Overview: CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories
In our Client Success Stories, we feature CollegeAdvisor.com students who achieved their college dreams. For each of this year’s Client Success Stories, we’ll interview our students and talk to them about the college application process. We’ll discuss what college resources helped them succeed, how they built a profile full of strong extracurriculars for college admissions, and what made their college advising experience special.
Our Client Success Stories 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 stories inspire you as you begin your own college application process. To read more CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories and view our CollegeAdvisor.com reviews, click here.
For this edition of our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we sat down with Hiren Parekh. Hiren started working with our team during his sophomore year. Now, after being accepted into Yale, UPenn, and many other top schools, he’s excited to take the next steps on his journey toward medical school. In our recent conversation with Hiren, he reflected on what he learned from our college advising team.
Starting early: How Hiren discovered CollegeAdvisor.com
“I’ve been a part of CollegeAdvisor since my sophomore year,” Hiren said. He first learned about our services through a promotional email from our founder, Brian Mitchell. “Once I heard about CollegeAdvisor,” Hiren told us, “I went on your website to learn more about what you had to offer.”
Coming from a small high school, Hiren already had some knowledge of the college application process. However, he knew that if he wanted to stand out to top schools, he would benefit from expert support. So, he started looking for private college advising support to bolster his profile. “It was just a matter of making sure that I stayed on track with extracurriculars, volunteering, and all the things that come with college admissions in the earlier stages,” Hiren said.
What drew Hiren to CollegeAdvisor.com?
“I think what attracted me mainly was the wide network of advisors,” Hiren told us. “[I felt like] if I joined CollegeAdvisor, I’d be matched with an advisor who shared my interests and could offer experiences that I would find useful as I embarked on the admissions journey.”
For Hiren, this meant an advisor with experience in the pre-med application process. “I’m really interested in studying or going into the pre-medicine track to matriculate into medical school,” he said. “So, I knew that I’d likely be paired with a student who was also in pre-med or was going into medical school. And I knew I could get valuable insight from that student.”
Once Hiren joined the CollegeAdvisor.com community, our team paired him with advisors Allison and Lauren. Allison is a Harvard pre-med student, and Lauren is a former admissions officer. Both Allison and Lauren supported Hiren throughout the college process, from finding the right extracurriculars in sophomore year to finalizing his personal statements in the fall of his senior year.
College application process: Hiren’s advice on where to begin
The college application process can seem overwhelming. After spending three years planning for the college application process, Hiren recommends that students start early and take their time.
“It’s a really long process,” Hiren told us. “It has a lot of different components to it… It’s important to begin as early as [you] possibly can. And it’s also important to [focus on] one thing at a time.”
Also, Hiren suggests, you should take advantage of any available college resources. “It’s really important that students take advantage of every resource they have available to them,” Hiren said, “whether that be information from their school’s counseling office or online college resources like CollegeAdvisor.”
Why joining CollegeAdvisor.com as a sophomore worked for Hiren
For a sophomore, the college application process might seem far away. However, as Hiren learned, there’s a lot that underclassmen can do to stand out.
Hiren is glad he sought college advising from our team beginning in his sophomore year, he told us. ” I think CollegeAdvisor really helped me stay on track with the college admissions process,” Hiren said. “CollegeAdvisor provided me with valuable insight that I didn’t really have before.”
Hiren’s advisors also guided him through critical junctures in the college admissions process long before senior year. “[Lauren and Allison] helped me make certain decisions that I was really confused about, such as whether to take both the SAT and the ACT,” he told us. “I’m really grateful that I joined CollegeAdvisor early on.”
At the beginning of Hiren’s college advising journey, he and his advisors largely focused on choosing the right extracurriculars for college admissions. By starting in his sophomore year, Hiren had time to think carefully about what kinds of extracurriculars would best serve him in the college application process.
Finding the right extracurriculars
At CollegeAdvisor.com, we encourage our students to choose extracurricular activities that match their interests—not just activities that they think will help them get into college. However, finding the right extracurriculars for college isn’t easy. With Allison at his side, Hiren began to build his resume with extracurriculars that met his needs.
“During my earlier months with CollegeAdvisor, I worked on [building] my extracurricular profile,” Hiren said. In their meetings, Hiren and Allison brainstormed extracurriculars for college admissions that would highlight his strengths. “By the end of my sophomore year, I had most of my extracurricular profile built,” he told us. Hiren and Allison worked together to forge connections between his interests. Together, they found chances for him to grow and lead.
Developing your candidate profile
In his meetings with Allison, Hiren began to develop his candidate profile, or application narrative. This narrative formed the basis of how Hiren would represent himself in the college application process. “It was a matter of getting insight on how I could connect my interests,” Hiren said, “[and] how I should prepare to present myself when I arrived at my senior year.”
With Allison’s guidance, Hiren found the perfect set of extracurriculars for college admissions.
What kind of extracurriculars did Hiren do to prepare for the college application process?
Hiren ended up choosing a wide variety of extracurriculars for college admissions. While Hiren knew he wanted to pursue a pre-med track, this didn’t stop him from pursuing activities that reflected his other interests.
Hiren told us he tried a lot of different things. “I was really involved with science research,” Hiren explained. “I did research in synthetic organic chemistry at Southeast Missouri State University. And, I was also involved in microbiology research.” Hiren’s research projects allowed him to attend various conferences, competitions, and science fairs—all of which helped boost his college applications.
However, Hiren’s extracurricular profile didn’t just revolve around science. “I also served as an artifact researcher at a local history museum in my town because I was really interested,” Hiren said.
Showcasing leadership skills
Allison and Hiren also worked together to plan how Hiren could show his leadership skills when the college application process began. So, beyond his interests in science and history, Hiren also sought out leadership opportunities throughout high school. He was secretary for his school’s student council and served as a member of the National Honor Society, among other things. He also played soccer, participated in ScholarBowl, and was a member of the robotics team.
With so many impressive activities, it would be easy for anyone to get overwhelmed. However, Hiren worked with his advising team to approach each of his extracurriculars for college intentionally, learning to “show depth rather than just breadth.” This made a huge difference throughout Hiren’s college application process.
How Hiren’s advisors helped him navigate the most challenging part of applying to college
By starting to think about the college application process in his sophomore year, Hiren set himself up for success. However, the hardest part of Hiren’s college admissions journey came in his senior fall. Thankfully, by starting his college advising journey early, Hiren felt prepared.
“I think the most challenging part about applying to college would be the application itself,” Hiren told us. “It may not seem like it when you’re a sophomore or a junior, but once you [start] applying, [it’s] really challenging. I didn’t realize there were so many components to the application.”
As Hiren crafted his Common App, he was glad to have Allison and Lauren by his side. “I didn’t realize how important it was that you word your extracurricular descriptions or awards [a certain way],” he said. “I also didn’t realize that there were so many ways to utilize the additional information section.”
Taking advantage of essay tips
Hiren’s advisors also helped him tackle his college essays, offering useful college essay tips along the way. “[Allison and Lauren helped me come] up with topics for those, making sure I [was] using the right voice. [They made] sure I was implementing my personality and not just telling rather than showing.” These college essay tips made a huge difference for Hiren as he navigated the college application process.
As Hiren learned, the college application process isn’t just about what’s on your resume—it’s about how you present that resume to top schools. “At the end of the day, it [almost] doesn’t matter what you have on your resume. Your resume is, of course, important. [But] even if you have a really strong resume, if you don’t present yourself correctly, that can have negative implications down the road.” By strategizing with his advisors, Hiren made sure his application narrative stood out.
What CollegeAdvisor resources did Hiren find most helpful?
Through his private college advising sessions with Allison and Lauren, Hiren learned how to bolster his profile and show top schools what made him unique. However, throughout the college application process, Hiren also benefited from CollegeAdvisor.com’s other college resources.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Hiren turned to our webinars for a head start in the college admissions process. In our webinars, Hiren got the chance to hear from former admissions officers—including his advisor Lauren—about how to maximize your admissions odds.
Hiren also found useful college essay tips in our supplemental essay guides. “I found those really helpful,” Hiren said, “especially in the early stages of writing those essays.” Our college essay guides offered useful college essay tips that helped Hiren choose the right topics for his supplemental essays.
Hiren’s top three webinars
At CollegeAdvisor.com, we’re proud to have an extensive library of college resources, including webinars with advice on every aspect of the college application process. At the beginning of his college journey, Hiren used some of these webinars to learn more about college admissions.
One of Hiren’s favorite CollegeAdvisor.com webinars was our Insider Look at Yale University. Hiren was excited to hear directly from Yale students about what college life was really like. “They just [talked] about their experience at Yale, and they [provided] a lot of insight to prospective students,” he told us.
This webinar helped Hiren understand how he might fit into the Yale community. “It was really helpful. You know, these colleges put on information session webinars all the time, but CollegeAdvisor’s webinars have current students [discussing their experiences]. It was really nice to have a current student viewpoint as opposed to just admissions officers talking about what their college has to offer,” Hiren said.
Another webinar that helped Hiren during the college application process centered around creating a college list.
“In that [webinar], I learned the importance of making sure [you] don’t apply to too many colleges, because the more colleges that you apply to, the more likely that the quality of your applications will suffer,” he told us. “That’s really important. [Prioritize] the ‘quality over quantity’ idea when creating your college list, and make sure your applications don’t suffer because you applied to too many places.”
Finally, Hiren recommends our webinar on merit scholarships and the college application process. In that webinar, Hiren learned about the different kinds of scholarships available and where to find opportunities. “That was really helpful as I made my list of scholarships to apply to,” he said. These college resources made a major difference for Hiren.
Most of our webinars, including those Hiren mentioned, are free and open to all. However, Hiren also enjoyed our client-exclusive webinars—smaller sessions reserved for our college advising network. “[They] create a smaller environment where students can actually come on camera to ask questions. So, if our question is unclear, we have the opportunity to elaborate on what we’re asking,” Hiren told us. “[It’s different than] the kinds of webinars that universities put on where you can only type your question and hope that they’ll actually answer it.”
Hiren’s admissions results and the road ahead
So, what are Hiren’s plans next year?
While Hiren plans to follow a pre-med track, he’s still choosing his future college major. “I’m interested in either chemistry, biochemistry, or science history mainly because I did a lot of research in these disciplines. So, I have a lot of experience in those areas, and they really intrigued me,” he told us.
However, Hiren knows that his plans might change when he gets to college. “Of course, I know that when I actually arrive on campus, there’s going to be a lot of different options,” he said. “And the nice thing about Yale and UPenn is that students [can] explore before they declare a major. So, I’m definitely going to take advantage of that first year and a half to explore.”
After he finishes his undergraduate degree, Hiren is looking forward to attending medical school, either in an MD/PhD program or an MD/MBA program. While still has time to decide, Hiren hopes to work in either academic medicine or policymaking to improve public health for underserved populations.
As he thinks about the future, Hiren is most excited to meet people from different backgrounds at either Yale or UPenn. “Ultimately, I’m really excited for the people,” he told us. “[I’m excited] to meet new students who not only share the same passions as me, but [come from] different backgrounds and different perspectives. I know that I’ll be around students who are really passionate about what they do.”
Final Thoughts: Why Hiren recommends CollegeAdvisor for anyone wanting to apply to college
We’re so proud of Hiren, and we’re excited to watch him succeed in college and beyond.
Hiren is glad that he invested in college advising from our team. “I definitely found CollegeAdvisor to be a really helpful resource throughout the last three years,” Hiren said. “I think [there are] a lot of different ways that CollegeAdvisor can help students.”
If you’re wondering how to get into Yale or any other top school, we’ve got you covered. When you register with CollegeAdvisor.com, you’ll receive comprehensive support on every aspect of the college application process. This includes personalized college advising, college essay tips, advice on pursuing the right extracurriculars for college, and other college resources.
This Client Success Story was written by Abbie Sage, and based on an interview with Hiren Parekh. Hiren reached out to us because of our wide network of experienced advisors and for advice on how to apply to college as a pre-med applicant. 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.