March 13, 2009

Zinch – I Am More than a Test Score


You never know what you’re going to find when you click on another website link with an abstract name. Zinch sounds like a cross between “Grinch” and “Zilch” but it’s actually a way for college admission counselors and college students to connect. Think of it as a kind of for the college admissions process. It’s an intriguing and unique idea. If it could take off and become a major portal for the college admissions process, the implications are pretty astounding.

College admission standards are pretty strict and follow a predetermined set of rules. Zinch aims to showcase more of a student than simply his or her test scores. Zinch claims to have 475 colleges who are actively seeking out new students on the site, especially those who are interested in unique areas of study that generally don’t receive large numbers of applicants.

The way it works is students – mostly in high school – input a wide variety of information, such as family history, classes taken, and other information that might not make it on an application. Admissions counselors can then sift through the online profile and send students information based on their areas of interest. In this way, Zinch is basically a lead-generation machine: a way for admissions offices to get contact information of prospective students. If that sounds like a negative take, it actually has positive implications, as colleges can better target those students who may be most interested in applying and attending their schools.

Practical Uses:

  • Post information about your extracurricular activities or strengths that might not be covered in a traditional college application
  • Identify your interest in unique areas of study, like astrophysics, that might only have a limited number of colleges which support this field of study
  • As an admissions officer, find students based on their areas of interest, personality, and other narrow criteria
  • Encourage your child to get more involved in the admissions process as using Zinch is considerably more fun then filling out a paper application

Insider Tips:

  • Admissions officers: check out the promotional materials from Zinch (this is especially useful for getting kids involved in the college selection process)
  • Students: Take time to fill out your profile (although using a site like Zinch already shows some initiative, completely fill out the profile to show just how well you embrace new technology and more effectively showcase your unique attributes)
  • Students: Use the “shout out” feature rather than simply waiting around to be discovered
  • Students: check out the scholarship program (this may be the best thing about Zinch, in that it helps students get all-important funding for college)

What we liked:

  • It’s free and very easy to use – add a profile, search through profiles, etc.
  • Good social networking features, such as clubs, so the site’s not just a place to meet admissions people, but acts as a variant of Facebook
  • Zinch truly seems to be looking out for students’ best interests, rather than just trying to turn a profit
  • The scholarship program is great – though they could be more explicit about how the scholarships applicants are judged

What we didn’t like:

  • We would like to see additional ways to “pimp” a profile and make it unique, aside from simply adding new information
  • Students could get overloaded with “junk mail” from colleges
  • It’s a useful site, but until its use become widespread it can’t take the place of the standard admissions process


Company Info:

  • Launched: March, 2007
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Provo, Utah
  • Founded by: Mick Hagen, Sid Krommenhoek, and Brad Hagen
  • Web site:


  • Free


  1. I was excited at the opportunity to use this as a resource. However, it was clear it is not as reported. When conducting searches, it includes for profit institutions, regardless of your choices. It also makes you go through 4 clicks to eliminate an institution (instead of a simple not include click).
    The most disappointing aspect was the inclusion of colleges/universities that actually do not offer my major.
    STAY AWAY from Zinch.

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