This Client Success Story was based on an interview with Jordan Cancel and his mother, Angelique Roman. Jordan connected with us for help with 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 Client Success Stories, we feature CollegeAdvisor.com students who achieved their college dreams.
For each of this year’s CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we’ll interview our students and talk to them about their college advising experience. We will discuss how they built their college lists, aced their college essays, and which CollegeAdvisor resources they found most valuable. We’ll also share what they learned throughout the college application process.
Our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories and the positive feedback we get from our CollegeAdvisor.com reviews remind us why we do what we do. At CollegeAdvisor, we’re proud to help students from all backgrounds maximize their college potential. We hope these CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories inspire you as you begin your own college application process, start your college visits, apply for merit scholarships, craft your college list, and more.
Getting to know Jordan
In this CollegeAdvisor Client Success story, we sat down with our client Jordan Cancel (Columbia ’27) and his mother, Angelique. Jordan is a high school senior (Class of 2023) in Miami, Florida, where he is a part of the IB program at his high school and is active in extracurriculars.
Jordan is currently the student government president at his school. For Jordan, student government—and other leadership roles—have been a critical part of his high school experience.
“I’ve been voted in every single year,” Jordan told us. “I’m actually Executive Vice President for Future Business Leaders of America. I attended Leadership in the Business World with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. And then I ended up getting invited back to do a diversity, equity, and inclusion presentation to another cohort of around 120 high seniors from across the world, from places like Dubai, Mumbai, Canada, California, all kinds of different places.”
As a proven leader, Jordan was chosen for a team lead position during an internship with a school board member. “I think I was the youngest team lead,” Jordan told us. “I worked alongside graduate students, students from Georgetown, you know, Ph.D. candidates from the University of Florida.”
In addition to extracurriculars, Jordan has excelled in his school’s rigorous IB program. He continues to earn high marks even in his senior year while anxiously awaiting his college acceptance letters. Interested in economics and business as a potential major, it may come as no surprise that one of his favorite classes is IB Economics. However, Jordan also enjoys his IB Literature class.
The IB Curriculum and college admissions
As a student of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, Jordan pursued a variety of upper-level classes throughout his high school career.
The IB program is a rigorous curriculum developed for high school students. This program emphasizes critical thinking and solving multifaceted problems. Students in IB programs often go on to attend elite colleges. From the perspective of college admissions officers, high-achieving students in IB programs are likely to fit in well in an academically rigorous university.
Jordan’s IB program also focuses on “analysis and analysis-based writing,” which has helped Jordan succeed throughout his high school career. By writing “mini research papers” as well as a 4,000-word extended essay, Jordan learned to express his ideas in a concise and eloquent way. It also increased his confidence when faced with writing assignments and application essays.
For Jordan, the IB program has served as a fundamental part of his academic experience—and helped him apply to colleges. Specifically, the IB program’s emphasis on writing has helped Jordan approach school-specific supplements. “I would definitely say that the writing component within the IB program has really, really helped in my college writing,” Jordan told us.
Why Jordan and Angelique wanted admissions support
As a high-achieving student, Jordan knew he wanted to apply to competitive schools, including those in the Ivy League. He also knew a fair amount about the college admissions process already.
“My son is a go-getter,” Angelique told us. “I mean, he has no problems calling the schools, asking questions, reaching out to random people.” Jordan’s motivation and confidence already gave him an advantage as he began applying to colleges.
Still, while Jordan felt “well-versed in the college application process,” he still thought that he could use additional support. “I think I knew that I needed, specifically, essay support and just general support,” Jordan told us. “I had never been exposed to the Common App prior. I didn’t know how to navigate any of that.”
Many students share Jordan’s sentiments when it comes to the college application process. Even the most prepared students are first-timers when it comes to navigating the Common App and supplemental essays.
Jordan also wanted guidance on how to build his application narrative. While he had a sparkling resume and a strong academic record, he wanted support that would allow him to put the pieces together. “It was a matter of [how to] present myself in the application itself,” he told us.
Angelique first heard of CollegeAdvisor.com through an email. “At first I wasn’t really interested,” she told us, “but something told me it was important to at least check it out.”
After some research, Jordan and Angelique booked a consultation with one of our Admissions Specialists, Bilal. “He had a wonderful personality,” Angelique told us. “I remember just feeling really comfortable with him.”
Initially, Angelique wasn’t sure whether personalized college advising would be the right fit for Jordan. “Not that Jordan wasn’t gonna get a lot from it,” Angelique told us. “It’s just that Jordan was already so knowledgeable about college, so I wasn’t sure if it was really going to give us a return on my investment. I knew I was gonna be investing money in this, and I really had to make sure that, okay, is this really gonna be beneficial or not?”
However, after speaking with Bilal and learning more about CollegeAdvisor, Angelique and Jordan made the decision to move forward.
Jordan and Angelique also had concerns surrounding the cost of college advising. After reviewing CollegeAdvisor’s different package options with Bill, they were able to find a package that worked for them. “I was actually able to find a really good [advising] plan within my price range,” Jordan told us. “So everything ended up going smooth sailing.”
Finding the perfect fit
After Jordan and Angelique decided to enroll, Jordan was matched with one of our expert advisors, Gabriel. Immediately, they knew it was a perfect fit—which made all the difference.
“[Jordan said], mom, I like him. He’s down to earth. He’s very knowledgeable. And I was like, perfect,” Angelique told us. “Because what makes it most important is that it’s a perfect fit. You can be working with a great company, but if the person that you’re working with directly is not a good fit for you, [it doesn’t matter]. This could have been your number one agent, but if he wasn’t a fit for my son, then it didn’t really do anything for us.”
Jordan began working with Gabriel in the spring of his junior year. This gave him a solid amount of time to build his application narrative before the stress of senior year began.
How Jordan’s advisor helped him craft his applications
Much of Jordan’s work with his advisor revolved around his Common App. Through his advising sessions, Jordan received useful guidance on how to best represent his skills and accomplishments so they stood out at top schools.
“[With Gabriel], the things that I mostly worked on were tailoring and structuring my Common App and then developing my college list as well,” Jordan said. “So, making sure I have enough reach schools, target schools, schools that I’m also interested in, and then basically finding where I fit within their ranges [and expectations].”
“I [also] had a lot of essay help,” Jordan told us. While Jordan and his advisor didn’t necessarily dedicate full sessions to drafting essays, they spent their meetings navigating all the intricacies of the essays in terms of the Common App. Then, Jordan would follow up over email with any questions or ideas surrounding his essays.
“The essay help was a huge, huge thing for me,” Jordan said. “And also developing my ideas on paper. So, for example, if I had a question [about whether an] idea would be really good, I would then send an email to my college advisor. It’s not necessarily something that needs a meeting, but I was able to send an email, and I would normally get a response within the same day, if not very early in the morning the next day.”
For Jordan and Angelique, Gabriel’s quick responses made a huge difference. “The fact that he was available when Jordan was available made a very big difference,” Angelique said. “And if he wasn’t, he’d tell Jordan, ‘Hey, listen, I don’t have availability for this time. This is the time I’ve got, so let’s plan something accordingly.”
With his advisor’s guidance, Jordan was able to write strong essays that highlighted his strengths.
What was the most challenging part of applying to college?
So, what was the most difficult part of the process for Jordan?
“I would say the most challenging part, and I think a lot of people would agree with me on this, is, of course, the supplement writing.” Jordan stated.
For many students, supplemental essays are the most daunting—and time-consuming—part of the college process. Jordan applied to a total of 16 schools, including several Ivy League universities. When each school can have up to seven supplemental essays, that ends up being a lot of writing—with a lot on the line.
“And every single word, quite frankly, matters,” Jordan told us. “And so, of course, I could have this amazing idea, but then when it comes to writing it on paper, if I have too many words, I have no choice but to cut it, you know?”
“And then it’s about fixing my syntax, maybe finding a synonym for this, and just grouping words together maybe, and then just moving things around,” he said. “And that’s a tedious process in itself.”
As Jordan learned, supplements are a critical part of the college application process. Among other factors, supplements are a key way that students can stand out from other applicants with similar grades and test scores. With Gabriel’s guidance, Jordan drafted, edited, and submitted essays for 16 colleges.
How Gabriel supported Jordan in the essay process
For Jordan, CollegeAdvisor expert Gabriel’s guidance and support made a huge difference when it came to brainstorming and writing his essays. By communicating with Gabriel over email, Jordan always had support as he tackled each new prompt.
“Gabriel was kind of like a big brother for Jordan in the sense that [Jordan would say], ‘Hey, listen, this is what I have. What do you think?” Angelique told us. “And Jordan really took his input into consideration. [It wasn’t] like listening to someone super sterile. [They] were points that maybe I didn’t think of, Jordan didn’t think of. Gabriel was like, you need to tweak this here or tweak that there.”
The word count is another challenge when it comes to the essays. Jordan’s advisor helped him edit his essays in order to have the biggest impact, all while staying within the word limit.
“It’s not just the amount [of supplements], but also the word count that they give you,” Jordan said, discussing the challenges of supplement writing. “So I mean, you have this general supplement, so to speak, and you want to write a lot. But that word count is what you really need to focus on.”
When applying to so many competitive schools, every word can have a major impact. With Gabriel’s support, Jordan crafted essays that highlighted his unique strengths, all while bolstering his application narrative. And, since the essays are so unique to each school, he was grateful for Gabriel’s guidance in pinpointing what strengths to highlight for different programs.
Jordan’s admission results and the road ahead
Jordan applied to 16 different schools during his college application process. These included top schools like USC, University of Michigan, Penn State, and UMass Amherst, as well as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, and NYU.
Jordan decided to apply Early Action to five schools.
“I ended up getting into four out of the five of my Early Action schools,” Jordan told us.
Jordan was accepted to the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business (admissions are separate from the general university), the University of Florida, USC, Penn State, and UMass’ business school and Honors program. Jordan also received the highest merit-based scholarship for UMass, which is about $16,000 a year.
We’re pleased to report that during the Regular Decision process, Jordan was accepted to Columbia University, which he will be attending in the fall!
As we mentioned, Jordan was originally deferred from UPenn, which means his application was moved to the Regular Decision pool. Jordan was notified by UPenn about his deferral in December.
Instead of feeling discouraged by the news, Jordan looked toward the next steps in the process. “I think there’s a misconception that being deferred is a bad thing when that’s really not the case,” he told us. “I mean, being deferred basically means you’re just getting a second review on your application, and what’s better than a second try at applying?”
With this positive perspective, Jordan knew that he had to do all he could to add valuable information to his application this second time around. Penn allows students to submit midyear updates to their applications, including a letter of continued interest (LoCI). This is basically a letter that updates the university on new achievements and highlights how you would fit into their school.
How Gabriel guided Jordan through the deferral process
With Gabriel’s help, Jordan began learning more about the deferral process and how to write a letter of continued interest that would stand out.
“[We tried to decide] what I should include in my letter to best present myself,” Jordan said. “But then, you need to remember that it’s an update letter, so you shouldn’t be including things you’ve already mentioned in your application.”
Jordan and Gabriel worked together to find the right updates to include in Jordan’s letter. “I was updating them on my academics because I got straight A’s my first semester, exclusively taking AP IB courses. But also, I finished my extended essay, which is a 4,000-word comparative analysis on the United States gender wage gap,” Jordan said. “And then, I’m actually a Silver Knight nominee for my school in the speech category with the Miami Herald. So these are all really important [accomplishments] that I [could include] in my LoCI.”
Writing the LoCI
Once Jordan and Gabriel had decided what to include in Jordan’s LoCI, it was time to start writing. “I think we went through around two phases of drafting up a really well-written letter of continued interest,” Jordan said. “And then that’s when we ended up submitting.”
Gabriel also provided Jordan with a successful letter of continued interest, which helped Jordan structure his own. “That really, really helped me because that helped give me an idea of how I should best tailor this,” Jordan said.
What will Jordan major in?
So, what’s next for Jordan?
Jordan will be attending Columbia University in the fall. While he won’t need to formally choose a major until his sophomore year, he’s interested in pursuing economics or public policy.
For Jordan, economics is a natural choice when it comes to what to major in. One of Jordan’s favorite subjects is economics, and he’s participated in several business leadership conferences. So, his choice of major certainly aligns with his interests and extracurriculars, as well as his future plans.
Investing in Jordan’s future
We’re so proud of Jordan for all he has accomplished, and we’re excited to watch him thrive at Columbia.
Beyond his advisor’s guidance, Jordan’s success stems from his hard work and determination. Even given his high grades and impressive resume, Jordan understood that getting into top colleges takes work—and he was ready to put in the hours.
“I’m a firm believer that, at the end of the day, you can want it all for your children,” Angelique shared. “You can want the absolute best for them, but if they don’t want the best for themselves, there’s only so much, as a parent, that you can do. You can’t get them into the best schools if they’re not willing to put in the work.”
“So as parents, I think it’s more important to guide them and check in with them, have expectations. Give them tasks for them to come back to you with. That way, you know that they’re serious about their education, just as serious as you, the parent, are,” she told us.
From the beginning of his college journey, Jordan took initiative—calling admissions offices, doing his own research, and pursuing activities he cared about. Yet equally, even the strongest student can benefit from personalized admissions support.
How CollegeAdvisor made a difference for Jordan
“[As] a single mom, making the investment [in] CollegeAdvisor… felt like it was a lot for me, right?” Angelique shared. “And not as far as cost is concerned, but you’re making an investment at the end of the day. And you want to see a return on your investment.”
“And I feel that [this] investment has been one of the best investments I can make in my son’s education,” she said. “Because, I told myself, my son is brilliant. I have to give him all [the] resources that I can.”
For Jordan and Angelique, Gabriel’s guidance made a huge impact. “It really made the biggest difference for us,” Angelique said. “It really, really did. Like as a family, it made the world of a difference because it also took [the] stress off of me trying to figure out this process by myself because, you know, I’m a working mom. I work a corporate job, so I’m busy doing stuff all day. So time management is always a big thing for me.”
Jordan & Angelique’s advice for other students and parents
Finally, after going through the college application process, what’s Jordan’s number one tip to students and parents?
“I would plan, plan, plan,” he shared. “And when I say plan, I mean backwards planning your things. And also remaining on top of deadlines.”
To help students manage their supplemental essays, Jordan urges them to organize the process. For example, many schools request similar supplements. So, he recommends looking at what essays you can adapt to each school, rather than having to start from zero on every essay.
“Also, keeping track of your counselor and teacher’s recommendation. These are all huge things that play a role in that holistic [evaluation] process,” Jordan said. “But, these are also things that you need to be constantly following up on because teachers do have a grace period.”
Jordan emphasizes the importance of meeting those specific application deadlines for each university; that means submitting all additional requirements, uploading all documents, and sending in your essays by the deadline.
“And then, also, it’s really important to ask for help,” Jordan said. I think kids feel like they have to navigate this process alone, which is definitely not the case.” Jordan recommends that students take advantage of all resources, from one-on-one support through CollegeAdvisor to free resources found on the internet.
Additionally, Jordan recommends reaching out to current students who have successfully completed the admissions process. For instance, he was able to get insights from five different students who had unique paths to acceptance at Wharton. This helped him strategize and ensure his application was as strong as possible.
Advice for future college applicants
Overall, Jordan recommends taking a proactive approach to applying. He emphasized the importance of understanding each school’s unique application process, specifically for supplemental materials.
Jordan left nothing to chance, especially when aiming to get into his dream school. He recommends calling the admissions office and asking specific questions related to your needs.
“For example, I actually got a recognition from the United States Senate, basically recognizing the fact that I’m a Silver Knight nominee for my school,” he said. “And I wasn’t sure if that could be considered a supporting document for my application. So, out of 16 schools that I applied to, I called every single admissions office.”
Jordan noticed that every school had a different answer and a different, very specific, process for submitting these documents. That’s why he highly recommends that students take a proactive approach.
With competitive schools, Jordan also recommends joining extracurriculars and programs that align with your dream school. In Jordan’s case, that meant participating in a summer program at UPenn’s Wharton. He presented at a diversity, equity, and inclusion seminar. He even received an invitation to participate on an international panel. “Through that [experience],” he shared, “I was able to get a unique perspective from the director of the program, who shared with me some insight about the application process for Wharton.”
Jordan was even able to use that contact when navigating Wharton’s deferral process. In addition to a letter of continued interest, Jordan asked the director of the summer program and some alumni to write him a letter of support, which UPenn received directly.
Overall, Jordan and Angelique felt that CollegeAdvisor made a huge impact on Jordan’s admissions process. By providing Jordan with one-on-one guidance through his application, essays, and deferral process, Gabriel and the CollegeAdvisor team helped ensure that Jordan had the tools he needed to succeed.
“The return on my investment that I put into CollegeAdvisor and then, you know, having Gabriel, has been amazing,” Angelique shared. “I really couldn’t have done it, honestly, without your services.”
Once again, we are so proud of Jordan for his hard work, and we’re excited to see where the road ahead leads him!
If you’re looking for support in the admissions process, we’ve got you covered. With 400+ experienced advisors and former admissions officers, CollegeAdvisor provides personalized guidance to students from all backgrounds to help them achieve their college goals. Click here to schedule a free consultation with our team.
Want to learn more? Check out the rest of our Client Success Stories to hear about other students’ experiences with our expert advising team.
This Client Success Stories article was written by Sarah Kaminski. 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.