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A New Afterward

Swiveling in the ultramodern desk chair in his office fifteen floors above
Manhattan’s Park Avenue South,  I...
‘l'Hl-2 GA']‘l-‘. KF. l-JPI-ZRS » bad

2 8 6 ‘
.  . _ .  , , ’ .  ' x ‘ . 
own impressions and opinions to each college 5 ...
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Book - Looking at Unigo


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Book - Looking at Unigo

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Book - Looking at Unigo

  1. 1. A New Afterward Swiveling in the ultramodern desk chair in his office fifteen floors above Manhattan’s Park Avenue South, Iordan Goldman paused briefly to take in the scene outside his window. It afforded him a bird’s—eye view of brick and glass, with wooden rooftop water towers arrayed like candles on a cake——a tableau that a Hollywood film director might find an apt backdrop for an epic story about a brash Internet entrepreneur who had helped in- vent a digital genre well before turning thirty. And that, as it turns out, was who Jordan was, and what he had done. In fact the real action, on this morning in late February 2012, was in- ) ' _ screen and two other monitors ar- . Those displays provided him with real-time snapshots from the far reaches of Unigo, the sprawling college admissions advice Web site that he had founded in 2008, four years after graduating from Wesleyan, as a pioneering attempt to sate the curiosity of students and parents alike who were still getting their first taste of Wikipedia and social media. _ _ _ ]ordan’s inspiration was to take the basic concept behind tried-and- true roadmaps like The Fislee Guide to Colleges—thumbnaiI sketches of dozens of institutions, based on small surveys of students and administra- tors—-and imagine what that ink-and-paper standard would look like if it were plugged into an electrical outlet and laid out on the Web in an inter- active form that enabled students themselves to continuously add their 285
  2. 2. ‘l'Hl-2 GA']‘l-‘. KF. l-JPI-ZRS » bad 2 8 6 ‘ . . _ . , , ’ . ' x ‘ . own impressions and opinions to each college 5 entries. In creating Umgo, 9‘ Jordan had drawn on an earlier, more traditional publishing experiencc; Fven before gr-. idu-atiiig from Wesleyan, he and a group of l’I‘lCI1ClS had pg, -_ suaded l’enguiii Books to publish a book they conceived, Studentx’ Guide to A5 (Iollqm, which was essentially a Fisla: Guide written and edited by collcge d5‘ students. Car By early 2012 the Unigo site was home to threads of conversation W9 about hundreds of colleges (each described in hundreds, and even thou- in sands, of postings), all of it sufficiently compelling to attract more than as one million unique visitors each month, according to Google Analytics_ The site had become so popular, and such an integral addition to the lexi- con of applying to college, that Iordan had recently secured a $1.6 million investment from McGraw-Hill, which he was using to take Unigo to what he saw as its next logical step. He and his colleagues added a component to the site that made it possible for students without access to good counsel- ing to obtain it online, and for those without the means to necessarily visit the colleges on their wish lists to be able to do so virtually. Jordan and a full—tiine staff of about sixteen stitched together a network of thousands of current students on the nation’s college campuses who had agreed to I make themselves available to high school students via video chat (at a cost of $30 for a brief conversation). He also created a hub of college coun- selors, many of them independents but some working in schools, who could be “booked” for one-on-one sessions, also via video, for $100 -«F95» V if . , :_'~v* an hour. The Obama administration, among others, took notice. At a White House ceremony in late 2011, Jordan was one of one hundred entrepre- neurs from across the nation who were honored for creative, groundbreak- ing work in their respective fields; the list of honorees was compiled by a partnership of several foundations, as well as boldfaced corporate names like Steve Case (the founder of AOL), Michael Dell (of the Dell Com- puter) and Magic Johnson (the retired NBA star who later founded Magic lohnson Enterprises). Jordan received his award from Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, and said later that he was able to catch a flccting glimpse of Mr. Obama, if not manage an actual handshake. ,1’? conceiving Unigo, Jordan said he was motivated by his own rabid °““‘? s“Y about colleges, more than a decade earlier, as a student at TOI- : ::1lAlA° High in Staten Island. He also recalled the limitations of thc guid‘ “IA: lS1:tlnl'cCCClVCCl from a counselor whose caseload was A _, O, ' , Ways, Unigo 1S very personal, ” he said. ‘ . A . wilhl _