AMA with CollegeVine Co-Founder and CEO Zack Perkins
We're very excited about this one! Join us as CollegeVine co-founder and CEO Zack Perkins answers any questions you might have for him. Here's a quick intro from Zack:
"Hey everyone -- I'm Zack and one of the co-founders of CollegeVine. I dropped out of Harvard as a sophomore to focus on CollegeVine full time in 2015 (cliche and ironic, I know). Some people don't know this but CollegeVine used to provide direct admissions consulting to thousands of students so I've built up a lot of perspective on the admissions world, and in particular the HYPSM admissions world. Today I'm primarily focused on making awesome admissions guidance available to everyone through our platform. Ask me anything about college admissions, CollegeVine, startups, Harvard, dropping out of school, etc."
Feel free to leave any questions you want to ask him and he'll respond to what he can. Take advantage, strike up a conversation and pick the brain of one of the people behind your favorite college admissions website! Make sure you click the "Follow" button to get email updates for activity on the discussion thread.
Hi! My question for you is what did you study at Harvard? Were you always planning on starting a business like CollegeVine?
Hey! I studied economics and computer science but only for three semesters before I left school. If I had stayed, I probably would have dropped econ and focused more on CS or applied math.
I was definitely always interested in entrepreneurship and I felt I could help share insight about the college process with other students going through it when I started CollegeVine.
I'm a little early but I hope that's ok! My question is what other schools did you apply to besides Harvard? And were you accepted to most of them?
I actually applied to Harvard early and didn't apply anywhere RD so that I didn't take spots away from my friends (admissions can be fairly local and top schools sometimes have limits to the number of students they can take from a high school).
Originally, I was planning on applying to the Huntsman Program at Penn Wharton but decided last minute (like literally October 31st) to switch to Harvard. Luckily there was only one extra supplement so I was able to finish it and submit everything that evening.
I just want to say thank you for this site! I've already graduated but CollegeVine helped me so much when I was applying. What advice do you have for other students who might want to start a business?
Glad to hear it's been helpful! If you have suggestions for improvement or new features, please helps us out by suggesting them in the Support Community: https://www.collegevine.com/c/collegevine-support
One piece of advice is to immerse yourself in as much information and entrepreneurship culture as possible. It can be pretty easy to just focus on your business and ignore the broader ecosystem but there's a ton of insight to be gleaned from other entrepreneurs and VCs. I recommend following a ton of top partners at VC firms on Twitter, subscribing to their newsletters, attending tech conferences, etc.
Another piece of advice is to just make sure you're clear on why you're doing what you're doing. Is it to solve a really important problem? Is it to make the world better? Is it to make money? Is it to build your skillset? All of those are fine reasons -- but it takes a lot of time and mental energy to start something and it's important to keep your reasons clear in your head to stay on the right track.
What kinds of things did you do in high school that appealed to Harvard?
Also, what draws you to math major?
I'm actually going to jump in with my own question here: If you could change one thing about the current state of college admissions what would it be and why?
And maybe one that's a bit more difficult to answer: where would you like to see college admissions in the next 5, 10, 20 years?
Great questions! If I could change one thing about college admissions, I would increase the transparency of college pricing data (mandated at the federal level). Colleges report fairly minimal public cost data and it really hurts students' abilities to figure out where to apply. There's a pretty insane arms race happening with sticker prices and most students don't realize that the average discount rate is close to 50%.
In the next 5, 10, 20 years, I'd love to see the unbundling of higher education so that students don't have to sign up for four-year chunks at one time. I think there's a ton of potential for micro-credentialing (like quick, 6-12 month programs that give you a legitimate credential) that people should be doing throughout life. I'd love a world where most students' college pathway looks like:
1. Initial year of foundational critical thinking training, writing skills, math + statistics, etc.
2. Career-specific credentialing programs that take 6-12 months and immediately place you in an apprenticeship thereafter, with a pathway to a full-time role
3. Ongoing micro-credentialing throughout life (every few years you upskill with a 6-12 month program you can do part-time to help you progress in your career).
I think the costs in that system would be much lower and the feedback loop on efficacy would be a lot higher.
I just want to say thank you, you have a very cool site!
Whos idea was the college chancing engine? Who was the brains behind it? Also I know trade secrets are a thing but how can someone using public data (CDS etc) try to calculate on their own.
Also iirc most of the founders are from Midwest iirc so why HQ in Boston? Harvard/tech hub?
Also for CA broadly how much difficult is it go get to an elite lac (Swarthmore Tufts) compared to Ivy+ schools such as Rice Vandy compared to elite public schools like UVA UCLA MICH?
Most CV employees live in or around Boston. Some are nearby (NH, PA), some are overseas. There might be a few in the Midwest, but definitely not the majority.
I know that but they live near Boston cuase the HQ is there. If they are from the midwest why not hire Chicago people for example. The founders all attended school in the Midwest if I remember correctly that’s what the bios said.
Hey there! Actually all the founders went to high school in New Jersey. For college, two of us went to Harvard, 1 to Cornell, and 1 to UChicago. So not quite tied to the Midwest (Vinay from UChicago moved to Boston after we left school).
I knew someone attended UChicago and if I remember correctly someone lived in Alabama so was confused.
I just want to say thank you, you have a very cool site!
Glad to hear you're finding it helpful!
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