Overview: CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories
In our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we feature CollegeAdvisor.com students who achieved their college dreams. For each of this year’s CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we’ll interview our students and talk to them about their college advising experience. We will discuss how they built their college lists, aced their college essays, and which CollegeAdvisor resources they found most valuable. We’ll also share what they learned throughout the college application process.
Our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories and the positive feedback we get from our CollegeAdvisor.com reviews 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 CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories inspire you as you begin your own college applications, start your college visits, apply for merit scholarships, and more.
How did Stephanie hear about CollegeAdvisor?
Like many high school students going through the college application process, Stephanie was looking for some support. At first, she just wanted another set of eyes to look over her college essays. “I came across this page where there was a whole list of names and websites where you could input your essays.” As she looked for essay help, CollegeAdvisor caught her attention—it seemed to offer something different.
Curious, she clicked the link to see what this other option had to offer. She liked what she learned about CollegeAdvisor on the website: personalized college advising for high school students. She created an account and had a call back shortly afterward. During this call, the team gathered some more details about Stephanie so that they could best support her needs.
Stephanie had an informational call to learn more about the options. After that call, she didn’t make a decision straight away. It was only later that she was informed of the Scholars program and decided to apply.
Connecting to the CollegeAdvisor Scholars Program
Stephanie received support from ColegeAdvisor through their Scholars Program. This pro bono program offers 100 high school students with demonstrated financial need the opportunity to work with our Admissions Experts free of charge. Students in the Scholars Program are often first-generation college applicants.
The application process to the Scholars Program was simple for Stephanie. “It wasn’t really all that complicated at all,” she says, “it was just a form and then I submitted that and had to wait a little bit.”
Eventually, she found out that she’d been accepted. Afterward, CollegeAdvisor connected her to one of our experienced advisors.
Stephanie’s experience in the Scholars Program
Stephanie was matched with an advisor called Kelsey Auman. Kelsey helped her navigate the college application process. It took a little while for Kelsey and Stephanie to find out how to best work together. But once they did, Stephanie had a great experience in the Scholars Program.
At first, Kelsey and Stephanie met on video calls once or twice a month. Stephanie recalls, “I asked her a lot of questions regarding financial aid and the Common App because I wasn’t too familiar with it.”
Kelsey also assisted Stephanie with building a college list and answering Stephanie’s questions about financial aid. Stephanie mentions, “…it wasn’t until towards the end where we started communicating a lot more over video call.”
Generally, in the Scholars Program, advisors assist students with the Common Application or Coalition Application and two supplemental items. However, our advisors also adapt to students’ requirements. They understand how different individuals will have different needs and are flexible within the program.
Stephanie utilized so many CollegeAdvisor resources!
In addition to her meetings, Stephanie took advantage of the many CollegeAdvisor resources. Not only did she work one-on-one with an advisor, but she also had a “dress rehearsal” and attended many webinars. Our dress rehearsals allow students the chance to have one application reviewed and scored by a former Admissions Officer.
Navigating things like the Common App, personal essays, and financial aid can be overwhelming. Stephanie worked with an advisor to get personalized one-on-one attention, but she didn’t stop there.
CollegeAdvisor offers many free resources to students and their parents in order to help them apply for college. We encourage you to use our essay guides, webinars, and other informational articles.
Stephanie found the additional resources useful. After all, while she had regular contact with her advisor, Kelsey couldn’t be there 24/7.
The webinars especially helped Stephanie understand the financial aid process. This can be a confusing thing for college applicants and their parents to navigate.
Building a college list
Choosing which colleges to apply to can be one of the hardest parts of the application process.
Factors such as location, student enrollment, majors, campus culture, financial aid, and many more are important as you decide what’s the right school for you. While some students may know exactly what school they want to attend, others may have no idea. So, you need to think through all the criteria that are important to you and build a college list out of them. This is a critical first step in your application to college.
Kelsey helped Stephanie a lot as she built her college list. She created a spreadsheet with Stephanie’s top college choices with important admissions factors, such as the acceptance rate. This helped them to separate the choices into safety schools, target schools, and reach schools.
When deciding the best school for you, it’s important to understand how the “best colleges” lists are created. Also, remember that the best colleges for you will not be the same as your classmates. Deciding the best schools for you and creating a college list is a personal process.
At first, college essays pushed Stephanie to seek our help. She stumbled upon CollegeAdvisor when looking for help writing and editing her essays.
Therefore, one of the main things that Kelsey and Stephanie worked on together was college essay revisions. Kelsey would look over and give Stephanie feedback on her essays as she completed them.
The dress rehearsal also helped Stephanie with her college essay revisions. The combination of an advisor and a dress rehearsal allowed Stephanie to turn in the best college applications and essays she possibly could.
“But what exactly is a ‘dress rehearsal’?” we hear you ask. Read on to find out!
Application Dress Rehearsals
The dress rehearsal is a unique offering from CollegeAdvisor. After working with an advisor, students can “rehearse” sending in their college application so it can be reviewed by Admissions Experts. Students and their advisors choose one application to send in for feedback. The dress rehearsal is often the final step before they apply to schools.
Stephanie decided to use an application dress rehearsal for her dream school application. Stephanie was able to get helpful feedback on her application, such as how to order her extracurriculars as well as essay critiques.
About the feedback, Stephanie says, “The person who reviewed it highlighted what they liked and what I could add maybe to make it a little bit stronger. And then they gave a short summary of what they thought I should tweak a little bit in my activities that were listed on the Common App.”
Afterward, Stephanie applied the feedback and conferred with Kelsey. Finally, she felt confident to send in her final application to her dream school.
One of the most popular resources available on CollegeAdvisor.com is our webinars. Students can attend webinars that break down all aspects of the application process.
Stephanie attended many webinars and found them especially useful at the beginning of her application process. “They were actually very helpful to understanding the process, like from setting up your common application portal to asking for recommendation letters and all that.”
Stephanie’s mother also sat in on some webinars that explained the process of financial aid. They both found the webinars immensely helpful in understanding the application and college enrollment process.
“The webinars were definitely helpful,” Stephanie confirms.
Stephanie’s admission results!
Finally, after many months of diligent work on her applications, Stephanie finished the college application process and waited for the college acceptance letters to roll in.
Stephanie applied to George Mason, James Madison, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Baylor University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
She was accepted to seven of the eight schools she applied to and was waitlisted at one. Texas A&M also accepted Stephanie to their community college for her first year, after which she’d be able to transfer to the main campus. Baylor University made her a similar offer. They gave her the opportunity to study abroad in the fall semester and then enroll at their main campus in spring.
Eventually, Stephanie decided to attend the University of Texas at Austin. This was actually the first school to offer her admissions. However, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. She was stuck between two options. She says, “It was really a battle in between Virginia Tech and the University of Texas, but I’ll be attending the University of Texas at Austin.”
Interested in wearing UT Austin’s burnt orange like Stephanie? Check out our “How to Get into UT Austin” guide. For specifics on responding to UT Austin’s essays, read this essay guide.
Choosing UT Austin over Virginia Tech
Stephanie had a hard time deciding between UT Austin and Virginia Tech. Many factors came into play when deciding between the two. In the end, UT Austin won out.
What made Stephanie choose the University of Texas at Austin over Virginia Tech? She felt like there were more opportunities and resources available to her at UT Austin. Stephanie felt that at UT Austin she would be able to make lasting connections.
The location also played a huge part in Stephanie’s decision. Austin is one of the best places in Texas to live, and it piqued Stephanie’s interest. And there was a personal pull to being in Texas over Virginia. Having been born in Dallas but growing up in Virginia, Stephanie always felt like she wanted to experience life in Texas.
She’d also enjoyed the campus when she’d visited, liking the diversity and the campus’ vastness. “It was very, very diverse compared to the schools here in Virginia, and diversity and inclusion is very important to me. That was actually one of my essays that got me into that school. So, yeah, I just kind of really liked the whole feel of it and the student body, and where it was, and the academics, obviously.”
Another deciding factor was the areas of study available to her at UT Austin. The types of majors that a school offers should be at the top of your list when deciding on the best school for you.
It’s great to have options when choosing what school you’ll enroll in. Stephanie was able to gain acceptance to her top schools in part by writing great essays for both UT Austin and Virginia Tech.
What will Stephanie study at UT Austin?
Stephanie has decided to major in Human Biology. About choosing the major she says, “I just picked biology and then I went into the specific branch of human biology. I don’t know if that’ll change later on, obviously, but for right now, that’s my major.”
UT Austin is actually one of the few schools that offers that major. As a Biology major at the University of Texas at Austin, students are offered 11 options. Stephanie has chosen to enter as a Human Biology major.
While Stephanie has chosen her major, many students go through the college application process undecided on their college major. In this case, students will want to think about their general and wider interests to try to determine their area of study. Make sure to apply to schools that offer many options. If you can narrow it down to liberal arts, sciences, engineering, business, etc., then that’s a great place to start.
Stephanie’s advice for future college applicants
Stephanie urges students to start the college application process early. Junior year and the beginning of senior year can be really busy times. Between regular classes, college applications, and standardized testing, things can start to pile up quickly if you don’t start the application process early.
About choosing schools to apply to, Stephanie says, “I would definitely start the research process early in your junior year…”
She would encourage students to think about standardized testing early as well. Are you applying to schools that require SAT/ACT scores to be sent in? And if so, have you given yourself enough time to take the exam multiple times if needed?
Stephanie warns of running out of time when submitting exams. Because she started so late, she could only submit to two schools. “You don’t really want to be taking tests when you’re already submitting your applications, which was my case.”
Applicants should also look at school-specific requirements early on. Stephanie recommends starting before senior year. This will give you enough time to gather application requirements, ask for recommendations and complete the essays.
Essay writing can use a lot of time and energy, multiple drafts, and ideally some extra help with proofreading. Don’t wait until the last minute to start!
Advice for future CollegeAdvisor Scholars
Stephanie’s advice to future CollegeAdvisor Scholars is to save some of your video call hours for after your applications have been sent in. “With the Scholars program, there was a limited amount of video call hours that you could have. So I recommend saving some of those for the end, especially students that need help with financial aid…After you get your acceptances, you might have a couple of questions of what the financial aid package covers and maybe weighing out what the pros and cons of each school. Or maybe you have a couple more questions and your Advisor could help you get in contact with the right people from the school to ask those questions to.”
As Stephanie mentions, the college application process doesn’t stop after you’re accepted. You may still have questions about college enrollment, financial aid, or choosing the best school for you. For this reason, Stephanie urges future CollegeAdvisor Scholars to save a session or two for later on so you can discuss these topics with your Advisor.
She also recommends getting your essays in to your advisor promptly. Don’t wait until the night before the application is due to send them. That way, you have time to address any notes
Finally, Stephanie says it’s important to have a good relationship with your advisor. In the end, due to her hard work and commitment throughout the process, Stephanie ended up with the college admissions results she hoped for.
Although Stephanie took a while to build her relationship with Kelsey, she says that “overall it was a really good experience. And I thank CollegeAdvisor and Kelsey too.” In the end, Stephanie was accepted to her top choice school and was able to navigate the application process with the guidance of an expert.
Stephanie benefited from the attention of an advisor but also took advantage of the other resources that CollegeAdvisor offers, such as a dress rehearsal and webinars. Stephanie and her mother learned invaluable information about the financial aid process through our webinars.
CollegeAdvisor offers individual attention to each of its students. While Scholars are given a certain program with specific guidelines and offerings, advisors are encouraged to adapt to their student’s needs. The college application process is a personal experience, and our expert advisors will treat it as such.
This Client Success Story was written by Sarah Kaminski. It was based on an interview with Stephanie Mendoza. Stephanie was looking for support and another pair of eyes to review her college essays. If you are also looking for college admission advice and are interested in working with a CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.