Name: Mi Sophia Lyu

NYU affiliation: Steinhardt

NYU status: Graduate

Did you enter last year?: No

Do you have any teammates?: Yes

How many, including yourself?: 2


Concept Name



High Concept Statement

Counselor On Demand – digital near-peer counseling that helps underserved high school students make more informed college decisions.


Status Quo

Public high schools have a ratio of 500 students per counselor and fail to provide the hand-holding students need to navigate their college search/application. This coupled with a lack of resources place underserved students at risk to make uninformed college decisions – leading to the national 40% college drop-out rate.



  1. Underserved students rely heavily on community-based organizations to provide college readiness education, which typically exist offline, with eligibility requirements, location/time constraints, and inflexible mentorship structure.
    2. Established websites like CollegeBoard and Unigo etc. provide adaptive options for college search, but no personal guidance on “how-to”, fit assessment, or build realistic expectations.
    3. Students often resort to Google for answers but are overwhelmed by the search results and fail to properly complete their college search/application.



  1. Single point of entry for high school students to access a community of high-achieving current college students across various institutions;
    2. Personal on-demand conversations via in-app messaging, approachable for information seeker and flexible for information provider;
    3. System facilitated conversation – adaptive matching, auto conversation starter, scaffolded questions and best practice prompts.


Revenue Model

We are a for-profit social venture. Our short-term social impact metrics include self-reported college readiness indexes from high school students, while the long-term metrics include drop-out rates after their 1st year in college. Our revenue model is SaaS for college admissions to improve their communication efficiency during student recruitment; our targeted early adopters are 2nd & 3rd tier private non-for-profit colleges in northeast US. We have conducted 100+ customer discovery interviews, with 30+ director of admissions in HigherEd and 10+ vendors for college admissions. College admissions have established practice to generate leads, but lack of effective communication tool to build personal connection between recruiters and students, while personal connection is the primary selling point for our targeted early adopters. There recruiters currently rely on phone calls to reach out to students, with low response rate; students are reluctant to open up during the conversation with recruiters who they consider to be a authority figure; recruiters are also unable to get feedback from students after the conversation that helps them prioritize outreach work. With a premium version for college (SaaS), the proposed app could connect prospective students with college ambassadors and recruiters and provide value data insights to admissions.


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