Going to an elite university was always the goal for Luke Smith. He had good grades, grew up surrounded by people who also attended college, and had a basic understanding of the steps that he would need to take for the application process. However, when the Common App opened last fall, Luke’s dream of attending Stanford University was almost put on hold because he realized that he did not know how to write his personal statements.

Luke had always been a good student: he took challenging courses, was at the top of his class, and won awards for his academic achievements. But Luke realized that being a good student wasn’t enough to fully appreciate his educational opportunities. He had thought of high school as merely a stepping stone to college; really, it was an equally valuable experience where he could learn about his interests and develop his passions.

This disconnect caused an issue when the college application season. Luke still wanted to apply to Stanford, but he was unsure about how to express himself in the personal statements. Because he did not have a close bond with the counselors at his high school, he was in need of some outside help: someone who could help him reflect more carefully on his academic life so far and personal interests.

Initially, Luke was not considering an essay-editing service because the prices were fairly high and he did not think that what many services offered were sufficient enough to warrant the price. That changed, however, when he saw a Campus Crawl YouTube video that talked about a new college-advising service called CollegeAdvisor.com. Luke reached out via the company website, and after having a phone conversation with the founder and CEO Brian Mitchell, Luke registered as a mentee and began working with Michele Charles, a Stanford alumna and educational equity advocate.

Michele seemed like the perfect advisor. She had similar interests, understood the application process, and had plenty of advice to share based on her own experience. Luke immediately noticed an improvement in his personal statements.

Michele listened to his concerns regarding the essays and was able to give relevant tips for how to best express his character and passions. She emphasized the importance of discussing extracurricular activities because the admission committees want to know about the impact that sports, jobs, or clubs have had on the lives of students and how they will continue to be involved within the college community.

Photographer: Dan Dimmock | Source: Unsplash

Gradually, Luke was noticing that his stress level was decreasing. Any queries that he had were responded to within a few hours, and having definite answers allowed him to relax and enjoy the last few months of high school.

Their video chat sessions were also preparing Luke for life as a college student. Having graduated from Stanford, Michele had a lot of personal experience and was fully capable of answering every question that Luke asked. Throughout their conversations, he was learning about the student clubs, internships, research programs, and other opportunities that would be available to him on his dream campus.

The best piece of advice that Michele had was to craft the essays come full circle in the conclusion. This advice made his essays personal; because they were personal, they were more unique, and because they were more unique, they were stronger.

Michele’s strategy involved seeing the average 500-word prompt as the chance for applicants to tell their story in a way that has an effect on the readers. Rather than try to write what they think colleges want to hear, applicants should focus on writing an essay that is meaningful to them and engages readers so that the admissions committee still remember it hours after they read it.

Photographer: Jason Leung | Source: Unsplash

When Luke finally received his acceptance letter to Stanford University, it was the most surreal feeling of his life. He received congratulatory messages from all of his friends and family, and he did not sleep at all that night—but this time, it was not from anxiety.

For the first time in a while, he was stress-free and excited about starting the next chapter of his life. Luke feels that if he had not had an advisor, then he definitely would not have been accepted to Stanford.

Luke advises future college applicants to get started on the application process early so that they can take full advantage of their options—early admission, alumni interviews, scholarship applications, etc. He also recommends CollegeAdvisor.com because applicants gain quality support from advisors that truly care about them, something that is a great value at an affordable price.

This Success Story was written by Zoe Edington, and based on a phone interview with Luke, whose name has been changed for privacy. Luke reached out to us for help with writing his personal statements. If you are also looking for assistance with this part of your application and are interested in working with a CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.