CollegeMapper Helps Kids Choose the Right School -- for Free

In the old days, college selection consisted of rolling into your high school guidance counselor's office, hopefully sometime before your senior year, leafing through a few brochures, and sending out applications. The times, my friend, have changed. Twenty-five percent of college-bound kids hire outside help to guide them through the college process. The trouble is, of course, that costs money.

Enter CollegeMapper, a new startup that aims to help kids navigate the process of choosing the right school for them, totally free of charge. Founded by a teacher and guidance counselor, the site helps students and parents find the right college, and then build applications that will give them the best shot at attending their first-choice schools. Guidance counselors can also use the service to connect with their students, tracking their applications and answering their questions.

To keep things simple, the college search function tracks 500 of the 4,000 colleges students apply to most often, and allows users to add schools as needed. Students can begin using the site whenever they start their college search -- for some, as early as eighth grade. And if a site that lets students track and optimize their college search without ever picking up a phone, writing something down on a piece of paper, or meeting with a counselor in person doesn't make you feel old, well, the fact that 13-year-olds are now thinking about college probably will.

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