The Harvard Crimson Highlights 10 Successful Harvard Application Essays

With the top applicants from every high school applying to the best schools in the country, it’s important to have an edge in your college application. The link below highlights 10 Harvard application essays and profiles from students who made it in.

A Parent’s View on Working with an Education Consultant

Parents want to see their teens admitted to their dream schools, but just as importantly they don’t want their kids to become overwhelmed with the process of getting there. Many parents have realized that working with education consultants like Mara at One2One is an ideal way to help their sons and daughters feel less stressed and more in control of their futures.

“Mara was my family’s saving grace during the college admissions process,” says Zoe R., whose daughter now attends Rollins College. “She explained and navigated us seamlessly through each and every step, helping my daughter shine in the best possible way. Mara was accessible and calmed our nerves when needed – which was quite a lot!”

Parents who have never had to navigate the process before may feel especially adrift, making services like Mara’s all the more valuable. “We had the pleasure of working with Mara throughout the college application process with our daughter,” says Monique from Roslyn, NY. “We had never been through this process before, and Mara guided us through seamlessly. She helped our daughter select a wide range of schools to apply, and when our daughter was feeling stressed, Mara always made herself available to help calm her nerves. Mara’s attention to detail, setting priorities and keeping us ahead of all deadlines was invaluable to us and we are so thrilled that we made the decision to work with her!

Monique’s daughter now attends Tulane University, her top-choice school. Meg W., whose daughter was accepted into Penn State, shares a similar experience. “Like many parents, we were nervous about the college application process,” Meg says. “Mara made our daughter’s experience seamless and stress free!”

Seamless and stress-free – there hasn’t been a lot about the last 18 months those words can describe. But teaming up with an education consultant can ease a great deal of the pressure throughout college application and admissions season, taking one of the most stressful times in a family’s life and turning it into a positive experience that pays long-term dividends!

Working with an Education Consultant: The Student Experience

How are some recent successful applicants handling this new landscape of college applications and admissions? In their own words, this is what they’ve found:

“Applying to college is a crazy process for all students,” says Andrea from Essex County, NJ. “In some ways, the pandemic has made it easier: virtual tours, for example, have allowed me to tour schools across the country without paying for flights or driving for hours. I’ve been able to “see” more schools than I would have otherwise.”

On the other hand, touring colleges virtually eliminates the chance to talk to students outside of class. Andrea also notes that “many of my friends who are freshmen in college have not had a normal campus experience and therefore cannot tell me much about their schools.”

“For most, applying to colleges brings on anxiety for a multitude of reasons,” adds Morgan from Jericho, Long Island, NY. “However, the additional restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic certainly has elevated those emotions. To make a decision on where one might potentially form a new life for themselves for the next four years is quite scary:  without gaining the experience of physically being there and feeling the atmosphere in real-time, how can we be expected to make that kind of commitment?”

Working with One2One Consulting can help streamline the process of gathering campus information because of their familiarity with colleges through prior clients. What you may not be able to see in person, or find online, Mara can be equipped to describe for you.

One of her clients, Luna of Miami, FL, will be starting at Yale in the Fall following a disruptive junior year marked by the pandemic and the sudden closure of her high school due to health regulations.

“Applying to schools during the pandemic was an interesting experience, to say the least,” says Luna. “Being a first generation college applicant, this new and confusing process scared me and it didn’t help that being forced to attend school online pushed me to be more independent with my college decisions.”

“Mara was my rock through it all,” she adds. “Her positive spirit and intense knowledge of the college process not only eased my stress on college decisions, but made me SURE that I was going to end up at my dream school.”

Not every high school’s guidance department is equipped to support every individual student through the college application process. Working with a dedicated education consultant throughout the process can lend the one-on-one guidance and support students and parents need to sort through seemingly endless information!

“After speaking to several college counselors, we are so grateful that we found Mara,” adds Liam from North Carolina. “She has the experience and passion that we need to help us navigate through this college admissions process, which was even made more complicated by the pandemic. Mara is handholding us through the tricky steps to making me appear desirable to college admissions. She really goes out of her way to figure out what I need!”

Working with an Education Consultant Can Pave a Smoother Road to College

There’s no question that the college admissions process underwent more sweeping changes in 2020 than ever before. It has left students feeling incredibly uncertain about the “right” path forward, and in many cases the solution seems to have been simply sending out more applications in the hope of getting admitting. This spring an NPR report, for example, stated the University of California system – which traditionally sees the most applicants of any system across the country – saw their number of applicants increase by more than 15%.

But is that the best strategy? To simply cast a wider net, hope for as many acceptances as possible, and then plan to sort them out later? Probably not, especially when you consider an average college application fee can range from $50 to $90 – and that many colleges require supplemental essays and other questions that go beyond what the Common Application asks.

Enter the Education Consultant.

One2One College Consulting, founded by Mara Patti, has been guiding students from across the country for more than 10 years. One2One can help you take charge of the process and ease the pressure on parents and students alike. By focusing on the things you can control – and by tuning out the ‘noise’ and negativity – you can make the admissions process smoother and (almost) stress-free!

In a prior post, we looked at the challenges and opportunities presented by limited in-person access to college campuses. Before you get to that point, though, you can work with an education consultant to:

  • Better focus your list of target schools
  • Create a plan to package yourself as the ideal applicant
  • Put a professional polish on your essays, supplemental statements, activity listings and résumés

You can also work with an education consultant to sort out the pro’s and con’s of “test optional” before deciding how much preparation you’ll need for SATs and ACTs.

Getting Into College: Campus Tours in the Time of COVID

How to say “I want to go here” when you can’t actually be there: it’s easier than you think!

How do you show a college that you’re committed to succeeding if you’re accepted, when you can’t meet Admissions Officers face to face? Traditionally, getting on campus and making in-person connections was the perfect chance. Nothing established your sincere interest in a university like a handshake, a smile, and eye contact – all of the little human interactions that leave lasting impacts on the people you meet.

But if you’ve looked into arranging a college tour in the last 12 months, it may have been a disappointing and frustrating experience. The pandemic forced schools across the country to drastically scale back “live” options for touring their campuses. Instead, colleges created virtual tours, giving applicants the opportunity to see a school through their phone, tablet, or device – hardly the ideal way to help families make decisions about where students would be spending the next four to six years of their lives.

This doesn’t mean you need to become Ernest Hemingway on your Common Application. (In fact, Hemingway himself probably couldn’t have gotten by with the 650-word essay limit!) The essay, whether it’s for the Common App or a college’s individual application, gives you the opportunity to tell a compelling story that doesn’t necessarily show itself on the rest of your application. And don’t discount the importance of what are called the “supplemental” questions.

While the main essay is a piece of the Common Application all colleges will receive, the supplements are school-specific. This is the perfect place to let a college know you’re genuinely interested in joining their student body.

Getting Into College: Do Your Homework

Typical supplemental questions can include:

  • Why do you want to attend Joe College University?
  • What do you hope to contribute to the Joe College University Community?
  • The Joe College University mascot, the Aardvark, is a symbol of strength, stability, and individuality. How have you demonstrated Aardvark qualities throughout your life? How will you demonstrate them as a college student?

And typical responses will include “because it’s the perfect fit for me”; “I will give back by getting involved in lots of activities”; “I have been an Aardvark in many ways since I was a child”. All general, non-specific statements that lead into general, non-specific paragraphs. And they leave general, non-specific impressions on the officer who reads them.

Getting into college can hinge on showing these officers something they haven’t seen before. Do some legwork before you write, exploring the college’s website and other online resources and find details like:

  • A special location or particular building on campus.
  • An alumni who has inspired you.
  • An instructor you’d love to learn from.
  • A nearby landmark that has meaning for you.
  • A school motto that speaks to you.
  • A trait about their mascot (not an Aardvark, hopefully) you connect with.

Be as specific as possible: show yourself gathering with other students at that campus ehotspot or following in the alumni’s footsteps in pursuit of a goal. Mention the professor’s publications and how they connect to your planned studies and maybe even career plans. Anything you discover about the college will make your essay stand out from the crowd and tell a reader, “I really want to be a part of your community, and you can count on me to go the extra step.”

Getting into College: Don’t Despair

No matter what you may think about the college admissions process and how it’s changed due to the coronavirus, remember that Admissions Officers want reasons to let you in, not keep you out. Personal connections can still be made with a phone call or email to a specific member of the Admissions team, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask about connecting with a particular person. Make friends. It will pay off.

Touring college during the time of COVID won’t look like what it did before 2020. But that doesn’t mean you can’t demonstrate your interest and shine in the eyes of the people reviewing your application. You want them to see you as special – show them you think they are special too!

Picture Sources: (1) (2)

What Should I Be Thinking About When Embarking on the College Admissions Process?

Are you about to embark on the college admissions process? Are you asking yourself, “Where do I start?”

What college do I want to attend? How far away from home do I want to go? What do I want to major in? Do I want to attend a public or private university? Do I want to be in a big city or someplace more rural? Is school spirit important to me? What type of community do I want? Andddd the list goes on.

Aside from ‘Y’ being the 25th letter of the alphabet, ‘Why’ is a very important question to ask yourself when you are selecting a college. Why do I want to go to college X?

One of the MOST important questions you should ask yourself before starting your journey is the age-old question: “what do I want to be when I grow up?” It seems like a silly question at first, but, the main reason people choose to go to college is to pursue their career goals.

Also, depending on your career aspirations, you can further narrow down your college options (and thus, application fees!). For example, if you’re interested in theatre or performing arts as a career, you will most likely want to attend college in a city known for its performing arts (NYC, LA, Boston, Washington D.C.), so you can learn from established faculty, intern at theaters or studios in the area, and build a fabulous network with your school’s alumni and other artists.

Once you decide on a career path, ***(and don’t worry if you haven’t!! Many colleges allow students to enroll as an “undecided” major, and declare one before their third year.)*** Other factors to consider: location, cost, alumni network and relations, job placement and internships, and any other personal attributes you are specifically looking for in your college experience.

LOCATION: For many students, location plays a big role in deciding which colleges to apply to (and which one to ultimately attend). You will be studying, working hard, making connections, and living your life at college for the next four years.

You want to be in a place that makes you happy, as the right attitude will help open many doors, personal and career-wise, for your future self. This is why you should visit most, if not all, of the colleges on your list before applying. You may love the school and surrounding area after you tour, or you may hate it. If you hate it, you do not have to apply.

While on your tour, speak with current students about their experiences. Ask them where most students live over the course of four years, what clubs and organizations are available to join, what do students do in their free time, what internship or work opportunities are available, if there is a career counseling center and how helpful it is, and one thing they love about the school and one thing they wish to change about the school. Speaking with current students will be your best gauge into the school itself, including the environment, course load, and extracurricular opportunities offered to you.

It is also important to speak with admissions staff, as they will be able to better answer questions regarding career outcomes and job placements per each graduating class as well as if students have the ability to contact alumni, and the office of financial aid, as they will provide information regarding scholarships, cost of attendance, and other cost-related questions.

COST: The cost of college is another important factor to consider when applying. There are many expenses besides tuition to think about. If you are planning to move away to college, you will have to consider, rent, utilities, food, insurance, and other miscellaneous daily and monthly expenses.

If you will be using a car, you will need to consider car payments, insurance, gas, and any potential maintenance and repair costs. If you plan on using public transportation, those costs will need to be factored in, as well. These are a few of the basic, universal costs for college students, but depending on your personal situation, you may have more or less expenses than the above. Many colleges have financial aid offices that will be more than happy to sit down with you and help determine your monthly expenses and how much money you will need each semester.

Speaking with the financial aid office is also important to determine how to best finance your education. They can speak about the differences between funding options, such as scholarships vs. grants vs. loans, and resources to apply for different types of funding. They are also very knowledgeable about FAFSA, loan disbursements, entrance and exit interviews, and how to minimize debt.

ALUMNI NETWORK/RELATIONS: A strong alumni network/relations can be very important in securing your future dream job. Alumni that work in your desired industry can provide you with more insight into the field, companies that are hiring, specific courses and/or certifications that will help you stand out in the applicant pool, and a potential reference or letter of recommendation. Alumni can also recommend you to other alumni that can help you reach your career goals.

Many schools have alumni events on campus or trips to different states and cities, such as New York City, to meet and network with alumni in those cities. It is important to attend these events to meet and greet with the alumni, learn about the specific companies that are being highlighted, and discover more about the location. The Office of Admissions at each school should be able to give you more information about their specific alumni relations network and events.

A strong alumni network is an asset that you should exhaust fully. And remember, once you graduate, you will be a part of the alumni network and have the ability to give back by helping future students reach their career aspirations!

JOB PLACEMENT: Getting a job is a big reason why many students go on to college. Some students know the exact industry, company, and job title they want. Others may not. However, all students should ask the Office of Admissions for statistics on their past two or three graduating classes. IE: what percentage of students graduate with a job offer? Which fields do the graduates enter? Which companies recruit and do the graduates work for? Seeing how many graduates find employment before graduation can either solidify your decision to attend this school or look for another school.

College is truly a place to personally learn and grow. With all of the colleges in America, as well as abroad, there is that “ FIT” for you – the one that has a major in your desired field, strong ties with alumni in the area and all over the world, a high job placement rate in your desired career, opportunities to explore new things, people who want to see you succeed, and a location that makes you happy. Coupled with an amazing community whereby you will build long lasting friendships and develop strong faculty relationships. Some of my best relationships now are with students who I have helped along the way and now they are successful, happy young professionals who are eager to give back to my current students. This circle of life is what truly reminds me of the significance and importance in my job. I am so proud to be a part of each student’s journey! Carpe Diem! 

If you would like to learn more about college and how to begin your journey today, please contact Mara Patti, Founder of One2One College Consulting, at

Gain a competitive edge in your college admissions process NOW!

Mara Patti, Founder of One2One College Consulting

IECA, Associate Member

NACAC, Member

Telephone: 212-327-1210