In all of your years working with students, what were some of the most unexpected admissions successes you witnessed?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

In all of your years working with students, what were some of the most unexpected admissions successes you witnessed?

Marie Bullock
Independent Counselor Washington Lee High School

Parent's thanks...

I have been pleasantly surprised in my career with some of the "thank you"s I have received from parents who initially totally disagreed with advice I had given them and their children.  Many of the parents I have dealt with are as young as my own children and, perhaps, my "generational" perspective was not always welcomed.  I strongly believe that as children move toward college choices and decisions they must also move toward finding their own path.  Parents can be loving and all concerned, but this can also be overwhelming for kids who truly must start to make their own way. 

Joan Casey
President Educational Advocates College Consulting Corp.

Enhanced study skills=better grades and more college choices...

“Anna” came to us during sophomore year with dreams of attending medical school. Yet she had a B- average and test anxiety. Over the summer we helped analyze her study habits and come up with a concrete plan for the next school year. One of Anna’s strengths was her leadership in extracurricular involvement. We encouraged her to apply her enthusiasm to her medical interests—and she landed a paid summer position in a top tier medical research lab. When junior year rolled around, she put her new study plan in place and earned much stronger grades and improved SAT scores. This upward trend combined with her compelling activities helped her gain admission to her top college choice.

Pamela Ellis
President Compass Education Strategies LLC

Persistent, post-graduate, and Division I dreams come true...

Persistence is the common denominator among students who have taken a gap year in order to gain acceptance to their dream colleges. These students had an interest in playing sports at the collegiate level. While each played sports competitively during high school, each needed the additional time and demonstrated academic rigor to advance to the Division 1 levels. Each student attended a selective boarding school post-graduate and is now playing basketball at Dartmouth, and the other is playing lacrosse at Davidson.

Kiersten Murphy
Executive Director and Founder Murphy College Consultants LLC

An A+ inspiring story...

Recently, I came across a transfer student who was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was arrested several times in high school.  At one point he even lived on the streets. At the time of our working relationship, he had been sober 18 months, was living a healthy lifestyle and earning straight A’s at his community college.  He had submitted to Mount Rainier, ran marathons and worked as a personal trainer.  He also served as a mentor to others in the recovery process.  He applied to three colleges last fall, and was admitted to all of them.  He was quite frank about his background to the admissions counselors and was admitted to his first choice.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

Somebody has to get in; why not you?...

Lisa had a 4.3 GPA, a near-perfect SAT math score, and impressive extracurricular activities, but she was convinced she’d end up studying astrophysics at a large state university. Her dream school, she confided, was Harvard. “But I’ll never get in,” she lamented. “They take 7% of applicants.” “That means somebody gets in,” I said. “Why not you?” She applied to Harvard and several other colleges that were far less selective. That spring, against the odds, she became one of the Harvard 7%. It just goes to show: You’ll never know unless you apply. Breathe deeply and go for it!

Hamilton Gregg
Educational Consultant Private Practice

Sometimes good things do happen, but we all don’t win the lottery...

This year I had a student denied at his dream school in California. He wrote to ask me if he had a chance if he appealed the decision. I was a bit skeptical. He told me his chances were slim, but the school did have a policy of accepting appeals and that the student needed to be clear in why they were asking. He wrote a very clear statement make very specific points. In late May he was admitted. While it is rare in this time of competitive admissions to “come out of the hole of denial” this student took the risk, accepted that his chances were slim, and took on the responsibility of writing a strong appeal.

Kristen Tabun
Director of College Guidance Woodlynde School

Don't let others' expectations determine your future...

Several years ago, a student entered our school whose challenges with learning were so significant that his parents were told from various professionals there was a chance he would not graduate from high school.  Fortunately, he was not deterred by these comments and chose to work hard and accept the help he was offered.  Throughout high school, he pursued his passion for the environment and took advantage of every opportunity to learn both in and out of the classroom. He not only graduated high school, but earned several college acceptances with merit-based scholarships.  This student never stopped seeing the possibilities for himself; his efforts were justly rewarded as a result.

Sandy Furth
College Advisor World Student Support

Persistence paves the way for the Dream School!  ...

I was working with a student this past year who really did not find her academic footing until just this past year. Her GPA and test scores were a bit 'under the weather' until the end of her junior year and start of senior year. With a shot out of the gate senior year, she had high hopes for a school that I thought was quite a reach, and perhaps beyond reach. With a well-crafted list of schools, we included this 'dream school'. This student spoke to admissions, took seriously what she needed to do on the ACT, and besides the fact that she took several tests beyond the suggested number, she was admitted to this dream school.

Maureen Lawler
College Counselor Bishop Kelley High

One Senior's success: he did not give up...

I had one of those unexpected success stories this year.  One of my seniors, a hardworking and determined young man, applied to several selective schools.  We talked about his choices.  I explained I could not guarantee acceptance to many of his choices.  He was denied as an ED applicant at one school but this did not discourage him.  He knew the odds were against him.  I am happy to say that one school considered the whole student and did not rely solely on grades or test scores.  Come August he will be attending the college of his choice.

Anne Johnson
Director of Admission Iowa Lakes Community College

Community college stand-out...

One quiet and shy student lived 5 miles away, and I was sure he’d never even make the trek for a visit. But he did. And he came to orientation. And he loved it! He went from wanting two years and then a natural resources job to a four-year Montana college to an eventual PhD in hydrology. The last time the instructor heard from him (a year or so ago) he called from his corporate jet, landed at our small northwest Iowa airport and stopped for an hour visit. He came a long way from that high school boy who was a middle-of-the-road student and couldn’t even look me in the eye!