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?

Nicole Oringer
Partner Ivy 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.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft 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.

Marilyn Emerson
President Emerson 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 Blust
Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Planning Marquette 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.

Shelley Levine
Certified Educational Planner College 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 Carpenter
Founder AskJohnAboutCollege.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 Favaro
College admissions consultant California 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.

Donnamarie Hehn
Director of College Guidance Canterbury 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 Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.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.

Pam Proctor
Author 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.