Zack Perkins is the co-founder of CollegeVine, a near-peer mentorship platform that helps students and families navigate the path to the best colleges for them. Along with his two co-founders, Perkins started the company in 2013 while a freshman at Harvard before taking leave to work full-time on the venture. CollegeVine is powered by 300 mentors across the country from the nation’s top universities.

How did your education and professional experience shape your work now at CollegeVine?

CollegeVine was born out of our personal experiences with the complex college admissions process. I came from a large public high school where just a handful of guidance counselors were serving almost 2,000 students. Luckily, I had some really strong upperclassmen mentors that were able to coach me through the process and help me make the right decisions that ultimately allowed me to be successful. We started CollegeVine to bring guidance to students across the country who simply don’t have the same resources as their private school peers and we do it using a near-peer model that students really respond to.

How do you hope your work at CollegeVine will change the learning landscape?

CollegeVine is interesting in that we work slightly beyond the traditional learning landscape. Instead, we work in the transition period between one landscape (high school) to another (college). That transition consists of correctly navigating a process that directly impacts the academic and vocational path of the student. The problem today is that families don’t always make the right decisions; they simply don’t have proper guidance or a strategy with respect to a student’s goals. We hope to bridge that gap and position students for the right colleges that make sense for them. We also are doing it in a way that fundamentally levels the playing field for all students. We want to slowly eradicate barriers to higher education advising by making our programs affordable and accessible by all.

What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?

There is a huge push towards online learning that is really disrupting how traditional models of education have worked. For example, the primary way that external college guidance has been delivered for the past 25 years has been through local independent education consultants. While these consultants can be helpful for some families, others want to make better decisions for their college path based on data and technology and are moving away from traditional counselors who make recommendations purely from experience or through one-off research. This trend exists in almost every segment of education today.

Apart from your role at CollegeVine, what are you currently working on & what is your next big project?

As of right now, I’m entirely invested in CollegeVine’s mission and am too excited to work on anything else. I see education as one of the most important industries in the world and can see myself always making an impact in that space.

Who are the most interesting people you are following on Twitter?

I actually don’t have a Twitter, I’m pretty light on social media as a whole, but I’m a big fan of Elon Musk.

Image: Courtesy Zack Perkins