Note: Loper has partnered with the Fair Opportunity Project to promote their free mentorship program and their signature free college guide to students using our app. We are thrilled to to empower high school students together and make education more accessible for all.
The college search process is complicated — especially for students from historically underserved backgrounds. As a school counselor, it can be difficult to inspire and educate students that don’t see college as an option. If your students don’t grow up with the college landscape as a part of their household vocabulary, how are they expected to see themselves there? How do they navigate the process?
The Fair Opportunity Project (FOP) is here to help counselors and students. FOP sends free college resources to 63,000 public educators each year. FOP works with counselors around the U.S and is continuously updating its resources to make sure that students from all backgrounds have a shot at attending and affording college.
You can download their comprehensive guide by clicking here.
In addition to resources, FOP has support from FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and a robust, collaborative mentorship program. Students need a lot of support throughout this process, and FOP’s mentors are here to help.
Students are placed with mentors (FOP has over 50 of them!) who have received customized training in postsecondary advising and success.
During the sessions, mentors:
Any high school student (yes, ANY high school student) can participate in FOP’s Mentorship Program. Students who self-identify as being a part of an underserved community will be given priority. Those who apply do not need to have a specific GPA or completed paperwork, and students can apply at any time! All details can be viewed by clicking here.
We caught up with Sam Sokolsky-Tifft, Director of Mentoring and College Advising, to learn more about FOP’s mentorship program.
Back in 2017 in the glorious pre-pandemic days, Spencer Wilson and I conceived of a mentorship program while on a backpacking trip in Nijmegen called "The Walk of Wisdom." I had been working with Fair Opportunity Project for a few years, helping edit the free digital guide to applying to college that we send to every publicly listed school in the U.S. Spencer and I had both gone to rural public high schools, and over the course of the week we started to talk about the fact that most of the kids with whom we had gone to high school wouldn't have been able to read through a 60-page guide on their own.
We started to think up what it would look like to have a personalized mentorship program where a student could have someone help them through every aspect of the college application process, from forming a college list to deciding between schools and preparing for the social aspects of college life.
Now we've expanded our program to help kids from all over the U.S., and all over the world - from South Africa to Turkey to Brazil to Indonesia. It's incredible how little ideas can grow with time.
Mentors cover everything from forming a college list to financial aid and scholarships to standardized tests and college essays to interviews and making a college decision. One of the big areas of focus recently has been the more intangible sides of applying and going to college: we now offer a full lesson on "Preparing for College Life" to help students from first-gen low-income backgrounds who might not have the knowledge other students have, about how to make the most of your college experience.
With Fair Opp's mentorship program, we've always tried to cultivate a coaching-mentorship approach, where it's not just about coaching mentees toward their tangible goals but about helping students better understand themselves in the process, with all the resources Fair Opportunity Project has to offer.
Stories I love come from our mentees who then become mentors themselves. We want Fair Opportunity Project Mentoring to be a sustainable program, where mentors give help to students from their community who in turn join Fair Opp and mentor the students below them, and each time that happens it's so exciting. The messages and letters we get from former students are also great - students who may not have known about the breadth of scholarship options out there who save themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars with a little know-how ahead of time.
Have your students sign up! We have been making a big push this year to get hundreds of new mentors, and we have this amazing program, 100% free, for first-gen low-income students from all over the country and all over the world.
With the taxing process of applying for colleges, many factors make students apprehensive.
The Fair Opportunity Project is a game-changer. It helps students to navigate the arduous college application process.
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