A new way to make the old campus visit more meaningful

LEE SHULMAN BIERER
Davidson College
Photo courtesy of Davidson College

Until now, college visits haven’t changed much over the last several decades. Chatty students walk backward through campus, sharing fun facts, folklore and campus traditions. Been there, done that – they all start to sound the same.

But it’s 2017, and now of course there’s an app for that. The new Peer app, www.findyourpeer.com, makes traditional college touring less boring.

Campus visits are still considered one of the most important factors in a student’s final choice. So why — in today’s personalized, on-demand world — are college tours stuck in the past? That’s the question Pat Wilson asked himself last year, and he answered it with PEER, the app for customized college tours.

PEER is the first app that lets high school students and their parents hire college kids for custom campus tours and online Q&A sessions.

The company first launched in the college-crazed state of North Carolina and has since expanded expand to 40 schools up and down the East Coast. Wilson believes North Carolina was the perfect place to test-drive PEER due to its large population and wide variety of schools that are close to one another. North Carolina students also have one of the highest rates in the country of staying in-state for college.

Families can hire PEER guides at the following schools:

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Appalachian State University
  • Davidson College
  • Duke University
  • Elon University
  • High Point University
  • North Carolina State University
  • UNC Chapel Hill
  • Wake Forest University

SOUTH CAROLINA

  • College of Charleston
  • University of South Carolina

Jamal Royster, one of the PEER campus guides, is a 2017 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He says he studied all sorts of facts and stats about UNC Chapel Hill, but the biggest benefit PEER guides offer is accurate, real-life conversations with students who are not being paid by the college or university.

“Families really appreciate when I share details of my personal experiences inside and outside the classroom. I think they feel they’re getting a more honest representation of what life is like on campus.” Royster takes families to specific locations of interest and doesn’t just regurgitate facts from the college website.

The two hours spent on campus is just the tip of the iceberg, too. Wilson said, “We’re starting by optimizing the time spent on campus, but eventually want to offer exclusive deals to eat, stay and play at the best places in these fun-filled college towns.”

Guests simply pick a school, pick a guide, pick a time, and pay. Sessions costs $40 per hour, and the fully vetted guides earn $20 per hour (the company keeps the other $20).

Wilson came up with the idea after reminiscing on his own college visits. As a first-generation college applicant, he was lucky to be guided through the process as an athletic recruit, receiving personalized tours from current football and baseball players like himself.

“I thought, why can’t any prospective student with any set of interests get the same type of treatment? And soon enough, PEER was here,” the PEER founder and CEO said.

Bonnie Klein, Founder of Daytripper University, (www.daytripperuniversity.com) a website that curates college-town itineraries, thinks PEER is primed for success.

“I’ve been on countless college tours with my own children, and would have used PEER at every single school. It’s satisfying to see another company trying to make visiting colleges a fun, memorable and worthwhile experience.”

 

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.comwww.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com

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