It is safe to say that the college application and selection process is something that we Wes kids (and all college students, for that matter) are overjoyed to have behind us. Remembering the period as one of work, expectation, angst, and decision upon anxiety-provoking decision, the great majority of students have a tendency to separate themselves from their pre-college pasts.
However, there are some who, rather than run away from their previous high school experiences, choose to put that not-so-distant stress to productive use. As the creator of Campus Files, a new app designed for high school students in the midst of a search for their perfect college, George Poulos ’19 exemplifies this more critical approach to the past.
Poulos conceived Campus Files, which allows people to watch videos taken by those enrolled in a wide variety of institutions, in February, while he was waiting for the results of his college applications. According to him, the most stressful aspect of this period was attempting to imagine himself at the various schools to which he applied and selecting which would be the best fit.
“[The idea] hit me when I was choosing colleges,” he said. “I struggled to put myself in the college, you know? I searched YouTube for videos from each college, and I couldn’t find any. So, I thought, ‘Hey, I should make an app where students can post videos, and you can search that college to watch them.’”
During his decision process, Poulos wanted video footage because he believed it would provide him with a more genuine and straightforward alternative to the written content of websites like Niche and College Confidential. He felt that these student-written reviews are oftentimes one-sided and do not always offer the most candid portraits of schools.
“I think video portrays the vibe of a college better than text,” he said. “Text is limited and always has a bias, while video can’t really be biased as it captures what really is happening in front of you, not your opinions of it.”
Since the app’s release, students from over 40 different colleges have shared their clips. Because Poulos is a New Jersey native, most of these submissions have come from institutions in the Tri-State area, but the app’s user base has also extended to various other states in the United States, such as Texas and Arizona, as well as some overseas institutions, such as Bard College Berlin.
Despite its strong start, Campus Files is still in the works. Because Poulos runs it alone and on a minimal budget, advertising the app in a way that attracts users has been among his biggest challenges.
“In terms of marketing, I’ve had to manually run Twitter and Instagram accounts for the app, which has really limited reach,” he said. “Apps that blow up tend to have a huge marketing budget, which I don’t, so I have to work pretty hard to acquire users.”
Even so, the ambitious freshman is slowly but surely discovering solutions to his problems. For instance, identifying a demographic to target has served as a major boon to the Campus Files project.
“Prospective students seem easier, so I spend time encouraging college students to get the app and share their moments with others,” he said. “I think I’ve done okay, since there are a lot of videos popping up.”