High School Students Outline

How might we create programs, processes, and tools to provide ongoing support to all students on their journey to and through college?

MISSION Statement

In order to demystify the process of getting to and through college, this tool will provide students and their support systems with a strong visual of the application and enrollment process with unmatched streamlined access to higher education institutions.  

Overview of the IDEA

Use technology to engage prospective students through every step of the application and enrollment processes by providing easily accessible information and personal interaction.

This idea is about creating a blueprint for colleges to make platforms, share resources, and build upon the idea of engaging with high school students virtually.  Institutions will do this by incorporating virtual opportunities, such as video (through skype or another platform) and chat functions, and also implementing recorded videos from current college students into an admission/enrollment checklist for prospective students.

On this dedicated webpage, the critical checkpoints of the application and enrollment processes would be represented in an interactive checklist for students to follow.  As needed, students can connect virtually with appropriate university departments, officials, access internal or external resources (such as essay writing assistance), and students to answer questions and receive guidance.  Essentially this is a tool that would be a one-stop-shop for a prospective student throughout the entire admission process.  This idea would demystify the process of enrolling in college by clearly guiding students through the process, making information easily accessible, and alleviating issues with website navigation.

How this WORKS

This tool will be developed and disseminated to partner institutions by the developer (to be determined).  The schools who elect to use this tool will be given a blueprint for how to implement this idea into their existing web pages.  This blueprint would be completely fleshed out with step-by-step directions for how Colleges and Universities can implement this web page into their existing technological structures.  A prototype template would be made that would allow partners to drop in their personalized content into the predetermined structure.  Almost like fitting puzzle pieces together to fill in the blanks.  

This template would work as an outline for the visual representation of the web page and the blueprint would present suggestions for developing and aligning content with the mission of the tool.  While the framework may be predetermined (this is to ensure consistency across partner schools), there is still great opportunities for partners to make this web page personable for their content.  For instance, the University of Minnesota may have an early admission timeline that is different from Bemidji State University and those differences need to be highlighted.  

Potential for IMPACT

By utilizing this tool, colleges and universities can potentially increase their enrollment numbers especially from populations that have traditionally struggled with the application and enrollment process such as individuals from low income backgrounds and those located in rural areas with less resources available.

For those students who are more familiar with the process and system, this tool may increase student self-service thereby decreasing their need for assistance from university officials.  If this is the case, officials would be available to focus greater resources on assisting underrepresented populations.

FEEDBACK we’ve heard

As my colleagues and I began reaching out to students and college representatives we received positive feedback on the contents of our idea.  Students were especially excited about the live functions rather than the recorded videos.  This feedback helped shift our focus from ‘video diary’ entries to more of a direct line for questions.  

College representatives also provided positive feedback and also asked wonderful clarifying questions to help focus the idea.  We reached out to two admission counselors who both thought the idea was to replace existing collection structures for student application materials with a new portal.  Our intent is not to use this tool as a collection box but rather to be a platform to provide information.  This feedback helped us clarify the language within the overview section.

Please visit the Google Doc to read more! 


This tool is meant to be transferable and personable to each unique institution.  In the next stages of this project, the blueprint will need to include communication strategies, marketing plans, and technical design aspects to implement the web page and its contents into existing structures.


Anna Rockne’s post and her outline of a checklist app is phenomenal. Overwhelmingly we have heard that there is a need for this type of tool to help students navigate this process.  I think by incorporating the virtual interactions and resources presented in this idea with her checklist would be a beautiful match and one definitely worth pursuing.


This tool will be a great asset to both universities and prospective students as the United States continues to move towards an increased dependency on and global need for college educated workers.

“In today's economy, a high school diploma just isn't enough. Students have to reach higher, which is why the First Lady is working to rally the country around the President's "North Star" goal — that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world”.

-          White House, Reach Higher Initiative

By implementing this tool, colleges and universities will demystify the process for high school students thereby leading to greater enrollment numbers which will in turn create more college graduates.

We can help students Reach Higher

Special thanks to Paula, Brendan, Rosa, Joe, Erin, Lauren, and College Possible for their contributions to this idea!

See our prototypes below! 
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Notes from Prototyping Session Tuesday March 15th

Attendees: 14 Corps Members and 2 Leadership Team Members from College Possible

Goal: Create 2 prototypes

  • Determine and design the map of critical checkpoints students will encounter throughout the application and admission process
  • Film a prototype of a potential virtual interaction a student may experience when using this tool
  • What do students want to know?
  • What are the critical checkpoints where this tool can provide assistance to students throughout the admission/acceptance process?
  • How might a virtual interaction look using this tool?

We started off the prototyping session with a few activities to warm up our brains so we could start thinking creatively as a group.  Then we went through a high level overview of the Teacher’s Guild structure and the evolution of this idea.  As a group we then did some brainstorming and looked at three components of the idea:

  • What do students want to know?
  • What are the critical checkpoints where this tool can provide assistance to students throughout the admission/acceptance process?
  • How might a virtual interaction look using this tool?

From this discussion we began prototyping.  One group took on the creation of the checkpoint platform and the other team took on filming a video.

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Here is what the Checklist group prototyped! They had some really great ideas about how to make the design really interactive--almost like a Prezi presentation.  As you move through the different checkpoints you will visually see yourself moving to the next step.  Very cool!

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The video group also did some great work!  We came to the following conclusions about this part of the idea:

  • Variety of virtual options is best (live chat, Skype, student video, link to outside resource etc.)
    • We don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each part of the checklist!  For pieces that are very generalized (such as college application essays) those resources can be pulled from existing best practices such as Kahn academy
    •  Different checkpoints will require different virtual modems of information for instance a chat function would be great for questions on the application and a skype conversation might be better for choosing housing  
  • Began conversation on feasibility of colleges to use this tool
    • When we make the blueprint for colleges to launch this tool for students we can say here are some great things that are already out there to use as resources and also these are the critical pieces you will need to develop for your prospective students specifically
    • When the blueprint is created this idea could be marketed as a student project opportunity rather than something staff would need to dedicate time for
      • A team of students, from different majors, could be tasked with launching this tool on their campus
      • Student workers could be scheduled to work the chat/skype hours in respective departments

This group also made a short video on what a student might do with this tool when it comes to life! Hopefully video will be up soon!

Another wonderful outcome of the session was that a few more AMAZING Corps members joined the team!  We will be putting our heads together again soon as this idea continues to move forward!

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Have a doc or slides that you're collaborating in? Link it here.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Molly McMahon

This is so cool. Makes me think of Google Expeditions, or Skype in the Classroom , and how easy you could do tours. Also, might be interesting to team up with Shawna Myers  and Former Graduates (current college students) as Mentors to High School Students.  -- is there a role for mentorship with this idea?

Photo of Laura Bartel

I think that would be cool if high school and college students attending the same institution could 'buddy up' virtually and have regular conversations throughout the application and admission process.  Definitely a great use of virtual opportunities! 

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