Meet Jad Abdul Jawad, a chemical engineering student at Stanford University who grew up in Jeddah and went to BISJ. Jad formulated a startup which seeks to empower and help students from Saudi apply to international universities.
Here’s his story behind the initiative:
Tell us about the startup and the idea behind it?
Applying to universities in the U.S as an international student is played out to seem like an intimidating task. However, going through the process myself I realized that it really didn’t need to be. Like any system, there are flaws. Flaws which most people don’t choose to exploit making the application process seem much more daunting than it truly is. Flaws which international students should take advantage of especially when admission rates continue to hit all-time lows.
Do you know what sucks though? (sic) That I’ve seen countless people seek help but end up getting discouraged because they get 50 different answers for the same question. Why? Because international students should, and are handled differently. Most services and people neglect the global experience that one needs to help them. This is evident through the huge gap between the US and international college services. A gap that really needs to be addressed: Firstly to encourage students to feel confident enough to apply to elite schools. Secondly, to dispel much of the myths and worries that people have been misguided to believe. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen friends applying to the US getting mislead by counselors, teachers and other services.
I want to believe that I went through the process, so others don’t have to. Empowering students, especially in Saudi Arabia, to compete on the world stage is what further education is about. Most schools will teach you the same things, but the people you surround yourself with influence you much more than we’d like to think, why wouldn’t I want my hometown to send its youth to the most progressive, forward-thinking universities?
So what led you here?
I applied to 23 US universities. I learned the trade the hard way from creating a theme for my app to dealing with alumni interviews. I went through it all. Bad advice, good advice. I’ve heard it all. I took what worked and made sense and compiled it into a system to give students their best chance at getting admitted. The lack of consolidated information in the international industry and number of misguided people is what essentially motivates this project. This, coupled with the fact that admissions rates keep decreasing every year makes me almost certain that many students are undervaluing their potential – removing themselves from the opportunity to take advantage of their untapped reservoirs.
Ever since junior year (IB1) I wanted to do something about it. But I never saw it as a need, up until now. I wanted to create a painkiller, something that people needed. Not just something you take on the side like vitamins. My time at Stanford and away from home has made me realize that as a nation we could represent ourselves much better than we have already – a call I am passionate about.
Did you start the venture alone?
I started this venture alone, at the notorious Coupa Café outside Green Library on campus. I started servicing students near the area first. Talked to multiple admission officers. Read my OWN admissions file and the reasons why I got in. This past year has been a successful pilot. One with many difficulties but fulfilling, nonetheless. In this pilot, I formed partners with key individuals in Nigeria, Lebanon, and of course Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Although it may have started alone, this is far from an individual project but rather multiple teams situated in strategic locations.
What was the hardest part in the growing stages of the startup?
The hardest part of the startup was deciding what tips and advice were based on fact, and which are based on opinion. I wanted to ensure that when we created our formula for international students, nothing we would suggest would come from speculation or belief. Reducing the waffle around admissions is one of our goals so we needed to ensure we were robust at the core. This involves months of research and rewriting the startups manual consistently. Talking to multiple admissions officers, parents and teachers to pinpoint the exact problem. Of course, as we grew the main challenge was to get people to believe in the philosophy we created. Naturally, we had no track record and therefore no credibility. Building trust was vital and I spent most my time ensuring that there was a clear understanding of the wants, needs, and expectation of every client.
What steps have you taken to develop a significant audience?
We are tailoring our services to specific types of people. That is what is working so we keep on doing it! In this industry, results are the only thing that matters. Not a fancy website or a clear-cut formula to get into your “dream school”. That’s what we aimed for in this first year. With our service, we have had students get accepted into Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton as well as other top tier universities! Now that we know our system works, our audience continues to grow. This has helped us deal with the credibility issue we faced earlier since now we have raw results, which can attest to the validity of the system we created.
How can students access the services?
As of now, we’re in the final stages of creating our website. Over here there is a myriad of different services which all begins with a free consultation. These consultations have two outcomes. We either suggest the correct type of service you need depending on where you are in the application process or refer you to proofreading services. This ensures that you won’t be taxing your time and money for things you don’t need!
The best way to contact us is through youniprep.com or texting/calling/Whatsapp +1 909 551 9381. Through this, Skype and one on one meetings are arranged.