Choosing the right school can be a nail biter for any high school graduate. That's where College Prowler
steps in, providing an intelligent, real world view of college life for students by students.
Luke Skurman's thriving startup took a leap of faith last year when it went from a paid membership model to a free service available to all. The move has paid off. Since July of 2009, College Prowler's visitors have grown 200% and page views have skyrocketed. This past February, primetime in the world of college shopping, 675,000 people logged onto www.collegeprowler.com
The growth in business has been matched by staff increases as well; Prowler recently has gone from 10 to 14 full-time employees in its Bloomfield office.
"From a big picture perspective, we wanted to help as many families as possible when it comes to choosing the right school," explains Skurman, who developed the initial business plan as a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon in 2000. "Keeping our content under a paid subscription model severely limited our reach. Since going free, our footprint has increased dramatically. We're certain we're now on the right track."
In addition to its valued reports from students on food, academics, diversity, housing and Greek life, Prowler has added several new tools, including a financial aid calculator, a tool that estimates the acceptance rates at chosen schools and personality quiz to help match a student to the right campus environment.
Prowler plans to add coverage on community colleges, online universities and career schools in the near future. It will continue putting out its book version of the information as well.
The company's biggest challenge is the continued quest to find honest, objective student authors to send in reports on the schools, says Skurman. "Someone who's really going to tell the truth and has their hand on the pulse of the campus."
It's that very authentic tone that gives College Prowler integrity. Sign up to receive Pop City each week.
Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Luke Skurman, College Prowler