Brown University

Applicant K’s Background

Geographic Location: Sydney, Australia

Citizenship/Residence: Australian

Starting to Use Our Admission Service: Since Year 11

SAT: 1560/1600

School Ranking: Top 15%

Significant Award: None

Intended Major: Economics, Psychology and Undecided

Admission: Brown University


Case Detail

When we first met Applicant K, he was in the middle of Year 11, and had not yet decided if he wanted to start the US college application’s complex preparation process. However, after receiving information about how studying at a top US College could benefit him, he became determined. He had a genuine interest in almost all of the subjects he was studying, but no idea of which area he wanted to focus on. A liberal arts education in the US would allow him to fully explore his wide range of interests rather than force him to exclusively study one or two areas, as universities in Australia do. This became his motivation throughout the US college preparation journey.


At that time, Applicant K’s extracurricular activities mainly consisted of music and sports, a typical composition of Asian background applicants. After our first intensive ice-breaking session, we made a thorough plan to expand the scope of his extracurricular activities. We started by helping him find and successfully apply to volunteer at one of Sydney’s most important contemporary art exhibitions. This activity confirmed Applicant K’s passion for art, especially in terms of how art can reflect and relieve people’s struggle. Then, we further encouraged him to continue getting involved in the therapeutic effect of art, by finding more opportunities to work with art. We also suggested he start working on his own art portfolio, which eventually became one of the highlights of his application.


At the same time, we supported Applicant K to use his talents and interests to enhance the breadth of his activities. After setting up an appropriate timetable to coordinate his time invested in schoolwork, SAT prep, and activities, he made solid progress in all these aspects. In the middle of Year 12, his application theme automatically surfaced with his own edge, which laid the foundation of his successful application.


Working out an outstanding Common Application personal essay took us a lot of time. In the beginning, he wanted (and we agreed) to use the essay to reflect his own growth and struggle, which would have gone well with his application theme. However, the essay did not go well because he ran out of specific ideas to substantiate the take-away point. Acknowledging this dead end, we immediately started another round of brainstorming and found a small but dramatic incident that happened during one of his train rides back home. We together took the risk, particularly in the end of the essay to make the story stand out even more. Although the draft was not fully agreed upon by his teachers and counselors at school, we used our professional knowledge of college admissions, and insisted on using it in the application. The essay, in our opinion, added another layer of characteristics that appealed to Brown.


Finally, it is worth mentioning Applicant K’s school selection process. In March of his Year 12, we first narrowed down his first choice to three to five schools. After scrutinizing his personality, interests, activities, essays, and college plan, we suggested that he apply to Brown University via Early Decision. Despite Brown’s low admission rate and his school ranking, which was below Brown’s typical expectation, we believed in the match in other areas. Our suggestion proved to be right.



First of all, Applicant K’s case showed us how important finding motivation to support you throughout the intensive and competitive US college application process is. Meanwhile, we planned his activities based on his own thoughts and strengths, and supported him to explore the areas that attracted him the most. Such personalized design and follow-up are essential for students who aim for top colleges. The Common Application Personal Essay is something you can take a reasonable risk with to show your true colors. And school selection is absolutely critical for you to land your dream school.


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