This AI Wants to Help You Get Into Your Dream School     – CNET

This AI Wants to Help You Get Into Your Dream School – CNET

This fall, Suri Cruise will attend Carnegie Mellon University, while Moses Martin will start at Brown University.

But there’s roughly 17,999,998 students who will also attend a college or university in the fall who don’t have famous parents. And it’s these students who may need a little extra help getting a foot in the door or figuring out how to pay for their education.

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AI can do a lot now — beyond just helping to write a college admissions essay, it can aid with everything from utility companies preventing power outages to farmers selectively deploying pesticides to combat weed infestations. It can also help students figure out where to go to college.

CollegeVine, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 2016 as a college recruiting network for high school students, sort of like LinkedIn for teens. It helps connect prospective students with postsecondary schools like Clark University, Loyola University New Orleans, Marquette University and Washington & Jefferson College.

Some 2.3 million students and 600 universities now use the platform, which includes Ivy, an AI counselor, tutor and “superconnector,” who’s designed to help you build your school list, explore majors, understand your chances of getting in, prepare for the SAT/ACT, write college essays and find scholarships.

At the start of 2024, CollegeVine released an AI recruiter to help colleges nurture prospective students leading up to enrollment. The 24 schools and education platforms that use the AI recruiter, like Knox College and Duquesne University, give their list of prospective students to the AI, which sends emails and text messages to those students and starts to build relationships. (CollegeVine expects 50 schools to use the AI recruiter by the end of this month.)

Though big name schools may have no trouble attracting applicants, there are around 4,000 colleges and universities in the US overall, many of which struggle to fill classes.

“They are working with a pool of, like, 250,000 prospective students. They usually get leads from the SAT test or the ACT test and they actually try to nurture them, but they’re not very good at doing that,” said Zack Perkins, CEO of CollegeVine. “They usually just send some generic emails and that creates a lot of noise in the space for students and they have a hard time figuring out if the school is actually a good fit for them.”

The AI recruiter instead allows schools to train their own AI and assign a caseload of students to it just like they would to an admissions officer.

“The AI actually goes out, reaches out to [students] proactively, introduces itself and then nurtures them across email, text or even phone to get them to come to the school,” Perkins said.

When I tested it out, an AI recruiter named Sarah called me from the fictional Monza University.

“I’m an AI that works with the admissions team at Monza. I’ve been assigned to help you on your admissions journey,” she said. “I’m calling to learn a bit more about your college preferences and help you decide if Monza could be a good fit.”

Sarah asked about what’s most important to me in my college decision (academics) and then talked me through programs, majors (obviously English) and financial aid, as well as how to apply for both aid and the university, and what to include in my personal essay.

In addition to offering a more personalized experience to students, Perkins said, the AI recruiter can help colleges and universities diversify their student bodies as students from underrepresented communities and first-generation college students benefit from the extra support an AI recruiter offers.

The AI recruiter is also easier to talk to than a traditional admissions officer, Perkins contends.

“This generation is AI native, they’re very comfortable with it, and so they have a much lower barrier to talk to it,” Perkins said. “They ask questions like, ‘Can I get in with this GPA?’ and that’s never a question they’d ask an admissions officer. That’s really bringing them into the process and helping schools just be relatable.”

CollegeVine is looking to expand the capabilities of its AI recruiter to help complete applications, schedule campus visits and set up interviews with financial aid teams to help further reduce barriers to entry.

Perkins also envisions this concept of proactive AI outreach to build relationships as applicable to sales and marketing teams in a variety of industries.

“A lot of AI agents today are single shot, one task, one completion kind of thing,” he said. “We’ve had to build up a pretty complex model that drives all these different things across time. I think that’s really the future.”

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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Lisa Lacy

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