College Admission Case Studies for A/A+ Students
We are proud to have helped thousands of students apply and be admitted at some of the best universities in the United States. Below we have presented some Case Studies of A/A+ students who worked with our consultants. The Case Studies provide information on these students and what we did to help.
Case Study No. 1
Client Profile: East Asian female at a competitive public high school. 3.7 unweighted GPA, 1570 SAT, rigorous course load but not exceptional for her school. Significant regional accomplishment in cello, close to a national level playing at the Winner’s Recital in Carnegie Hall. Founder of a non-profit that teaches girls how to code. Summer research at regional research university in natural sciences. Volunteer work through playing music at various nursing homes in her area.
Changes made through consulting: Since this student came to us as a senior right before application time, there was no time to make changes to her profile before applying. However, there was ample time to create a compelling positioning strategy. Recognizing early that her STEM profile was fairly typical for her demographic, especially at highly selective institutions, Solomon refined her positioning from pure STEM to focus on the intersection of biology, neuroscience, and philosophy, creating a narrative that would allow her to stand out in the application pool at selective and highly selective colleges. Solomon had the client center her application strategy around her interest in philosophy, biology, and music. This narrative was consistent with her life-long musical interest and years of the first-hand experience witnessing the neurological decline of nursing home residents. Academically, this direction was supported by her lab research the previous summer. In presenting this to the student, she was able to move beyond her standard biology mindset, and independently produced natural, insightful connections between these fields. Her essays uniquely explained and demonstrated personal and professional mastery and intellectual curiosity of an interdisciplinary nature, culminating in her ultimate goal of neurological research for geriatric populations.
Outcome: Accepted at the University of Chicago, Boston University, and Stony Brook University.
Case Study No. 2
Client Profile: Male at a competitive public high school. 4.0 (U/W), 1530 SAT, Math 2 800, Chemistry 790, Biology 770, rigorous course load like most top students at his high school. Extracurricular engagement NHS, DECA, FBLA, Science Olympiad, piano, general bio research at JHU through the summer program and community service including Clam Cleanouts and organizing environment clean-up events through NHS.
Changes made through consulting: This student began working with Solomon the summer after his junior year and presented an interest in biochemistry and medicine. Recognizing the student is interested in an oversubscribed science field, especially at highly selective institutions and his SAT score of 1530 is a bit low, Solomon looked for a connection to a less popular science major within the student’s profile. Within his Solomon questionnaire, the student noted fishing as his primary hobby and engagement in annual clam removal cleanouts to enhance the local water ecosystem. The consultant explored this interest with the student and recommended a focus on building out a positioning strategy around environmental science.
Solomon advised the student to leverage and expand his environmental interests through applied research, creating a non-profit organization, and establishing a blog. The student secured a research project with the Dept of Conservation studying biodegradable plastics, created a non-profit organization designing micro-ecosystems in fish tanks for middle school teaching, and established a blog focused on supporting local water ecosystem health.
In presenting this strategy to the student, he was able to focus and move beyond a general interest in premed while supporting his interest in science. His essays uniquely illuminated his intellectual curiosity through personal and academic experiences.
Outcome: Accepted at Princeton, MIT, Columbia, UPenn, Duke, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, UVA
Case Study No. 3
Client Profile: Caucasian male at a mid-tier public high school. 3.9 (U/W), IB curriculum, ACT 32, English 35, Math 33, Reading 32, Science 29, no SAT subject tests. Extracurricular engagement not unique or deep, primarily sports (swim, golf, football), National Honor Society, limited community service, and attending a summer college program in tenth grade.
Changes made through consulting: This student began working with Solomon in September of his senior year largely due to attending a high school with limited college counseling support. Most of his peers who attend college stay in the region and tend to not pursue highly selective colleges and universities. The student presented an interest in premed or economics. There was no time to advise on course selection, test preparation, or ways to enhance extracurricular engagement.
Recognizing his profile originally presented was not unique, especially at highly selective institutions and test scores were a bit low, Solomon looked for a connection within the student’s profile to create a narrative allowing him to stand out in the applicant pool at selective and highly selective colleges. Within his Solomon questionnaire, a simple sentence popped out traveling with family with the goal of cultural enrichment. The opportunity presented itself to leverage the student’s significant travel experience around cultural exploration into a compelling positioning strategy. The student’s family experienced religious persecution in their home country and therefore instilled a sense of religious study and understanding through travel. Solomon advised the student to pursue the major Anthropology based on his cultural exploration and not premed or economics given they are oversubscribed majors and the student did not have a strong fit based on limited experience nor the test scores to compete.
Solomon advised the student to focus on building out a strong connection to Anthropology with a minor in Spanish and center his application strategy around travel experiences with a focus on religious studies. This narrative was consistent with his depth of first-hand experience witnessing global religious practices and his own community faith engagement.
Solomon provided a reading list, recommended joining the American Anthropological Association to review the literature and participate in webinars, create a blog and engage in an independent research project as part of his IB Theory of Knowledge class.
In presenting this strategy to the student, he was able to focus and move beyond a general interest in premed and economics. His essays uniquely illustrated and demonstrated personal and intellectual curiosity.
Outcome: Accepted at USC, UCLA, and University of Michigan
Case Study No. 4
Client Profile: South Asian male at a competitive private school, 3.9 (unweighted), 4.5 (weighted) GPA, 1580 SAT, 800 Math II, 800 Chemistry, 800 Biology E/M SAT subject test scores, many 4s and 5s on APs. Light leadership and light extracurricular.
Changes made through consulting: The student wanted to major in international studies/affairs and ultimately become a US diplomat. He studied the Arabic language in a two-week study abroad immersion option in his freshmen prior to engaging Solomon. He was also involved in many standard activities for his demographic like tennis, piano, violin. He had a low SAT and we recommended tutoring to increase his scores above 1530 as well as tutoring for the subject tests. He was positioned in Arabic Studies with a focused lens on social justice (Islamophobia) and the arts (drama/theater). Connected the student with a local undergraduate research opportunity in Arabic studies. Had student start a non-profit that focused on Islamophobia awareness and educational programming for high school and middle age students with a theatrical one-man show screenplay that taught about anti-Islam rhetoric and how to be embrace differences. The non-profit website provided many educational resources for others wanting to get involved in Islamophobia. Also had students organize and lead a political rally.
Outcome: Accepted at Yale, UPenn Huntsman, Dartmouth, Duke, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt with Cornelius Vanderbilt scholarship (full-ride), Georgetown University - School of Foreign Service, University of Michigan
Case Study No. 5
Client Profile: Caucasian female at a large suburban public high school. 3.7 unweighted GPA, 33 ACT, 2 Bs during sophomore year, one in math. Founder of a non-profit that teaches middle school students how to care for animals. Extensive summer travel with family during which time there was often family time spent on beach trash pick-up.
Changes made through consulting: Solomon began working with this client in the fall of her senior year. Immediate work was done to create a compelling positioning strategy that would be unique for this student. Recognizing early that her profile and original intended direction of “undecided” would not make her stand out in the highly selective applicant pools of her top choice schools, Solomon directed her to focus on environmental sciences and sustainability, allowing for a more differentiated and personalized story for her application narrative. Solomon guided the student with this strategy, centered around her documented interest and involvement with environmental sciences and sustainability. The rest of the application focused on strong essays that highlighted her unique contributions to her community as a founder of the community non-profit.
Outcome: Accepted at Barnard College
Case Study No. 6
Client Profile: Indian female at competitive public high school. 4.5 weighted GPA, 35 ACT, rigorous course load with 9 AP courses. Board member of state youth classical arts for charity, school ambassador, volunteer at local Hindu school, a violinist in the orchestra.
Changes made through consulting: This client came to us just before the start of her senior year. She took our recommendations and put in the work to become a more competitive applicant for the schools she was targeting. First, we chose her positioned major -as someone who was interested in Computer Science, this was too cliché for an Indian applicant. We positioned her in Data Science as she showed great academic strength in Math and this fits well with her interests. As a female, this set her up as a much more compelling applicant in a male-dominated area of study. Next, we worked on her extracurricular activities. Solomon advised the client to start a blog and seek research opportunities. She started her blog immediately and began research with Data Analysts at IBM shortly after. The rest of her application focused on how data analysis could help with music therapy as music was another passion of hers.
Outcome: Accepted at Duke and UNC
Case Study No. 7
Client Profile: Indian male at competitive public school. 3.7 weighted GPA, 35 ACT, rigorous course load but more of a B student. FBLA national qualifier, VP of the debate team, NHS and Chinese Honor Society (CHS) member, Chinese Cultural Studies Foundation competitor.
Changes made through consulting: This client came to us in the second month of his senior year. The student had an interest in business and finance, but his overall profile did not fit this oversubscribed major. With our strategic positioning plan, we made him a compelling East Asian Studies applicant. As an Indian male, this plan allowed him to stand out at top schools. As advised, he started a blog to enhance his knowledge in East Asian Studies. Many of his other extracurricular activities helped in this plan as he had focused on the political relationships between China and the United States in debate and was involved in Chinese cultural activities through CHS and CCSF. The rest of his application focused on the research he would explore not only how linguistics and culture have developed so far, but also how they would develop in the future.
Outcome: Accepted at Carnegie Mellon
Case Study No. 8
Client Profile: Asian female at a competitive private school. Didn’t get into any Ivy League schools applying on her own as an economics major despite straight As and near-perfect scores and decided to take a gap year to work on her art and reapply.
Changes made through consulting: The student was shut out by the Ivies and Ivy pluses. She took a gap year and engaged Solomon in the fall of her gap year. She is quite an accomplished artist and so she was positioned as an art history major with a focus on Mexicana women in art history. She conducted her own research and studies art during her travels to Mexico. She blogged and when she returned to the states, she started to work on her nonprofit where she empowered the elderly population through art completely funded by her own art. She reapplied to a select few of the Ivies as an art history/cultural anthropology major.
Outcome: Accepted at Columbia, Cornell, Williams, USC, and UC Berkeley
Case Study No. 9
Client Profile: East Asian male at a competitive public school. 3.9 (unweighted), 4.6 (weighted) GPA, 35 ACT composite, 800 Math II and 780 Chemistry SAT subject test scores, many 4s and 5s on APs. Engaged in undergraduate research at university in virtual reality. Some extracurricular engagement, but light leadership. Desired to study computer science
Changes made through consulting: While we didn’t have very long to work with this student (signed up in the fall of senior year), we looked at the many facets of the student’s background, which while focused on CS and math was fairly standard. Rather than go straight CS, we examined other areas of impact, and focused on the lens of education technology, as he had worked as a tutor in lower-income areas. Strongly highlighted research experience that he’d completed at a university and emphasized education impact for marginalized communities. We had him do research on the social ramifications of lack of access to quality education and how to mitigate/break those cycles through innovative technology. Increased extracurricular profile by seeking out leadership opportunities. It was important to infuse a level of social justice, public policy, and education reform to break away from a cliché CS application and draw specific lines to the schools that most interested this student.
Outcome: Accepted at Yale, UPenn and UC Berkeley
Case Study No. 10
Client Profile: South Asian male at a competitive public school. 3.9 (unweighted), 4.2 (weighted) GPA, 1550 SAT, 800 Math II, and 780 Chemistry SAT subject test scores. The student wanted to go into law as a patent attorney.
Changes made through consulting: Student wanted to pursue law in graduate school, but undecided for undergraduate major(s). Had a background in debate and some interest in politics, but overall a well-rounded student with good grades but no angularity. While he had good STEM scores, we focused on amplifying his debate background and interest by focusing on local politics through the lens of Public Policy, specifically looking at Public Policy and Philosophy, Politics & Economics programs around the country. Had student create a non-profit that focused on engaging youth voters for the 2018 mid-term election, especially as a student was from a political swing state and had him build a very robust website for his non-profit. Integrated blog into a non-profit website, as well. Had his focus specifically on local issues like the local water crisis, etc. Amplified debate experience and increased leadership, highlighted areas where students contributed to local and regional civic service and school clubs (student government, etc.). Connected why Public Policy was a good use of student’s skills in debate, politics, and connected him to social impact, social justice, and equality movements.
Outcome: Accepted at the University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina (Morehead-Cain Scholarship recipient), NYU, University of Michigan, University of Virginia
Case Study No. 11
Client Profile: South Asian male at a competitive private school. 3.9 (unweighted), 4.5 (weighted) GPA, 1580 SAT, 800 Math II, 800 Chemistry, 800 Biology E/M SAT subject test scores, many 4s and 5s on APs. Light leadership and light extracurricular.
Changes made through consulting: Because the student was mainly focused on academics in high school, he didn’t have a strong extracurricular profile and was not engaged in my deep learning and impact experiences outside of school. The student wanted to study Computer Science and had some interest in politics, but not much beyond that. We positioned him in Environmental Science with a focus on environmental policy. A connected student with two undergraduate research opportunities at a local university – one in Environmental Science, one in Environmental Engineering. One of those opportunities resulted in a publication in which the student was listed as a second author. Expanded his extracurricular profile at high school with an emphasis on leadership. Had him start a non-profit focused on water conservation and advocacy in California, which interfaced with the San Jose mayor and legislative team and conducted numerous creek cleanups. The non-profit website provided many educational resources for others wanting to get involved in the Green Movement.
Outcome: Accepted at Duke (with scholarship) and California Institute of Technology
Case Study No. 12
Client Profile: Caucasian female at a competitive private school. 3.3 (unweighted), 3.4 (weighted) GPA, 32 ACT composite, 2 AP test scores (4s on each). Undecided major.
Changes made through consulting: The student was undecided about a college major, but knew she wanted a large school with athletics (even though she wasn’t competing as an athlete). We helped structure her academic profile to be as robust as possible (including test preparation, which raised her ACT score considerably). For her extracurriculars, we emphasized leadership opportunities, connected her with more volunteering experience, and had her continue some ECs to show the depth of involvement. We positioned her in Linguistics, as she took both Spanish and French and showed aptitude for the language but was more interested in anthropology (thus linguistics) rather than majoring in either of those languages. We connected her with research opportunities in translating for Spanish-speaking patients in a local medical practice. The student was deeply passionate about animals and had a brother in military service, so we had her start a non-profit that connected rescue dogs with veterans suffering from mental illness and PTSD. We made this a focus of the application, specifically looking at rehabilitation/therapy as a non-verbal language through the lens of linguistics.
Outcome: Accepted at University of Texas – Austin, University of Washington, Tulane University, Southern Methodist University, University of Georgia, University of Colorado – Boulder, and University of Oregon