Applying to U.S. universities need not be mindboggling. Freshmentors are there to help.

Applying to study in the U.S. can be the most exciting application you will ever make. The range of subjects, a degree recognised globally and of course the beautiful campuses are always big draws. But the application process can be complicated. Freshmentors may just make things easy.

Founded and initially funded by an IITian Tarun Garg and two Stanford University graduates, Natasha Jain and Rohan Goel, Freshmentors (http://freshmentors.com/) is a web platform that helps students understand how to go about U.S. college applications.

Connect to mentors

Launched in India earlier this year, Freshmentors works like a buddy programme where aspiring students from India are connected to high-achieving college students at their target universities who then give them the nuts and bolts picture about the courses and departments. “It ensures that students have the most relevant and authentic information about the university of their choice,” explains Goel. Students are assigned mentors depending on their profile. Students can schedule multiple free “Quick Connects” (brief five-minute introductions with the college mentors) to pick the right mentors for themselves.

The mentors are the most important part of the platform here. “Finding the right mentors was amongst the biggest challenges we faced,” says Goel. “We have a very stringent mentor selection process.” All mentors here are either recommended by other mentors, professors or advisers. Mentors are paid to work with students. Ten video chats of 30 minutes each cost about $169 with prices depending on the package selected. Freshmentors absorbs all international transaction fees involved. The current exchange rate used by your bank will be used to carry out transactions.

Freshmentors offers options for free services too. Students who qualify to become a campus representative for their high school get more free services. “Students can ‘earn’ themselves free services by recommending their friends,” says Sonia Agarwal, Director of Business Development.

Don’t miss deadlines

Freshmentors was born out of its founder’s own experiences. Goel says, “When we applied for undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech, we felt there was a huge lack of support and resources to make the process easier. I had my brother who helped me put my application together — but then, not everyone has a big brother to help.”

Students often don’t know how they have to evaluate a school they are applying to. The most common question that students ask is, “how they can get into Harvard or Stanford.” But these aren’t the right questions. “Speaking to mentors about the college culture, career opportunities, how to shape their applications and key achievements that the university would value are all critical questions. We try hard to not only help students get answers to critical questions but also help them understand what the critical questions are during the video chat,” says Goel.

“Attending a college for a major that suits your personality is just as essential as anything else — this is where your life and career will be shaped and it is crucial to attend the college that is right for you,” Jain adds.

Avoid critical errors

Not missing deadlines and ensuring that all documents reach in time is crucial. “For example, an important document from my college application was missing when I was applying. I only realised this once the application was submitted and the rejection came. By speaking to mentors who have successfully been through the same application process, students can avoid these critical errors,” says Jain.

“Students often believe that good scores equal good schools, but that’s not always true,” says Goel. “When I got into Stanford for my Masters, I realised people with low scores were also accepted based on other talents. Traditional parameters like scores and university rankings are important, but that’s not it.” Here’s where mentors can help by sharing their personal experiences.

The best way to make the most of your time here is to give your mentor a brief yet detailed snapshot of where you come from, your interests and extracurricular activities. “Discuss your application essays, especially what you should include and what details you are to delete from your application,” says Goel.

The team is constantly recruiting and adding mentors to their network, increasing the range of subjects.