Interview with Thomas Frank: Creator Of College Info Geek
How did you get your inspiration to start CollegeInfoGeek?
If you have ever been to a college you have seen the people who walk around giving tours of the university. I happened to have been one of those people at Iowa State University about two summers ago.
A major part of that job was learning everything there is to know about Iowa State University and college in general. We had intensive training where we learned everything we needed to know about helping students become acclimated to college.
I decided that in addition to doing my job, I also wanted to share my experiences with people who might not be able to come on my tours. And one of my favorite sites, Hackcollege.com, happened to be looking for writers at the time. I was like Alright! I’m going to submit a guest post and they’re going to hire me and I’m going to be a writer for Hackcollege.
“Screw them, I’ll just make my own website.”
So I sent my guest post in and they said NOPE! Not good enough. At the time I was like “Screw them, I’ll just make my own website.”
I have been building sites for people since high school, so I figured I would just go for it. I bought a domain, randomly came up with the name College Info Geek and figured I would just post 2 or 3 times a month. I obviously post more than that now though.
Do you find maintaining College Info Geek and going to class to be a challenge? Does one ever get in the way of the other?
This semester, not really. Last semester, when I was a Resident Advisor, Full time student, working 10hrs/week and running College Info Geek I didn’t have much time for anything. I also pulled a lot of late nights but when you enjoy what you are doing it isn’t so bad. What I really learned was that I enjoy doing this a lot more than class.
What is your ultimate goal for College Info Geek?
I am still trying to answer that for myself. I know that I want to build the biggest and best college blog that there is. I don’t want teams of writers, writing 10 posts a day. I want just quality posts with me as the voice. I want people to connect with me and my blog. One of my biggest goals for College Info Geek is to hammer home the importance of personal branding to students.
Hopefully the money from selling it could finance a trip around the globe or something.
As for my own personal goal, I am not apposed to selling it. Hopefully the money from selling it could finance a trip around the globe or something.
What do you study at Iowa State University?
I’m majoring in Management information systems, which is basically IT. People in my major usually work in business analysis jobs or even system development jobs. It’s very IT but also very business oriented. I think it fits.
Do you feel like studying Management information systems has helped or hindered your entrepreneurial aspirations?
I don’t think it has done much but honestly it hasn’t hindered it. I would say it is pretty good stuff to know.
I think having a degree is a good fall back and obviously it is a social standard to validate your competency in America, however what I’ve learned most from was actually doing. Doing and learning on my own and from work. Getting real experiences from books is like reading about running a marathon. I think a lot of people need to realize that coming in last is much more enriching than reading about getting 1st place.
What makes College Info Geek unique? What makes it standout from the competition?
I would say growth makes College Info Geek unique. The layout for example has gone through 3 distinct design changes.
I did a lot with both the design and the speed recently, which really improve user interaction. And in terms of what makes my blog standout from the ‘competition’… hmm, I honestly couldn’t say much on this because I don’t view other sites in my niche as competition.
Sites like Bright Futura or Hackcollege can all link to each other. I think the most important thing is that college students benefit from the information we are creating.
I suppose the most unique thing about College Info Geek is the content ideas. I remember Shep McAllister (the creator of HackCollege) said that I always have the most off the wall post ideas. I tend to avoid posts that are boring. Rather than doing posts on ‘how to improve on studying’ I do posts on ‘how to hang a loft bed from the ceiling of your room.’
If you had to give some advice to someone just starting out, what would you tell him or her? Do you have any regrets? Was there anything you would have improved on?
As with anything, if I knew then what I know now there would be lots of things I would improve on. But I can’t say I have any regrets.
I know that when I started out I had the silly idea that “if I write awesome things, people will find it and I wont have to do anything.” This of course is totally not true.
If could go back I would definitely have started networking sooner
So, if could go back I would definitely have started networking sooner. I also would have gotten more involved with social media and guest posting to improve on SEO (search engine optimization) of the site.
What are your plans after graduating? Do you plan on continuing the site?
That is a good question. I don’t think anyone who isn’t in college can fully understand college. It is one of those things you have to be immersed in to truly feel. I am currently a junior but I will be graduating in a semester. I think that if I do continue to run the site after college it wont be for very long.
In terms of long term plans for myself… I don’t really have any. All I know is I have built a lot of marketable skills working on College Info Geek. I now know how to run a business and I am open to becoming involved with other entrepreneurs. I’m also currently working on a book, I presently have about 11,000 words and when I finish I will probably sell it as an ebook for kindle or something.
Maximillian Garland | Bright Futura Columnist