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?

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

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

When 2 of my students gave an interviewer their business card – it surely was the deciding factor that put them over the edge. Another was getting a student admitted in the fall when her acceptance letter was for the winter!

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

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

It is always nice to see when a highly selective college accepts a truly wonderful person even though the “numbers” may not be as high as they normally want. It puts your faith back into the process to know that they do read thoroughly and recognized the potential. One example is a young man who had done extremely well in very rigorous courses at a very challenging high school. He had glowing recommendations and strong involvement in a couple activities that were really important to him. He is a genuinely kind, fun, intelligent, motivated person. The only glitch was that his testing was not as strong as his grades. The scores were not low, they just were not in line with the rest of his profile. A number of very reputable “testing optional” colleges denied him, and yet one of the Ivies accepted him. He went and has thrived.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

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

The most unexpected successes I have witnessed involve students with less than stellar grades being excepted at Ivy League colleges. It does not happen often, but excelling in other areas can make up for a lackluster academic record. Especially if a student writes compelling essays illustrating their unique talent and experience.

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

University of California

It is amazing how the UC schools have completely reversed their philosophy and methodology in terms of admitting in state students. It wasn’t so long ago that California students considered some of the UCs their “backup” schools. Others strategized and saved money by attending a local community college (most notably Santa Monica Community College) for two years. After two years and upon achieving the required GPA, students were accepted to not just one of the UCs, but often many of them. Now California students must deal with international and out of state competition pay significantly more in tuition as well as waitlists and unexpected transfers to a UC they did not choose. Some students believe that it is easier to gain acceptance at an Ivy than a UC. We will continue to see the trend of Californians flocking to the east coast where many of them feel more welcome.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

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

One of the most unexpected admissions successes that I witnessed in all of my years working with college students was when I worked with a young girl who had a gpa of 1.7 and through assisting her with her personal statements and other college admission processes along with going to the school she wanted to attend which was a private elite college she received an acceptance letter along with scholarship notifications.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

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

One of the most unexpected admissions successes that I witnessed in all of my years working with college students was when I worked with a young girl who had a gpa of 1.7 and through assisting her with her personal statements and other college admission processes along with going to the school she wanted to attend which was a private elite college she received an acceptance letter along with scholarship notifications.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

“But I’m number 1”

I have had several students not get into their dream college, but it worked out. And, I might add, it made them a better person, and they loved the school they ended up going to. These are successes. I believe that the college that chose them, did so for a very particular reason, and my students loved them for it.

Jolyn BrandOwner & CEOBrand College Consulting

Hard work and prep proves worthwhile on SAT…

One student, Michael, got a great score on the Math portion of the SAT but his Reading and Writing scores weren’t so stellar. I created a personalized tutoring plan for him over the next six weeks to focus on his weaknesses. The College Board report stated that students with his scores should expect an increase of 16 points. But we were thrilled to find out that his scores increased a whopping 190 points!

Amy SwordsDirector of College AdvisingKingswood Oxford School

It’s the unexpected successes that bring vitality to college admissions…

When a student identifies a college or university that appeals to them as much as I expected it would, I know I’ve hit a home-run. Yet there are times when a student ends up somewhere that I never expected him/her to be happy. And when that student sends me an email from college to say “thanks,” or just to keep in touch, it gives me the momentum to work just as hard for future students. If they follow the process and do their research, there is no doubt they will find the best place for themselves…whether it’s a school from my list, their list, or our list.

Rachel Smith-Vaughan

The best fit is different for everyone

Yearly, there are students who are reluctant to speak with me because they assume that they will not be able to attend college because their parents cannot afford tuition, travel, room, and board.  Fortunately, through the generosity of colleges, the students are able to matriculate and complete a higher education degree. I have also worked with students whose grades did not reflect their potential. However, they were leaders in the school, actively involved within their communities and achieved high SAT scores. These students were able to matriculate into their dream school. Don’t despair; remember there is a university for everyone.  Make sure you apply to the universities which are the best “fit” for you.

Kristen TabunDirector of College GuidanceWoodlynde 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.

Anne JohnsonDirector 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!

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Surprises can happen when they see the whole person…

Well conducted searches aimed at achieving the right match for a student greatly reduce the chance of surprises—good or bad.  However, they do occur and the happy ones are generally a tribute to hard work by admissions office personnel who look beyond the surface, beyond the numbers to discover the real person, to understand and appreciate their full character and passion–for example, seeing beyond the title of Editor and recognizing a student journalist’s underlying passion for truth telling–and in doing so recognizing just what it is that the individual will bring to their college community—and beyond.

Bridget HerreraCollege CounselorAmerican School of Campinas Brazil

Being realistic, and being surprised!…

If a student thinks he or she doesn’t have a chance at a particular college, they probably really don’t (let’s be thankful for those who are realistic!).  What is more exciting is working with students who don’t think they have a chance to go to college–period.  I can remember one student in Ecuador—passionate about Biology—who perhaps had about a $3,000 family contribution.  She had a lot going for her but her test scores were average and high need.  When the fax came from Davidson with her financial aid award, she ran out of my office yelling, “I’m going to college!  I’m going to college!” She thought she didn’t have a chance.  That was a really good day.  

Jill GreenbaumFounder, Independent College CounselorMajor In You

From chaos and confusion to the right fit and a great scholarhip…

A high school junior came to me clutching a paper with the names of 21 schools written on it. The list included the university his father attended, where he went to special summer camps, and big names schools that sounded impressive.  After coaching with me he found the right match, applied early decision, was accepted and received a scholarship for $30,000 per year.  From complete confusion to the right school with a great scholarship-awesome!

Esther WallingCollege CounselorThomas Jefferson High School

Always better than a pay raise…

I had a young lady who was qualified in every respect for application to UCLA, except her legal status. That worried her to no end. The day I intimated she “got in” was one of the most outstanding moments of my career.  You’ve never seen eyes get so big and begin watering out of excitement and happiness, nor received the tightest hugs and jumping up and down. Later, I got a phone call from this same young woman about completing her classes at UCLA a quarter early. In the midst of her celebration and wearing her sash from UCLA, she presented me with a birthday cake. I LOVE MY JOB!

Jeannie BorinFounder & PresidentCollege Connections

Our students’ successes warms my heart…

One is a very special girl with a heart of gold. Her numbers (GPA/test scores) were slightly above average, but her creativity, resume, compelling essays and the way she applied her learned knowledge soared. She, in fact, inspired me. She is at her first choice school, accepted at many, and thriving. A boy comes to mind that dealt with and overcame a cancer diagnosis, but stayed the course. His grades suffered and he was academically behind his peers. However, his application document was pristine. He discussed overcoming adversity in the most profound way. He is excelling at his first choice college and will be a junior this fall.

Craig MeisterPresidentTactical College Consulting

Give maximum effort and work hard to the very end…

The maxim, “Where there is a will, there is a way” certainly applies to college admissions. I’ve supported students of all achievement levels, and the one characteristic that unites all those students who meet with admissions success is that they subscribe to the above truism. The will to work and achieve always wins out in the end. Whether the student who only started and finished his Dartmouth application on New Year’s Eve and still got in or the student who transferred from an average state university to Georgetown, to those with focus and perseverance happy endings happen all the time.

Jane KlemmerFounderKlemmer Educational Consulting

Community college can fulfill a dream and make it affordable…

Marty could only dream about NYU, given her less than stellar high school grades.  She was neither academically nor emotionally ready for college. After a 2 ½ year hiatus from academics filled with work, travel and volunteering, Marty gravitated back to school.  She chose to enroll in the local community college, now possessing greater self-awareness, motivation and sense of purpose. This past May Marty earned her associate degree with honors, plus a prestigious state university award. The community college experience turned her life around, and also made college affordable.  Winning a scholarship reserved for community college transfers, Marty will realize her dream and enroll at NYU this fall.

Pamela EllisPresidentCompass 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.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora 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 GreggEducational ConsultantPrivate 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.

Sandy FurthCollege AdvisorWorld 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.

Kiersten MurphyExecutive Director and FounderMurphy 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.

Nicole OringerPartnerIvy Educational Services

From insecure, classroom disappointment to playwright actress…

Sarah went from hiding in the corner of the sofa in our waiting room, hair covering her face, to writing and performing plays, cutting her hair, and announcing ‘tada’ to us when she arrived, just for fun. We worked with Sarah for four years – curriculum tutoring focused on reading and writing, test prep, and college counseling. Her grades went from C/D to A/B. We were not the only influences in Sarah’s life, but we know that as her cheer leading team we were part of her transformation and eventual admission to a selective school, where she is thriving.

Marilyn EmersonPresidentEmerson Educational Consulting

A few pick me ups from my inbox…

“…I could not have picked a better university; Penn State is truly amazing and has been providing me with so many opportunities.” “…your belief that our daughter could make it into Syracuse gave her the confidence to try and ultimately realize her dream.” “…I also wanted to share with you the exciting news that I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa – I think it is safe to say we found the right place for me!” Success really is about finding the right fit. 

Roby BlustDean of Admissions & Enrollment PlanningMarquette University

Why we do what we do…

I was heading out of my office a couple of years ago in May and I was approached by a young man.  He looked familiar, but I wasn’t quite sure.  He came right up to me and extended his hand.  He said, “Dean Blust, you might not remember me, but 3 years ago you took a chance on me coming from a community college to Marquette.  Next week I will graduate from MU, and you changed my life, and I just wanted to say thanks.”  We shook hands, and I try to recall that story whenever I question why I do this work.

Christopher KaiserAssociate DeanSeton Hall University

Successes all around……

Throughout my 16+ years working in Higher Education, I have certainly seen countless successes.  At each commencement I marvel at the students who walk across the dais and receive their diplomas.  It is a great accomplishment and very gratifying for me, especially knowing all the hard work they put into getting their education and degree.  Some students with whom I personally worked through some of their lowest points in their academic career, recognizing this, find me wherever I may be and take time to thank me.  It is encouraging and always one of the best pick-me-ups.  So, if you ever need a pick me up, go to a college graduation and watch what happens.

Stephanie MeadeOwnerThe Collegiate Edge

It’s never too late to finish strong!…

Some students who struggled in 9th and 10th grades, or got serious about school a little late in the game have had some surprisingly happy college stories. One student with a gpa below 3.0 was admitted to 3 private colleges in Florida this spring with yearly scholarships of 10, 21, and 24 thousand dollars respectively. Another with a learning disability was accepted to 12 colleges, and almost had a breakdown because it was so difficult to choose just one! Both of these students brought their grades up, built thoughtfully researched college lists, and wrote honest essays about their academic challenges.

Janet RosierPresidentJanet Rosier’s Educational Resources

The reason I do this: accomplishments that bring me joy…

A few years ago I worked with a wonderful young lady who, for various reasons, had not been successful in high school. After some persuasion, she went to a college that was not her first choice, but one where she had a chance to grow as a student. After two years at this college she had blossomed– she had developed study skills, excellent grades and had the chance to become a leader. Having gained new skills, accomplishments and confidence, she transferred to a very competitive college where she is both very successful and happy.  

Joanna ShultzDirector of College CounselingThe Ellis School in Pittsburgh, PA

Student accepted for all the right reasons!…

Several years ago, my student applied to an ultra-selective liberal arts college.  She didn’t have a 4.0 average, and her SAT scores were average at best, but she was not a mediocre student.   Her English and history teachers called her a “brilliant thinker” and all agreed that she was an extraordinary person and leader.  During her senior year, she and her younger brother raised over $80,000.00 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation!  She was accepted to her college and became its student council president!  (They told me, though, not to count of them admitting a student with those numbers again!)

Marie BullockIndependent CounselorWashington 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 CaseyPresidentEducational 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.

Maureen LawlerCollege CounselorBishop 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.

Donnamarie HehnDirector of College GuidanceCanterbury School of Florida

Community college can fulfill a dream and make it affordable…

Marty could only dream about NYU, given her less than stellar high school grades.  She was neither academically nor emotionally ready for college. After a 2 ½ year hiatus from academics filled with work, travel and volunteering, Marty gravitated back to school.  She chose to enroll in the local community college, now possessing greater self-awareness, motivation and sense of purpose. This past May Marty earned her associate degree with honors, plus a prestigious state university award.  The community college experience turned her life around, and also made college affordable. Winning a scholarship reserved for community college transfers, Marty will realize her dream and enroll at NYU this fall.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Rejected, rejected. SWIRL. Admitted. Admitted….

Senior year Bryan got rejected from both USC and UCLA because his test scores were so low they couldn’t make up for great grades and extraordinary activities. After one successful, active year at a private east-coast college, he still wanted to attend UCLA or USC. So he became a swirl. He returned to LA, attended a community college where he joined the Scholars Program, completed all of his transfer requirements, aced his classes, and got a job. Now with no testing requirements, he prepared great new applications and got admitted to both USC and UCLA. College dreams can come true-just at different times.

Shelley LevineCertified Educational PlannerCollege Bound

Reach high, but always have a great back up plan!…

Recently, I met a talented young man who had been rejected twice (once during high school and again during his gap year) by the same highly selective university. Somewhat desperate for appropriate next steps, his parents contacted me. Long story short, this terrific student enrolled at University of St. Andrews in Scotland the following fall. St. Andrew’s was a perfect match for his international interest, academic strengths, and career focus. He is thrilled with his experience (and secretly happy he was rejected by his then, first choice university. We all think St. Andrews turned out to be his dream school.

John CarpenterFounderAskJohnAboutCollege.com

Not an unexpected admit, but an unexpected surprise…

The truth is that there really are very few surprises in college admissions when what the student offers matches what the institution’s priorities or needs are.  However, one year, I was working with eight or nine kids who had all applied to the same highly selective university in a restricted early admissions program.  The surprise wasn’t who was admitted or who wasn’t; the surprise came during my conversation with the admissions officer who clearly had done his homework and knew each of the kid’s applications in amazing detail.  It reaffirmed for me that admissions officers do indeed make significant effort to know applicants in order to make the best decisions–no matter how difficult.

Kathryn FavaroCollege admissions consultantCalifornia College Prep

Never give up on your college dreams…

While the process can sometimes take longer than expected and you may encounter some bumps along the way, persistence leads to getting accepted by some wonderful colleges. One of my students thought no college would accept him due to his low test scores and failing grades senior year. He made-up his poor grades with online courses. He contacted his colleges and asked what else he could do to improve his chances of admission. He sent in an additional essay and a new letter of recommendation explaining his recent struggles. After all of this work, he was accepted by one of his top schools and is a happy, successful student entering his sophomore year.

Pam ProctorAuthor The College Hook

Community college can be your ticket to success…

Acing your grades at a community college could save you money up front and set you up for admission and big bucks at a top four-year college when you transfer — especially if you earn the coveted Phi Theta Kappa award. That’s the two-year college equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious academic honor available at four-year colleges. Follow the footsteps of a community college student from Florida whose Phi Theta Kappa distinction paved the way for a big surprise: $88,000 in merit money over two years at a leading private college in California.

John FrahlichCounseling Department ChairHudson High School

Not all students follow a traditional path…

An unexpected student success that I vividly remember involves an intelligent and articulate young lady who struggled through school. She seemed to be her own worst enemy and her self-defeating behaviors caused her to be in danger of failing most classes. She aspired to attend college but was not a good fit for high school. She was on the verge of dropping out when we proposed a paradoxical approach- graduate in three years. Many staff balked at the idea but she rose to the challenge, proved naysayers wrong, started college in a two year program and is now completing a graduate degree!

Diana HansonCommon Sense College CounselingCollege Mentors

Follow your dream, keep it alive, and you will succeed…

One student dreamed of attending UC Berkeley. His 3.6 average and middling SATs, by the numbers, wouldn’t get him in. However, this student’s positive attitude and amazing work ethic helped him create his success. He took a strong academic load and participated in sports; he also took care of his younger siblings and was, in many ways, the adult in his single parent family. He wrote a strong essay about his family life and was rewarded with acceptance to Cal! Students take many roads to college success.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

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

Years ago, when 2 of my students gave the interviewers their business cards – it surely was the deciding factor that put them over the edge, and I’ve been recommending they have one ever since! Another was getting a student admitted in the fall when her acceptance letter was for the winter! That was a real unexpected coup.

. .

Football Ball Boy

I was the Admission Counselor for a prospective student once who had a GPA in the high 2s, low 20s ACT score, and an average strength of curriculum. If you were to base his admission status on just the numbers and strength of curriculum at the university I was employed by, in most cases, he would not get accepted. That said, however, he submitted a DVD that contained a televised news story about him that was aired on his local news station. In short, this student had a physical disability that prevented him from playing football. As such, he became a ball boy for his high school football team and was extremely passionate about his role with the team. His passion and perseverance ended up getting him accepted to the university. Moral of the story…it doesn’t always matter “what” you do as a co-curricular, but your passion for the co-curricular(s) you participate in always matters. Engage in activities taht you are passionate about and persevere. Sincerely, Mike Chapman, Owner Chapman College Admission Consulting www.chapmancac.com

James GoeckerVice President for Enrollment ManagementRose Hulman Institute of Technology

Great Question!!

My most gratifying moments in admissions involve witnessing the moment when an admissions decision is clearly a pivotal moment in a student’s life. One clearly stands out. In the early 1990’s a young man came to our campus for a visit. His father had been a high ranking official in the government of a South American country which had undergone one of its frequent changes in leadership. His father, a once powerful individual, was making a living as a cook in a small Midwestern town. During the visit, we had the opportunity to inform the young man that he had been admitted to our Institute. At that moment, the son and father locked eyes and a million words passed between them in an unspoken wave of emotion. With tears in both of their eyes, the boy slowly walked into his father’s embrace and simply said “Thank you” to his father. The emotion I felt at that moment made me realize that we in the admissions profession really can and do change lives. The young man went on to graduate in mechanical engineering and is today a respected professional with a beautiful family. To witness the moment when the past was laid to rest with its despair and uncertainty and see the beginning of a future that literally changed a family is still the best moment I have had in over 25 years in college admissions.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

take on students based on social economic reasons

Many US colleges and universities are taking on international students based on full pay and reduced qualifications. it is a common practice for agencies to misrepresent the student’s qualification to fillfull contract. this will create long term damages to overlook short term gain which may take years to recover. such policies discourage qualified Chinese international students to apply or consider as part of school selection to the same schools and also add barrier for counselors to recommend them as part of the school selection process.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

Unexpected Admissions Successes

Thinking of my wonderful students, I have had some pleasant surprises but not many that were really unexpected. The reason is that colleges have many goals when they fill a class, and not all of those goals are academic. I have seen some students whose critical thinking or writing skills aren’t at the level of others be able to choose from an impressive array of colleges because they bring something else to the game. That might include being the best on the ball field, even having a national rank. Sometimes I provide guidance and am very cautious with my suggestions for college, and those students wind up with more options that the very academic students who do not have connections of any sort. One of my students a few years ago threw in a few colleges, giving in to his parents, and wound up with significant scholarships. That same student became an admissions success by flying to a college which had waitlisted him and appearing in the admissions office. The admissions officer took some notes, and he was off the waiting list within a week or two. I hear many stories in the business or through other students that do surprise me, for example, students getting calls from colleges the week of graduation asking them if they’d like to attend, sometimes offering them a spot if they’re willing to wait a year – and those colleges include Harvard!

Helen Cella

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

George Washington with a $38,000/yr scholarship Amherst College, guidance counselor had told her she didn’t have a chance.

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