Meet Karen, a Senior. She's from Louisville, Kentucky.

Academic Strength

Strong STEM background

Biggest Weakness

Indecisive, Lacking leadership/volunteerism

Extracurricular Strength

Struck a creative balance

Well Roundedness 5

The Challenge

As an international student completing high school in the US, Karen did not place much consideration on the importance of extracurriculars until her junior year. As a result, her extracurricular profile remained mostly academic with very little display of leadership, and no sports or volunteer experiences.

In addition to her academic and extracurricular profile, Karen had a lot of trouble making decisions with confidence, and believing in her abilities, which stemmed from an inherent fear of failure. This affected everything from school selection, to drafting strong personal statements. The challenge was to set free Karen’s creative side, and build an application that would showcase the curiosity and drive Karen had hidden in plain sight.

Possible Approaches

There were several approaches to improving Karen’s admissions profile.

  1. Shine a spotlight on the one creative extracurricular Karen had under her belt, and use it to develop the well-rounded and balanced student profile.
  2. Have Karen quickly gather some leadership and volunteer experiences by focusing on pursuing some personal projects within clubs she was a member of.
  3. Steer clear of ‘selling her academics’ by focusing too much on her strong STEM background, GPA, and AP scores, and instead focus on ‘selling her unique potential’ by focusing on her interest, future goals, and drive.

The Admissionado Approach

The approach we took was a combination of the aforementioned approaches, with the addition of a risky self-disclosure. Karen’s personal statement faced her shortcoming head on. We wanted to show universities that although her fear of failure held her back in the past-contributing to her lack of personal development, creative exploration and leadership-she came to terms with it, acknowledged and accepted it, and can now use it as a platform to guide her future development.

Instead of trying to fake being the ‘ideal candidate,’ Karen faced her shortcomings, and looked to the future. Together, we showed the admissions committee that she would never let her fear of failure hold her back from exploring new things and constantly growing.

The Result

Karen was accepted Early Decision to Northwestern University.

Personal Shoutout

I cannot believe Karen’s development throughout our time together! Not only did she drastically improve her writing and round out her interests, she also gained confidence in herself that will propel her forward in anything she sets her mind to. It was an absolute pleasure to be by her side during this time, and I cannot wait to see what her future has in store!

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