During this brief hackathon journey, two high school students and two educators established a beautiful, everlasting bond on the foundation of understanding each other’s perspectives and struggles. We discussed how difficult it can be for high school students to sift through the myriad of college options and find a school that is the right fit for them. We brainstormed ideas on how to make this college exploration process easier for students, and decided that an Android application would be a great way for students to learn about new schools and keep track of schools they’re interested in. We made this app in hopes of empowering high school seniors in their educational pursuits. We want the next generations to be Empoway, Empowered on their Way to their success.

What it does

Empoway is an Android application designed to empower high school seniors in their college search. Students can create an account and fill out a survey to gather information about their college preferences. Our app takes this information and, using the College Scorecard API, returns a list of colleges that map their preferences. The app will show the 3 schools that best match the user’s preferences, including an introductory YouTube video for each school. On each school’s page, users will not only learn about the school’s academic stats and general information, but also about resources that many students may usually find hard to find, like the school’s Net Price Calculator or information about resources/organizations for women and minority groups (like AthenaHacks at USC!). Users will be able to mark schools of interests as ‘Favorites’ and get reminders about upcoming application and financial aid deadlines.

How we built it

We started with brainstorming to get ideas of our application. Each of our team member takes a individual activity to implementing in Android Studio. For the user management perspective, we have builded a completely Register and Login flow, also we created a data storage by using phpMyAdmin to storing user’s information and implemented user authenticate. The survey section will gather user input and use it to make a query to the College Scorecard API. We’ll rank the resulting colleges according to the user’s preferences and display them on a new page, where users will be able to load more schools, explore individual schools, and add schools to their ‘Favorites’ list.

Challenges we ran into

This group made the audacious decision to redefine limits of women in tech by creating the whole project in an environment unfamiliar to all members prior to the hackathon--Android Studio-- and learning in such a fast pace to implement an actual product. Naturally, there were countless of technical problems we ran into because of the aforementioned decision, in addition to having to learn concepts like API and data analysis.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

All members were the first time users of Android studio. However, we challenged ourselves in hopes of rapid growth under time constraints to start creating a mobile application from the beginning to end in addition to considering our different cultural and technical backgrounds. We are proud to prove our power and potential to the world.

What we learned

We learned how to make an Android application from scratch! We learned how to create an application in Android studio, how to create and use a database in Android, and how to integrate with Rest APIs. We also learned to parse Json files, and we worked and collaborated as a team!

What's next for Empoway

While we each made progress on our components of the app, we still need to integrate them into one app and test it with users. We also need to add functionalities like adding schools to their list of ‘Favorites’ and implementing notifications for upcoming deadlines. We would love to add on Google map API for user to see the distance of the schools that their interested in, as well as display more information to students, such as: the application deadlines of each school, and user can set the remainder to themselves to be able to remind them about the deadline.

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