College counselor for Lydia

Overview: Client Success Stories

In our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we feature students who worked with a CollegeAdvisor college counselor to achieve 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 more. We’ll also share what they learned throughout the college application process and any advice they’d give to college-bound students. 

This article centers around one of our Scholars, Lydia. Each year, the pro bono CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program offers free, comprehensive college admissions support to 100 exceptional high school seniors from first-generation or lower-income backgrounds. Each student is paired with one of our Admissions Experts, who supports them through every aspect of the college admissions process. 

Our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories and the positive feedback we get from our 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. 

Introducing Lydia!

This Client Success Story was based on an interview with Lydia. Like many students, Lydia knew she needed extra support in the college admissions process, including college essay tips and one-on-one help building her college list. She was looking for a college guide who could help her understand what makes a strong candidate profile, how to apply for scholarships, and more. 

Last admissions cycle, Lydia was one of 100 Scholars who received free admissions support from our team. The CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program was designed to help high-achieving students like Lydia achieve their college goals, connecting them with college guides, resources, and one-on-one support throughout the admissions process. Through the Scholars Program, Lydia was connected with her own college guide, who supported her in every aspect of her college applications. 

Next year, Lydia is excited to start her college journey at the University of Pennsylvania. In this Client Success Story, we’ll talk about some key resources that helped Lydia succeed, like our financial aid webinar. We’ll also discuss Lydia’s advice for college applicants. 

Finding a College Guide

Before Lydia started looking for a college counselor, she had never heard of After seeing a social media post highlighting how our service helps students get into top colleges, she reached out to learn more. In her first consultation with us, our team shared what kinds of packages we offer and how we work with students to help them succeed. 

In today’s admissions landscape, personalized support from a college counselor is key if you want to stand out in the college application process. However, while many students could greatly benefit from our programs, paying for this kind of extra support is not an option for everyone. After learning more about what investing in a package with a college counselor might cost, Lydia and her mom decided that our service was out of their price range.

Although our typical packages were no longer an option, we still wanted to find a way to help Lydia through her application process. After our initial consultation, we invited Lydia to apply for our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program. The CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program provides one hundred students with demonstrated financial need the opportunity to work with a college counselor, completely free of charge. 

College counselors committed to helping all students

As an institution committed to equity and accessibility, CollegeAdvisor aims to make their services accessible for students from all backgrounds, including lower-income and first-generation students like Lydia. Lydia shared some details about her background with us. “I come from an immigrant family, a first-generation [family]. I’m also an only child, so I had no older siblings to help me out.” 

For families going through the college application process for the first time, application resources can make all the difference. In the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, Lydia had access to college webinars and other college guides. This helped Lydia feel confident as she began the application process.

The CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program ended up being exactly what Lydia needed. “I really wanted help with my college application, and the fact that CollegeAdvisor would give me a chance to apply to a free program felt like a perfect opportunity for me.” Lydia shared.

Lydia’s Experience Applying to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program

Applying to college isn’t easy. Between drafting essays, taking standardized tests, and collecting transcripts and other documentation, students have a lot to think about as they plan their path to college. 

At, we want to ensure that students don’t feel overwhelmed by the process of applying to work with a college counselor. To encourage students with demonstrated financial need to apply for our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, we’ve tried to make the application process as straightforward as possible.

For Lydia, the application for the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program was fairly simple. “I remember it being pretty easy, just some questions about me and why I needed the free college application [support],” she told us. In order to apply to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, we ask students to provide information on their family’s financial status. This helps us provide these services to the students and families that need them most.

Scholars application essay

Beyond simply selecting students who aren’t able to pay for a college guide, we aim to select students who will make the most of our program. So, when students apply to work with a college guide, we ask them to complete an essay as well. “Then there was an essay about why I wanted to be in the program, what it would do for me.” We want our Scholars to feel confident about why they will benefit from the program and what kind of support they hope to get from their college counselor. 

Like many first-generation students, Lydia wrote about how she and her mom were unfamiliar with the college admissions process. We were thrilled to connect Lydia with her college counselor so they could begin this journey together in the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program.

Connecting to Her College Counselor!

Once Lydia was accepted into the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, it was time for her to meet her college counselor. We pair each of our Scholars with a personal college guide, who offers support on every aspect of the college application process. 

Since Lydia and her mom weren’t already familiar with the college admissions process, she needed a college counselor who could offer support. It was also vital that Lydia’s college guide could help her apply for scholarships and financial aid. Lydia’s advisor, Arbre’ya Lewis, gave Lydia the kind of detailed guidance she needed to succeed.

“She was really helpful and broke down everything,” Lydia said. “Because she knew [how the admissions process worked], and I was kinda freaking out and very stressed out during that time.” Lydia’s college counselor was a helpful resource during the application period, providing personalized support at every turn. She was also a grounding presence who helped Lydia remain on track as she applied to college, easing Lydia’s nerves and reassuring her throughout the application process. 

“She was the one who pushed me to look into out-of-state schools,” added Lydia. “I had originally limited my college list to in-state schools because of cost and dual enrollment credits I had earned. I believed in-state schools were cheaper, but she encouraged me to look into out-of-state schools because some out-of-state colleges give even better financial aid packages than in-state colleges do.”

Favorite College Webinars – Lydia’s Top Picks

A key part of our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program is our college webinars. These webinars offer focused information and tips on how to tackle different parts of the college admissions process. We offer financial aid webinars, essay webinars, and more, all of which offer exclusive advice from CollegeAdvisor alumni.

Lydia remembers one of her favorites being our financial aid webinar. “I specifically remember the webinar about FAFSA and the CSS profile…because I had no idea what they were,” she said. “They provided essential information and timelines that made my financial aid experience go much more smoothly than it would have without the webinar.” For many students, one of the most important steps in the college admissions process is applying for financial aid. Our financial aid webinar offers students detailed information to help them complete their financial aid applications.

Our financial aid webinar covers both the FAFSA and CSS applications, both of which help get students the financial aid they need to afford college. As Lydia learned, the FAFSA and CSS profile each have different deadlines and require different paperwork. So, it’s important to plan ahead as you navigate the financial aid process. 

Our financial aid webinar, combined with support from your college counselor, can help you keep track of deadlines and meet your financial aid goals. “It helped me keep them on my radar,” Lydia said. Our financial aid webinar, like many of our other college webinars, is available for free online.

For Lydia, the Hardest Part of Applying to College Was:

So, what was the hardest part of applying to college?

For Lydia, it was her college list. “I think definitely deciding which [colleges] to apply to and then sitting down with enough time to write everything,” Lydia told us, was the hardest part of the process. 

If you choose to work with a college guide, the first thing you’ll do together is think through your college list. Lydia and her college counselor struggled to finalize her college list. “I’m so indecisive,” she said. “So, my college list was constantly changing.”

Many schools have school-specific supplemental essays. So, creating your college list early will give you a head start as you complete your applications. This can be helpful throughout senior fall, when students need to manage a full course load while applying to college. As Lydia learned, time management can be challenging for college-bound seniors. “When you’re in the midst of it, it’s very chaotic…procrastination is a real thing.”

As a member of our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, Lydia knew she didn’t have to go through the process alone. Her college counselor was there for her to help her throughout the decision making process. This helped Lydia stay on track to submit all of her applications on time.

How Did Her College Guide Help Lydia Overcome Those Challenges?

Lydia’s college counselor, Arbe’ya, tailored her approach to Lydia’s needs. “Honestly, my advisor helped me a lot, especially with helping me narrow down my college list,” she said. While there are no guarantees in the college admissions process, a college guide will always recommend having the right mix of safety, match, and reach schools. This helps a student reach their full potential while ensuring they have some choices when it comes time to commit to a school.

A committed college counselor will bring both a realistic and optimistic approach to building a well-rounded college list. In Lydia’s case, her college counselor pushed her to apply to more selective, or reach schools. Lydia says her college counselor suggested that she “focus on some more reach schools, cause I had a lot of safeties and targets, but not so much reach.”

After helping Lydia decide on her final college list, she and her college counselor worked together on her Common App essay. Together, they made a plan to complete her main college essay early in the college admissions process. This would leave Lydia plenty of time to focus on her short answer and supplemental essays.

Even if you feel like you are already somewhat familiar with the college admissions process, a college guide can make a huge difference. A dedicated college counselor can help you manage your time and expectations when it comes to the application process. 

Some Advice For Future College Applicants and CollegeAdvisor Scholars

So, what advice does Lydia have for students beginning the college application process?

“I would definitely say start early, as soon as possible,” Lydia said. “Because that will give you enough time where you won’t be super stressed out with deadlines.” 

Lydia suggests using the summer to start thinking about what kind of schools you might be interested in. That way, you can start crafting your college list before your senior fall. “Once you know your college list and you know what colleges you want to apply to,” Lydia said, “it isn’t as bad as you think it is.”

For students in the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, Lydia has this advice: “Try to take advantage of all the things that you have, all the resources that you have.” Beyond our financial aid webinar and other college webinars, students in the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program have access to a variety of resources. This includes our essay editing and financial aid teams. “Looking back…those were amazing opportunities that I wish I took advantage of,” Lydia said.

Not only is your college counselor a direct resource for you—they can also connect you to other college resources. With over 300 Admissions Experts, we always have someone who can answer your questions and get you the help you need. 

Lydia’s College List and Admission & Scholarship Results!

With the help of the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program and her college counselor, Lydia applied to thirteen colleges. During the summer, Lydia decided she wanted to pursue a degree in nursing. Choosing her college major helped Lydia and her college counselor narrow down her college list to schools with strong nursing programs for undergrads. 

Understanding your goals and the kind of education you want to pursue will help you build a balanced college list. That way, you can find the right opportunities for your future goals.

Of the thirteen schools she applied to, Lydia gained acceptance to eight of them. Lydia received admissions offers from: Baylor, Texas Christian University, UT Austin, Abilene Christian University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Emory, Texas Woman’s University, and University of Pennsylvania! She was waitlisted at UC Irvine at first, but later moved off of the waitlist. This meant that Lydia was accepted into a total of ten of the thirteen schools she applied to with the help of her college counselor.

Texas top ten percent scholarship

One advantage Lydia and her college counselor used to her benefit was the Top 10% Rule. This qualifies Texas residents who are in the Top 10% of their high school class for automatic admission to certain in-state schools. It applies to all in-state public colleges. This rule granted Lydia acceptance into UT Austin, which has a slightly lower top 6% rule and was her top in-state choice. Additionally, Texas Woman’s University has a top 30% rule. So, these rules can be helpful to think about when building a realistic college list.

Getting into ten colleges is a fantastic feat on its own. However, securing enough scholarship funding and financial aid to attend these schools was also key. As a Texas resident, many of the in-state schools where she applied offered scholarships. Lydia also received financial aid from many of the out-of state schools where she was accepted.

Once she had received all of her college acceptance letters, Lydia had a decision to make: which of the ten schools would she attend. For students like Lydia, a school’s financial aid package is an integral part of the decision-making process. “I was committed to UT because I hadn’t received UPenn’s financial aid package yet,” she said. “It took a little bit longer than expected, so by the May 1st deadline, I was committed to UT Austin.” But when her financial aid package finally came through, Lydia made the final decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania!

Future Plans at UPenn!

Lydia will be starting at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, rated one of the best nursing schools in the world. Although she chose to go out-of-state for college, Lydia sees herself returning to Texas after college to work as a nurse. “I hopefully will pass the NCLEX exam and start working as an RN at a hospital… The specialties I’m leaning towards are pediatrics, women’s health, labor and delivery, and the NICU.”

If you are also considering applying to UPenn, be sure to check out our school-specific resources. These include our University of Pennsylvania Essay Examples (And Why They Worked), our University of Pennsylvania Panel on student life, and our How to Get Into University of Pennsylvania Guide

Final Thoughts – Why CollegeAdvisor?

What other advice does Lydia have for current seniors? “It will all work out,” she said. “Try and enjoy your senior year, because it goes by really, really fast.”

Applying to college is hard. At, we believe that no student should have to do it alone. If you choose to work with one of our college counselors, you’ll access personalized support on every aspect of the college process. Plus, you can access free college resources and webinars on our website for guidance on every part of your applications. 

college counselor

If you are considering applying to our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, check out our reviews to hear directly from former Scholars like Lydia. If you’d like to read more about another one of our CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program students, check out our Client Success Stories highlighting Scholar Gasser Alwasify. Or, if you want to learn more about how can support you, call (844) 343-6272 to speak to an Admissions Coordinator.