Inside Rensselaer
* Chris Keenan
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Chris Keenan: Helping High School Students Tackle the AP Exams
During the month of May, more than 1.5 million high school students in more than 100 countries will prepare to take the annual College Board Advanced Placement exams. To help reduce their stress, Rensselaer Class of 2008 graduate and budding entrepreneur Chris Keenan offers a solution — a free online study resource to help students tackle the AP courses and exams.

Keenan came up with the idea to develop the Web site titled Course-Notes.Org while he was still in high school. At the time, he was a 15-year-old student struggling to find online resources to aid in studying for his AP exams. In 2002, using his frustration as a catalyst to come up with a solution, he created the Web site with its lone subject offering in U.S. history, and shared it with his high school classmates and friends. It became an instant hit.

“In its first year of operation, the site reached the top 10 for any relevant search engine queries, received more than six million page views per month, and generated feedback from students all over the country,” says Keenan.

This month, officials estimate that high school students will take more than 2,750,000 exams. The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in
high school, according to the organization. Thirty-seven courses in 22 subject areas are offered.

Noting that college was part of his future plans, Keenan, who hails from Chicago, Ill., decided to pursue a degree in management at Rensselaer’s Lally School of Management & Technology, with the hope of turning his class project into a viable business.

Now, graduating after only three years and armed with knowledge from his management courses, confidence in his core competencies, and advice and mentorship from a host of business experts at the Lally School, Keenan credits his business savvy and current success to his undergraduate experience.

The Web site’s forum provides assistance to more than 70,000 members
who can receive help with homework, debate current events,
or just discuss daily life topics like applying to college or tips for studying.

Today, his Web site offers resources for 15 different subjects that are commonly offered at high schools around the country. Subjects include: U.S. history, U.S. government and politics, and psychology, along with notes, outlines, vocabulary terms, practice tests, biographies, and study guides, among others. In addition, the Web site’s forum provides assistance to more than 70,000 members who can receive help with homework, debate current events, or just discuss daily life topics like applying to college or tips for studying. The Web site has also grown in its brand recognition, leading to an increase in advertising revenue for 2007 of more than $65,000, noted Keenan.

So what’s Keenan’s parting advice? “Let your passion drive you, and your wisdom guide you down your path to success.”

Upon graduation, Keenan will work for Johnson & Johnson in the company’s Information Technology Leadership Development Program, which allows participants to put their skills to the test across a range of companies and applications. He also still plans to manage his business. To view the Web site, go to: http://www.course-notes.org/.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 9, May 16, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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