Expanding Educational Opportunity through Innovation

by Sohil Shah   •  

It seemed simple. Go to school, graduate, and get a job. I was always told that education opens the door to opportunity, but I still never understood why education was so important – at least not until sophomore year of high school.

As a high school sophomore, I created a small tutoring company, SS Tutoring, mainly for pocket money, where I helped students from elementary English to calculus. One student who contacted me about tutoring was struggling in her US history course, but she could not afford the tutoring fee. I sympathized with her and tutored her anyway, since I knew that not everyone has the access to resources they need to succeed because due to education inequality. From that moment, I understood that education is so critical because it has the power to change the world and invent new solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

I looked around and saw that thousands of students worldwide were deprived of equality in education.

After I graduated high school, I knew that something had to be done to resolve the education disparity and level the playing field in higher education. As a result, I co-founded The College Essayist, a national organization that connects students with mentors to help them write and edit a college admissions essay. In less than six months since its inception, the College Essayist now boasts a purely volunteer based network of nearly 100 mentors worldwide at 30 universities and colleges, helping hundreds of high school students.

However, we’ve realized that bridging the education gap does not just stop at writing an essay. Because of this, we help students search and select a college. We also provide interview coaching to help students build self-confidence. We’re working towards developing a tutoring service as well.

We know that if we can help one student realize their potential, we can cultivate new leaders. Looking back at the beginning of my high school career, I never imagined that I would pursue this kind of work, but I couldn’t feel better about it.

Without education, our students would be disconnected from a world that is rapidly changing. Youth disconnection is something we must combat, and its something I believe Opportunity Nation can do. The Opportunity Index scores for states across the country should be higher than where they are now, and the solution to that is by providing more education resources and information to students, parents and educators.

The young woman who struggled with her US history course is now tutoring students in her community, and the chain of education inequality is slowly but surely being broken. Together, we have the power to level the playing field in education and college admissions. Let’s make it happen together.

Sohil Shah

Sohil Shah is a freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where he us currently studying biology and anthropology on a premedical track. With a passion for education equality, Sohil co-founded The College Essayist, a national organization that has helped students worldwide demystify and annihilate the college admissions process - absolutely for free. In his free time, Sohil serves a Global Education and Public Policy research assistant, is actively involved in student government and was recently appointed as a Global Youth Ambassador by A World at School.

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