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New Site Crowdsources Answers to College Search

Information on the college-search process shouldn't be available only to those who can afford it. That's the idea behind a new Q&A platform, CampusSplash.com, launched this week by the founders of AdmissionSplash.

Here, prospective college students can pose questions about the search process for free and get answers from current students, alumni, and other experts. Users indicate if they like or dislike the responses. "That's the beauty of crowdsourcing. You vote up or down on the answer. The answer on the top has the most votes," says Allen Gannett, the 20-year-old co-founder of CampusSplash, along with Anton Zolotov, 22, both of Washington.

CampusSplash launched at noon Wednesday, and 2,400 questions have been posed. The goal is to have 50,000 by the end of September.

"The idea is based on the massive information gap," says Gannett. Students at public high schools where counselor-to-student ratios can be as high as 500-to-1 don't get the same access to information as wealthy students who can afford private college counselors. This creates an inequity that Gannett says CampusSplash.com attempts to address. "It takes it out of the hands of a few and makes it more democratic," says Gannett.

The site is similar to Yahoo Answers and Quora, but with a narrower focus. While not as expansive as the College Confidential website, Gannett says the benefit is that answers are prioritized by voters.

The questions asked on the site are specific and ones that students really care about, says Gannett. For example: Does x school have a good chemistry department? Does x college offer substantial financial-aid packages? What is dorm like life at x university?

The site has about 200 virtual tour guides from campuses answering questions and is recruiting other experts, such as admission officers, says Gannett. No one is paid. "People are motivated because they want to help future students at their alma maters or current school," he says. Also, as your answers receive votes, you get points and can work to become the "top person" in certain topics.

There is no fee to the students posing questions. Users sign on through Facebook. Their information is not shared unless the student gives permission, he says. Eventually, to generate revenue, CampusSplash will sell display ads and partner with schools to offer students links or apps to direct users to their campuses.

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