This Client Success Story was based on an interview with Chidera and his mother, Azuka Onyia. Chidera connected with us for help on his college applications. If you are also looking for assistance with your college applications and are interested in working with a CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.
Overview: CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories
In our CollegeAdvisor reviews and Client Success Stories, we feature CollegeAdvisor.com students who achieved their college dreams.
In each of our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we interview our students about their college advising experience. In these CollegeAdvisor reviews, we will discuss how our students built their college lists, aced their college essays, and more. These CollegeAdvisor reviews also share what these students learned during the college process—and any advice they have for other applicants.
Our success stories and the incredible feedback we get from our CollegeAdvisor reviews remind us why we do what we do. At CollegeAdvisor, we’re proud to help students from all backgrounds achieve their college dreams. We’re gratified that these interviews highlight how our advisors make a real difference in students’ lives.
Now, let’s meet Chidera Onyia and his mother, Azuka!
Getting to know Chidera
“I was born in Los Angeles, California,” Chidera told us. “[I] lived there for the first five years of my life, and then my parents decided, oh, let’s move back to Nigeria to give my other siblings and me an introduction to Nigerian culture.”
Chidera has attended several schools in both the United States and Nigeria. “I’m currently a senior in Rabun Gap-Nacoochee school, a school located in northeast Georgia,” he shared. “One of the best private boarding schools in the nation. This is my third year here. It’s been fantastic.”
Rabun Gap is Chidera’s second high school. “I actually [did] my freshman year in Lagos, Nigeria, in another school called British International School, Lagos,” he told us. “And then immediately after my freshman year, I relocated to America, and that’s when I became a student of Rabun Gap.”
Exploring the arts
At Rabun Gap, Chidera has engaged with a number of different extracurriculars. “I’ve been here for three years now,” he said. “It’s been fantastic.”
Many of Chidera’s favorite activities relate to the performing arts. “I’m currently heavily involved in art-related activities such as a group named Gap Eight, which is a group of specially inducted students with different vocal ranges.”
Chidera has also done a lot of theatre and other performing arts throughout high school. “I’ve been part of three musical productions so far,” he shared. “Pippin, Legally Blonde, and something for one act called Rules of Comedy.”
Beyond his artistic pursuits, Chidera has found many other ways to engage with his school community. “I’m a soccer manager for the varsity team,” he told us. “I’m president of Model United Nations. I’m also the co-leader of Afro Student Association, and I’m part of many other school organizations and heavily involved in other major extracurriculars, both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Helping students build life skills
One of Chidera’s favorite extracurriculars has been with an organization called School of Life. He shared a bit about this organization and his involvement with us.
“What we do at the School of Life Africa is that we teach children and teenagers skills that are needed for navigating through their life,” Chidera said. “Resilience, confidence, grit, and all the other life skills. Things that are not normally taught in a classroom setting.”
As a former student at School of Life himself, Chidera has a special connection with the organization. “I was initially a student there, but I graduated and became a faculty member,” he told us. “And now, for the last two years, I’ve been taking up modules on how to wisely choose lifelong friends and how to deal with bullying.”
“Cause I feel like those two topics are things that I struggled with when I was in middle school, basically in the beginning of my high school year,” Chidera shared. “And so that’s why I felt it was necessary to teach kids and other teenagers those things.”
Finding his academic passions
In terms of academics, Chidera hopes to major in computer science. He told us a bit about how his interest in the field developed.
“So, my favorite class is AP Computer Science Principles,” he shared. “Because, obviously, that’s a class that’s helping me to develop my capabilities as a computer scientist.”
While Chidera only recently discovered his love for computer science, he’s excited to pursue it as his college major. “Computer science is something that I actually just started [in] my junior year, but it’s something that I’ve grown to love and it’s something I’m going to major in in college,” Chidera told us. “I really like that class because it’s teaching me coding skills [and] front end web development skills.”
How did Chidera find CollegeAdvisor?
With an impressive extracurricular resume, Chidera was excited to apply to top colleges and universities in the United States. However, he knew that he could use additional guidance as he began the admissions process.
“I think I was midway through junior year and I was like, wait a minute, I actually really do need a college advisor,” Chidera shared. After seeing an ad on TikTok, Chidera decided to talk to his family about enrolling.
Initially, Chidera’s parents weren’t sure if CollegeAdvisor was the right choice. “[My parents] were obviously a little bit skeptical initially about it. You just saw an ad on TikTok, like what are you doing? I was like, I think we should really give them a chance.”
What sets CollegeAdvisor apart
After seeing our ad, Chidera started to learn more about CollegeAdvisor and what we offer. He was impressed with what he found.
“I did a little bit more research and [found] a lot of webinars, essay guides, and other things like that,” he told us. “And I’d seen all the statistics about how many students have signed up with CollegeAdvisor in the past and the success rates.”
At CollegeAdvisor, we’re proud to have a network of over 300 experienced Admissions Experts and former Admissions Officers. Our advisors work one-on-one with students to help them meet their college goals. We also have a vast library of free resources available on our website designed to help students approach the college application process.
Chidera’s research made him eager to meet with our team. “I was like, yeah, I think this is definitely something [we] should give a shot,” he said. “So we did a free consultation. And I can’t remember the woman’s name, but she was really nice. She basically walked us through the whole CollegeAdvisor process. And I think it was really after that meeting, that’s when we were certain. That, okay, we think we should give CollegeAdvisor a chance.”
“And then the rest is history, honestly,” Chidera told us. “I think it’s been a really great experience overall.”
Working with an advisor
After his family enrolled, Chidera was matched with one of our top Admissions Experts, Gabriel Hall. We asked Chidera to describe his advising experience.
“We met pretty often,” Chidera said. “I think sometimes we met like once a week, and it would shift to like once in two weeks and then once a month.”
Chidera and Gabriel planned their meetings around the most critical points in the college process. So, some months they would meet infrequently, while other months would be more intensive. “Because obviously in the college admissions process, there are times when it’s really heavy,” Chidera said. “That’s when you really need [an advisor’s] help.”
Chidera and Gabriel also regularly corresponded through email. Gabriel was always available to answer Chidera’s questions and ensure he never felt alone in the application process. “I think the best way to communicate with [Gabriel] was through email,” Chidera said. “He’d always shoot my email back within 24 hours. But we met pretty frequently, even during the summer. I think that’s how we really connected, and that’s how we got to really know each other.”
What made the college application process challenging?
We asked Chidera what felt most challenging about the college admissions process. His answer focused on a more abstract part of applying to college—namely, having the right mindset.
“I’d say the most challenging part, for me, and I think other students also experienced this, is your mindset going into the college admissions process,” Chidera said. “If you really don’t have a strict mindset, trying to achieve your dreams, trying to get into your dream college, I feel like you can…face obstacles and it’ll be very difficult for you to navigate through them.”
Given Chidera’s college goals, having the right mindset and remaining focused was critical. “My goal was to get into a top 20 school, into computer science,” Chidera shared. “But due to, for example, my SAT score, which was not as high as I had expected, I felt like that really drew me back. And that kind of covered my eyes, shielding me from all the other great things I have going for me.”
Chidera encourages other students to stay focused on their goals. “You need to be diligent, get things done as much as you can, and always prepare and have a plan,” he said.
The new college admissions landscape
Chidera’s mother, Azuka, shared how complicated various elements of the college process felt as a parent.
“Especially with regards to the essays,” Azuka said. “For some reason I felt that there may have been a lot more essays this time around than with my first two kids. A lot of the colleges in the past used to rely on the Common App essays, and they would have maybe one [other] major essay and then maybe one minor essay that is even optional.”
“But geez, [Chidera] wrote tons of essays because of the number of schools that he applied to, which was similar to the number of schools that my first two kids applied to,” she told us. “So, I think in recent years, the essay part has been quite a lot.”
Preparing for financial aid
Azuka also found the financial aid process complicated to navigate, especially when different schools required different forms.
“On the financial aid portion, we have different schools asking for different things, which wasn’t the case with my first two,” Azuka shared. “My first two kids just completed one FAFSA, then that was it. But now we have this school asking for this and that school asking for that. So, it’s almost like a full-time job for several months.”
How did Chidera’s advisor help him through the college application process?
For many students, the college application process can seem like a big undertaking. With Gabriel’s guidance, Chidera was able to break down the different aspects of the admissions process into manageable tasks.
Chidera was grateful for Gabriel’s clear instructions and guidelines. “I think the biggest thing was that, although I was really hardworking, I was sometimes all over the place,” Chidera shared. “But I think what really helped me was that Mr. Gabriel is very good at giving clear directions, and I think that’s what I really like.”
Together, Chidera and Gabriel made a clear plan to help Chidera complete every aspect of his college applications. “I’m a person who likes to follow certain guidelines, certain instructions so I can get things done in an effective manner,” Chidera told us. “I think Mr. Gabriel was really good at that, that was probably his best skill. He was a great advisor to me, and he’s still being a great advisor to me today.”
How Chidera and Gabriel built a strong candidate profile, regardless of test scores
Throughout the application process, Gabriel helped Chidera look beyond his SAT score and focus on his strengths.
“He would always go back and highlight some of my successes and tell me…‘Chidera, you’re focusing on the wrong things,’” Chidera shared. “‘Focus on your strengths, and then use your weaknesses in order to strengthen you.’”
For Chidera, this encouragement made a huge difference. “[Gabriel] always reminded me, okay, Chidera, you have things going for you,” Chidera said. “And he was always very objective. Although he used to motivate me a lot, I like objectivity. He was very objective.”
This helped Chidera feel confident as he applied to top-ranked colleges and universities. Chidera shared a specific example with us. “I recently just got into Georgia Tech and I wasn’t actually going to apply to that school initially,” Chidera said. “[At] Georgia Tech, it’s required to submit your SAT. And I was like, Mr. Gabriel, my SAT could be much better. I’m not going to submit it, especially for computer science.”
However, Gabriel helped Chidera understand his strengths—despite his SAT scores. Chidera told us how Gabriel motivated him to apply to Georgia Tech.
“[Gabriel] was like, ‘Chidera, please. Regardless of what you may think, you’re a very excellent student, especially for the times we’re in,’” Chidera recalled. “He said I’m one of the most diverse students he’s seen, cause I’ve really done a lot in my extracurriculars, from sports, to academics, to community service. I’ve done a lot of things. And he always reminded me of that.”
Adding authenticity to your college applications
Chidera also learned the importance of authenticity as he completed his college applications. He encourages other college applicants to focus on their authentic experiences as they craft their applications.
“Students should be authentic,” Chidera said. “I think that’s something that a lot of students avoid doing. Obviously, they want to paint a certain picture and portray a certain narrative. But I think what’s key is to be authentic.”
For Chidera, this meant being honest about his various interests. “There’s a lot of things I do on the side. Although I wanted to get into computer science, I also want to continue singing in college. I want to act in college. And I think that really has to just do with me, like that’s authentic to me because those are things I genuinely enjoy.”
Chidera suggested, by highlighting all parts of their identities, students can make sure their college applications fully reflect who they are. “I think students should make sure to highlight those things,” he said. “It’s not only just about academics.”
Chidera’s admissions results and the road ahead
Thanks to his hard work throughout the college admissions process, Chidera was accepted to a variety of incredible schools. Including some of the best colleges for engineering and computer science out there.
He got into Notre Dame University, Emory University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Penn State University, Purdue University, Georgia Tech, and Case Western Reserve University.
Next year, Chidera is excited to attend Notre Dame University, where he will major in computer science. We are so proud of him for all he has accomplished, and we can’t wait to see what he will do next!
Advice for future college applicants
We asked Chidera to share some advice for students beginning the college admissions process.
“Have a strict mindset,” Chidera recommends. “I think one critical thing to note is your ability to get as much work done within a set amount of time. That comes to show how powerful you are as a student. That comes to show how hardworking you are.”
Chidera also encourages students to make sure their grades are as strong as possible. “Strengthen your transcript as much as you can until you have to start applying,” he suggested. “But what it really comes down to is putting those skills into the college admissions process. And that’s hard work, diligence, and discipline.”
Azuka’s advice for other parents
Azuka’s advice for families beginning the college admissions process? Start early.
“Don’t wait until your junior year in high school before you start preparing for the college admissions process,” Azuka told us. “You [should] actually start from maybe sixth grade and begin to build up your profile. Both within and outside of the classroom.”
She expanded on how preparing early can make a difference for applicants. “A lot of the applications that we completed, it wasn’t just about what you did the year before,” Azuka said. “You have to tell the story of yourself, and there has to be some form of history or consistency. So, a lot of kids make the mistake of waiting until junior year, then you start scrambling and it doesn’t really tell a good story of who you are as a person and your capabilities.”
Azuka feels confident that Chidera’s long-standing engagement with his extracurriculars helped his applications stand out. “Even though Chidera’s SAT scores were not as high as we expected them to be, I’m sure [admissions officers] could see that he was a consistently strong student,” she shared.
Throughout the admissions process, Chidera always knew that he had Gabriel at his side to support him.
“CollegeAdvisor has really shown me a lot of support, immeasurable support, that does not compare to what my school could have offered me,” he shared with us.
“CollegeAdvisor was a necessary investment in Chidera’s future. It is an investment I advise other parents to make. I introduced another family whose son was in the same grade as Chidera to CollegeAdvisor. They loved it and the son got into his dream college – Emory University!!,” Azuka shared.
After all of his hard work, we know that Chidera has a bright future ahead of him. We are so proud of his efforts, and we wish him the best of luck at Notre Dame in the fall!
This CollegeAdvisor Review and Success Story was based on interviews with clients Chidera and Azuka Onyia.
We’re proud that our CollegeAdvisor reviews highlight how our advisors can help students increase their confidence. Not only that, they help turn the college admissions process into a learning experience filled with growth and value. At CollegeAdvisor, we’re grateful that our college advisors get the chance to support so many incredible students every day. Every CollegeAdvisor review reminds us how wonderful our community is.
This article was written by Abbie Sage. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.