University of Pennsylvania – Class of 2025

Applicant J’s Background

Geographic Location: Melbourne, Australia

Citizenship/Residence: Australia

Started Using Our Admission Service: In Year 11

SAT: 1530

School Ranking: Top 5%

Significant Award: None

Admissions: University of Pennsylvania – Class of 2025


We met Applicant J in the beginning of his Year 11. At that time, he had a solid academic record at school, impressive extracurricular involvement in music, and a strong interest in technology. After we confirmed his interests through our initial ice-breaking session, we started to help him plan a series of activities relevant to technology.


However, the roll-out of these activities did not go well. J was not able to receive adequate support or find enough interests at school that would create the impact he would like to see. Meanwhile, he felt it was simply too time consuming to run a decent initiative online as we all knew that his priority was still to keep his school performance strong. Facing this challenge, we quickly adjusted our admission plan and started assisting him in finding opportunities in communities outside of school where J could apply his technology-related knowledge and experience.


Although a lot of organizations couldn’t provide him the opportunity either because they only accepted volunteers aged over 18 or because they requested commitment during school hours. There was one organization that was happy to take J on board, and actually gave him quite a few significant tasks to do. This activity afforded J a unique perspective about how technology interacts with people, substantiated his academic interests, and in the end, became the topic of his Common Application Personal Essay.


With his passion, we then suggested J attempt more relevant activities, which gradually formed a clear theme in his application file. At the same time, we provided several key pieces of advice in terms of VCE final course selection and school activities. The purpose was to focus his energy on the most helpful items in his application.


Effective planning and implementation in Year 11 and early Year 12 mitigated COVID-19’s impact on J’s extracurricular involvements. And he managed to gain valuable work experience during lockdown breaks and expanded his understanding of technology and society. After reviewing his actions and achievements, we recommended the University of Pennsylvania for his Early Decision choice.


The mutual understanding between J and us played a big role when it was time to prepare application materials. We could easily identify topics for various essays, build up J’s voice in them, and organize his activity list in the most impressive way. During the interview preparation, we were also able to concentrate on the questions he felt most uncomfortable with and support him to deliver a detailed and well-structured response.



The 2020-2021 application cycle of US colleges was extremely competitive. However, J’s successful case proves that Elite Admission’s approach is viable in challenging circumstances. Even though top colleges are becoming even more selective, the rationale of admission offices does not change too much. When you think about how to impress the people reading your application, you need to think about how to develop yourself as well as possible.