How a girl from New Zealand at the age of 24 got on the Forbes list, helping people to enter the best universities in the world
How to pass admision for Harvard, Princeton and the University of Massachusetts? The founder of the Crimson Education startup, Sharndre Kushor, revealed Forbes Woman the secrets of entering top world universities
New Zealand entrepreneur Sharndre Kushor is 24 years old,the Crimson Education company, which she founded with her boyfriend Jamie Beaton. Today, the company has a capitalization of $ 260 million, thanks to work with mentors of Crimson Education, more than 1000 people have entered the top universities in the world.How to do business in New Zealand, where feminists are at the head of the state, Shandre Kushor told Forbes Woman in an interview.
How did the idea of the project originate and how did it all begin?
Most New Zealand students follow a very traditional path, developing in areas such as law, medicine and engineering. Many do not even think about the possibility of moving to another country. When I graduated from high school, I met Jamie Beaton, who was going to go to a foreign university. Six months later, we organized a company that helps applicants enter prestigious universities in other countries. In fact, our company is a conductor between applicants and teachers working in universities selected by schoolchildren, and students who have already passed the entrance stage and know all the subtleties of this procedure.
How did you attract teachers initially?
Our first teachers were literally lured by Jamie. He studied at Harvard University in his first year, talked with students, talked about the project and attracted them to work with us. Today, our team has about 2,400 people, and students at prestigious universities themselves want to work with us - we hire 80% of our mentors directly from universities. For example, in our last recruiting cycle at Yale, there were about 800 applications from university students, of which we selected 100.
Such a large pool of tutors and mentors allows us to approach each student at a very personalized level.
What is the difference between a tutor and a mentor?
We usually call tutors (tutors) those who teach academic subjects or standardized tests. Mentors help students with building extracurricular activities, writing essays and filling out an application. Probably the most important difference between the two is that the tutor teaches the material, and the mentor accompanies you, gives advice and evaluates the situation from the outside, thus “training” the student.
How many students are currently studying with you? How many people have arrived during this time?
Every year we work with 22,000 students. We are very careful in choosing a university so that they include those on the list where they really can go and get the knowledge they need. In this way, we help correlate opportunities with reality, including why 100% of our students enter.
Today our offices are located in 24 countries, we have more than 260 full-time employees, and we have helped enroll more than 1050 students in the top 50 universities in the world. We are actively attracting investors, our market capitalization is $ 260 million.
How do you select their mentors for applicants?
To pick a student mentor or tutor, we use artificial intelligence. A similar algorithm works on the eHarmony dating site, thanks to which 9% of Americans who met in 2009 got married. Our mechanism evaluates such things as the learning style, the personal characteristics of the student and the tutor, and the teacher’s expertise in the required field of study.
How it works?
An applicant comes to us in order to enter a certain university, we help him to work out a strategic plan with concrete steps. Then he passes a diagnostic personality test, which allows him to identify strengths and weaknesses. And starting from the results of this test, our algorithm selects a mentor. Mentors are teachers and students of top world universities.
Under what conditions do you work with teachers? How do you determine the amount of the fee?
This is confidential information.
And how is the amount that students pay?
The program for each student is calculated individually, we are guided by several factors: in which class the student is at the time of preparation, what level of his academic achievements and the English language, how active his life is outside the school.
Most often, the training program consists of support when choosing universities, consultation on application, assistance in writing an essay, tutoring in school subjects and standardized exams, as well as mentoring for extracurricular activities. The final cost of the program depends on many factors: from hours of working with a mentor on leadership initiatives to the number of universities a child wants to go to. We can focus on the cost only after the first consultation, at which we not only learn about you, but also tell you everything about admission. Such consultation is free of charge.
How much does your platform reduce the cost of entry for a person compared to classical tutoring classes?
I would not say that the platform itself does not reduce the cost of entry; rather, it makes preparation in principle possible. Since all our tutors and consultants are from the top 20 universities on the planet, they are located in different parts of the world, and online training in this case is the only opportunity.But the preparation itself for admission can really “reduce the cost” of further education. We often ask to consider our program as a process of investment in future education. Our consultants each year help to receive funding from universities for students. On average, last year our students received about $ 25,000 a year in financial assistance, which is a savings of $ 100,000 over four years of study.
You do business with a partner, being in different parts of the world. You live in New Zealand, and Jamie Beaton in the USA. Does this cause additional difficulties?
Not. This turned out to be our advantage, which we did not immediately understand, but over time it became obvious. The fact that we were in different countries made us initially conduct our operations in an online format and organize work remotely. New Zealand has everything to do business online: you can open a legal entity in three days, and you do not need to leave home for this. You can obtain a license to do business online or open a bank account. And it will cost you about $ 150.
What other trends in education now exist?
Recently, we have seen an increase in interest in online education. This is especially true now, when top universities urgently transfer their students to distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many universities have gone even further, for example, Princeton University sent students home before the end of the semester, and now they will study online. I think that this situation will stimulate the further development of online education: universities will offer more online programs, which will potentially make education more accessible.