success story; image: a photo of jacqueline huang

Overview: Client Success Stories

Our Client Success Stories aim to feature students who gained acceptance to their top choice colleges. In this year’s Client Success Stories, we will interview one student about their college admissions process and their experience receiving college advising from We’ll talk about how they decided on their college essay topics, how they created a college list, and how they felt about each step of the college admissions process. 

This Client Success Story features Jacqueline Huang, a student from California who will be attending Vanderbilt to study Public Policy and Economics next year. Jacqueline worked with one of our top advisors and one of our former admissions officers to craft the strongest application possible and gain acceptance into the school of her dreams. 

The college admissions process can be daunting. As you begin the college admissions process, you may wonder how to write the Common App essay, how to create a well-rounded college list, and how to choose a school that’s right for you. At, we’re excited to help our students achieve their college dreams with targeted support tailored to their needs. With help from CollegeAdvisor Admissions Expert Arianna and Former Admissions Officer Heidi, Jacqueline aced the college admissions process. 

How Jacqueline learned about CollegeAdvisor

So, how did Jacqueline find out about

Jacqueline is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. She saw a blurb about on their website. “I signed up for the free account just to track my applications,” said Jacqueline. “And then [CollegeAdvisor] reached out, and I did a little bit of research and saw a lot of CollegeAdvisor students on YouTube.” So, she ended up signing on for college advising with us. Our match team paired Jacqueline with Arianna, one of our Admissions Experts.  

The college admissions process can be stressful to tackle alone. If you’re looking for in-depth college advising, consider working with one of our Admissions Experts for expert support. 

Why Jacqueline chose CollegeAdvisor

Jacqueline attended a very large high school. “There’s 650 people in my graduating class spread across four counselors,” Jacqueline said. “While my counselors are very good, there’s just not a lot of individual time to learn more about the college admissions process.” 

This meant she wouldn’t necessarily get specialized, one-on-one college advising from her school counselor. Seeking more college advising guidance, Jacqueline looked at some of our blog posts, including one about getting strong letters of recommendation. She also recalls signing up for as many webinars as possible. Jacqueline explained, “I needed guidance, and I really liked your blog posts. I found them very informative for writing essays,” she went on. “I really liked what you guys were doing, and your advisors and the experience that you had. So, we ended up signing up.” 

And Jacqueline is glad she signed up for college advising with our team. “It was a very positive experience from day one,” Jacqueline said. 

How CollegeAdvisor helped Jacqueline build her college list

For Jacqueline, the college advising experience started with building a college list. 

Jacqueline’s advisor Arianna was able to help her dive into this process. Jacqueline said, “I had a working list, but Ari gave me so much more insight into the colleges I was going to apply to.” Arianna helped Jacqueline create a balanced college list with the right number of “reach,” “target,” and “safety” schools, helping Jacqueline find the right schools for her across all tiers of her college list. For instance, Jacqueline had one school on her list as a safety, but after talking about the school and the location more with Arianna, she realized it would not be the right place for her. She was glad to figure this out early on in the college admissions process. That way, she could spend her time writing essays for schools that were right for her. 

Ari also recommended schools for Jacqueline to add to her college list. Together, Arianna and Jacqueline created a targeted list of schools that shared the qualities that Jacqueline wanted in her college experience. 

The college admissions process can be overwhelming. However, a strong college list is a great place to start. For Jacqueline, targeted college advising made a huge difference. 

Looking for support as you create your college list? Read our article for helpful tips on how to research schools and build your college list. 

The Common App Essay: How Jacqueline got started

As you draft your Common App essay, it can be hard to know where to start. How do you choose what to write about? How do you know which topic will best show who you are to admissions officers? 

With Ari and Heidi’s help, Jacqueline crafted a top-notch Common App essay. Jacqueline considered several different college essay topics before she chose one. One thing that helped her was reading over essays that worked for past applicants. “Ari ended up sending me some sample Common App essays that worked really well,” Jacqueline said. “And I learned after reading eight of them [that] they all answer the question: Who am I?” Reading essays that worked helped point Jacqueline in the right direction as she explored possible college easy topics. 

Jacqueline knew tackling the personal essay would be a challenge. “There has to be a level of introspection in the college writing process,” said Jacqueline. “And it’s hard to recognize and be introspective when you don’t have somebody there to talk it over with. You only get that sort of thing from talking to another person.” 

Talking with Arianna proved to be just what Jacqueline needed. “It was very beneficial. Having a person to kind of say, oh, maybe this is not a great topic to write about. And that insight that you don’t necessarily get from writing on your own,”  said Jacqueline. “Making sure that everything that I did was up to a certain standard, and having somebody else catch grammar mistakes that I didn’t catch before.” 

For more useful college essay tips, check out our essay editing webinar for a free masterclass with a Admissions Expert. 

Representing Jacqueline’s talents and passions in writing

One of the first things Jacqueline did before starting her Common App essay was sit down with one of our former admissions officers, Heidi. Heidi explained to her that when admissions officers have two students with the same grades and similar activities from the same school environment, the essay makes all the difference. “That way, you’re more of a person than just numbers,” said Jacqueline. “It was very good to do the reverse writing process and [see] what admissions officers get on their end.” 

The Common App essay is a big part of your “candidate profile.” Your candidate profile is meant to showcase who you are, what you do, and why colleges should admit you. Creating a strong candidate profile throughout your application is a key step in’s advising process. To do this, brainstorm college essay topics well ahead of time, and consider reading essays that worked for inspiration

Jacqueline thought about what she wanted to highlight as she considered possible college essay topics. “Overall, the branding that I wanted for my application is [that] I’m a person with a lot of interests. I like to experiment with things. They don’t always land, but I like to experiment,” Jacqueline said. “ All of those things collectively make up who I am because on my application, I have a ton of random extracurriculars that don’t really fit in with anything, but I enjoy doing them.” 

Putting all your ducks in a row

Given all of her extracurriculars, Jacqueline initially struggled to create a cohesive narrative. Jacqueline was able to find a very creative way to tie all of these passions together: rubber ducks. “So I was thinking, if my essay is supposed to reflect who I am, what my friends and my family would tell you about me is that [I’m] a duck,” said Jacqueline. “They don’t necessarily have an adjective picked out for me. It’s just, oh, Jacqueline. She collects ducks. She is a duck.”

The rubber duck theme also showed admissions officers an unexpected part of Jacqueline’s personality. Jacqueline has an extensive collection of rubber ducks, spanning across four shelves in her bedroom. “What better way to intertwine [my passions?” Jacqueline told us. “Who am I? Pretty much what defines my free time, which is collecting rubber duckies.” She compared herself to her unique collection of ducks. Using each individual duck as a metaphor for each activity she did, Jacqueline talked about her passion for everything from piano to swimming to mental health to public policy. 

“There’s some benefits to being very focused on something, if that is your passion. But for me, all of the little things make up who I am. So, that was my essay,” said Jacqueline.

What CollegeAdvisor resources did Jacqueline find most helpful?

Meeting with both Ari and Heidi throughout the college admissions process was a great experience for Jacqueline. Ari and Jacqueline met twice a week towards the end of the college admissions process. Jacqueline found Ari’s insight especially helpful when it came to writing the Common App essay. “Having somebody else read [my Common App essay] with fresh eyes—somebody who reads a lot of these essays—was very beneficial.” said Jacqueline.

Sometimes, Jacqueline would have specific questions about the admissions side of things. “Heidi is an admissions officer, so she would step in if I needed any help with the admissions officer point of view,” Jacqueline said. She found this useful when trying to understand the goal of the Common App essay and how admissions officers evaluate applications.  

CollegeAdvisor resources Jacqueline found most helpful

Jacqueline also benefited from other resources. She took advantage of our Essay Review Team twice throughout her college advising process with us, who returned her essays within 24 hours with detailed notes. She also had access to our supplemental essay guides, like this one for Vanderbilt, and our webinars.

Our resources also helped Jacqueline when the college admissions process didn’t go as planned. After she applied to UPenn, their team asked her to meet for an interview far sooner than she expected. Ari was there to help. They quickly got on a call and talked through what to expect, walking through various tips and guidelines. At that moment, Jacqueline was glad to have Ari to help her prepare. 

Jacqueline found CollegeAdvisor so helpful that her sister, currently a high school sophomore,  is planning to sign up for college advising with our team as well. “The resources here are just something that you don’t get anywhere else. And there’s a lot of really good advisors,” Jacqueline said. 

college admissions process: image: a graphic of jacqueline huang and the schools she was admitted to

Jacqueline’s admissions results and what’s next?

So, how did Jacqueline fare in the college admissions process? 

She was admitted into Vanderbilt, University of Arizona, ASU, UCI, UC, Riverside Davis, George Washington, and American University. Additionally, she received scholarships to ASU, University of Arizona, American, and GW. 

If she wasn’t planning to attend Vanderbilt, Jacqueline said it would be a tie between American and UCI. However, Jacqueline chose Vanderbilt with confidence. “The opportunities [at] Vanderbilt are on a different level,” said Jacqueline. “It’s a top 15 school, so they have a lot more funding for research. And they have this program where you can literally pitch a passion project. And if the team likes it, they will fund it for you. It can be research. It can be an internship, or a YouTube channel. Those opportunities are not necessarily something that every school has, and it’s definitely a very nice privilege.”  

All of these aspects pushed Vanderbilt to the top of Jacqueline’s college list. As the college admissions process comes to a close, Jacqueline is very happy with her results. 

Carving out a future at Vanderbilt!

There are a lot of opportunities that excite Jacqueline at Vanderbilt. However, their unique concentration-based layout for the academic major she was most interested in is what drew her in. “The way their program is structured is that you choose a concentration–a focus on health policy, or energy, or economics. I knew that I wanted to double major in Econ,” said Jacqueline. “Looking at foreign policy, I didn’t want to be stuck with a very small scope. Vandy had a lot of options for me to learn about other disciplines.” Vanderbilt’s public policy major is a perfect fit for Jacqueline because of the unique way in which it allows her to combine her core interests.

Something else that made Jacqueline feel welcome at Vanderbilt was the people. “The people are so nice. They’re really interesting,” said Jacqueline. “And I really liked the environment. I toured there [in] June between my junior and my senior year. And I thought, oh, this would be a very nice place to call home.”

What else pulled Jacqueline towards Vanderbilt as she was making her decision? 

“Vandy has a divinity school. They told me, ‘If you don’t like whatever pastors there, we will get one for you. If they don’t fit into your denomination, we will get one for you.’ So, there are so many reasons for me in terms of religion,” said Jacqueline. 

Diverse campus offerings

Other factors also pushed Vanderbilt to the top of Jacqueline’s list. “They have a really big Asian-American group. So I can get my Asian food, too. Because it’s obviously in the capital [I can] take advantage of internships. [Everyone at] Vandy is really tall and I’m 5’1”. So, I was thinking I’ll join club rowing and use my lifeguard skills to be the little coxswain.” 

Studying abroad was another reason Jacqueline chose Vanderbilt. “I’m very excited for study abroad because [they] have [programs at] the London School of Economics. It’s a really, really good Econ school. It’d be really nice to study over there and also learn about Econ and Public Policy from a different culture,” Jacqueline said.

Jacqueline also mentioned she is excited to attend a college that’s different from where she grew up. “I am very excited to break away from the little California bubble that I’ve been in and get a taste of different cultures,” Jacqueline said. “At the admitted students day, there [were] people from everywhere. As much as I like California, it is kind of like a little bubble. [I’m] also really excited to learn from all of the faculty. Looking at some of the professors in the class offerings and their expertise and their research is something that aligns with what I want to do.”

It sounds like Jacqueline has a great four years ahead of her! Want to see how other students benefited from their college advising experience? Check out some of our other Client Success Stories here

Final Thoughts- Why College Advisor?

The college admissions process can seem daunting, and you may not know where to start. We’re here to help with all your college advising needs. 

Wondering if is right for you? Just check out our reviews. There, you’ll find helpful feedback and reviews from students like Jacqueline who worked with our experts to ace the college admissions process. 

Our reviews speak for themselves. As you’ll discover, our students benefit from comprehensive college advising on every aspect of the college admissions process. Plus, as you can see from our reviews, our students are regularly accepted to Ivy League and Top 50 schools.

Here are some top college advising tips from our Admissions Experts to get you started on your admissions journey.

Start early

You may feel like you have all the time in the world to put together your college applications. If you’re a freshman or a sophomore, applying to college might not be on your radar at all. However, to set yourself up for success, your best strategy will be to prepare early. Start thinking about your college list, strive for a high GPA, and get involved with extracurriculars that excite you. That way, when the college admissions process begins, you’ll be ready!

Do your research

You never know which school might be your perfect fit until you find it. Begin crafting a college list long before the college admissions process is upon you. Make sure to balance your list with “reach,” “target,” and “safety” schools. Check out each school’s website, and plan a visit if you can. Make sure you can really envision yourself living there for four years. 

Ask for help

It can be a great idea to have someone look over your application before you send it off. Most importantly, get a second or third set of eyes on your Common App essay. Have someone else check for grammar, tone, and strong writing overall. Also, check out essays that worked before you sit down to write. Brainstorming college essay topics will be easier if you have an ideal of what a successful Common App essay looks like. 

Want to hear from more students like Jacqueline? Check out our other Client Success Stories for more reviews. 

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This Client Success Story was written by Laura Frustaci, based on an interview with Jacqueline Huang. Jacqueline reached out to us for college essay tips for her Common App essay and to get one-on-one help building her college list. If you are also looking for assistance with your college applications and are interested in working with a Admissions Expert, register with today