2:26 | Transcript
Teenagers with beaming smiles, proudly displaying acceptance letters, wearing all new school colors and maybe showing off some swag – these are the images we see on our social media feeds during college acceptance season. It’s celebrating a life-changing accomplishment. But, if you rewound that social post, you would see that today’s college application process is not only more complicated and costly than when many of us went to college – it’s also not always fair. The team at Fair Opportunity Project, an edtech nonprofit started by Luke Heine and Cole Scanlon, are on a mission to change that.
Luke and Cole had something in common. Grateful for the support they received while preparing for college they were both giving back by helping students in their hometowns navigate the college application process. A chance conversation in their dining hall revealed this shared passion for improving access to college and they knew if they teamed up, they could do more.
“There are 415 students to every one counselor in America’s public schools,” shared Luke, “Counselors are completely overwhelmed with the number of students they need to serve, which means students applying to college are often left with little to no guidance. Even if they do apply, they’re often competing against students who have access to private tutors, essay reviews, testing support and financial resources. As a result, many students are missing out on the college education they deserve, simply because they don’t have access to the right resources and guidance.”
Noticing this gap, Luke and Cole set out to create resources to educate all students on the college application and financial aid process. Together, in 2017, they founded Fair Opportunity Project, which offers personalized mentoring, a step-by-step downloadable college advising guide, a self-guided video course, virtual office hours, essay reading and more - all 100 percent free to students. Drawing on their personal knowledge, the expertise of higher education specialists and hundreds of counselors across the country, Fair Opportunity Project created these high quality, accessible resources to give every student a fair shot at college.
“I grew up in a family of educators so had really good support. For most students at my high school, that wasn't the case. I went to a really big public high school with a little over three thousand students, and there was one counselor per grade level, so about one counselor per nine hundred students,” said Cole.
By creating “The Guide” — a step-by-step digital book that walks students through the most current steps when applying to college, along with mentoring, financial aid information, essay reviews and even a chat hotline for students to message for help, Fair Opportunity Project is leveling the playing field for students with limited access to college application and financial aid resources.
“The Fair Opportunity Project empowered me, despite my background, income, disability and circumstances growing up, and that is an amazing thing I will forever be grateful for,” said Shani F., a high school student in Los Angeles.
Today, the Fair Opportunity Project team of college students, high school counselors and lifelong educators are helping more and more students proudly post, shout and display their college acceptance letters, wear their school swag and pack up for a new adventure. And you can help. Learn more about how you can share The Guide, mentor a student through the college application process or donate so more students get the personal attention and support they need to get the college education they deserve.