Cohen-Arazi creates college planning app, hopes to implement at Westview

To Assaf Cohen-Arazi (10) and many other students at Westview, high school can be a chaotic time. Think course request forms flying everywhere, four-year planners with scribbles and strikethroughs galore, and calculators overloaded with various decimals in a futile attempt to calculate an accurate GPA.This can be a stressful and overwhelming time for anyone, but for Cohen-Arazi, it was an opportunity to take matters into his own hands.

By creating his new app, PlanPal, Cohen-Arazi has created a new tool for students to use when planning their high school career. With a variety of helpful features, PlanPal can help with planning out course loads, making sure graduation requirements are met, calculating GPAs, and more.

“I want it to be a standard app, like for example Synergy. I just want it to be another tool that students can use [that is] offered by the district and hopefully expanding to all the schools in the district,” he said.

Additional features of this app include the ‘Contact’ feature, or the ability to send schedules directly to counselors or friends and receive their feedback.

“If an incoming freshman is wondering what a plan might look like, you can send them yours and they can see an example of what to take,” Cohen-Arazi said. “It’s also good because counselors do not need to meet in person with people. I know their schedule is completely packed with meetings, and [because of PlanPal] they don’t need to do that anymore.”

Despite its successes of being published in various app stores, Cohen-Arazi faced many programming challenges while creating PlanPal.

“Westview’s course catalog is very discontinuative, which means that sometimes there is a break in its pattern, so I had to adapt my programming to learn how to read everything in a new way. This is because [the course catalog] is meant for humans and we can see how things work without specific instructions, but the program just couldn’t,” he said.

After joining the Mesa Verde Middle School Programming Club in seventh grade, Cohen-Arazi quickly discovered he had a talent.

“After a few months [in Programming Club], I went off on my own direction and started learning on my own,” he said.

Prompted by other students in the club, he decided to use his programming skills to help other, less experienced students develop theirs.

“My instructors in middle school were the ones who inspired me to continue with programming, and so the next year I became an instructor for the younger kids, and that’s where it all took off,” Cohen-Arazi said.

Many, including classmate Michael Grendahl (11) and former instructor Gunner Spencer (11), have remarked upon the humble yet ambitious nature of Cohen-Arazi.

“Assaf spends the whole period of our AP computer science class helping everyone with their programs, other classes, and putting a smile on anyone’s face,” Grendahl said.

“He is one of the most inspired and driven individuals I have ever known. He is always wanting to better himself and learn new things,” Spencer said.

Cohen-Arazi has filed for PlanPal to be patented, a process that allows his app to remain profitable and unplagiarized. He currently holds a provisional patent and is waiting for the official patent to be reviewed and approved.

“It is still scary to have a patent pending because someone could copy me and have their app reviewed and patented before mine,” he said of the patent process.

As for the future, Cohen-Arazi plans to meet with school administrators about implementing his app to work alongside such popular academic apps as MyConnect and Synergy.

“I’m hoping that the school will really like this, and then they can help me help them,” he said.