kathleen nguyen success story

Overview: CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories

At CollegeAdvisor.com, we provide help to students from all backgrounds at any stage in their college application process. Our advisors form close relationships with our students, sharing in the difficulties and celebrating the achievements of the college admissions process along with them. In this series, we interview students who have found success with the help of our program. These students will discuss how they created their college list, how they crafted strong essays, and which CollegeAdvisor resources they found the most helpful.  

We hope that these Client Success Stories will show you that it’s possible to accomplish your college goals. Although the college application process can be stressful, we’re here to support you! In this interview, you may find valuable tips and recommendations to help you on your own journey. Whether you’re building your college list, in the middle of essay writing, or visiting schools, we’re here to help.

Introducing Kathleen!

This piece features our student Kathleen Nguyen, a recent high school graduate who plans to attend UCLA in the fall. Kathleen was a part of the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program. She worked closely with her advisor throughout her junior and senior years of high school on both the UC application and the Common Application. Below, Kathleen shares her process for building a college list, her work writing her application essays, and her experiences in the Scholars Program. In addition, she shares her tips and advice for students who are about to embark on their own college admissions journeys.  

Why was Kathleen first attracted to CollegeAdvisor?

Early in the admissions process, Kathleen knew that she would need some support. Though she was a high-achieving student, she felt overwhelmed by the college application process. “That’s always the thing, but don’t stress, and reach out. Always reach out for support in general, for mental health. It’s very important. ‘Cause I know it’s a crazy process,” she said. She emphasized the importance of seeking out help, as it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much work it takes to apply to colleges.

Kathleen wanted someone to help with her college application process. She researched several companies before deciding to use CollegeAdvisor. “I was always looking into or researching possible programs that could help me during the college application process. And I stumbled upon CollegeAdvisor,” said Kathleen. She saw that CollegeAdvisor provided insider knowledge that could help her find the right school for her. “I think the cool thing about that was that there was firsthand experiences of people that came from Ivy Leagues,” she said. When she saw that she could get free support through the CollegeAdvisor.com Scholars Program, she knew she had to apply.

Applying to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program

Since its founding, CollegeAdvisor.com has strived to make quality college advising affordable and accessible to anyone who needs it. The Scholars Program reflects that commitment. The CollegeAdvisor.com Scholars Program provides students with demonstrated financial need a way to access resources to help them apply for college. The program is extremely competitive, with only 100 spots available each year. Kathleen filled out her application for the Scholars Program in the summer between her junior and senior years.

Scholars Program application

The application itself contains several short answer questions. These ask about students’ reasons for pursuing the program and how they will make the most of the provided resources. Kathleen recalls writing about her experiences as a low-income student and how that motivated her to succeed. “In a sense it’s not easy because you do have to find the motivation to push yourself toward that journey,” she said. 

Kathleen did have the motivation to apply and earn her acceptance into the Scholars Program. She saw the opportunity to build on her previous experiences with CollegeAdvisor and take her college applications to the next level. She credits CollegeAdvisor for seeing her desire to succeed and her need for help. “I think that’s what drew CollegeAdvisor to me,” Kathleen reflected. “You could say, they’re really trying to find people to help and that have the motivation to, you know, get on this new path of life.”

Kathleen’s favorite aspects of the Scholars Program

In the Scholars Program, Kathleen was matched with an advisor with whom she could connect on both a professional and personal level. The CollegeAdvisor.com matching process looks for the best fit between advisor and student so that both people can make the most of the relationship.

Kathleen loved that she and her advisor had much in common and that CollegeAdvisor took the time to find someone compatible with her. As she put it, “I really liked the fact that we were assigned an advisor and, you know, someone that’s similar to us.” This connection helped her build a relationship with her advisor and paved the way for their many meetings.

Kathleen also loved that the Scholars Program gave her access to quality examples of essays and personal statements. Writing these supplemental essays is often one of the most challenging parts of the application process. So, she appreciated the Scholars Program’s many resources available to her. As she said, “I think the one unique thing that drew me is all the resources you get, because it’s not anything on the surface you would think of.”

Kathleen’s top picks for college webinars

In addition to one-on-one advising, Kathleen also took advantage of CollegeAdvisor.com’s large library of webinars. In her interview, she mentioned that she had “attended every single one,” including webinars given by former Admissions Officers and others covering financial aid. She strongly recommended attending webinars from admissions insiders because they gave her so much information. In her words: “I think you said this earlier, too, but there are webinars, there’s so much. So much you can’t get anywhere else.”

In addition, she loved the financial aid webinars because they provided a lot of practical advice that often goes unmentioned. Kathleen learned skills such as how to read her award letters, a task that is a lot more complex than it first appears. She took advantage of so many opportunities to learn from the CollegeAdvisor experts and would encourage others to do the same. She praised the wide variety of the topics covered in the webinars, saying “they covered a series of topics…like anything and everything you can think of.”

Navigating the UC Application vs the Common App

Kathleen ended up applying to at least seven schools on her list, including two Ivy League schools (UPenn and Brown). Most of these schools used the Common Application, and Kathleen said that her advisor “was more motivating [her] towards the Common Application.” However, as a California resident, she also applied to schools in the UC system, which uses a completely different application. While the Common Application requires only one personal statement of around 650 words, the UC application requires students to answer four questions with each response containing a maximum of 350 words.

The differences between these two applications meant that Kathleen and her advisor crafted a wide variety of essays with different lengths and themes. She talked about having some support from her school with the UC application and relying on her advisor more to complete the Common Application. “I had more help with Common App than UC,” Kathleen said, “because I told her I was already set with the UC through my school and my counselor, at school.” So, Kathleen’s advisor was able to focus on her specific targeted needs that weren’t met elsewhere. 

Kathleen’s advice for future applicants

Kathleen recommends that any student applying to colleges should consider CollegeAdvisor for information and support. Because CollegeAdvisor has experts from around the country, they can help you both with the Common Application and with other platforms, like the UC application. “I would say to look at CollegeAdvisor, because CollegeAdvisor also offers UC,” said Kathleen.

She also recommends starting early, whether that means preparing your college lists or working on your personal statements. She advises applicants: “And another tip on UC, or honestly for anything in general, I’d say to get started early. And then find resources early, too.” These parts of the application often take the longest, especially the UC application, where students must answer four different questions. Starting early gave Kathleen more time to consult with her advisor on her essays. In addition, starting early gives you the chance to research scholarships and take advantage of other resources.   

Kathleen’s admission results and her plans for the fall

Kathleen applied to many top schools, and her admission results show how strong an applicant she was. “I got accepted to almost all of the UCs I applied to,” said Kathleen, and she was also accepted to the University of Michigan as an out-of-state student.

kathleen nguyen success story

Though she had several options to choose from, Kathleen has decided to attend UCLA this upcoming fall. With an acceptance rate of only 10.8%, it is most difficult UC School to get into.

UCLA also offers a wide range of different majors and programs. Kathleen plans to pursue a degree in biochemistry from UCLA and hopes to pursue a career in medicine. Kathleen further elaborated on her career goals: “I think…I’m going to try to go to medical school to become a physician and, specifically a pediatric cardiologist.” 

Deciding on Biochemistry at UCLA

Kathleen always wanted to give back to her community through both her academics and extracurricular activities. “And that’s really what I wanted to work with in the real world… I mean, incorporating science within our society, you know, like how would you make a difference?” said Kathleen. She wants to apply her love of science to bettering the world around her and connecting with others. She liked the biochemistry major at UCLA because she thought it would help prepare her for her career. “I think biochem is such a foundational science that everyone should know. ‘Cause then it could lead you on to pre-med,” said Kathleen.

Eventually, Kathleen would love to attend medical school and become a doctor. Right now, her interest lies in pediatric cardiology, but she is excited to pursue other areas as well. This past year, as she was working with CollegeAdvisor, she had an internship at Children’s Health Orange County. She says, “at the same time I did CollegeAdvisor, I was also interning at my local hospital.” This was a position that helped her see what it might be like working in medicine.

The value of a good internship

She credits the mentorship she received from the doctors at Children’s Health for helping her choose her major and field. “I have a lot of mentors through the hospital,” she said. “To this day, I am still talking to my friends that I met through the internship and also to my doctors, too.” These conversations were important because they helped Kathleen make the decision to pursue medicine. They also prepared her for the content that she would encounter in her biochemistry classes.

Internships like these are also helpful for college applications. Top schools want to see students’ involvement in activities beyond the classroom. Kathleen shared that she “would shadow patients during [her] time in the summer” and get to observe doctors interacting with them. This experience solidified her desire to major in biochemistry. It also showed UCLA that she had the skills and prior training to succeed in this field of study. Not only did her internship boost her UCLA application, but it also gave her contacts and experiences that will help her for years to come!

Kathleen’s final thoughts–Why CollegeAdvisor?

Like so many students, Kathleen used the resources of CollegeAdvisor to earn acceptance into one of her dream schools. At the start of the application process, she said, “I was probably very stressed and anxious.” Thankfully she could talk to her advisor, who had not only been through this process themselves but has also guided many other students.

This experience taught Kathleen the value of support from trained experts while applying to college. One of her key pieces of advice is to rely on others for help and take time to recover. Kathleen pointed out, “I would say everyone’s going through the same thing and you know, it’s important to breathe and take your time because everything falls [during] your senior year.”

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Reaching out for support can save you so much stress during the college application process. And, as Kathleen says, it doesn’t always have to be from your advisor directly. “There are webinars, there’s so much. So much you can’t get anywhere else,” said Kathleen. The webinars, especially the ones related to the UC schools, gave Kathleen information and support in her college application process. And, they can be accessed for free anytime on the CollegeAdvisor website.

So if you are a student looking for support with your college applications, CollegeAdvisor.com has you covered! Our trained advisors will help you with every step of the process, from starting your list to making your decision. We can also help you write essays, apply for scholarships, and navigate the financial aid system. In addition, our library of webinars, essay guides, and other resources is available for you anytime you need a little extra assistance. 

Kathleen is just one of the thousands of students that CollegeAdvisor.com has helped, many of whom were accepted at top-50 schools. To see more stories like Kathleen’s, check out the rest of our Client Success Stories series. For more reviews from students and parents, click here.

This Client Success Story was written by Alex Baggott-Rowe. This Client Success Story was based on an interview with Kathleen Nguyen. Kathleen connected with us as part of the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program. 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.