Vanessa Didyk wants every student to have a voice and access to life changing opportunities. She’s an entrepreneur who’s successfully launched two EdTech business and is now the CEO of ZeeMee, a mobile engagement platform that connects students and colleges through  social communities. I sat down with Vanessa to talk about college admissions and how ZeeMee helps students be their best selves.

You’ve been an entrepreneur and launched your own companies, what brought you to ZeeMee?

It feels like everything I have done so far led me to ZeeMee. I’ve spent my entire career in education and EdTech working to democratize access to educational opportunities and prepare students for the major steps in their lives. That is what ZeeMee is all about so it seemed like a perfect fit. I fell in love with the team and the vision and I knew that I could do good work here and make a difference for both the company and all of our incredible students.

What’s wrong with the college admissions process, why did the scandal happen?

College admissions has gotten incredibly competitive and the pressures on young people to do well in high school, get into the right college, and become successful adults have ramped to an unhealthy degree. Unfortunately a lot of this pressure comes from parents buying into the idea that getting into the “right/best” college is more important than getting into the school that fits their child best. 

You say ZeeMee levels the playing field for college admissions. How?

The ZeeMee platform allows students to create video profiles that serve as transparent and authentic supplements to the college application and give admissions counselors a fuller picture of who they are beyond their test scores. We have over 250 college partners who share our vision of improving access and have embedded the ZeeMee profile in their application. 

What’s the best way for college bound students to showcase their talents?

It is so important for students to dig deep and get creative. Colleges can put a face to the name, view students’ records in the context of their lives, and see their stories come alive. It is a lot more compelling to hear a slam poet in action than it is to read that item on an activity list.

What’s one of your best success stories?

Raul Garcia is a student from Nicaragua who submitted his ZeeMee profile page to Stanford, not knowing if they would take the time to look. He was accepted and when he arrived on campus for orientation, one of the admissions counselors came up to him and said “Hey Raul, I feel like I already know you.” The committee loved his story.

What’s next for ZeeMee?

We’re gearing up to release new features this month and to help students find friends and connect with classmates before they get to campus and once they’ve settled in. We also will be releasing ZeeMee Community for graduate school later this year.

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