The call was from London—“my son needs help. He applied to 5 Ivies and was rejected by all.” I met the son on Skype and asked what happened. "Poor advice," he said. We spoke at length. I was impressed with his focused determination, and amazing resilience. He now wanted only Yale. How gutsy! I was quite intrigued and went to work. After reading several of his applications, I saw the problems. Re-take your IBs, and the ACT, re-focus your essay on meeting and working for that British Labor Leader. Find Yale grads in London who can introduce you around. Luckily he found someone with a close friend at Yale. An interview was arranged in New Haven. Things went spectacularly—IB’s and ACTs went way up. He wrote a brilliant essay! Had a terrific interview. The London call came about 4 am. “I got in! I got in!”
She was very shy with a non-stop sense of humor— she explained it away as her French accent. Her high school experience had been checkered with “bullying,” but she tossed it off as “misunderstandings.” She did not have top tier grades, so we found a way for her to show her best quality—total dedication to a goal. Since she was an excellent cook, I encouraged her to take a summer internship at a top NY City French restaurant. Her first assignment was working under the Head Chef preparing hor d’oeuvres. He had her repeat each step over 5 or 6 times until it was perfect. What she learned from this Chef—never accept anything but her very best. Make it perfect. I advised her to use this experience as the basis of her college essay. It demonstrated her complete commitment to a goal. Up went her senior year grades and final SATs. She got into 3 of her top choices, and chose Hobart-William Smith.
The dad walked up to my desk and said—“I won’t accept any college but Princeton for my son!” That was quite an introduction. Luckily the son was a top student, but he was missing AP classes—none were offered at his private school. So the dad demanded that the school schedule at least two, which they did the following semester. The Guidance Counselor told him that Princeton was out of the question, but I felt that was nonsense. His grades, SATs and activities were all terrific. The dad took him to interview the Princeton Admission’s office, and on the way his fantastic Jr. project — NY City model of Fifth Avenue and Central Park, got smashed. But this young man took it in stride, had a great interview, and stayed positive. He got deferred. May 1st came –nothing. He still wasn’t giving up nor was I. He sent in a deposit to his 2nd choice and we waited. Finally, on June 19th, the Dean of Admissions called. ”You still want Princeton?” “With all my heart,” he said, “Welcome to Princeton kiddo!”
“Think I’m a good candidate for an MBA?” she asked. “Seriously?” I answered. A 'summa from Harvard', with an ethical compass that few could match! Just what the business world needs”. After college, she had done many things to better the world, then went on to Wall St. But now she wanted to start her own company, and needed those vital skills. Her 780 GMAT would open the “top doors.” I advised her to answer all the application questions from the perspective of her core set of values, leading with “ being true to herself” developed for college applications. Elaborate on your qualities—give examples of what your challenges were, how you solved them and how your various bosses evaluated you. Find a way to show and tell about a time you went beyond what your boss expected. She found it hard to take credit for her successes, but I showed her how to do it in an honest, yet humble manner. Five schools vied for her acceptance, and she chose Stanford Business School.