BuzzFeed Toolbox for College App Journey

A toolbox of BuzzFeed quizzes, videos, and articles to provide students with more information about colleges and the application process.

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UPDATED IDEA - see the full idea here:

The BuzzFeed toolbox leverages three tools on BuzzFeed - quizzes, videos, and articles - to help high school students identify and apply to colleges. 

  1. QUIZZES: Use a series of quizzes to help high school students decide between different types of schools (UCs, military schools, Ivies, HBCUs, community colleges, women’s colleges, public universities, liberal arts colleges, etc.) and then specific schools among them.
  2. VIDEOS: Partner with schools to create 1-10 min videos of real students, alumnae, faculty, and staff talking about what it’s like to study, live, and work at the school. Have them discuss what they love and value about the school, what their classes are like, what they enjoy doing on-campus and off-campus on the weekends, and the opportunities they have to do research, find and work jobs, participate in student organizations, or fulfill graduation requirements.
  3. ARTICLES: Use memes and visuals to communicate tips and share resources for applying to college. For instance, we can link students to a sample spreadsheet to keep track of different colleges, required materials, contacts, interviews, financial information, and various deadlines.

Why BuzzFeed? 

  • ENGAGING | By using the BuzzFeed platform as a facade, we can disguise educational resources and tools to help students learn and reflect without making them feel like it’s a daunting task.
  • ACCESSIBLE | BuzzFeed automatically lowers the barrier to entry - users aren’t required to create accounts, and it’s a free, intuitive resource.
  • CREDIBLE | With the help of big data analytics, such as IBM Watson or Google Trends, we can make the tools more “real” and credible.
  • SOCIAL | With BuzzFeed, users can opt to share their results and opinions with friends - or not. The tool can connect them with students who have similar college prospects.

What we've done so far:

We created and administered a survey to gather information about a variety of colleges and universities from recent graduates. The survey served as a proof of concept, and responses were used to inform the design and development of this idea.

56 recent graduates from schools like Wellesley College, MIT, UCSB, USC, Stanford, Menlo College, Tufts University, University of Idaho, and Cal State East Bay answered questions such as:

  • What college did you attend?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your college experience?
  • How do you think your school performs on the following criteria? (housing, food, stress, diversity, entertainment, weather, size of classes, school traditions, quality of faculty, graduation requirements, financial aid, mental health, etc.)
  • Favorite and least favorite thing(s) about your college experience?

Moving forward:

With a Google Form, 10 days, and informal sharing of the survey link, we received 56 responses from a diverse group of recent college graduates.

Imagine how much more data and content we could gather if we had a more structured survey and partnerships with schools and other organizations... and then imagine what we could do with that data - all of the quizzes, videos, and articles we could produce - if we leverage big data analytics. 

Let's collaborate with companies, schools, and individuals: Companies like IBM and Facebook have already demonstrated that they’re interested in using their technologies to improve learning outcomes. We have already established communication and are excited to progress further. Same goes for schools - it can only help them to have applicants who understand what their school offers. Several of the survey respondents indicated an interest in the project. People said things like “if only I knew” or “going back in time”… they might have benefited from the BuzzFeed Toolbox we’re proposing, and they’ve proven that they’re willing to contribute.

With the support of companies, schools, and individuals, we could create an entire network of quizzes, videos, and articles that would be relevant to students from all walks of life. We can reach students who maybe have fallen through the cracks somewhere along the way… who maybe are working at their local supermarket or the diner two blocks away because they don’t know that they have other options. Maybe they’re surfing the web one day, or going through their Facebook newsfeed, and they see a link to one of the quizzes - and one quiz leads to another, which leads to a video and then an article, and suddenly, they feel a lot less helpless and a little more hopeful.

Other possibilities: How can we leverage this to make an even bigger impact? Once we have a successful and popular network of quizzes, videos, and articles, we will have access to a large audience with whom we can communicate information about colleges, and the application and enrollment process. 

  • CONNECTING STUDENTS | We could connect students with other students (“college app buddies”), based on similar quiz results perhaps, to share their essays, exchange feedback, and support each other.
  • IMPROVING SCHOOLS | We could partner with colleges to see how we can help more first-generation students succeed. Through collaboration (and data), we can also help schools identify where they can do better, so that our next generation of college students are better served by schools.
  • CROWDSOURCING CONTENT | We could have students generate content based on their experiences on applying to college. We can encourage them  to not only reflect on their experiences, but also contribute to our knowledge-base.

Thank you to The Teacher’s Guild, IDEO, partners, and all of our survey participants, mentors, and collaborators.

Questions and comments, please contact: Veronica Lin |



The quiz could be multi-dimensional, providing the user with several options for colleges (i.e. safety schools, reach schools) based on their study habits, goals, sources of motivation, academic interests, geographic preferences, ideal study environments, extracurricular activities, etc. Its development might include input from a variety of sources, such as college students, high school counselors, college admissions officers, teachers, professors, and more. Along with suggestions for schools, the quiz results might include information to back up those suggestions, such as student/staff testimonials or stories/contacts/websites of academic departments or student organizations that match their interests.

As a recent grad from Wellesley College, a women's liberal arts college that I only found out about because of athletic recruitment, I think a technology like this would be awesome to expose high school students to schools (and maybe even other post-high school options) that they might not have considered otherwise. And if it were based on data and real experiences from students and others, it might be more effective than the typical "magic hat" career-fit quizzes that float around.

Alternatively, a "mini," less comprehensive version of this could simply suggest types of schools for users, such as liberal-arts, large research institution, community college, etc.

Maybe BuzzFeed would want to partner with Teachers Guild to build this?

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

Final Document: Survey Questions: Collaboration Document:

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea! - 100%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Veronica Lin

Angela Rohan Michael Schurr Elsa Fridman Randolph Norka Padilla Thank you so much for your comments!! I just made a Google doc so that we can continue expanding on this idea - I copied your comments and other feedback I received on the bottom o the spreadsheet, and am working on a few more materials that I will add to the Google doc shortly. Looking forward to working with you all!

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph

That's super helpful!! Thanks, Veronica!!

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