This post is part of a special “Meet the Finalists” series, featuring Q&A with the five Reach Higher Career App Challenge finalists.
Our final Meet the Finalists post features Q&A with Ryan Hoch, Co-Founder & CEO of Overgrad, a web platform that leverages community resources, technology, and data to support long-term student outcomes. Overgrad combines academic performance information with results from a career interest survey based on O*NET data to help students select pathways and track their progress toward aspired outcomes.
Why is this Challenge important to you? What inspired you to work on this type of app?
Before starting Overgrad I was a high school math teacher in St. Louis Public Schools. 90% of the juniors and seniors I taught told me they planned on going to college after they graduated yet the data told me only 8% would graduate. I am committed to the work outlined in this challenge because I witnessed first hand just how needed it is.
What have been your biggest challenges and successes in developing your app?
The biggest challenge for us has been the limitations on the size of our team. There is so much we want to do, yet with only four people, prioritization is essential. In terms of successes, since applying for the Challenge, we have grown the number of high schools using Overgrad by 7x.
Your team has now completed the Virtual Accelerator, which included expert mentorship and curated learning modules. What’s the biggest insight you’ve uncovered through this process so far?
That technology cannot solve this problem alone. The process of preparing for life after K-12 education must account for more variables than a platform can address. The role of technology in this space should help facilitate thought and connect students with resources (whether that’s people or content).
What else do you hope to learn at Demo Day?
We are excited to see what all the other teams have been up to. This is a HUGE, complex problem that has room for a lot of different solutions. We can’t wait to see what innovative approaches the other teams have come up with to tackle the issue of postsecondary access.