client success stories- joshua bances

Overview: Client Success Stories

CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories center around students who graduate from the CollegeAdvisor and get into the college of their dreams. For each story in this series, we’ll spotlight a student. We interview students about their journey through the college application process. This includes experiences building the college list, making a college checklist, opening admissions decisions, and more. We’ll also share the college admission advice that they have for students going through the college admissions process.

Client success stories motivate us at to keep improving access to admissions resources. The students we meet and the feedback we get from reviews make us proud to do what we do. As you start your college application process, we hope our success stories motivate, and support you. We want to make the college admissions process as rewarding as possible.  

Joshua’s Background and Extracurriculars

Joshua Bances, the subject of this success story, grew up in North Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. Before starting the college admissions process, Joshua took a number of extracurriculars throughout high school, focusing on community service and leadership. 

In his freshman year, Joshua earned a leadership award from LA City Council President, Nury Martinez for directing a toiletry drive to benefit human trafficking survivors. In addition, he served on the Mayor’s Youth Council, and took part in alter serving, choir, and dancing. Plus, he volunteered in his local community. Joshua also interned at Aflac, an American insurance company. In addition, he has also honed his language skills and can speak English, Spanish, and Chinese fluently. Finally, throughout high school, Joshua took classes at LAVC, a community college in Los Angeles, where he’ll graduate in the top 10% of his class.

For more information about the pros and cons of community colleges, check out this article.  

What attracted Joshua to CollegeAdvisor?

Joshua began looking for college admission advice during his sophomore year of high school. As Joshua started searching for a college checklist, or a guide to the college application process for sophomores, he found 

From there, Joshua met with Brian, the CEO and founder of CollegeAdvisor. At the time, Joshua knew that his grades weren’t as strong as they needed to be. Brian gave him the following college admission advice: “get [your] house in order.” Brian told him to work on his grades, and to take advantage of the free college admission advice available via the website. Then, he should apply to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program as a senior when his college application process was underway. That’s exactly what Joshua did.

Applying to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program

Taking Brian’s advice, Joshua applied to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program as a senior in high school. The CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program embodies our commitment to promoting equity and accessibility in the college application process. The program accepts 100 high school students each year. It provides free college admission advice for those who demonstrate financial need. 

For Joshua, the application for the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program “wasn’t that bad.” He submitted an essay and a survey that determined his goals for the program. CollegeAdvisor accepted Joshua into the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program – this meant he qualified for free college admission advice. With the help of his CollegeAdvice Advisor, Hunter Kohn, Joshua developed his CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program essay into his Common App essay

“She was really nice,” Joshua says of Hunter. “She was able to…calm my nerves” as they make his college checklist and worked through the college admissions process.

What’s the most challenging part of the college application process?

While students can find many parts of the college application process stressful, Joshua notes that uncertainty weighed the heaviest on him. 

Joshua’s college checklist contained a whopping 29 schools. As he sent in his applications, he felt that he was putting a piece of himself out there for people who don’t know him and, realistically, never will. However, to succeed in the college admissions process, you have to send a snapshot of your personality and hope it’s enough.

So how did Joshua cope with the uncertainty of the college application process? His best college admission advice: authenticity. In order to get through the college application process, Joshua says, it’s more important to be proud of what you send in than the final decision from schools.  

Rejection hurts, Joshua acknowledges. But as he read through the applications of the schools that rejected him during the college admissions process, he wouldn’t change a thing. Why? Because the applications were authentically, thoroughly him. He couldn’t have been happier with the foot he put forward in the college application process. 

The college admission advice Joshua received through the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program helped him be authentic, so he could be proud of his efforts in the college admissions process. 

How did Joshua’s advisors help him tackle the college application process?

While Joshua worked with a few advisors throughout the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program, his primary touchpoint was Advisor Hunter Kohn. We asked Joshua how Hunter most helped guide him through the college admissions process. 

Reflecting on the college application process, Joshua notes, “It is a bit of a game because…it’s not one thing that differentiates, but rather building an entire narrative and a story”. Joshua worked with Hunter to build his story around his life’s ambitions beyond the college application process. She helped him frame his story in terms of both successes and failures, including how he persevered through the challenges. 

Joshua’s experience with CollegeAdvisor’s other resources

As well as the college admission advice he got through the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program and advisor Hunter Kohn, Joshua also attended several CollegeAdvisor webinars. One of these was a webinar focused on financial aid. 

Each CollegeAdvisor webinar focuses on a different part of the college application process. Admission officers, college consultants, and other experts on the college application process give a live presentation on a topic. Then, students can ask questions. Joshua says that, after his time with his Advisor, this resource was the most important way CollegeAdvisor helped him with the college admissions process. .

Following the financial aid webinar, Joshua worked with an Advisor to get college admission advice on the FAFSA and other aspects of applying for financial aid. Finally, Joshua has made use of CollegeAdvisor’s library of resources. This is full of free college admission advice focused on every step of the college admissions process.

Joshua’s admissions results, scholarships, and the road ahead!

Our favourite part of the college admissions process is when schools send their results and clients get to see how all of their hard work has paid off. For Joshua, whose college checklist involved 29 schools, this was an especially busy time!

Joshua applied to four University of California, four CSU, and six Ivy League schools. He also applied to a combination of 16 other private and public institutions. Quite the college list!

As decisions rolled out, Joshua gained acceptances to CSU Northridge, Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Cal Lutheran, Loyola Marymount University, and Pepperdine University. He was also waitlisted at Denison University

Even more impressive, Joshua was offered a full ride to CSU Northridge, the scholars award at Cal Poly SLO (equivalent to the price of tuition), a near-full ride to Denison, and an additional scholarship for Cal Lutheran. 

After weighing the options, Joshua selected Pepperdine as his destination. Pepperdine also awarded him an impressive scholarship and financial aid package to help him pursue his higher education goals. We couldn’t be happier for him!

Want to know how to make your own college checklist? Advisors will help you with every part of the college application process, from creating your college checklist, to writing your essays, and more.

Take a look at our glowing reviews. You’ll see how thousands of students have benefited from our college admission advice. 

Joshua’s future plans at Pepperdine and beyond!

Joshua is excited to be attending Pepperdine University! There he will continue his track record of high achievement by double majoring in Political Science and Business Administration. And with 64 units of community college under his belt, Joshua will graduate Pepperdine in just three years.

After Pepperdine, Joshua’s dream is to pursue a joint degree program at Harvard Law to earn a JD/MBA. After that, Joshua wants to pursue a career in politics and run for LA mayor in 2030. He hopes to spend his career fixing injustices in the judicial system while fulfilling his love of connecting with people.

No matter where he goes, we know Joshua will do incredible things in the years to come! Anyone who can pursue a college checklist of 29 schools is a force to be reckoned with.

For now, Joshua can’t wait to make Pepperdine’s beautiful campus his home for the next three years.

Interested in attending Pepperdine University? Read’s guide to applying to Pepperdine, and our Pepperdine essay guide. Also, see other reviews from successful applicants.

Joshua’s words of advice to future college applicants

As Joshua finishes his journey through the college application process, we asked him for his advice for future students. Luckily, Joshua had lots of college admission advice for you.

Make your college list carefully, and it will all work out

First, Joshua says that despite the stress, the college application process all works out in the end. He remembers when his dream school was Stanford, and though he didn’t get into Stanford, he feels more at home at Pepperdine than he can imagine. Rejections hurt, as Joshua acknowledges. Especially if you have your heart set on a school, rejections can feel like the be-all and end-all in the college application process. 

However, as many people will tell you throughout the college application process: it all works out. It’s important not to get wrapped up in the name of a school, Joshua notes, and “instead of looking back” at the “should haves, could haves, would haves, you should look to the future”. If you are worried about rejection, make sure you have a balanced college checklist. Your college list should include safety schools, target schools, and reach schools.

Don’t let finances deter you

Joshua also notes that even if you undertake the college application process coming from a low-income background, you have options. You simply have to look for them. 

Joshua used fee waivers for applications, received scholarships, and applied for financial aid. He also applied for the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program. This helped him cut costs so he had the same opportunities as others in the college admissions process. Make sure you research, he says, so that you can find resources like the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program and other free college admission advice.

Prioritize your well-being

Joshua also wanted to make sure that students know they are not alone in the college application process. Joshua comments that even with college admission advice and a strong college checklist, the college admissions process is taxing for any student. It’s important, he notes, to “prioritize your well-being over anything else.” 

To round out his college admission advice, Joshua reminds students that “your value as a person does not come from a school.” We think this is great advice. During the college admissions process, we encourage students to maintain balance in their lives and to take space when they need to.

Final thoughts— Why CollegeAdvisor?

Inspired by Joshua’s story? At CollegeAdvisor, we reach students of all backgrounds and in all parts of their college admissions process. No matter what your needs are, we will match you to an Advisor who can give you the best college admission advice for your needs. When you register with, you’ll receive support on every part of your college checklist, from making the college list to selecting your extracurriculars, writing your essays and more. 

Still not sure if is right for you? Let the reviews speak for themselves. Our reviews spotlight all of our clients’ unique journeys through the college application process. In our reviews, you can read about acceptances to Ivy League institutions, Top 50 colleges and universities, and more. 

Read reviews to hear about our thousands of success stories. When you’re ready to start your college application process, CollegeAdvisor is here with the college admission advice you need to get started.

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This Client Success Story was written by Becky Weinstein, and based on an interview with Joshua Bances. Joshua reached out to CollegeAdvisor for guidance on preparing for the college application process as a sophomore. If you are also looking for assistance with your college applications and are interested in working with a Admissions Expert, register with today