Case Studies From The Class of 2013

May 1st was the deadline for students to choose their future colleges from the list of schools that accepted them. Through their own successes and mistakes, our students have a lot to teach next year’s applicants. Now, as future seniors and their families begin to worry about finances and college choices, it’s a good time to learn from others.

Here are four Case Studies from our students from the class of 2013 (all names have been changed and the stories disguised for the sake of student privacy):


·      Paul came to us early with great enthusiasm, a 3.7, strong SATs and some financial considerations. We noticed right away that he didn’t have a history of strong community service, but that his leadership in school clubs had been very strong. We helped him bolster his leadership and reflect on a few difficulties in his family life. He ended up writing a terrific essay about an encounter with his estranged father, a story that made us both cry and laugh. Paul was accepted to Willamette, Boston College, Lewis and Clark, and LMU. He will be attending Lewis and Clark College (Oregon) with financial aid that includes 70% grants and 30% loans. We think money made a huge difference in his final college decision, but so did the campus. He had a chance to visit and loved the small classes and the proximity to Portland.  “Best of all,” he says, “at Lewis and Clark you can see nature out of every window on campus!”


·      Robert had terrific grades (4.3 GPA with five AP classes) and a story that showed his world vision. As soon as we met him, we knew that he was in a special group of students who would be competing for a spot in one of the top schools in the country. He would be able to do the work anywhere, but to get the top admission that he wanted, he needed more. This is where it gets tough. Students who are already top achievers are challenged in order to secure admission to the most competitive schools in the country. Robert took on the challenge with heart-warming devotion to both the mentally handicapped and immigrant rights. His essays reflected all that he’d learned for himself, a sense of perspective rarely seen in 17 year olds, and a passion to help others. Robert had many fabulous choices.  Finally, he chose to attend Stanford University in the fall.


·      Vanessa came to us with a strong GPA (3.8, five AP classes) and extreme financial need. She had attended summer workshops, earned her Gold Award, and volunteered at her synagogue as a youth leader.  In addition, she was a varsity athlete. Her essays needed rethinking and rewriting before they truly reflected her level of commitment to both her studies and her commitment to others. Her niche study of digital arts made her an unusual applicant. She understood an advanced art form and was passionate about it. In addition, Vanessa was dedicated to the application process and rewrote her essays many, many times before submitting. Her hard work paid off. She was accepted to all of her schools and will be attending her first choice, Chapman University, with financial aid that offers her 80% grants and only 20% loans.


·      Lisa worked with us on a terrific essay that reflected her mature understanding of international relations. She loved all of her classes and could talk brilliantly on any subject. The problem was two-fold. Her GPA (with five AP classes) was only 3.6, and her SATs were great (but not excellent). In addition, she’d missed the deadline for getting a recommendation from her favorite high school teacher, but thought the fact that her uncle worked for Dartmouth was a shoo-in for her admission there. It was actually hard to convince her to apply to other schools! After being denied at Dartmouth (family connections rarely work), she applied to other excellent colleges, and has been admitted to New York University where she will study International Studies with hopes of attending law school someday.


·      Ralph came to us as an “independent student.” His mother had died during sophomore year and he’d never known his father. He was living with a family friend, while attending an inner city high school, and studying hard. His GPA was a 3.4 with no AP classes, but his passionate story and what he’d learned from his life, showed maturity and a concern for others in a similar situation. He spoke poetically and wrote poetry. He was devoted to his theater classes and he wanted to be psychologist. He was accepted to all of his schools with very generous financial aid packages and will be attending Willamette College in the fall.