An Alumna with an Edge: An Interview with Jessica Brondo ’04
Jessica Brondo ’04 founded The Edge in New York in 2005, just over a year after graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. While at Princeton, she tutored for the SAT for four years and took a position at a well-known SAT preparation company based in New York after graduating, until she founded The Edge. The Edge is an elite international educational consulting company that specializes in test preparation and admissions counseling for students applying to US universities, grad schools, and private high schools.
What is your previous involvement in volunteering and college preparation, and what first motivated you to found The Edge?
I have been volunteering all my life and have been tutoring since I was a sophomore in high school. I’ve always loved teaching and continued tutoring and teaching SAT classes throughout my time at Princeton. After I graduated, I worked for a different SAT prep company for a year as a Site Director. That company only focused on the SAT and only offered classes and its methods and business practices were a little shadier than I would have preferred, so I ended up leaving to start The Edge with an honest approach to test prep and a motto that we can make students’ college dreams come true. It was important to me to incorporate the values I learned from volunteering with V-Day and from my time with Princeton Against Cancer Together (PACT), which I founded at Princeton.
What tools and strategies do you use to improve students’ testing scores?
We start off with a StratEDGEy Session that pinpoints students starting scores and dream schools, and helps form a plan of the amount of points needed to improve, the best way to improve the scores (tutoring or classes or a combination), which test is more suitable (SAT v. ACT), and whether any modifications need to be made to a students transcript or extra-curricular activities. Then during the test prep, we utilize wrong question journals, shorter study sessions to maximize retention, the making of notecards, and a gradual approach to score improvement through different levels of materials.
How have you seen your work impact students worldwide?
We really have had tremendous success with the program. Our average score improvement for the SAT is 260 points and our average score improvement for the ACT is 4.5 points, which more than doubles those of most of our competitors. Also, 100% of our students are accepted to one of their top 3 schools and getting those calls from excited students when acceptance letters come out is incomparable to anything else.
What motivated you to expand your work internationally?
A friend of mine from Princeton was working at the American School in London (ASL) and told me that the school was not renewing its contract with its existing test prep provider and were inviting other companies to come make presentations. I flew over from New York, made the presentation, and 3 months later was invited to come to London to launch a new SAT prep course at ASL.
What do you enjoy most about this work?
I love that fact that I get to work with students at such a transitional point in their lives and hopefully help them find outlets to showcase their passions and assist them in placing them at a school that is ideal for them.
What are your hopes for the future work and impact of The Edge?
We have been expanding our reach globally and I hope to launch a fellowship program for recent graduates to work abroad for a year teaching test prep and admissions counseling to students living abroad looking to apply to US universities. We would combine this with volunteer opportunities in each city as well.
As a young, successful entrepreneur and founder of your own company, what career advice do you have for other Princeton alumni dedicated to public service work?
I would say never give yourself the option of failing. I’ve made a lot of business decisions that wouldn’t necessarily be safe bets, but I knew in my gut that I could make it happen and took a chance on myself. A lot of business success comes from the confidence of the person launching a particular program or company. I would also say, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Starting the business just over a year after graduating from college, I definitely had a lot of business skills I needed to learn and spent that first year asking people who had done it before an enormous amount of questions. People genuinely like to help people and I think if you reach out, you’d be surprised at how forthcoming alumni are.
For more information, and to learn about the programs offered by the The Edge, please visit http://edgeincollegeprep.com/
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