Monday, November 1, 2010

CollegeOnly: Sorry, Parents... You Are Not Invited

Economists report that a college education adds many thousands of dollars to a man's lifetime income - which he then spends sending his son to college


- Bill Vaughan

When I look back at my thirty something life, I think the most confusing time was when I graduated from high school. There are just too many things to worry about on your own. You have to figure out what to do with your life. If you are in college, you'll have to decide your major; if you are not in college, you'll have to decide how to start making money. I for one didn't know what I was going to do with my life when my high school principal handed me my high school diploma.



It took me nearly 5 years to figure out what I wanted to do: To go back to my childhood passion, computer and hacking. At times I toyed around with idea of becoming classical or jazz guitarist, auto mechanics, and even a cab driver, and tried a bunch of things to see if I could be happy with expressing my creativity through various different jobs. Only after realizing that I couldn't tap into my nerdy side in me with any other profession, I decided to pursue computer science.

My point? It takes time to discover your passion, and what you want to do with your life.

For that reason, I'm little skeptical when high school graduates apply to college with undecided major. 2 year is just not enough time to figure out your major while getting adjusted to crazy college life. Plus with the rising cost of college tuition, students (and parents) are under increasing pressure to figure something out quick.

When you look at the statistics it's startling. Cost of college education has ballooned to over 10 times of late 70's cost, while consumer price index has climbed just below 4 times over the same time.

At this rate private college tuition for 4 years will rise to $350,000 (note that this is just tuition) in 2028 when a baby born in 2010 is ready to go college. Adding room and board cost, some say that it will be close to half a million dollars. Wow.

Now I have unique perspective to this rising college cost because I have a young son who just turned one. College is no longer something that I reminisce; it's something that I have to financially plan around. Yes, I'll have to prepare to be a father of college boy, emotionally and financially.

Then I read this: CollegeOnly.com, "... our site is the only one that is free from parents, potential employers, and other folks that shouldn’t see what you are up to on a Saturday night or at any given point during the day."

Yes, I get the demand for privacy especially when you are in college, and you don't want to be seen with your parents lurking around you when you meet up with your friends in cyberspace. I would have done the same.

Although I expected sites like CollegeOnly to flourish (after all context matters in social network), I would have liked a little more balanced PR from CollegeOnly. Whatever you publish on the web cannot be guaranteed to be private, and there is a good chance of unintended people seeing the posts as long as they are available on the web. Especially when the site is authenticating you with possession of *.edu email address.

But this trend of context-specific niche social network will continue. As long tail of social network sites vying for emerging market, I think more sites like CollegeOnly will crop up in next 12 to 18 months.

I just hope that the next college site gives a little credit to hardworking parents who are financing the college experience.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Bill. CollegeOnly also has some other features outside of a .edu email address to ensure privacy. All users .edu email addresses that they signed up with are visible on their profile and at any point users may "flag" another user on the site. When this happens they review this person via their school directory to ensure that this person is a student. In addition, none of the information posted on the site is sold to any search engines. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to stumble upon a piece of information posted on the site.

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