Ren Wang of HiLink: 5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve The US Educational System

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Increase teacher pay: The current teacher shortage and dissatisfaction crisis is hindering the quality of education. To address this, we must prioritize increasing teacher pay, as they are the backbone of education. With better compensation, we can attract and retain more high-quality educators, ultimately leading to smaller class sizes and improved education.

As a part of our interview series about the things that should be done to improve the US educational system I had the pleasure to interview Ren Wang, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at HiLink.

Ren Wang, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of HiLink, is shaping the future of education with the power of AI. His unwavering commitment to empowering people through learning has fueled his drive to make education accessible to everyone, no matter where they are in the world. With extensive experience as a product management executive at companies such as Cohesion and Livly, Ren has a proven track record of scaling innovative solutions, and his leadership at HiLink is poised to revolutionize the way students learn and educators teach.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?

The importance of education has been ingrained in me from an early age. When I was six years old, my dad would make an hour-long bike ride in the morning to ensure I could attend a better school extremely far from where we lived. I’ve always appreciated the lengths that people go to seek quality education and give themselves opportunities to succeed.

Now that I have kids of my own, I knew I wanted to use the skills I’ve gained to create a world where everyone has access to high-quality education. Education has always been my passion and my purpose, both in my personal and professional life. That’s why I joined forces with a like-minded partner, Kelvin Wu, to launch HiLink, an innovative education technology platform that uses the power of AI to enrich the learning experience for students and bridge the gap between education and equality.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

While attending Northwestern University, I founded my first company, which helped students with their moving and storage needs. My company quickly became the most successful business ever founded at Northwestern and grew to take over the entire market within three years.

However, our fall was just as impressive as our rise when the school administration decided to step in to regulate moving operations on campus. We were a group of young and inexperienced college students in terms of procurement processes, stakeholder management, and RFPs, so we ultimately lost the bid to a larger national company despite them having never served the Northwestern market.

Our inability to become the recognized vendor of the university severely limited the quality of our services, and the new company provided a subpar service at a higher cost, leaving the students burdened in the long run.

The experience taught me the crucial importance of placing user and client input at the forefront to deliver exceptional service. In the education sector especially, it’s imperative for companies and educators to forge strong partnerships, align their goals, and work collaboratively to enhance the quality of education and provide the best possible experience for students.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At HiLink, we’re pioneering the use of AI in online learning, and the results are game-changing. Our AI-powered tools help educators prepare engaging lesson plans and create content in a fraction of the time, reducing burnout and improving retention.

For learners, we’re extending courses beyond the classroom, providing personalized learning experiences and increasing access to high-quality education worldwide. As someone who is passionate about the intersection of technology and education, I find these tools truly exciting. It’s fulfilling to know that our work will help people thrive and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority in the education field?

My educational background is unconventional, but it’s shown me the value of hands-on learning. While attending Northwestern University, I discovered the boundless potential of education beyond the traditional classroom and forged my own personalized path to learning. Combining my 18 years of tech expertise with a personal mission to improve education, I joined the edtech industry. I understand that education isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and everyone deserves the chance to learn in their own unique way — even if it is unorthodox. Leveraging my background, I knew I could enhance the learning experiences of those who lack access to high-quality technology.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. From your point of view, how would you rate the results of the US education system?

When looking objectively at achievement scores, the U.S. ranks outside of the top 20 in the world for most subjects. Yet, the U.S. education system is still considered a premium option, particularly in higher education. Our system nurtures independent and creative thinkers who propel innovation and progress worldwide. However, we can’t ignore the challenges our teachers and students face — educators feel undervalued and overworked while students disengage and seek alternative learning environments. There are numerous challenges that need to be addressed, but there are also a great deal of factors to be proud and optimistic about.

Can you identify 5 areas of the US education system that are going really great?

Sure, here’s a few that come to mind:

1. Renowned institutions in the U.S. have a rich history of academic excellence and groundbreaking contributions to research and advancement, making the U.S. a sought-after destination for those pursuing higher education.

2. Students are given opportunities to become well-rounded individuals, with academic pursuits balanced by their interests and extracurricular activities.

3. The U.S. education system values teaching students how to think as opposed to just absorbing knowledge. For this reason, students tend to have a higher level of independence and creativity.

4. Compared to other countries, the U.S. provides relatively easier access to education in terms of affordability and location. However, there is still a disparity between economic status and educational opportunities, which must be improved. Nevertheless, the U.S. does provide some form of education to all students, which is a positive aspect that should not be overlooked.

5. The diversity in the U.S. creates rich learning environments in schools with a variety of cultural backgrounds and perspectives.

How is the US doing with regard to engaging young people in STEM? Can you suggest three ways we can increase this engagement?

To increase STEM engagement among young learners, we need to make STEM more relevant to their lives. One way to do this is by connecting STEM concepts to real-world problems students care about. By designing personalized learning plans based on students’ interests, they will feel better connected and more motivated.

Involving students in project-based learning is another effective way to engage students in STEM. This approach allows students to apply what they are learning in a hands-on way and work on projects that align with their interests, promote creativity, and foster problem-solving skills.

Lastly, incorporating technology into STEM learning can enhance students’ interests and engagement. Educational apps and websites offer fun and interactive ways for students to learn about STEM concepts and increase their curiosity about the subject.

Can you articulate to our readers why it’s so important to engage girls and women in STEM subjects?

The 2022 ‘Women in the Workplace’ study by McKinsey & Company showed having more female leadership improves business and team outcomes when compared to men. Yet, a dismal percentage of CEOs are women and are often overlooked in leadership roles due to a lack of female representation.

We must empower and inspire girls and women to be leaders by providing them with the necessary skills and opportunities to thrive. Not only is it beneficial for business, but it also positively impacts society as a whole.

How is the US doing with regard to engaging girls and women in STEM subjects? Can you suggest three ways we can increase this engagement?

Although the U.S. is making strides to engage girls and women in STEM, we still have a lot of work to do. Despite women comprising the majority of college students, they remain a minority in STEM fields. Guidance counselors can help high school students consider STEM fields more.

To accelerate progress, we must increase support groups that inspire and encourage girls and women to pursue STEM careers. We also need to revamp our curricula and learning designs to make STEM more appealing to all genders.

Additionally, early exposure to STEM role models and environments for girls will build comfort and confidence in the field. Teachers and parents should initiate regular conversations with young girls about STEM topics to foster a positive and inclusive learning environment.

If you had the power to influence or change the entire US educational infrastructure, what five things would you implement to improve and reform our education system? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Increase teacher pay: The current teacher shortage and dissatisfaction crisis is hindering the quality of education. To address this, we must prioritize increasing teacher pay, as they are the backbone of education. With better compensation, we can attract and retain more high-quality educators, ultimately leading to smaller class sizes and improved education.

2. Make tutoring available to every student: Providing personalized tutoring to every student can significantly improve their academic performance, as shown by the well-known ‘2 Sigma Problem’ study. The evidence supporting one-on-one education is overwhelming, and the education system should make this available to all students. Individualized learning can enhance students’ understanding of complex concepts, reinforce strengths, and target weaknesses. With access to personalized learning, every student can reach their full potential.

3. Embrace new technology: Technology is becoming more valuable, and new innovations are happening faster than ever. Instead of viewing tech as a threat to the status quo, we must leverage it to improve our education system. The system needs to set an example for learners and show how technology is helpful and can be used for good.

4. Use data to improve learning outcomes: Baseball players have access to advanced analytics, but our children don’t. Why can we predict the likelihood of a home run but not our children’s learning outcomes? It’s time to prioritize data-driven approaches to education. By measuring the right factors and using data to gain insights into young learners’ progress, we can improve education outcomes and better prepare students for success in the future.

5. Increase skill-based learning: To better equip students for the workforce and their future careers, we must prioritize skill-based learning. By introducing hard skills at a younger age, we can better prepare students for a seamless transition from education to professional life. This will ultimately lead to greater employment opportunities and success in the job market.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Success isn’t always achieved alone. While it’s important to be self-sufficient and solve problems on your own, true impact requires collaboration and support from others. To make a lasting difference, you need to inspire and build relationships with those around you. Invest in building teams and fostering connections, and you’ll see the power of collaboration in achieving success.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Meeting Simon Sinek, the renowned author and motivational guru, would be an incredible opportunity. Simon has taught me a great deal about how to inspire others and how the world revolves around interpersonal connection and understanding. It would be a pleasure to discuss his philosophies on how we can improve education so the next generation can thrive with nurturing and inspirational ideas.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Check out our website: and connect with me on LinkedIn:

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

Ren Wang of HiLink: 5 Things That Should Be Done To Improve The US Educational System was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.