scholar Yonas and his family moved from Ethiopia to Chicago five years ago. He was determined to get the best education he could while in America but didn’t know very much about the American education system.

“I didn’t know how teachers would be or what kind of classes I was supposed to take or how the college application process worked, all l knew was that I came here to get my education. I just didn’t really know how I was going to achieve that.”

Yonas took as many challenging classes as he could in high school because he loved learning and the rigor involved in the courses. His school counselors helped him with things like managing deadlines and getting his transcripts, but Yonas wanted more individualized help when he applied to college. Specifically, he reached out to CollegeAdvisor for advice about writing his personal statement.

“The essay that I wrote at first was good, it had my voice in it, but it wasn’t my full potential. CollegeAdvisor helped me realize who I am. It was through the essay that I was writing that I began to understand the story that I had because living it every day you don’t realize how special you are or how different you are from everyone else. When there are people out there helping you achieve that perfect paper that you want that sounds genuinely like you – that’s where CollegeAdvisor helped me the most. CollegeAdvisor is just a way for you to achieve your dreams.”

For Yonas, CollegeAdvisor was a confidence boost. Because his counselors got to know him as a person, they could give him personalized tips that he felt he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

“One of the things that my mentor emphasized was to not make my personal statement generalized. Sure I could say ‘I came to America five years ago, I didn’t understand the language, and now I’m here.’ But my mentor reminded me to add specific things about me that an admissions officer wouldn’t get from anyone else. That’s why I talked about Ethiopian food and how my mom used to make it. I talked about how that made me feel and how that specific food told a story about me.”

Yonas says that and his advisors helped him realize the power of telling your story – “In my personal statement, I told the admissions officers who I am and they saw the determination I have to achieve my goals. They saw the obstacles I’ve faced and how I’ve overcome those challenges. That’s what CollegeAdvisor helped me realize about myself, and what the admissions officers, in turn, got to see about me.”

Yonas received a QuestBridge scholarship and will be attending Bowdoin University in the fall.

This Success Story was based on an interview with Yonas. To start talking with an Admissions Expert for one-on-one help with your college applications, click here!