Duke University

Applicant P’s Background

Geographic Location: Melbourne, Australia

Citizenship/Residence: Chinese

Starting to Use Our Admission Service: Since Year 10

SAT: 2350 out of 2400

School Ranking: Top 1%

Significant Award: None

Intended Major: Sociology

Admissions: Duke University, University  of California – Berkeley, University of Michigan (Ross School of Business), New York University (Stern School of Business)


Case Detail

Applicant P’s success story is a textbook case for applicants who had an excellent academic record but did not come to Australia until high school. In the beginning, cultural differences were the biggest difficulty for him. Moving overseas after working so hard to succeed was like losing a halo that once belonged to him. His previous achievements were no long recognized by anyone in the new country, and thus, he had diminished motivation, feeling like all his previous efforts were for a lost cause. Many students with similar experience might lose their motivation all together. But we helped Applicant P in his transition into the new environment, and his goal to attend a top college in the US worked as an important push behind him when he was not the best self.


First, we helped Applicant P refine his goals, and clarified to him that although he was in another country, his dream of going to a top college in the United States was not disillusioned. Learning the feasibility of his goal motivated him to work ardently with us to achieve it. Our first suggestion was for him to strengthen his participation in extracurricular activities. He was mostly interested in art back then, so we assisted him in initiating an art society at his school. During the implementation process he encountered quite a lot of resistance, especially incomprehension from his schoolmates and teachers. But his persistence eventually paid off, and he started his first leadership activity in Year 10. It is challenging for an international student to imitate an activity at school, so we offered much help to him in every step of setting up the art society. After running two events successfully, he regained the confidence he had had back in his home country. This made his later activities a lot easier. In the following two years, we work together to expand his extracurricular activities beyond his school, and this leadership became the raw material of his application.


IB course load is heavy. Therefore, starting from the IB course selection, we gave him some useful advices including strategic plan to prepare SAT and learn IB simultaneously. This enabled him to multi-task easily and create synergy, when his peers were getting increasingly busy with the IB. This was also because since Year 10, he had been participating in various types of extracurricular activities, building up his self-management skills, and cultivating excellent planning, organizational, coordination and time management abilities. For his application, what we needed to do was to come up with a theme that connected his series of activities as well as academic interests. In regard to the application essays, Applicant P’s rich experiences gave us many materials to choose from. Finally, we prepared two Personal Essays for the Common Application to fit various schools’ expectations.



For international applicants, we need to show understanding and sympathy for the difficulties and challenges confronting them. The first step an admission consultant should undertake is to help them find their position and voice in the new environment as soon as possible. The successful case of Applicant P has given confidence to international students because he showed growth, leadership, intelligence and adaptation in an unfamiliar country.


Click here to read more of our successful college application cases

Click here to know more about our college admission consulting service

Click here to get information of our SAT Prep service


We prioritize our clients’ privacy; please be aware that we cannot share all the details of our services in the article above. If you are interested in knowing the full scope of our services, please contact us.

Picture Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki