A Bath-based entrepreneur has used the difficult experience he faced as a teenager to create an online course-listings service that revolutionizes the way students find college or university courses.
When applying to university, young people today have much more than just their grades to worry about. For many students, the avalanche of university statistics and the sheer variety of course options they are faced with can make the business of finding a university and a course a hugely stressful business. Young people would be forgiven for thinking that they need a degree just to work out which degree to do. However, having been confronted by this situation himself during his younger years, one Bath-based entrepreneur is intent on simplifying the university-application process, and has developed a novel online resource for today's young prospective students.
Stephen Newall is the founder of Getting-in.com, a leading educational website that recently launched a course-listings service that is designed to allow young people to easily explore their study options and compare courses. Newall's severe dyslexia made the proposition of wading through the facts, figures and opinions from numerous stodgy prospectuses and countless websites even more of an imposition than it already is for most people. Building on the expertise he has gained through nurturing Getting-in as a feature-rich and accessible education portal, he realised that his site's approach to areas such as exam revision and CV writing was crying out to be applied to helping students identify the course that was right for them.
"When you look at how we expect young people to choose a university and a course, it's really quite remarkable," says Newall. "Not only are they supposed to factor in countless statistics and facts about each institution and course, but they're also forced to deal with this information being scattered across literally thousands of Web pages."
After several months of careful research into the essential elements of picking a university course and collaborating with his web development team to devise an easy-to-use interface, Stephen and the Getting-in team have recently launched their course-listings service.
It brings the UK's thousands of educational institutions and tens of thousands of courses together in a single, interactive database. Whether students are looking for an apprenticeship, a diploma or a degree, want to restrict their search to a particular area of the country, or just want to browse the options available to them, the service makes searching for the course a breeze. Once students have their search results, in just a click they have access to all the information they could possibly need about the courses and the institutions offering them—from fee levels and entry requirements to student satisfaction and graduate-employment rates—all in one place. Many institutions even include videos and other multimedia content in their listings.
And should students like what they find they can follow up their interest through direct links to the university's contact details and web pages, and even request a copy of a prospectus or book a place on an open day.
Getting-in's course listing service, which is totally free of charge, is the latest product of Newall's vision for harnessing the power of the Internet to make fulfilling their educational potential and exploring their options easier for young people.
"I remember really struggling when I was a teenager to get the help I needed to make the most of my opportunities at school and university," Newall says. "The Internet is great because it provides us with so much information, but it's only so useful if it's a struggle to access and digest that information. This is what's behind my vision for Getting-in: I wanted to offer a single site that would fulfil the needs of young people at all educational levels, and from all walks of life. Whether they need help with revision, are looking for vocational training or applying to university, they can get the help they need from Getting-in.com."
Now in its third year of operation, during which time it has been rapidly winning over students from across the UK and beyond who visit for its completely free-of-charge revision guides, model UCAS personal statements, feature articles on educational and careers matters and much more besides, the course-listings service is just one part of Newall's ambitious plans for the future. "We recently reached the milestone of over half a million pages of content, covering everything from apprenticeships to careers in zoology," says Newall. "And our team of Web developers and professional writers is growing all the time.
"Getting the site to this point has been a crazy, hectic couple of years. But if I've managed to help just one student not to have to experience the anguish I did when faced with a mountain of university prospectuses, I know it'll all have been worth it."