How I Did It: 97th Percentile SAT Score, Middlebury Admission, a $46,000 Scholarship to MSU - Interview with a Dimond High School Grad

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

     

    190618 Anja L FB

     

    "What I really liked about working with you the most was the essay refining part because it kept me on track. And I like to say that I would have been able to stay on track, but I definitely would not have because there were times when I would sit down on the weekend and be like, 'Okay, I'm meeting with Kimberly on Monday. I have to write this essay or I'm not going to have anything to show her.' So that in the moment kind of sucked. But looking back it was really good for me. Otherwise it would have not been good. I was also really happy about this feedback that you were able to give me with my essay and how I was able to make it as good as it could be."

    -Anja L., graduate of Dimond High School

     


     

    Anja L. is a Dimond High School graduate.  During spring of her junior year, Anja began working with us in a college admissions consulting program.  We began working together to build her college list, enabling her to visit colleges during the summer.  In addition to college research and list building, I also assisted Anja planning and developing of some of her college essays (including her main Common Application essay) and optimizing her SAT testing plans. Anja concurrently completed a 12-hour SAT Individual Prep program and received one-on-one academic tutoring in her precalculus class. Over the course of her SAT prep program, Anja increased her SAT superscore to 1450 (97th percentile).  Anja was accepted Middlebury College, Colorado College, University of Vermont, and Montana State University, where she was awarded a $46,000 scholarship, for which eligibility criteria generally include 95th+ percentile SAT/ACT scores, 3.8+ GPA, track record of leadership/honors/high-impact extracurriculars, and essay application.

     

    In this post, I share excerpts from an interview with Anja, during which we discussed the college list-building process (including some of the tools she used), essay development, and her SAT preparation experience at Frontier Tutoring.  Responses have been edited for length and clarity.  Use the links below to jump to the questions you're curious about.

     

    -Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting

     

    What We Covered 

     

    College Admissions Consulting Discussion


    1. What made you consider working with a professional college counselor?

    2. Why did you want to start CAC (College Admissions Consulting) during junior year specifically? What did we work on during your junior year that changed your college admissions profile/trajectory?

    3. Talk about your experience working with me on your college list.  When we first started working together, you already had some colleges in mind. How did that college list change over the course of our time together?



    4. What did you find helpful about the process of working on your list together?


    5. We worked on adding a variety of "reach," "match," and "likely" schools you would be happy with to round out your list.  How was this process helpful?  Would you have arrived at the same outcomes—both your list and acceptances—on your own?



    6. After you began your college admissions consulting program with Frontier Tutoring, did anything pleasantly surprise you? What has been your favorite part about working with us?



    7. The one college you applied to and weren’t accepted to was Dartmouth. Can you talk about that process and how you feel about how things turned out with Dartmouth?



    8. If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring’s college admissions consulting services to a good friend, what would you say?

    9. What would you say to a student and parent who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, and said they felt they could do an equally good job going through the admissions process on their own?

    10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

      

    SAT Prep Discussion

     

    1. What made you consider enrolling in a professional SAT/PSAT program? With Frontier Tutoring specifically? What were your goals?

    2. If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring's SAT/ACT prep programs to a good friend, what would you say?

    3. What would you say to a student who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, but felt he/she could study for the SAT/PSAT/ACT on his/her own?

     

    RELATED: Building Your College List: A Five-Step Process, Plus Tips from a Successful Dimond High School Grad

     

     

    College Admissions Consulting Discussion

     

    1. What made you consider working with a professional college counselor?

     

    No one in my family knew anything about any of this process, so we were all kind of in the dark. My parents suggested that I get a list together so that we could go visit colleges, but I didn't know where to start with that.  The challenge was that I didn't even know what kind of school I was looking for, let alone what to even start to narrow down.  That uncertainty drew us toward looking for some help.  When Frontier Tutoring visited Dimond, my mom [signed me up for professional college admissions advising].

     


    2. Why did you want to start college admissions consulting (CAC) during junior year specifically? What did we work on during your junior year that changed your college admissions profile/trajectory?

     

    I have an older sister, and when my parents started to go through that process with her, they did not have enough time and she ended up making the wrong decision.  We as a family wanted to avoid that. So we started earlier just to avoid some unnecessary stress that comes with the process.

     

    Working on my college list during junior year was important because it meant that I figured out I needed a higher SAT score.  If I had only figured that out during senior year, it would have been too late for [me to make the required improvement].

     

    Also, [if I hadn’t started working on my college list early in junior year], I couldn't have gone to visit the schools I did end up visiting.  I don't think I'm going to choose any of the places that I did visit, but it helped me to go to colleges, see what they were about, and learn what I was kind of attracted to in a college—what kind of campus, how big, what kind of area.

     

    [Starting college research during junior year] definitely helped me because [I could then start planning my essays earlier].  Writing a last minute essay is not the way to do it, especially if it's for college. You want to make sure the essay is refined and exactly how you want it.  Being able to have the time to write a draft, and write out multiple ideas, and edit that draft multiple times, helped my confidence level in submitting that essay.

    A lot of my friends, when I was in the position of, "Oh, I already have my essay done, like I'm fine," were definitely not in that position.  My applications had been ready weeks before the deadline.  I just needed to make sure things were perfect. But other friends missed deadlines, and scrambled at the end, and couldn't submit early decision because they didn't have it done. So yeah, it helped having those parts done and not to have to worry about that while I was still in school.


    3. Talk about your experience working with me on your college list.  When we first started working together, you already had some colleges in mind: University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Rochester, University of Virginia, and University of Wisconsin.  How did that college list change over the course of our time together?

     

    The initial colleges were mostly on my list because my mom suggested them and I had nothing else to go off. Those schools initially came from what other people had told my mom were good schools, and my mom kind of just relayed that over to me. And also things that we got in the mail that had pretty pictures.

     

    So that's where those came from. They changed when I took some time to research those schools, and figure out the pros and cons, and what kind of school I would be into. And I figured out that none of those schools are really the type of school I want to go to because I was drawn more towards smaller liberal-arts type schools. And none of those really fit that profile.  Those were the ones that we heard from the most because they were big and prevalent and they came up a lot, so that kind of put them in the forefront initially. So a lot of people say, “Oh yeah, University of Michigan is a great school."  But it's huge!

     

    Through our time together, I realized I'm just not the type of person who would do well, I think, at a super huge school. But it took a bit of time for me to even figure that out. Researching and even visiting those schools was where I kind of figured that out the most. Going through the various suggestions that you had given to me to pick out what I liked about the school and what I didn't was also really helpful. And then you could do more research based off of what I said.

    University of Vermont, of the ones that I visited - it wasn't on our initial college lists, but while we were over in that area, I got an email from them, and we happened to be right in the area. And I visited it and it was really cute. I liked the environment and the school in general. So I applied there.

     


    4. What did you find helpful about the process of working on your list together?

     

    I really liked the college planner portal website.  It was really helpful to put it all in one place, so it wasn't all scatterbrained all over my computer. Especially when I was on the college tour, it was helpful to be able to pull up really easily information on what they offer and what kind of programs they have. So yeah, I did continue using the portal throughout the application process.

     

    5. We worked on adding a variety of "reach," "match," and "likely" schools you would be happy with to round out your list.  How was this process helpful?  Would you have arrived at the same outcomes—both your list and acceptances—on your own?

     

    Probably not.  [Without your help], I probably wouldn't have been able to narrow down my list, and I would have applied to a lot more colleges.  And not applying to those places and writing all those essays helped save a lot of time and effort that would have been wasted, and allowed me to focus my energy on the colleges I was applying to.

     

    6. After you began your college admissions consulting program with Frontier Tutoring, did anything pleasantly surprise you? What has been your favorite part about working with us?

     

    What I really liked about working with you the most was the essay refining part because it kept me on track. And I like to say that I would have been able to stay on track, but I definitely would not have because there were times when I would sit down on the weekend and be like, “Okay, I'm meeting with Kimberly on Monday. I have to write this essay or I'm not going to have anything to show her.” So that in the moment kind of sucked. But looking back it was really good for me. Otherwise it would have not been good. I was also really happy about this feedback that you were able to give me with my essay and how I was able to make it as good as it could be.


    7. The one college you applied to and weren’t accepted to was Dartmouth. Can you talk about that process and how you feel about how things turned out with Dartmouth?

     

    I mean sad, but it if it wasn't meant to be, that's okay.  And, I spent time making sure they knew what kind of student and applicant I was.  Because I know I put my best foot forward, I trust that if they didn't accept me, there was probably a reason why. I probably could have done well at that school, but they had a lot of applicants.

     

    Note from Kimberly: The Dartmouth admission rate is approximately 10%.  When you are working with schools with such low admission rates, many perfectly qualified applicants will be rejected!  No matter the quality of your application, you are subject to a significant element of chance when it comes to admission at such schools.  That's why it's so important to develop a balanced college list, with a mix of "reach," "match," and "likely" schools.

     

    8. If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring’s college admissions consulting services to a good friend, what would you say?

     

    Don't try to BS your way through it. For example, don't pretend you did more research or spent more time on an essay than you actually did because it's not helpful and it's going to prevent [Frontier] from helping you more. What I would say is just make the most out of it, and don't waste the time [with Frontier] because you can do a lot and if you're wasting it, then it's not going to be helpful.

     

    9. What would you say to a student and parent who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, and said they felt they could do an equally good job going through the admissions process on their own?

     

    Maybe you can do just as well, but it's going to be a lot easier if somebody is guiding you through it. I probably would have been able to do what had to be done. I wouldn't have not applied, and I wouldn't have not written an essay, but it would have been a lot more difficult and there would have been more friction with the whole process. I really appreciated having somebody to tell me, “Okay, these are the deadlines, this is what you have to do by this date to not have to do it last minute, or come up with a rough draft now.” So then we can edit for a couple of weeks before, instead of coming up with a rough draft three days before it's due.

     

    With my mom and dad, I could have said, “Oh, I'm busy, I'll do it tomorrow. It doesn't matter; it's due in three months. I can push it off one day.” But when you have an actual appointment at Frontier—and it's inconvenient for people to cancel and move things around—it just forces you to sit down and think about it and do it. So working with Frontier was definitely more helpful than my parents. Also, my parents had no idea what they were doing in terms of college admissions, so they wouldn't have been able to say, “Okay, you need to have this essay done,” because they didn't even know I had to write an essay.

     

    10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

     

    If I were talking to somebody who was in my position last year, I would recommend applying to one school that you definitely know you can get into, so that if you start getting rejected by places, you know you'll still get in somewhere.  For me, it was Montana State. I knew I could get in, and I applied early, but it wasn't binding. But I knew if I started to get rejections or wait lists or deferrals, I had that to fall back on. And if everything didn't work out the way I wanted it to, I wouldn't have to worry so much. That's what I would recommend. Prepare application materials for an easy school, and then do the hard schools.

     

    Note from Kimberly: This is consistent with our approach of developing a balanced college list with a mix of "reach," "match," and "likely" schools.

     

     

    SAT Prep Discussion

     

    1. What made you consider enrolling in a professional SAT/PSAT program? With Frontier Tutoring specifically? What were your goals?

     

    Well, I knew a stronger SAT score would improve my odds of getting in [to Dartmouth], and it kind of relieved a little bit of pressure on the rest of my application if I could have a stronger SAT score. If, on the other hand, my SAT score were to be slightly below what the school normally accepts, I would have felt a lot more pressure trying to perfect the rest of my applications. Having a really strong SAT score, especially with the schools like Colorado College, made me feel like I didn't have to rely quite so much on my supplemental essays to prove my case.  And that's why I chose to improve or get help with my SAT score.

     

    2. If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring's SAT/ACT prep programs to a good friend, what would you say?

     

    I feel like [Frontier Tutoring] is a good program for SAT prep because you have the website and the book too. The website [which provides immediate feedback and video explanations for all problems in the workbook] was really helpful because when I was traveling I could practice. And also the practice tests and going through the material with somebody sitting there telling me the different types of questions I might encounter and how quickly to answer each question—that was pretty helpful.

     

    3. What would you say to a student who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, but felt he/she could study for the SAT/PSAT/ACT on his/her own?

     

    Good luck!  Honestly, studying for the SAT is one of those things where it's just a massive mountain of information, and especially if you haven't taken it before, you just don't even know.  So, sure, go study for the SAT.  What are you going to do, where do you start?  You could use Khan Academy, but there's not somebody sitting there explaining what you did wrong and where you might be able to do it faster.

     

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    Topics: College Admissions, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage, Interviews