As the start of the University of Colorado's spring semester approaches, so does the debut of a new, free social networking site that's exclusive to college students.

The concept might sound familiar, since the online behemoth Facebook also got its start as a site dedicated strictly to college students -- in fact, it originally was available just to students at Harvard University.

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CU students can sign up for a profile today at using their e-mail addresses and they will be notified once the site launches later this month.

But after Facebook opened up to anyone -- and now boasts 500 million users -- some recent college graduates, including a few CU alumni, decided to fill the void by creating

" is a dot-edu only platform" -- meaning it's open only to college students with .edu e-mail addresses -- "so parents, teachers and future employers can't see what students are posting and sharing with each other," said Andrew Citores, co-founder and CEO.

Citores and a team of about 80 founders, web designers, campus managers and student representatives are preparing to launch the site Jan. 10 to five schools, including CU-Boulder.

The site also will open to students at the University of Arizona, San Diego State University, the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

While social networking might be the most familiar aspect of the site, CU campus representative Cristina Detomasi said that will not be the most appealing resource for most students.

"I think a lot of students will use the site with Facebook, not instead," Detomasi said. "There are so many things on this one site, so it's much more simple. It simplifies the already hectic life in college."

Once students are logged into, they have access to discounted shopping rates, including local food; textbook searches; job listings; scholarship resources; party planning; and legal services.

"The great thing about our site is we're not reliant on social networking aspects," Citores said. "Whether it's academics, organizational services, buying food, apparel, textbooks or organizing events, JusCollege is a one-stop-shop for everything college."

And for CU students like Allie Veneriz, the discounts and resources are the tools that will entice them to join.

"Facebook pretty much has the social networking part covered," she said. "I would definitely sign up if it's free just to get the discounts and stuff."

But Veneriz said she likely would use the social aspects as well to get a little more privacy then Facebook currently offers.

"Everyone's on Facebook, but if it's just for college students, then you don't have people, employers or family members creeping on the page," Veneriz said. "It's not like I'm doing anything really bad, I just don't want my parents seeing everything between me and my friends. It feels like they're just butting into my life when they always see my Facebook stuff."

CU students will be able to interact with other students from colleges also connected to the site. Like most social networking sites, students will accept or deny friend requests, allowing information to be shared only with the students they approve.

CU sophomore Michael Petruccelli said he is looking forward to seeing another site competing for student attention with "the monster that is Facebook."

"The website has finally become so big that we are burdened not to use it in both social and professional settings," Petruccelli said in a comment on the Colorado Daily's Facebook page.

While the site will not be functional until later this month, students at CU can pre-register and set up an account so that they will can notified when the site has launched.