When Eric Saunders toured Binghamton University as a Westfield High School senior, he initially felt that the school wouldn't be a good fit for him. But after talking with the friend of a friend who happened to be a student there, he got the inside scoop on what life was really like on and off campus.
Saunders is now a freshman accounting major at the university and said he couldn't be happier with his choice. Still, he readily admits had it not been for that student, he would've ended up elsewhere.
The value of getting behind-the-scenes information about a given school was a concept that stuck with Saunders. When his family visited during parents weekend this fall, they found themselves discussing the topic.
"Whenever we get together we love to talk about business and ideas and my dad was saying 'there really should be better college tours available' and I said 'there really should be' and then we thought, 'wait a second,'" recalled Saunders.
Shortly after that conversation, the 18 year old, with the help of his father, launched InsiderVisit, a company which strives to provide high school students with often-hard-to-come-by information about prospective colleges and universities by connecting them with an on-campus 'Insider.'
"Our Insiders will be your friend on campus who will divulge information that may not be as openly talked about on the school provided tours, such as the truth about nightlife, the vibe or cliques on campus, the plusses and minuses of the dining options, a full explanation of the differences of the living communities, and anything else you desire to know about," Saunders explains on his site.
Students are paired with 'Insiders' based on shared interests. Unlike traditional college tours, each opportunity with InsiderVisit is unique in that it is tailored to the needs of the prospective student. Some students prefer sitting in a cafeteria and talking while others prefer sprinting from place to place to see the campus, Saunders aknowledged.
InsiderVisit is run solely by students who serve as guides at colleges across the country. Saunders said the company is not affiliated with any of the schools as loyalty to students is the top priority.
Putting his networking skills to the test, Saunders currently has 'Insiders' at more than 30 schools. If students are interested in colleges or universities not posted on the site, Saunders said he will do his best to arrange a tour. The entrepreneur noted that once he began reaching out to friends, word quickly spread, allowing his list to continue expanding.
"Whenever I mention the idea to someone, the reaction is nothing but positive," said Saunders.
Adjusting to college and starting a business venture sounds like a daunting combination but for Saunders, who said he is constantly brainstorming new business ideas, he's up for the challenge.
"The hardest thing has really been organizing; making everyone write their profiles, getting their pictures, and constant communication with them," he explained. "I couldn't have done it without Facebook."
To accommodate student preferences at a variety of price points, InsiderVisit currently offers three options listed below:
InsiderVisit 101 $25
Don’t have time to drive to visit colleges? You can video chat with an Insider, asking any questions you may have. Our Insiders will gladly detail their ups and downs of their years here for up to 30 minutes.
InsiderVisit 201 $45
Our most popular Visit is a 60 minute Visit. Everything is personalized to the prospective student so whether you want to sit and talk in a cafeteria, or run around seeing everything on campus, the choice is up to you. Make sure to bring questions, or concerns you want answered.
InsiderVisit 301 $75
Our deluxe Visit is a longer Visit where prospective students can see more things than they could in Visit 201. Students have the option of attending a class, seeing what is off campus, or spend more time going to different places on campus. Contact us for details.