From being homeschooled at a young age, to running a successful college ranking website, Jeremy Alder is an entrepreneur that has turned his passion for education into his day job as the founder and senior editor of College Consensus.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was homeschooled from elementary through high school. I then became the first and only one in my immediate family to go to college. This was a transformative experience for me and gave me a lifelong love and appreciation for higher education. After college, I spent a year living in a low-income neighborhood in East Austin to better understand the daily struggles of people living in poverty in the U.S. I then went to graduate school in North Carolina where I earned a Master’s of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. After graduate school, I moved back to San Antonio (my hometown) where I worked as a community organizer, primarily in low-income neighborhoods. It was really there that I learned first hand about the difference a college education can make in a person’s opportunity and quality of life, as well as the challenges and barriers low-income people experience trying to get into college and graduate. A growing family required that I find work that would have me at home more, so I began working as a freelance writer and editor, with a particular focus on higher ed. It was during that time I had the idea to create a site like College Consensus.
What does your company do?
College Consensus is an online college and career guide. In addition to providing unique aggregate rankings and reviews of colleges and graduate schools, we provide expert information on everything from choosing a school, to getting in, paying for it, thriving in it, and what to do after.
What was the most challenging thing starting your company and building your brand?
One of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur is self-doubt. Will this work? Can we pull it off? What if we can’t pay back our investors? Also, I had an idea but knew next to nothing about the technical aspects of building a website, especially one that would involve aggregating enormous amounts of data on schools and displaying it in a way that would be useful to students. I’m thankful I was able to find the right people at the right time to make it work.
As I said above, I was the first and only in my family to go to college, and it was an extraordinarily powerful and meaningful experience for me. I’ve had a passion for education ever since.
What are your competitive differentiators?
There are a number of websites with college rankings and reviews. What makes College Consensus different is that we are the only site that aggregates the results of all the major college rankings and combines them with the results of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to provide students with single, easy to understand score for each school. One way to think about it is we do for colleges what RottenTomatoes and Metacritic do for movies, music, and games.
How do you hope College Consensus helps those using the platform?
College Consensus helps students identify the top colleges and universities quickly and easily, from the perspectives of both experts and students.
What is one piece of advice you have for those utilizing this service as they decide on which colleges to apply for?
Let the College Consensus rankings be a starting point for your college search, but not the final word. All rankings and reviews should be taken with a grain of salt and no website can tell you which college is right for you. Everyone is unique and nothing beats actually visiting and touring a school and getting to know the students and faculty there.
What does the future hold for your company?
Our goal is to become the go-to college search and rankings site on the web. We have begun to expand our site to include rankings and information on business schools, with future plans to expand into law and medical schools as well.
Where can you be reached online for readers who want to learn more?
We can always be reached through the contact page at collegeconsensus.com or any of our social media channels:
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