Austin education innovator propels college searches into 21st century
Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Katie Fang.
She left Shanghai at the age of 12, studied around the world, and finally landed at the University of British Columbia to study finance, so Katie Fang knows her way around the education system — everything that works for students and everything that doesn’t. That’s why the 25-year-old Austinite founded SchooLinks, which brings students and schools together all in one easy-to-use platform.
Instead of endless internet searches into the “right” school, the free site analyzes a student’s personality, career goals, and interests to select universities that match best with a student’s priorities. Once matches are made, students receive support throughout the entire application process. Open forums with other students and access to advisors mean no question goes unanswered. There are reminders for due dates and school-specific requirements, and even a feature that allows parents and guidance counselors to track students’ progress.
We sat down with Fang to ask her a few questions about herself and her work.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Katie Fang: The people I’ve met who need help figuring out what college to attend. Because of my experience in college, people began coming to me to help them figure out what university they should go to. That evolved into SchooLinks. Every single day, I’m inspired by trying to figure out the best way to help people.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference?
KF: Sometimes if feels like you’re up against so many obstacles that you can only make a trivial difference. But that’s not true. Remember: Your courage is inspiring others to make a difference too.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words:
KF: Authenticity, opportunity, passion.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
KF: I love people and parties, but most Saturdays you won’t find me hanging out. I’ll be doing my favorite thing: working and watching Netflix, aka “Netflix and code.”
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
KF: It’s a good day when we help one more student decide how to go to college.
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Fang and her fellow Austin winners.