We met Michael towards the end of 10th grade. His goal was to attend a top college or university, and work to pursue a career in business. We worked with Michael over 2 years through our Comprehensive College Admissions process.
Michael’s application positioning:
A social justice minded environmentalist with a head for business and a love for sports
- President: Model UN Club
- Co-founder: World Wide Fund for Nature Club
- Captain: HS Basketball Team
- Member: English Debate Team
- Volunteer APAC Silk Road Business Forum
- Volunteer: Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China
- Chairperson: English & German Learning Program
- Business Plan: Parking Authority Development Project
- Outstanding Essay: Business Failure Analysis
- Had attended a lecture at school with highly selective Haverford College and became quite interested in the school.
- Michael had a GPA and SAT score that would be considered low for Haverford College and we needed to neutralize them while avoiding the risk of not standing out in the eyes of college admissions offices who see thousands of Chinese applicants.
- We knew that we needed to find a way to bring forth Michael’s character in a way that was unique to him and that would help him stand out.
How did Princeton College Consulting help?
- The overall counseling process started with two questionnaires that we had both Michael and his parents complete.
- We paired Michael with a counselor that had years of experience guiding students through admissions at highly selective colleges.
- We conducted a profile analysis, including his baseline and potential College Admissions Index (CAI) which established his probability of admission to colleges of varying selectivity.
The analysis identified his strengths and where he had opportunities for improvement across each of the different admissions factors as well as strategic recommendations for achieving his stated goals.
- When we started working with Michael he was torn whether or not to pursue studies in Business or Economics. We had numerous discussions with Michael helping him to weigh the pros and cons of both.
- Michael attended a public high school in Shanghai with an international department designated by the College Board as an AP course teaching school. We advised Michael to take AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics that would enable him to demonstrate his interest in both business and economics.
Early on in our time working with Michael, we had him take an SAT/ACT diagnostic so that we could establish the test Michael would likely perform better on.
- Based on his diagnostic and target score, we determined the optimal testing and preparation schedule.
- We connected Michael with an exceptional tutoring firm that was able to work with him to identify the various concepts that were giving him trouble.
- Through ongoing drilling in areas of weakness, Michael was able to convert weaknesses into strengths and was able to improve his score by 120 points from 1330 to a superscore of 1450.
- Separately, given his interest in business and economics Michael prepared for and took both AP Micro and AP Macroeconomics exams and scored 5’s on both.
- Once we got to know Michael, we constructed an initial college list of Dream, Reach, Target and Likely schools based on his current index (CAI) and his academic interest.
- We then navigated Michael through the research process providing a structure for evaluating schools and taught Michael how to conduct and document his research in order to help him form opinions that would provide his rationale for applying to a particular school while also helping him to write his supplemental essays and prepare for interviews. It also became the basis for refining his college list, the objective of which was to construct a list of schools that would be a strong fit academically, socially and culturally for him.
- As application deadlines approached, we helped Michael decide on an Early Decision and Early Action strategy designed to maximize his chances of admission to his top choice schools.
- In addition to the myriad activities that Michael was already involved in, after getting to know him and developing a better understanding of his capacity, we helped him identify a new project to research and develop a business plan that would enable him to demonstrate his interest and commitment to Business and Economics.
- Once we helped Michael scope out the project, we navigated him through a detailed process of crafting a parking authority business plan that would state the problem, provide a solution and validate and size the market opportunity.
- By the time we were commencing the application process, we had a clear picture of Michael's personal brand as "a social justice minded environmentalist with a head for business and a love for sports" and the story we would help him to tell.
- When we first started working with Michael, we began teaching him about the different kinds of essays that he would ultimately need to write for his undergraduate applications. Through this process and the practice essays that we worked on with him, we helped him to hit the ground running when we started working on his actual application essays.
- Personal Statement: Given a lower GPA and SAT score, we helped Michael understand that his various essays, and especially his personal statement would have to be first rate. While Michael was not a native English speaker, commencing in January of 11th grade, we led Michael through a writing process that would teach him how to become a storyteller.
- We navigated Michael through a free write followed by 11 drafts, first helping him to develop his story, structure it, weave various elements of his character throughout the essay and then finishing up with elevation of his writing, wordsmithing and proofreading.
- Ultimately, we helped Michael tell a story that connected key experiences to important insights and how he would take these insights to pursue his goals.
- Supplemental Essays: We also mapped out Michaels essays, identifying where overlap existed and sequencing the crafting of supplemental essays in order to optimize effort. We then led him through a 9 month writing process supporting him through each and every essay by providing feedback while asking questions that would force him to think more deeply about the stories he was telling. Once finished, we had navigated Michael through 24 essays and nearly 100 various drafts.
- We helped Michael prioritize and frame each of his activities in order to communicate action while demonstrating the true impact of his participation.
- We edited multiple drafts of the activity sheet and his resume.
- Most students go into interviews having memorized the answers to questions. That works until a question is asked the student hasn't prepared for. That's when interviews can go off the rails!
- The goal is to teach students how to think in a certain way and how and what to communicate so that they can just go into an interview and have a conversation.
- We worked with Michael to prepare him for Alumni, on-campus and video interviews. Interview reports from Michael’s interviews would also need to be quite strong in order to validate his essays while neutralizing his GPA and test scores.
- Over a period of months we worked through numerous interview questions while asking questions, forcing deep reflection and teaching Michael how to answer questions concisely, with intellect, and while authentically revealing his positive character strengths.
- Given colleges ideally want to hear from 11th grade teachers, as soon as we started working with Michael, we coached him on the different criteria his teachers would be evaluating him and taught him how to bring these character strengths into the classroom. Additionally, we worked with Michael to show him how to demonstrate his own personal growth and development.
- Additionally, we coached Michael on how to develop a deeper, mentor based relationship of mutual respect with his school counselor in order to give him a deeper insight into the various facets of Michael’s character, potential and authenticity that he could use in crafting Michael’s letter of recommendation.
- At the appropriate time, we advised Michael on which scores to submit, and when and how to submit them to his schools.
- We navigated Michael through when to request letters of recommendation from his teachers and school counselor.
- Lastly, before submitting any of his applications, we conducted a thorough review of each and every application to make sure that the positioning was coming through and that there were no mistakes or missing information.
As an international student from China, I felt lost in the college search process, because I knew nothing more than the basic information and the rankings of U.S universities.
Words cannot express my gratitude for Princeton College Consulting and for all of their help and guidance. I am lucky to have chosen them because I know deep down that I would never have been this successful if I hadn’t.