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Chess and Baseball: Angel Villeraldo’s Stanford Admissions Story

"Hearing those words of encouragement every really helped me overcome some hurdles of procrastination of applying to college," said Angel Villeraldo, a senior at James A. Garfield High School in Los Angeles. With his family's support, first-generation baseball and chess player Angel got admitted to Stanford University, Class of 2027. What you'll learn:

  • What helped Angel's college essay flow
  • Overcoming insecurities about college applications
  • Getting rejected: what Angel did to deal with college rejections

Dear Socrates, Feature


Perfect, But Rejected from Colleges. What Went Wrong?

She had a 1550 SAT and 3.95 GPA. Directed 30 plays. Founded a school accounting club. Denied from Berkeley, Northwestern, Penn, USC, Harvard, Yale, and 3 other colleges. She ended the college app season with an acceptance into Arizona State (88% acceptance rate) for business, where she's headed. While I personally think ASU is a fun place to learn, people are wondering how to avoid working so hard for just one viable acceptance. As a college consultant, here's what I would done to help her gain multiple attractive offers of admission.

The Skinny


Berkeley Admissions Pre-Read: Julia’s Journey

“Admissions approves you before you apply. So on the student end, your application process is the same as everyone else’s, but on the actual college end, it’s different because your application, your name, is flagged before you even submit it,” said Julia Fullington, a recruited rower from Connecticut headed to University of California Berkeley this fall.

  • The benefits of applying to college as a recruited athlete
  • How college athletic coaches help applicants get admitted
  • The misconceptions of getting into college as a recruited athlete

Admitted to Northeastern: Mandy’s story

“To be honest, my dad really didn’t support me going to Northeastern at first because it’s 15 hours away from home. But after I got in, he was actually very happy and supportive. And because I got almost a full ride,” said Mandy Jiang, a high school senior from Spartanburg, S.C. headed to Boston’s Northeastern University.

  • How many applications she submitted to land 4 high school internships
  • How does a student with Bs and a C get into a college that selects fewer than 20% of applicants?
  • The time commitment required to apply for college

UChicago and UPenn admitted him: Gabriel’s admission story

“My dad is just a pretty strict guy. That helped me a lot in terms of in terms of learning discipline and hard work,” said Gabriel Aguero, son of an economics professor at University of Connecticut, who got into UChicago and UPenn this cycle. The 4.0 student scored a 1520 SAT and five AP scores of 5. You’ll learn:

  • Gabriel’s biggest regrets in college apps
  • What strict parenting from professor parents meant to Gabriel
  • Was all the hard work and sacrifice worth it?

The Skinny

College Admissions and the LSAT

  • What’s the latest cap to Berkeley’s admissions?
  • How to manage the stress of college acceptance season?
  • Which standardized test may be next to go?

Is US College Education Becoming a Burden?

  • Top Texas public university covers 100% of tuition for some families.
  • An Ivy League university raised its tuition. Which one?
  • Another university goes test-optional. Which one?

A High School, a College, and a Tour

  • What happens when an elite public high school opens to all?
  • One college is taking a different approach to legacy admissions.
  • What should you ask on a college tour?

Education in the US is becoming unaffordable by the day

  • A considerable portion of colleges is going SAT-free for 2022 admissions. How many?
  • A state rolled out scholarships for its public universities. Which state?
  • Top college in Massachusetts announced it won’t increase tuition in 2022.



Preventing Heartbreak in College Admissions

My kid doesn't see what the big deal is with student loans, but I do! I still have loans from med school. He shockingly got into COLLEGE Z, a high reach school, which offered nothing but student loans. He wants to go, but debt-free COLLEGE Y is clearly better! — Stressed parent

Heartache is a part of the mean game of college admissions. While I can't shield you from all the hurt in the world, I can share why being very picky about your college list can eliminate some of the pain. This one's for future college applicants.

Paying for College: 2 Nontraditional Ways

A student asked me this week, “Should I pay $74,000 a year to go to a famous East Coast private college that I really love or go to a famous Midwest public university, which I like but don’t love, for less money? What can I do to pay for college?” I don’t purport to be a college financial expert in any way, so I typically stay away from giving financial advice. But I’ve seen too many students around the country work very hard on popular scholarship applications with no positive outcomes. I wanted to offer non-traditional ideas on paying for college. While these may not work for everyone, here are 2 entrepreneurial methods I gave my student.

College Tours and Decisions: 8 Tips

A parent of a senior called me. She was distraught because her child got multiple offers of admission, but… Parent wanted Child to attend the small, private Christian college with excellent academics. Child also got into a large public state university with a party scene and Greek life. Child wants to go there instead. What did I say? “Well, have you visited either campus?” “No.” “Visit with kiddo. You’ll be surprised what you might find.” I wish I took my own advice when I was 17. I didn’t visit Northwestern’s campus before applying. I’ve visited countless colleges since, on behalf of my students. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Getting into Dartmouth vs. Cornell: The Differences

If you’ve ever seen a list of Ivy League colleges, you likely saw Dartmouth in New Hampshire and Cornell in upstate New York. In 2021, Cornell admitted 10% of applicants; Dartmouth admitted 6%. Though both selective, Cornell and Dartmouth don’t look for the same types of students. Here’s what matters to each college based on an analysis of the 2021-22 Common Data Set. These numbers reflect students who started their freshman year of undergrad in 2021.

Penn and Harvard’s Admissions Factors

Aspiring financiers, bankers, and economists might be torn between Harvard and Penn, two Ivy League schools known for being business education powerhouses. While there’s no need to attend a coveted university like Harvard or Penn to be successful in business, corporate Americans often value the powerful and wealthy network offered by these two name brand degrees. Today, let’s dig into how their undergrad admissions preferences differ.

2 Common Mistakes in Appeal Letters

Did your student get denied from a favorite college? If so, he or she was probably offered a chance to submit an appeal letter. As I review students appeal letters, I keep seeing the same mistakes that make their letters come off immature and ineffective. Here are the 2 big mistakes I’m seeing.

How do Duke and UNC Chapel Hill’s admission criteria differ?

Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill may be rivals down the street from each other in North Carolina. Applicants to these two colleges shouldn’t assume they value the same admissions factors. They also shouldn’t assume Duke is harder to get into with its 4.3% acceptance rate vs. UNC’s 19%. From high test scores to interviews to essays to grades, what matters most to each of these top research universities?