By Meredith Crawford
Jessica Brondo has just one regret in life: She never took any computer science classes while she was in school.
It’s hard to believe, considering she’s the co-founder and head of start-up company Admittedly, an online platform that assists high-school students with the college-selection and application process.
“As someone who was always very math and science focused, I’m sure I would have enjoyed [computer science], and it would have been a huge help in building prototypes for ideas…I would 100 percent advise everyone considering a career as a head of a start-up to take even some basic computer science classes,” she says.
What she lacks in formal training, though, Brondo makes up for in tenacity and creativity. Her lifelong interest in “building things” also serves her well. “Forts, puzzles, LEGOs”—Brondo loved putting the pieces together when she was young. Fittingly, her career thus far has been a series of successes built one upon the other. Along the way, Brondo’s had the courage to use each experience as a stepping stone to the next challenge.
After graduating from Princeton University, Brondo took a job as site director of a test-preparation company. The position had its positives and negatives.
“I absolutely loved teaching, and especially loved working with students,” Brondo recalls, “but knew that I wanted to combine test prep with admissions counseling. I also didn't like some of the dishonest practices of the other company (like giving students the hardest practice test first and the easiest test last to show a dramatic, but fake, score improvement).”
Brondo realized she wanted to start her own company. So, she dove right in.
“It was really a leap, and when I quit, it wasn't really planned. I literally left and then thought I would have to write an elaborate business plan. It was my dad who advised me to just jump in and start working on it. I read Starting a Business for Dummies (not kidding), and just started checking off all the boxes of setting up the business. The biggest piece of advice I would give someone starting out is to not be afraid to ask questions.”
Brondo, who consistently earns perfect scores on the SAT and ACT, started The Edge in College Prep, a college-admissions counseling and SAT/ACT tutoring company, in 2005. She had only been out of Princeton for one year. Within three years, she added a second office. Now, The Edge in College Prep boasts five international locations. The course is offered monthly online through EdgePrepLIVE.
Some might have taken the success of The Edge in College Prep and rested on their laurels---but not Brondo. Her decade’s worth of experience working with high-school students led her to identify another need within the realm of college prep and admissions: the need for high-tech, affordable, tailored guidance.
Now, with the help of “an amazing team…and three fantastic developers,” Brondo and her co-founder, Emily Cole, have launched Admittedly, an online platform that helps high-school students identify which college(s) will match their interests and personalities and where they will most likely be accepted.
Brondo says building the platform has come with a significant “learning curve,” but she’s thrilled by the resulting product.
“I think it's most exciting that we’re incorporating the psychology of decision-making into our site. We realized that different students make their college decisions differently and wanted to build a platform that allowed them to do so. I think my favorite part of the site is the portion we will be launching in 2014, which is targeted at younger students to help them improve their chances along the way.”
Brondo says she’s been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic feedback from high school students—feedback the Admittedly team takes into consideration when fine-tuning the platform.
The Admittedly prototype rolled out this past fall, and the Major Matcher, which helps students select a major, was also recently launched. Brondo is looking forward to rolling out several other exciting modules in the coming months and year. In the meantime, though, she has one important piece of advice to share with college-bound students.
“You'll probably be happy at a variety of colleges, and college is really what you make of it,” says Brondo. “I would advise students to put less pressure on themselves to find that one school, but instead be open to multiple options and approach the college search process with an open mind.”
Follow Admittedly at: @Admitted_ly