Better Tech & Better Processes for College Choice with David Hurwitt
May 23, 2023
Better Tech & Better Processes for College Choice with David Hurwitt

The whole college admissions process is frustrating from both sides. Students rely on the school mailers they’re inundated with beginning their second or third year of high school. And schools buy student lists and “spray and pray” them with mailers. There’s no real science behind it and, as a result, students end up transferring or leaving their college after a semester or two (if they opt to go at all) and colleges are constantly looking for new students to fill seats and meet revenue quotas.

Not only that but students of privilege tend to get better access to college planning resources, leaving a big gap in those who end up with a good fit college vs. those who don’t.

David Hurwitt is on a mission to change this. By leveraging research from the dating app eHarmony, he’s created a free tool where students can match with a good-fit college. This creates better student successes as well as better results for the colleges and universities that provide data and feedback to the system.

Not every student is meant to go to college, and that’s okay. But giving more students access to resources that allow them to forge their own paths is essential. This is a step in the right direction.

Listen in to hear more.

About David Hurwitt:

Dave Hurwitt is an innovator. Over the course of his career, he’s led the development and launch of new products and services – from toothpicks to wind turbines – that have generated well over $1 billion in sales.

If you have a large, front loading washing machine in your house, that was Dave and his team at Whirlpool. They re-envisioned the traditional, small European washer for the US market and took front loaders from 1% of the market to over 50% today, saving billions of dollars in electricity and water consumption in the process.

Dave has lived and worked around the world, and is now based in Burlington Vermont with his wife and two Golden Retrievers. Their 3 “kids” have now graduated from college, but it was his experience with them on their college journeys that started his innovator’s brain cranking on what became Troove.

Having worked in admissions through grad school, he was amazed by how little technology and the internet had impacted the college search and admissions process. And even more, he was dismayed to discover how often students were transferring or dropping out altogether.

In early 2020, this led directly to his founding Troove, a 2-sided, AI powered platform to help students discover their passions, people, and place based on the real experiences of recent alumni and current higher education students.

An accomplished photographer, lover of history, and avid traveler, Dave has made it to every state but Alaska (so far!) and some 50 different countries, camera always in hand. The same curiosity about people that shows up in his photography also shows up in the new products he creates – always with a focus on human interaction and how we can better blend the old and the new.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:39] – where did story of school transformation begin for you
[4:49] – The story of Benjamin Woodbridge’s application to Harvard in 1637
[6:35] – What can solve this problem
[9:02] – Goal for admissions officers is enrollment, not retention
[12:00] – People don’t know exactly what they’re looking for, making it difficult to find the right school
[14:04] – Leveling the playing field in higher education against the bias toward those with more means
[17:56] – Why admissions offices need this resources
[20:34] – What the process looks like for students
[25:26] – When to start using a resource like Troove
[32:46] – Turbo Time
[39:04] – David’s Magic Wand
[40:53] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Hi, David, it is so great to have you as our guest on Education Evolution.

David Hurwitt 1:13
Thank you, Maureen. I’m really pleased to be here.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:16
And listeners, today I’m chatting with David Hurwitt, CEO and co founder of Troove. Troove is disrupting college admissions with predictive AI to help students discover their perfect college match based on real experiences of recent alumni and current students. This is exciting. This is revolutionary. Let’s dive in. So David, we know that our schools and our systems have to evolve to serve all learners. Where did this story of school transformation began for you?

David Hurwitt 1:50
Well, I think if you go, my original interest in the field came from having worked in the admissions office when I was in prep school in college and as an undergraduate, and also again, in graduate school when I was in business school was on the admissions committee. So I read applications and voted and was was very involved and intrigued by that process. And then I graduated from business school right around the time this thing called the internet was invented. And it was actually right around the time where my first child was invented. And so fast forward, you know, 18 years or so. And she and I came back to the process, I chose not to go into admissions as a profession, but went into more commercial business development kind of roles, creating new products and services in a range of different industries. And so when I talk, when I took my oldest daughter back on her college tours, I was expecting a very different experience than the one that I had. Because the one that I had was exactly the one that I had left 20 years before. And yes, there are some some really interesting, innovative marketing technologies and things like that, the fundamental process of teenager picking from a set of schools, they don’t know much about providing a limited amount of information to schools that doesn’t give them much insight into this young person. And then trying to make a decision that really is supposed to last you a lifetime, had not been fundamentally impacted by technology. So that was that was where it really came from was was that first college trip. And I is my sort of typical MO is I’m going to step back from a process or a product that’s new to me, or that’s, that’s something I’m revisiting and say, Is this really serving the people who are using it? Is there a better way? Are there similar services or products and other markets that might be applicable here. And so I just my brain just started working as we’re driving all those miles in the college trip, the father daughter trip, and, and thinking about how, you know, she was choosing songs on Spotify, that were perfect. And I was picking restaurants as we rolled through different towns and cities that were really well suited to us. And it occurred to me that the technology being used by those companies, to match us with places were and songs that we were going to like in places where we’re going to eat food that it knew we were going to enjoy was profoundly more insightful than the process we were following on this significantly more expensive investment in her education.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:19
Wow, that is so true. And, and I see this in K 12. Education, too, that it’s not substantially different from the 1800s. It’s like, come on, if cell phones are updated every six months, what’s going on with admissions and with education?

David Hurwitt 4:36
Well, I haven’t, you know, I didn’t I didn’t grow up in this industry. I’ve been in a you know, full time for a little over three years now. But that’s just a blip in time, I’m sure compared to most of your listeners. But I did a lot of research and I continued a lot of research and reading. And I found a story of a young man named Benjamin Woodbridge. And Ben was a Massachusetts kid. He really wanted to go to Harvard. And so He sent off his grades and a recommendation letter and essay about himself. Here’s what I want to study everything. And he waited for a response from Harvard. And eventually that came, but it came on horseback. And the he was accepted into Harvard. And the reason he came on horseback was because this was 1637. And you’re young Ben would Woodridge went on to become the very first college graduate in the United States colonies. And now do I know exactly what Ben sent to Harvard? No, but he absolutely was the first college graduate in America. And I have to believe that the fundamental process that he used in 1637, nearly 400 years ago, was essentially the same process we use today, teenage teenager makes a choice, send some info, wait some time, get some information back, and then they head off to Cambridge or wherever they’re going. So it’s a really an opportunity, I think, to bring some new thinking to the process and the technology we use to help match people with more than just the places they’re going to get in. But the places where they’re going to stay and learn for a lifetime.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:07
Absolutely. And I hear so many students saying, oh, yeah, I’m gonna go where my big brother goes. And it’s like, what do you want to study? Oh, veterinary science, how’s their vet program? I don’t know, there’s just a disconnect. And college planning is like, there’s one person that does it for a whole high school part time. So they get like maybe a conversation once or twice during their high school experience. So it’s not working as you and I know, what have you created to help solve this problem?

David Hurwitt 6:37
We are approaching this from a few different directions. Number one is better technology. And number two is what I think is better process. So this is a two sided marketplace for us where students in schools can find each other. And the the core matching technology has to be different. But then the process with which it’s applied also has to be different. So let me start with the process side of it. First, if you think about from the enrollment side, the first thing that most schools do is they buy a list of students that they think have some probability of applying. And that might that might be 100,000, students could be a couple 100,000 students, depending on the size of the school. But the inverse of that two way to think about that is to say, if you’re choosing 100,000 students in the senior class, and the senior class in the US has about 3.7 million, you’re really eliminating 95% of the market right out of the gate out. SHAN so that that constraint really is the root of a lot of problems. And so how can we create a system whereby the entire market is always available, and the schools are always visible to any student on on the market, if you will, who is interested in going to a college that may be a good fit for you.

David Hurwitt 7:52
So procedurally, we had to find a way to do that. And then the information that we’re that they provide to each other has to be better, we have to find a way to make it more than just as you suggested, my big brother went there, my parents went there, or my guidance counselor is trying really hard, but they have 600 students they have to work with, and they really know 10 schools really well. And so, you know, as my dad like to say, all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Yeah, right. So you just keep sort of saying, Hey, your your big school, you go here, small school kind of kid, you’re gonna go here. And the reality is that a student starting college in the fall, is twice as likely today to transfer or drop out as they are to stay in graduate on time from that school. So the failure rates, and I would, I’m a transfer student called transfer student, myself, so I, I hesitate to call transferring failure. But it’s a failure of choice for your first enrolled institution, that it just wasn’t the right place for me. So it’s a failure in that sense. And so that probability is much higher. So we had to find a way to go deeper. And one of the insights that I came away with very clearly as I started to interview enrollment people was that the goal for most admissions officers is understandably enrollment. Of course, they care about the success of those students. And of course, they want to see graduation rates increase, but they are incentivized around enrollment. And so as in any industry, if you incentivize someone to do something, they’re most likely to do it at the exclusion of other things.

David Hurwitt 9:28
And so enrollment, people are really focused on getting people in the college for day one. And the goal and this was where my parents had came in. The goal wasn’t to get my daughter into college. The goal is to get my daughter out of college with a degree. Yeah. And so if graduation is the goal, and even even beyond that, to say, I’d like her to find her tribe, find her people and think of that undergraduate institution as the center of her learning journey for a lifetime. And if that’s the goal, then the good news is that the Lord Just part of any school community are the graduates. They are literally the model of success academically and socially in that schools unique culture. So he said, Okay, great, let’s use data science. Here we go with modernization piece, let’s use data science with what I refer to affectionately referred to as community powered AI. And say, we’re going to take a representative sample of the recent graduates and current students and do that with a survey tool, survey, a few 100 of those, those folks at each school, and then be able to create effectively the academic and social cultures in digital form for those schools. So that creates a lens or a filter through which new students can see themselves fitting into different schools cultures. And so at the beginning of the process, with a simple 10 minute survey, a prospective student can find out whether the academic and social culture of any given school is a great fit for them in terms of not just getting in, but getting out, you know, with that degree. And so it’s a much easier way to get at the heart of the matter, and satisfy what really matters, which is, is this is this where I belong? Am I gonna fit in here? You know, and the phrase I hear a lot is, are these my people? I’m just trying to find my people?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:15
Yes. Wow, that is so important. So what does it look like for a student? Then? How would they even get started to make this happen?

David Hurwitt 11:28
Yeah, so. So we built this matching engine, and includes every school in the country, over 4000 colleges and universities, and the two years, four years, public, private. So if you go to, as a student, and just click Find my fit, there, it’s that button is littered all over the website, so you can’t miss it. And you take a quick 10 minute quiz, and it asks you a couple of demographic questions. And then it asks you a series of questions built around academic culture, and social culture. And you know, that’s another thing, but I don’t expect the average, whether they be a teenager coming from high school, or an adult learner coming from college, from adult life back to secondary education, post secondary education, I don’t think many people are particularly articulate about exactly what it is we’re looking for. And so what we try to do is ask you a series of questions around what the psychologists refer to as psychological safety. Now, not being an industrial psychologist, myself, the way they described it, to me was, if you’re a tortoise, there is a set of conditions is going to make that tortoise feel safe enough to stick their neck out. And so what are the set of conditions both in and out of the classroom, where you, as a student are going to stick your neck out and become the best version of yourself and really engage, you’re going to feel comfortable and confident and want to engage in and out of the classroom. And those are your people, that’s your place. And so we’re asking you a series of questions, academically and socially, about the kinds of places where you’re going to feel comfortable, what kind of things you’d like to do, what he thinks you don’t like to do, how much engagement are you looking for in the classroom of professors and classmates? Socially? What do you touch the things you’d like to do? That allows us to then match your responses with the average community response from sponsored schools. And so like I said, every school is on the platform today. And we use all the public access data we can get from every school. And then we’re going school by school, to get them to give us access to their alumni and their current students. So we can get incremental data from them, and make it even more predictive as a model for success. And the way we fund this is it’s all entirely free to students in their families. Day, today, schools are spending collectively billions of dollars to find and enroll new students. And so we’re simply saying we can help you to do that more efficiently. And so we’re going to take a little sliver of that, that stream of revenue, and then continue to provide this free to students because it’s one thing that I definitely learned, as I got further and further into this industry is, I am passionately interested in helping to level the playing field, in higher education, against the sort of bias we have towards those with more money with more education and their family. With more means we would go to high schools that have more guidance counselor’s there’s so many things stacked in the favor of young people that come from privilege. And I you know, I admittedly, I come from that kind of background.

David Hurwitt 14:26
And it really bothers me that the graduation rates at so many schools where if you if you there’s such a clear correlation between the graduation rate and the acceptance rate, so the harder it is to get into, the more likely you are to stay to graduate. But the reality is there’s only about 5% of schools in this country colleges and universities that accept fewer than 25% of their applications. And so the reality is that 75% is about the average acceptance rate for colleges needed are seasoned us. So for most students, the experience of applying to college is not about, can I get into an ivy? Can I get into MIT or Stanford or those types of schools? Most kids are thinking, I’m gonna go to state, which one of the two state schools should I go to? Should I go to community college? Should I go to college at all? And when that’s your mindset, and that’s the mindset of the overwhelming majority of students, then they are much more likely to say, life just got in the way, I didn’t find the right fit, mom lost her job, Dad got sick, my little brother needs to go do this. So I’m gonna have to go home. Those are the realities that people are dealing with. And it’s not a fair playing field. And so to the extent that technology, and our system changes, process changes can help level that playing field, and give information to students who can’t buy private guidance counselors, or don’t go to prep schools. That is a tremendous benefit and motivator for me and for our team, to be able to help try to try to bring some some information and some opportunity to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 16:02
Yes, this equity and that it’s free for all students. Yeah, I love that. That’s super important and good for you for finding a way to make it worth your time, and not at the expense of students.

David Hurwitt 16:16
Right. Right. And that’s, you know, I’m a bit of a I’ve, I’d say, I’m at an age right now where I make decisions based on what makes me happy. And what do I think is really worth my time, because time is the asset that I value most. And so as I thought more about this problem, when I was looking for schools for my daughter, I thought the problem was, how do I get her into school. And then like I said, as I learned more about it, the problem is not getting it, it’s getting out. And that that solution is is unevenly distributed throughout the world. And so I really said, this is something that I think I want to put my time into, that I believe in helping to solve this problem, and bring some equity to this, this problem that we all face today, because everyone knows that college admissions is a bit of a mess, everyone a college admissions would tell, you know, the system really doesn’t work, the pool is shrinking. The the clarity that students have in high school that they need to go to college is shrinking. And so everyone sort of says cheese, we have to be doing some different things, we know we’ve got to try different things. They don’t know what that is. And so they keep doing the same old things in the absence of something new. And so we’re trying to be one of those new things that allows them to say, okay, we can make some fundamental changes, we can do things differently to affect a different outcome. And stop doing the old cliche of, we keep doing the same things over and over again, and keep getting the same results. And we wonder why.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:43
Exactly. So I’d like the component of this to that is talking to students, and to alums, to they are the representatives of the school. So why should the admissions office says make sure that they’re using that resource?

David Hurwitt 18:01
Yeah, it’s their best resource. You know, when you speak to a college president, they’re crystal clear that their alumni base is an untapped resource. And, you know, the business model of most schools, it’s sort of a kind of a basic, somewhat crass level is, I’m going to sell you a four year degree, and then I’m going to chase you, for the rest of your life, for something for nothing, I want money for nothing, right. And that doesn’t make any sense. And, and so for the admissions officers to to say, look, we need to take accountability, not just for delivering the class putting, as they say, butts in seats, or delivering a an X amount of net tuition revenue, those are essential ingredients. But if, if that’s all you’re doing, then you’re not gonna be bringing the right students. And so the reason why admissions officers need to start to pay attention to this is their number one going to make their job easier. If a whole bunch of you know half your students are transferring or dropping out, you need to keep filling your bucket that’s filled with holes with ever more resource. And as that amount of resource out there declines, the number of students declines, it just gets harder and harder. So let’s start plugging the holes and bringing in students that are actually going to stay. And so the self interest for admissions people is you’re going to make your job easier. And you’re going to bring in people that are going to stay and engage with your school for a lifetime, which is going to make you not only hit those key metrics, but also deliver on the core mission of the university. And, you know, let’s be honest, the thing that your boss, the president of school, cares most about, which is graduation rates, alumni engagement rates, and being able to modernize as we have all these incredible learning technologies coming on board every day. If someone feels this real kinship with their university, and graduates and says, I can’t wait to be a member of this alumni community forever, and I’m going to retrain myself For new careers, I’m going to learn about new things. I’m going to travel with my school, all these opportunities to create value for both student and school for a lifetime. That has to start with fit. And so if you are the person in admissions, you’re going to make your job easier. And you’re going to create long term value for university, which is highly strategic and tactical the same time. It’s just a win win for them.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 20:23
Absolutely. And fit. I don’t think we give that nearly the attention it deserves. So say I am a high school senior. And I’ve gone to And I’ve taken the assessment, what tell me what the rest of the process would look like.

Speaker 2 20:42
Yeah, so depending on how you answer the questions, we’re going to return to you a ranking for every school, the 4000 schools are actually ranked. So you can see where you are with any school because we want to turn this into a verb to the answer to, you know, is that a good fit for me? Is this a good school for me, I don’t know, just trouve it, right. So that’s, that’s where the kind of that I always like names for products that become the verb in the category. So I’m going to Uber, I’m going to google it, I’m going to write and so truvision is all about when you take that quiz, and you give us the parameters that you care about. And then we start to match you with schools, that the top of your list will put we refer to as your green fits, and then your yellow fits and your red fits. So we’re not here to tell you definitively you can’t go here, or you must go here, we’re here to say, here’s the things you have in common. Here’s the schools where you have the most in common based on what you said. And you can always go back and change. You know, if you start this as a sophomore, as a junior, and you learn something new, or you start to to evolve as a course you are going to during high school, then you can go back and amend your answers. But you’ll see green, yellow and red fits and the reasons why. And then what you can do with that as you can either like or favorite. Some of the choices. So if you if you match with a school that you say you look at it, say well, I can see why that’s a good fit. I’d like to know more about that school, I can click on the link, or I can add it to my favorites list. So that information is information we share with the with the schools, and essential to the promise of true from a student perspective and school perspective, it really focused on the students is we are only going to share with schools where you’re having green fit, where you have a good assessed fit. One of the problems in this in this business today. And it is a business is that that most of the purveyors of names out there will give you any name, they’ll sell any name to whomever asked for it. And I just don’t believe in that. I think that creates the junk mail mentality that students don’t believe schools, they’re trying to hide from all these all this incredible amount of junk mail that that fills their physical mailbox fills their their Digital Mailbox, their their phone is buzzing all the time because schools are texting them, and they just can’t stand it. And so what we do is we say, look, answer these questions, honestly, for yourself, and then be absolutely clear that we are never going to sell your information or connect, you try to connect you to a school where you are not a great fit. We only do it with schools where there’s a great fit. And this actually came from some research I did on dating apps. And the eHarmony is not maybe the sexiest dating app anymore. But back in the early 2000s, they were far and away the king of the hill, specifically for for marriage. So if you were looking for a long term partner, you would go to eHarmony. And the harmonies process was that you would take a quiz to start the process. And you would answer a whole bunch of questions. It was more personality profiling one person to person matching, which is not what we do, but their methodology was was to give you a quiz, and then only ever show you the profiles of people with whom they had assessed, you’d have long term compatibility. And so you are never gonna be able to open up eHarmony Take the quiz and then find people that you might find physically attractive and might have one or two good dates and then want to kill each other. That’s not the best that was Tinder. Right? That’s that’s the other end of the spectrum. So what are the what caught my eye was the eHarmony did a large scale research study years later to look at the divorce rates of people that met and married through that methodology? And what they found was the divorce rate for eHarmony based couples was 3.9%. So wow, yeah, more than an order of magnitude improvement in the outcome, which was, you know, desired to be a not a first date, but a lifetime relationship, that they were more than 10 times, you know, better than the average. And so we sort of modeled ourselves after that idea that we give you an assessment upfront, and we have some, some real science behind the matching that we do. And then we’re, we’re giving you a pool of schools, that would be a really good fit for you. And then it’s up to you to make your choices and to do more interviews and to call Let me go to the website and visit if you can take virtual tours, all those things are then available to you. But this idea that we’re only going to show you the score match you with the schools where you have a green fit for long term probability long term relationship, and then assume that we’re going to have a much better divorce rate. That’s, that’s the objective.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:21
I love that. So if I have a high schooler, and I’m listening in on this podcast, what would be some words of wisdom? Like, how should my students trouve? When they’re a junior or wait till they’re a senior? Or more than once? I know, by senior year, parents oftentimes, come on, where are you on your college essay, an application? What would be a couple of words of advice you would give to parents of high schoolers?

Speaker 2 25:50
Yeah, I It’s a great question I, I would always recommend to a student to get started early in the process, the pressure in this obviously gets greater and greater the closer you get to application time. And your decision making skills, I think you get worse as you get closer to that pressure. Because you’re your senior junior year, senior, those are hard, you’re working so hard as a student, and you’ve got mom and dad on your on your case, you got a guidance counselor in your case, and teachers and you’re trying to, you’re still fighting for grades and doing all your extracurriculars. So I would say, give yourself a lot of runway, and give yourself a little bit of breathing room and some grace and say, You know what, I’m a sophomore, I’m a freshman, I’m not sure what I want. But I’m gonna give myself some runway and Trube is totally unbiased here. Marine, but true is is, is a is a great place to start that process. And it’s meant to be a start to a process. So you can go and you can take the quiz, it’ll take you 10 or 15 minutes to do that. And that’ll give you a suggestion, you can start to look and explore. And then you can start to reach out to schools, schools love it when you reach out to them. They love having sophomores and juniors in their, in their system, because it indicates that that student is being thoughtful, and wants to develop a relationship. And there’s nothing school likes more than saying, Look, you know, you and I’ve been talking for a year now. And I really liked this, this and this. And I talked to Professor so and so. And I talked to Coach so and so. Or I’ve met three students on my visit to to you and this is what I like that is gold from a college perspective. Because it really it really shows that foresight. And so if you give yourself that room, as I said earlier, you can always come back and truth and amend your answers and say, You know what, I feel a little differently this year than I did last year or this semester than I did last semester. That’s great, keep evolving. The tool is meant to grow with you keep your favorite list going. And you can start changing that if you need to. And you can use the truth data to help facilitate the conversations between the student and the parent and the student and the guidance counselor, and parents and guidance counselors, right. There’s all kinds of conversations going on here. And when you when you talk to enrollment officers in college and say what is the most valuable thing to you, in a student’s application? Invariably, the answer is transcript. GPA, right? Because I can look specifically at what classes did they take, and what grades did they receive. And that’s data. There is no similar data. On the social side. There’s nothing that says today, there’s no sort of GPA of social fit. And so that’s one of the objectives of Trube is to deliver actually three scores to the average student. So we’re going to give you for each school, your unique fit to the social culture, the academic culture, and then overall kind of a composite fit score. And so we don’t do it numerically, the way the SATs or the AC t does, because I just don’t know that it’s that helpful. And honestly, we don’t have a data set. That’s huge enough, right now, for me to tell you that score X is appreciably different than x plus 17. I just don’t know that. So we went with green, yellow, red. But we’re trying to create data, where a student can say, Hey, Mom, I know you really think I should go to the University of Illinois. Because you and dad went there or because it Mary teaches there, whatever it is. But when I look at my True Fit social score, here are the reasons why it’s not a great social culture for me. And that’s a much better, more productive conversation than I don’t know, I don’t like it or not your business. I’ve heard that before. I’ve got three kids. And then so trying to drive data around both academic fit and social fit, so that you can help to have those conversations. Again, give yourself more time and give yourself more data.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:41
That makes perfect sense. And I like that you give reasons for why they’re a good fit because I know a lot of us don’t even know what we don’t know I find that with myself all the time. So Oh, right. I should be looking at this aspect or Hi, I didn’t really think about the housing situation there. That is all off campus. Hmm, whatever it might be. Those also can be conversation starters. Like, what size do I want? And how would i They say, this does. So I could just see it sparking so many deeper layers to the college selection process.

David Hurwitt 30:18
Yeah, no, that’s a great point. And I, you know, I, I was speaking to some kids recently. And I said, you know, raise your hand, if you think the common app is like Tinder, right? It’s like a dating app, where you’re basically just say, you’re, you’re clicking, let me apply to this school and the school and the school and the school. Like, they’re, you’re just trying to get a date, any date, we’ll do as many, you’re gonna ask out as many people as you can, because you want to get left without a date. And they all these hands are going up. The heads are nodding. And they all think of this and this very short term way to say, I’m just trying to get a few yeses, right? I’m not I don’t want to be embarrassed, you know, come springtime, I want to have someplace to be able to go, I want someone to love me. And the problem is that the schools are not thinking about a first date. They’re not saying yes to a first date, they’re saying yes to a marriage for a lifetime. Right? They want to have your children attend. There’s this this, this split this disconnect between the way schools are trying to assess you and the way students are trying to assess the schools. And so I think one thing that parents can absolutely help their students to do is to think more broadly more long term about what is the relationship you hope to have with his school? And if that’s the case, what are the questions we’re asking? What are the things that matter most to you? It’s not necessarily D like their uniforms on the football team? Or how good is their football team? I hear that when I honestly, I don’t look good, and purple and yellow. So I’m gonna go with the green and white. But that, yeah, you know, each to their own. But I think when you start to say, let me help you to understand what you might major in. And let’s talk to let’s have a time to talk to a few professors, and let’s maybe meet a few students and talk to some alumni and about what might be a career choice for me. And and is that something that interests me. And when you start thinking about those longer term issues about where I’m going to fit, you’re going to ask different and better questions that are going to be much more useful to you then I didn’t really like the dorm room on the tour. The okay, I get that. But what you know, that’s that’s just not going to be a big determining factor in the happiness and success that that you hope to have at that school.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:38
Yes. Oh, David, this is such a useful resource. Thank you for sharing. And I want to pivot a little now because I always like to get to know the person behind the idea. So I’d like to ask you a few turbo time questions.

David Hurwitt 32:53
Okay. Bring it on.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:55
Okay, what’s the last book you read?

David Hurwitt 32:58
I just finished a book by David McCullough about the Wright brothers. I’m a big history buff autobiography biography. And David McCullough is, was the very best. And so the Wright brothers. I’ve read most of his stuff. And so the Wright Brothers was the latest that I hadn’t read.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:18
Yes, totally agree. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?

David Hurwitt 33:24
You know, I, I’m a big fan of, like I said biographies and autobiographies. And I love people who persevere against really tough thoughts. And so I’m a huge Helen Keller fan. I would love if I could sit down and have a communication with Helen Keller, and learn from her for the course of a meal or something like that, that that would be incredible to me to be able to do that. And as a hobby. I love photography, and take it seriously when I’m not working. And so I think I would love to sit down with Ansel Adams, who is just, you know, a real pioneer in the type of photography he did. And I’m just a big fan of his work. So I think those two people would would definitely be on the top of my bucket list.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:14
Absolutely. What is one passion you bring to college admission work?

Speaker 2 34:20
You know, I think that the passion of, of wanting to level that playing field, you know, having having gone to some great schools and being fortunate to have parents who went to college and grandparents who went to college, that’s a privilege. And it is time in my life where I need to be giving something back and helping those who don’t have that same kind of privilege to get it. Because you know, the statistics around what people with a college degree in joy as a life as compared to those for example, who don’t attain a high school degree. It’s stunning. It’s, I mean, forget the financial year. It’s more than a million dollars on average, blah, blah, blah. That’s not the point. But, but for a man who has a college degree lives on average, I think it’s about 17 years longer than a man who does not have a high school degree. And so by helping people access, not just getting into college, but but actually getting that education and getting that degree, we can help make people’s lives longer, we’re going to reduce the incidence of every major kind of disease, and they’re going to have more money, and better, you know, family relationships and all those things that come along with, with the opportunities that higher education affords. So that, that there is not a day that goes by working on truth that that does not come into play in my mind.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:41
Oh, that is so powerful. And I wasn’t aware of that statistic. I knew financial variation, but I didn’t know longevity variation.

David Hurwitt 35:49
Yeah, you will have a longer life if you have more education. Why? Yeah, so how come that’s an easy one to get out of bed in the morning, isn’t it?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:58
Absolutely. Yeah. How about your favorite Fun Fact or thing about Vermont?

David Hurwitt 36:05
You know, I’m, I majored in political science in college. And if I asked you, what state in America and we’ve biased a little bit by saying I live in Vermont, but but pretend you didn’t. What state in America has voted most across America’s history for the Republican presidential nominee?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:28
Which state would you choose? It would not be Vermont.

David Hurwitt 36:33
It would not be Vermont, you would be wrong. It is Vermont. And and people don’t know that. And it’s a bit of a trick question. Because Vermont voted I believe one time in its in its since the beginning. And you know, it’s its founding one time in FDR third term. I think they voted for FDR. Other than that, Vermont had voted for the Republican every single election. And then in the in the late 70s, early 80s. It started to change UVM started to draw a lot of more liberal folks into Vermont. And it’s a very sparsely populated states, the second least populated state in the country. And so the influx of those folks into kind of the the Chittenden, county UVM area really changed the voting demographic in Vermont. But I think I think Vermont has not voted for Republicans since the second Clinton administration. However, if you look across American history for Montes, the state that is voted voted most reliably Republican since George Washington. Why? Who now? You heard it here first?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:38
And finally, something about you that most folks don’t know?

Speaker 2 37:42
That’s a good question, I would say, I spent six of my years growing up living in Europe was my father worked for a big international company. And we traveled around a bunch. And so I had this incredibly lucky opportunity as a kid from ages 10 to 16, two sort of traveled around and see the world. And it really, it affected obviously, so much of how I approach the world. And I tend to look for the big themes and step back and be very open to new things and not afraid of people that don’t look like me or come from a similar background. And in fact, I seek that out. And, you know, when I travel on business, I am, I’m going to no offense to, you know, to the Olive Garden or Red Lobster, I’m going to work really hard to go find a local hole in the wall kind of place with a family that that’s in the back cooking. Yeah, and I think that was born from a really lucky childhood, where I got to travel around and be with parents that that said, Hey, we’re gonna go turn over stones and try to get ourselves layers deep into cultures and learn from from other people and embrace those people was just a really, really fortunate childhood that I had. So.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:56
Agreed, oh, good for you. I wrap up the interview with a magic one moment. So David, I’m handing you the magic wand. And you get to make any wish you want pertaining to access to college or college admissions, what would you wish for?

David Hurwitt 39:17
Ah, that’s a great question. I mean, if we’re really going to use this magic wand, I would say that, and I don’t mean this in a political sense. I know that this becomes a political thing, but I would make higher education free. Or if not free, then I would just give everybody a coupon that says go find your right school and money will not stop you from going there. There’s so many kids who just don’t, don’t even bother to apply, because they think I’ll never be able to afford it. Or I’m not college material. I can’t go my family isn’t, you know, college type. And if we could just take that off the table and say, here’s here’s your coupon. I use my magic wand to create, you know, 3.7 million coupons for a free college education for every high school senior in America and say, now we just need to find your people. We need to help you find your place where you fit in and you feel that safety, to be yourself and to explore and learn and grow and fail and pick yourself back up again, and find mentors and find friends. How could you not want to give that every kid you possibly run into that that would be my magic wand.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:26
Agreed. David, thank you. Thank you for being a part of making this magic one happen with trouve I really do see this making educational higher education more accessible and more equitable. So thank you so much for being our guest today.

Speaker 2 40:41
Well, thank you for having me, Maureen, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:54
It makes me a little bit crazy how wrong we have the college application process. As David says, we put so little effort into this most important decision. And tragically, many students end up in debt, and no closer to a future vocation that ties into their passion and purpose. I’ve always been impressed when somebody sees a problem, applies current resources, and creates a solution. Troove does this, it looks at both the social and academic aspects of college placement. And it gathers information from sources at the root, the applicant, and present students or recent alum. Just like with clothing, not all sizes and styles work for every person. The same is true for universities, not every university is going to be the place where each student can find their tribe, a place where they feel that psychological safety. I really enjoyed David’s metaphor of the tortoise, feeling safe enough to stick its neck out and be its best self. Those conditions will look very different between two different students in the college search process. So we have to go for that goodness of fit, and what psychological safety means to each student.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:19
It’s wonderful that David makes this tool available to all students free of charge. So secondary educators, let your students know about this resource and share it with your college placement counselor. It could be a fun homeroom activity to have students log on to and take the assessment. It would also be a great way to start a conversation about students looking for a good fit, and not just a college acceptance letter. And parents, David’s suggestions of starting early, and then reaching out to the schools and the green list. Using the troove data to facilitate conversations are great places for you to begin, you are much better equipped to think long term, and to help your student frame the process through the lens of a good fit, and not where their brother went or not where their best friend is going. You can help them get that perspective. David’s magic wand is aspirational, but happening in some countries. So it is possible. Since we know a college education can increase lifelong earnings. And now we know it can impact longevity and lifespan. It would be wonderful if we could make higher education free or give each college applicant a coupon so that they don’t have to pay money for the college where they want to attend equal access for all learners. Yes. As always, listeners, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 44:05
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to Education Evolution listeners You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


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