What does KIPP Bay Area’s Director of College Admissions Counselors say about Going Merry?

Over 5,000 high school counselors use Going Merry to recommend college scholarships to their students, as well as to monitor their students’ applications processes.

We sat down with one of them–Shannon Harrison, KIPP Bay Area’s Director of College Counseling–to find out how Going Merry has helped both students and guidance counselors at KIPP.

Watch the full video here, or read the transcript below:

The scholarship slog, before Going Merry

Q: What have you used for finding scholarships in the past?

“In the past, it’s really been hit or miss. It’s been very student-driven, where only kids who were motivated to do it, would just take it upon themselves to do it. They’re using the massive search engines that bring back everything, that aren’t super well-filtered. Students aren’t really well versed in how to pick through those for quality scholarships, and so our success rate and application rate have been very low.”

Q: From a high school counselor’s perspective, how have you known what the students are doing?

“I’d say that’s also really hit or miss. If a kid is really communicative, then of course, we would help them in any way we could. If a kid won a scholarship, they might tell us. [But] if they’re not telling us, we don’t know.”

“[And] chances are, [students aren’t really applying much on their own.] They have homework, they’re applying to college, they’ve got a lot of things going on. So they’re just applying to these things on a whim, usually.”

“We definitely weren’t using any kind of unified platform that would allow us to peak into what they were doing and see their progress. we were just notified based on.”

How Going Merry made scholarships easy

This part of the interview begins at 1 minute, 28 seconds:

Q: What was it like using Going Merry?

“I definitely saw a jump in terms of the amount our students were using it, the ease in which the counselors were using it. The whole process was just really user-friendly for students, so they were utilizing it a lot more than we’ve ever seen [them utilize] any other platform,[related to] scholarships or not.”

Q: What did the students say about it?

“The students were really happy that it was so condensed into one platform. I think they really enjoyed the fact that they could put information in [once] and it would be transferred over to [all their] different [scholarship] applications. It took out a lot of the monotony and the tedious work [out of] the scholarship process. So they definitely liked that.”

“The interface was very user-friendly as well, and so they were really able to navigate it on their own without much help, which our kids really liked. They felt in control, that they had agency.”

Q: How did you and the other counselors find it?

“It was the easiest platform we’ve come in contact with, whether it was scholarship related or not. The counselors loved it. It was something that they could easily implement, right away with their students. There wasn’t a huge learning curve for them. The kids took it upon themselves really quickly, and I think that just helped the counselors feel more confident in the platform itself.

Being able to track students’ progress with the tool was definitely a help for the counselors. It helps counselors hold students accountable, but it also helped them feel reassured that everything was going okay, and that their students were using class time appropriately. They were also able to make sure that students were holding up their end of the bargain, whenever they were told to go do something. [Counselors] could follow up and make sure that the kids were doing what they needed to do.”

“Do it. Do it right away… It’s going to make your life easier”

This last part of the interview starts at 3 minutes, 20 seconds:

Q: What would you say to any high school guidance counselors considering using Going Merry?

“I would say, don’t hesitate – do it! Do it right away. It’s definitely going to make your life easier and your students’ lives easier.

I think it was a great learning process for not only our counselors to see how easy it can be to help students find money, but also for students to apply to scholarships. [We trained students] on what do you say, when do you say it, how simple it can be to replicate applications. And so, it’s definitely a great tool to use, and it’s been an amazing experience for us.”

You can sign up as a counselor here (or as a student here).

Want a scholarships lesson plan?

Get that here.

Want to learn more about Going Merry for high school guidance counselors?

Charlotte Lau

Charlotte remembers the anxiety of college application time, trying to get into a good university and then finding enough funds to pay for it. She joined Going Merry as Head of Growth, to help make that college process a little less stressful. Charlotte holds a BA from Stanford and a MPP from Oxford—degrees both funded by scholarships. For several years, she also tutored academic writing and edited college/fellowship applications, as a side hustle.

Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?