college admissions advice; Sahar Tartak

Overview: Client Success Stories

In our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories series, we feature students who have achieved their college admissions dreams. In each of these Client Success Stories, we interview our students about their experience coming to CollegeAdvisor for college admissions advice. We will talk to them about every part of their application process, from building their college list to writing supplemental essays to opening acceptance letters from their dream schools.

Our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, and the positive feedback we get in our reviews, remind us why our work matters. We’re proud to meet our students where they are and offer college admissions advice that helps them seize the most exciting opportunities available to them.

We hope these Client Success Stories inspire you as you begin your own college admissions journey. Wondering whether our college admissions advice services are right for you? You can check out an overview of our students’ results, and reviews, here.

Getting to know Sahar’s background and interests

In this edition of our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we sat down with Sahar. Sahar is a current high school senior at Great Neck North High School, a public school in Long Island, New York. 

Sahar came to us for college admissions advice just over a year ago, in her junior year of high school.

So, what made Sahar an engaging applicant? Her extracurricular resume, for one thing. 

Sahar enjoys a range of activities and extracurriculars at Great Neck North. To begin with, she takes part in Model Congress and DECA. We’ll talk more about these excellent extracurriculars later in this Client Success Stories article. 

In addition, Sahar started a chapter at her school for Child Foundation. She explains that this is “a nonprofit organization that sponsors education for students across the globe.” She is also the student body president. Finally, to top it all off, she does acapella, choir, and theater in her free time.

Extracurriculars: DECA & Model Congress

Sahar puts a lot of time into both Model Congress and DECA at her high school. 

“Model Congress,” Sahar tells us, “is a congressional debate simulation based on parliamentary procedure.” Meanwhile, “DECA is a business organization that teaches future leaders the basics of marketing finance, hospitality and tourism and business management and administration.” 

In addition to other school involvements and hobbies, Sahar dedicated herself to both of these organizations throughout high school.

What did Sahar find attractive about CollegeAdvisor?

At first, Sahar thought she could apply to schools alone. “There was a part of me that thought that I could just navigate the process by myself because I do have organizational skills and I am comfortable with that stuff.”

However, then she realized that could help her build a college list and stay on track, without micromanaging her. She says that “CollegeAdvisor had a lot of different packages and options that allowed me to have a less hands-on advisor. And I really liked that.”  

In addition, Sahar liked the fact that CollegeAdvisor offered a range of packages that are flexible to different budgets. She tells us that “some of these advising programs have you meeting very often, and it’s not affordable at all. CollegeAdvisor had affordable options.”

College advising with a feeling of independence

When Sahar was seeking advice for college, she knew she wanted to “feel independent about the college application process.” She looked at several options before she found CollegeAdvisor. She liked how CollegeAdvisor tailored their college admissions advice to students—from step-by-step to as-needed guidance. This was perfect for someone who wanted to retain their own voice and vision.  

Sahar chose a package in which she met with her advisor once per month. This kept her on track without taking too much of the process out of her hands. She was able to maintain autonomy over components like the supplemental essays—which was important to Sahar. Meanwhile, she still received support during steps like building a balanced college list. 

At CollegeAdvisor, we believe in meeting the students where they are. For this reason, we offer a wide variety of options so that students can get as much or as little college admissions advice as they need. And no matter what package you choose, we make sure your individual voice, personality, and story always shine through.  

Check out the reviews on our website to read about other students’ experience of working with us. 

Sahar reflects on her advising team experience

We paired Sahar with advisor Sophia Boyer. Sophia is a recent graduate of Stanford University who majored in International Relations and minored in Military History. Sahar was excited to pair with someone similar in age who shared her interest in humanities and government. “That was really just cool because she had an understanding of the type of stuff I wanted to do.”

The pair’s similarities made Sophia’s college admissions advice more relatable. “It was cool having somebody close to my age, similar to me, similar ambitions, just kind of like a friend,” says Sahar. While Sophia provided important college admissions advice, she also got to know Sahar as a person—not just as a set of numbers. That way, Sophia could provide support where Sahar needed without compromising Sahar’s own autonomy. 

Building a college list

From the spring of her junior year to her ultimate commitment to Yale, Sahar met with Sophia for college admissions advice once a month. Initially, Sophia helped Sahar craft a college list of 12 schools and “have good reasoning behind each application.”  

Sahar was grateful to create a list that was balanced but not overwhelming. “My college list, and this was important, it wasn’t excessive at all. Like, I had friends applying to 30 colleges. I applied to 12, and that was fine.” 

By the end of Sahar’s junior year, with the college list done, Sophia had helped Sahar brainstorm an idea for her personal statement as well as generate ideas for the supplemental essays. Sahar wanted to get an early start on as much of the college application process as possible. 

Supplemental essays

As Sahar started to draft supplemental essays, Sophia would give suggestions. With Sophia at her side, Sahar completed several drafts of her essays, receiving comprehensive feedback on each draft. After each round of revisions, Sahar would re-submit her essay for a new college essay review.

When thinking about college admissions advice, Sahar worried that the college essay review process would take her voice out of the essays. However, Sahar notes, Sophia’s editing “wasn’t too heavy-handed.” Instead, it focused on bringing out Sahar’s voice so it could shine. 

Sahar was grateful for college admissions advice that preserved her independence and voice. At, we work hard to ensure that each student’s voice remains at the core of their applications. 

So, how did Sahar do? Did our college admissions advice pay off? 

It did! Sahar received acceptances to almost all of the schools on her college list, but her top choice was Yale University

However, as much as she wanted to attend, Sahar felt the financial aid package wouldn’t be enough for her to enroll. In order to mitigate this concern, Sahar said, “CollegeAdvisor had me meet with a financial aid advisor. And that was exceptional because I was not happy with my Yale financial aid package.”  

With the help of this financial aid advice—and Sophia’s college admissions advice —Sahar appealed her financial aid package. “Upon meeting with an advisor who gave us advice on what to do, they lowered the cost of tuition after an appeal by $10,000” she explains. Shortly after, Sahar “was able to commit to Yale.”

See CollegeAdvisor’s free webinar on how to apply to FAFSA and other financial aid advice.

Overcoming application challenges

For Sahar, the most challenging part of applying to colleges was writing supplemental essays. “I would say that putting together all those essays was pretty rough.” 

Sahar applied to a college list of 12 schools, each with its own set of supplemental essays. At first, this felt overwhelming, even with a more conservative college list. However, Sahar and Sophia both agreed that tackling the supplemental essays early was the best plan. 

Sahar had decided to apply to Stanford University via the Restrictive Early Action application. She considered waiting to write the other college essays until she had heard back from Stanford. However, Sahar decided this was a riskier decision.  She thought to herself, “let’s just get this done early.”

Establishing a timeline

With Sophia’s help, Sahar made a timeline for her essays to stay ahead of the deadlines. “We basically looked at all the schools I was applying to [and] put all the supplemental essay questions into a document. [We] figured out very quickly that we could reuse them and went from there,” she shares. 

After writing each essay, she would send it to Sophia for a college essay review. In the college essay review, Sophia provided college admissions advice and in-line essay suggestions. Afterward, Sahar revised her essays and then re-submit them for another college essay review. Eventually, both Sahar and Sophia thought the essays were in a good place.

Sahar describes the process: “It was like, okay, write this many [essays] by this date. Okay, fine. We’ll go over those. Now I want you to have these done by this date and so on and so forth.” 

This process kept Sahar’s workload manageable and meant she finished the supplemental essays before her December break. For this reason, even though Stanford University unfortunately rejected Sahar, she could spend her break recovering and relaxing. Sahar says, “I had a great December break doing nothing.”

CollegeAdvisor’s Financial Aid advice

After receiving an acceptance letter from Yale University, Sahar knew she would need more help paying for college. Yale offered aid, but not enough. With Sophia’s help, Sahar found a CollegeAdvisor financial aid advisor who gave her more specialized financial aid advice. “The financial aid advisor was exceptional,” Sahar notes. 

Before receiving CollegeAdvisor’s financial aid advice, Sahar thought that the only way to get tuition lowered was to “nag [the financial aid office] very aggressively”.

Our financial aid advice at CollegeAdvisor is to instead appeal the tuition with respect and gratitude. “You want them to like you,” Sahar says, relaying her advisor’s advice. “Be polite, be grateful.” This advice worked for Sahar. It saved her $10,000 per year and made the cost of tuition manageable for her and her family.

Looking for more college admissions advice on how to lower the cost of college? Watch a free webinar on financial aid and applying for scholarships or learn about FAFSA with one of our financial aid experts. 

In addition, take a look at our articles on making college more affordable:

We also have a series of financial aid advice articles on winning merit-based scholarships:

Where was Sahar accepted?

Sahar applied to a college list of 12 schools. She was accepted to Hunter College, Georgetown University, UCLA, UC Davis, Princeton University, and Emory University

college admissions advice; Sahar Tartak

She was also won scholarships at the following universities:

Sahar also made the wait list at Harvard University. Way to go, Sahar—that’s quite the college list!

Where did Sahar choose to go?

Sahar was accepted to almost every school on her college list. Our college admissions advice had made the price of Yale affordable to Sahar and her family. So she finally committed to attending Yale, a prestigious university with an acceptance rate of just 4.46%. Sahar will begin her freshman year at Yale in the fall of 2022.

Sahar says she’s grateful to CollegeAdvisor for their help in her college success. “I had ambition in high school, but it was also relevant that CollegeAdvisor helped me frame what I had done onto an application,” she explains. “A lot of students have… fantastic accomplishments in high school, but you also need to know how to write that down.”

We’re so excited to have Sahar amongst the CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories. Also, we’re thrilled that she had so many options to choose from on her college list. 

Interested in attending Yale? You can find free college admissions advice on our blog, as well as a guide on how to get into Yale.

Choosing a major at Yale

While Sahar won’t need to select a major until her sophomore year at Yale, she is considering Ethics, Politics, and Economics (EP&E) as a field of study. She is also interested in political science and Farsi. This aligns with Sahar’s long-standing passion for politics and business. As has been noted, she explored this passion in high school via student government, DECA, and Model Congress.

What is Sahar most looking forward to?

Above all, Sahar is “really looking forward to just meeting and speaking to a lot of people.” She feels that being in a community of fellow students is one of the most rewarding aspects of college. 

In addition, Sahar is excited to study with Professor Akhil Amar. As well as being a professor at Yale, Professor Amar is a famous constitutional scholar, frequently cited in Supreme Court decisions. 

Finally, Sahar is thrilled to continue her passion for acapella by joining a group on Yale’s campus. We know Sahar is going to be a huge success at Yale!

Sahar’s best advice for future college applicants!

As Sahar prepares to leave this chapter of her life behind, we asked her if she has any college admissions advice for those just starting out. 

“You should be looking at this as an opportunity to learn,” she says. Whether you’re just starting to build your college list or you’ve started opening your decision letters, college applications will teach you “positive and useful skills for life.” According to Sahar, this includes “writing, organization, time management.” We think this is great college admissions advice. 

In addition, Sahar wants to remind future college applicants that “rejections… aren’t personal.” As you go through life, you’ll have to face rejections on a personal and professional level over and over again. College admissions teaches you not only that rejection is a normal part of life, but that you can persevere. As Sahar says, “wherever you go to college, it will be what you make of it.” 

Final thoughts– Why CollegeAdvisor?

We were so pleased that Sahar chose CollegeAdvisor for college admissions advice. We’re proud of her for all she has accomplished, and we can’t wait to see what she does next. 

Further, Sahar loved working with us! “I had a really positive experience with CollegeAdvisor,” she says. “It really made what could have been a painful and stressful process, a lot more comfortable, positive, and normal. I didn’t take my rejections too hard. I felt like I had someone behind me again, my family could afford it, which was important.”

Interested in reading more Client Success Stories? Check out this page for more Client Success Stories like Sahar’s. You’ll see how CollegeAdvisor’s college admissions advice helped them get into the college of their dreams. 

If you’re wondering how to get into Yale or another top school, then register with! You’ll get comprehensive college admissions advice on every step of your application, from shaping your college list to choosing a college. Who knows? Maybe you’ll feature in one of our future Client Success Stories!

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This Client Success Story was written by Becky Weinstein. It is based on an interview with Sahar Tartak. Sahar 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.