The Horizon Academic Research Program was founded in 2016 with the goal of helping high school students to do "college research with a cause", working on research projects that were socially meaningful and identified workable solutions to pressing public policy problems, while also being assessed according to standards used for first-year university students. Horizon was founded a team of three American educators and experienced NGO leaders, united by the belief that meaningful academic research can be done online and that, by using technology to bridge barriers of geography and access, the ability to do academic research with university researchers and faculty members should be governed by a competitive, merit-based admissions process, rather than based on personal or family connections. In 2016, we introduced classes in Development Economics, Environmental Engineering, and International Relations. We traveled to schools around the US and China, making the pitch for high school research, and we sponsored debate tournaments, business competitions, robotics tournaments, and Model U.N. conferences because we believe in the importance of extracurricular activities. Since 2016, our program has grown substantially, and we're now proud to work with 200 students each year from more than 30 countries in pairing them with 56 instructors.
Where in the World We Are
We're an online program, so we do not offer in-person classes in any of our offices. After all, our instructors are based at more than a dozen universities. Our administrative offices are in Jersey City (just across the river from New York City), Washington D.C., and Beijing, China. Our central office phone number is 917-983-3885.
Where in the World Our Students Are
In Summer of 2020, 65% of our students were from the US, with the next biggest sending countries being China (10%), India (8.3%), Turkey (4%), Canada (2%), and the UAE (2%). We value and welcome students of all nations and backgrounds.
Is Horizon a Company or a Volunteer Organization?
We're a private company, because we believe that having full-time staff to administer the program is important to delivering the best experience for our students who entrust us with 10-16 weeks of their time. However, we also believe in the importance of making extracurricular activities affordable and accessible. We act on this belief through our financial aid program as well as our continued sponsorship of various extracurricular activities around the world, including debate tournaments, business competitions, model U.N. conferences, and student journals.
What We're Not
- College Counselors: Horizon is not a college admission consultancy or an admission counseling company. While we believe doing a high-quality research project is beneficial to a high school student's college application in many ways, we do not offer college admissions advice or services relating to college applications. Our work starts and stops with high school research projects. If you're seeking a college counselor, we encourage you to make use of your in-school counselor, and if you've decided that you want private assistance, you might also consider as the many qualified counselors that are members of NACAC affiliate groups, or private groups such as HECA or IECA.
- Pay to Play: Horizon admits about 30% of our applicants each year, because writing a college-level paper is a demanding process for a high school student and is only helpful and educational to the most ambitious and motivated students. We pair students with mentors by assessing what research topics a students is interested in and which of our mentors is best equipped and qualified to advise them, without regard to what university the faculty member is located. Before programs like ours came about, research mentorships for high school students were often acquired through family connections or through students mass emailing university faculty. We believe that access to research opportunities should be governed through a merit-based application process rather than through personal connections. We conduct admissions on a need-agnostic basis. Although we cannot guarantee that any or every student who is admitted will be given financial aid, we never consider a student's ability to pay tuition in making admissions decisions.
- A Recommendation Letter or Publication Mill: we do not guarantee that students will get letters of recommendation or attain any particular post-project outcome such as competitive finishes as science fairs or publications, because these things cannot ethically be guaranteed. Students who do their best work in our program have the opportunity to work to earn these things, but the only thing that we guarantee by virtue of completing the program is that a student will have completed a rigorous research paper and will receive an assessment from their instructor.