Student C Gets Accepted to Tulane, Early Action!

Tulane University

Student C is from Los Angeles, CA. He started working with us during the summer before junior year through our Candidacy Building and Application Counseling programs. Student C was admitted to his dream school, Tulane, Early Action!

Application Persona

The entrepreneurial, future music manager who connects with others and makes his mark through music and fashion.

High School Location

Los Angeles, CA





Areas of Interest


Extracurricular Activities

  • Buyer and Seller for a Vintage Clothing Business
  • DJ for School Events
  • SoundCloud Account Owner
  • Self-Studied Music Mixing Technology Platform
  • Self-Taught Pianist
  • Summer Job as Food Server & Busboy
  • Captain of Flag Football Team

The Challenges

  • Student C had a strong ACT score, but a relatively weak transcript. He had mostly A’s and B’s (with 1 C+), and took a less rigorous course load (2 total AP courses) than other students at his high school. He also did not have strong SAT Subject Test scores.
  • Student C was a typical teenager from a well-off background in Los Angeles. He could easily have been labeled as “privileged” by the admissions office.
  • Student C barely participated in traditional extracurricular activities and did not have strong academic interests. He also did not know where he wanted to apply.

How Did InGenius Prep Help?

Candidacy Building: 

  • Counselor Introduction:
    • Pairing: After learning about Student C’s goals, interests, and personality, we paired him with a Former Admissions Officer from the University of Chicago and a Graduate Coach from Yale.
    • Introduction + Google Group: We created a Google Group which included Student C, and both of his counselors. All work and communication occurred in the Google Group to ensure that everyone stayed on the same page.
  • Interest Exploration: Because Student C had no academic or extracurricular passions, we wanted to focus our efforts on interest exploration. Student C’s counseling team assigned him various interest exploration exercises.
    • Learning: We assigned Student C to watch a documentary that focused on the business side of music. We also asked Student C to follow key opinion leaders in the music industry on Instagram.
    • Expert Interviews: We had Student C interview people in different fields or companies. We encouraged him to use his parents’ networks to interview industry experts. We helped him craft a list of questions to ask each person with the goal of learning if a career in these industries interested him at all.
    • Outcome: From these exercises, Student C and his counseling team learned that he was drawn to a career in the music industry. They focused on building this interest throughout
      their work together.
  • Master Resumé: 
    • Assignment: Soon after starting Candidacy Building, Student C’s counseling team assigned him to make a master resumé. A master resumé includes anything and everything a student has ever done. Student C’s Graduate Coach sent him a template to get started.
    • Goal: The purpose of this exercise was to get a full sense of what Student C had done throughout high school, how he was involved in these activities, and how much time they took up.
    • Outcome: This information was helpful to create a plan for the next two years of high school, the upcoming summers, and filling any gaps in his extracurricular profile.
  • Codification: Student C spent most of his free time with music-related pastimes. However, most of these activities were done on his own or just for fun; we needed to help him turn his hobbies into concrete experiences and achievements. At InGenius Prep, we call this codification.
    • Vintage Clothing Business: Student C also spent much of his time researching clothing online and trying to find high-end pieces at discounted prices. He was particularly good at thrifting and ended up with a lot of excess clothing. His team came up with the idea for him to start a vintage
      clothing resale business.
    • Business Creation Process: His counselors helped him set up accounts on various online platforms. Then, he started taking pictures of his clothing for sale, posting the pictures with pricing on his account, and selling his pieces to people around the world. He used the profits to reinvest in his venture.
    • Learning New Skills: Student C liked to spend his time casually playing around on music-mixing platforms. We guided him to take this more seriously and to actually learn how to mix music using different technologies and gain technical skills.
    • Sharing with Others: In the college admissions process, it’s important for students to share their interests with others. We encouraged Student C to set up a SoundCloud profile so that he could share his mixes. He posted the songs onto a simple profile that people could follow.
  • Academic Planning:
    • Course Selection: Student C’s counseling team helped him pick out his courses for 11th and 12th grade. When doing so, they considered his options, interests, and academic ability. Initially, Student C’s college
      counselor at school tried to select classes for him. We encouraged Student C and his parents to play a more active role in course selection and helped them draft an email to his counselor asking to switch courses.

      • Song Technology: They looked at his school profile and saw that there were a couple of electives in Student C’s area of interest. They advised him to take Song Technology as an elective to support his interest in music.
    • Test Planning:
      • SAT vs. ACT: Student C’s counseling team assigned him to take practice tests for both the SAT and ACT. He was naturally better at the ACT, so he invested time in preparation for that test specifically. We recommended a test prep company in his area.
      • SAT Subject Tests: Student C’s parents did not know that he needed to take SAT Subject Tests. His counselors advised him to sign up for the tests, even though they were only recommended at some schools. Then, they helped him figure out which scores to submit and which ones not to submit.
  • Campus Visit Plan:
    • Planning: Since Student C had no idea where he wanted to apply, his team suggested schools for him to visit during spring break of his junior year. They made sure that the colleges he visited were very different (size, location, culture, etc). That way, we could learn from what he liked and didn’t like in order to build his list. Student C’s counseling team went back and forth with his parents to nail down the cities and schools they would visit.
    • Reflection Exercises: Student C’s counselors assigned him various journaling exercises to reflect on his school visits. After visiting, Tulane quickly became Student C’s #1 choice school because of the campus culture, location, and academic opportunities.
  • Community Service: Student C lacked community service experience when he started working with us. We identified this as a bigger problem because of the potential concern over his privileged background (and because he should be giving back to the community!).
    • Clothing Drive Project: We encouraged Student C to start a community service project that was closely aligned with his interest in music or fashion. After brainstorming, he started a clothing drive to raise money a cultural family services organization. He started this project by sending an email to all of his friends and family!
  • Summer Planning + Job: To combat Student C’s privileged background and to lean into his non-traditional interests, his counselors recommended that he get a summer job.
    • Research + Resumé: Student C’s counselors did research on local opportunities and helped edit his resumé.
    • Interview Prep: Student C’s counselors prepped him on what kind of questions to expect during a job interview. Then, they did mock interviews.
    • Summer Job: Student C ended up getting a job at a local fast-food restaurant as a food server and busboy. He worked 30 hours per week and even had a night shift (10pm-3am!).

Application Counseling:

  • Accountability: Student C had a hard time staying organized and turning in assignments on time. To create structure, his counseling team did the following:
    • Application Timeline: Student C’s counselors created a week-by-week calendar that outlined what he was working on and what was due. This timeline started in July and ended in January.
    • Meeting Reports: After each meeting, Student C’s Graduate Coach sent him a detailed email summary that clearly outlined his assignments and due dates.
    • Communication via Text: Student C’s counselors asked him to text them when he completed assignments. Since he was not very
      diligent with email, they learned that texting him was the best way to communicate.
  • School List: Since Student C started working with us early on in high school, we had a head start when it came to the school list discussion.
    • Campus Visit Feedback: Since his team guided him through campus visits, they already knew what he liked and disliked in potential colleges. They used this information to suggest more schools for Student C.
    • High School Guidance Counselor Suggestions: Student C’s guidance
      counselor sent him and his parents a list of potential schools. Student C and his team reflected on these suggestions and used some of them as a baseline for a school research exercise. It’s also important to note that Student C’s High School guidance counselor said that he did not have a good chance of getting into Tulane based on his transcript.
    • School Research: Building on the initial research and campus visits, Student C’s counselors assigned him a school research exercise. They added colleges to his school list research spreadsheet and had him look up
      the location, weather, school size, sports teams, ability to change majors, and dorm information. His team then asked him to sum up the pros/cons of each college.
    • EA vs. ED Strategy: After much discussion with his family, Student C and his team decided to apply Early Action to Tulane. Though he loved the school, he did not feel 100% ready to commit in a binding way. Applying Early Decision made him uneasy, so even though he would have had a better chance of getting in through Early Decision, we decided on Early Action.
  • Standardized Testing Strategy: Student C’s counseling team advised him to submit his Math 2 subject score, but not his Literature score. The schools on his list did not require SAT subject tests, but his team still thought it would be a good idea to submit the Math 2 score since it was strong enough to support his weaker transcript.
    • Submitting Test Scores: Student C’s parents did not know how to send test scores and were stressed about this process.
  • Application Persona:
    • Background: During Candidacy Building, Student C’s counselors learned that he spent his extra time exploring the music industry and latest clothing trends — making mixes, going to concerts, reading industry blogs, following his favorite artists, buying and reselling clothes, and more.
    • Application Persona: Rather than try to make him more traditional, his team ensured that these interests were at the core of his application persona — “the entrepreneurial, future music manager who connects with others and makes his mark through music and fashion.” This persona, or central theme for his application, would guide all of their work moving forward. His essays and activities list would support this persona.
  • Personal Statement: Student C struggled with the personal writing process and needed a lot of guidance on what a personal statement should look like.
    • Brainstorming: To get started, Student C and his counselors brainstormed potential topics over video chat. While Student C talked, his counselors took notes and guided the conversation. His team asked a set series of questions to push the brainstorming session forward. They decided to focus on Student C’s interests in both fashion and music.
    • Editing: His team edited over 10 drafts of his personal statement. The essay was thoroughly reviewed in each round of edits, and we provided both high-level feedback and in-line edits.
    • Final Version: They shaped the essay around how his passions make him different from everyone else in his family and how he has connected with others through these interests.
  • Activities List: Student C’s counselors helped him strategize and edit his Activities List.
    • Activities List Template: First, they sent him an Activities List template to follow that included the categories and character counts for each activity.
    • Editing: Student C’s counselors edited his activities list to make sure that he demonstrated (1) leadership and (2) tangible achievements. We wanted to make his involvement clear and concrete. We also aimed to highlight the particularly impressive parts of his activities, like the fact that he worked a late night shift during his summer job.
    • Application Persona: His counselors made sure that the first 3 activities on his list supported his Application Persona. These activities would read as a snapshot Student C and his primary interests.
  • Supplemental Essays: Student C’s counselors guided him to research Tulane and find specific examples of why it was the best fit for him. Student C’s visit to Tulane also helped him write a compelling “Why Tulane” essay.
    • Application Persona: When approaching the “Why Tulane” supplemental essay prompt, Student C and his team focused on his persona. They wanted to highlight his interests in music, entrepreneurship, and
      connecting with people.
    • School Specific Details: With this in mind, they looked for Tulane’s offerings in these areas. They even asked around to find out the names of popular music venues!
  • Transfer Short Answer: Student C transferred high schools after 9th grade. His counselors advised him how to address his transfer in the required Common App section to get ahead of any concerns the admissions office might have. They guided him to be straightforward and to highlight his persona in his answer.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Student C and his counseling team strategized the letter of recommendation process. They took a proactive approach to making sure that Student C got the best recommendations possible. They wanted these letters to compensate for Student C’s weaker transcript by highlighting his strengths.
    • Whom to Ask: Student C and his counselors discussed the pros and cons of potential recommenders. Since Student C did not have strong academic interests, they focused on his relationships with his teachers rather than
      the subject material. They decided to ask the teachers that liked him best.
    • Letter of Recommendation Packages: Student C and his counseling team discussed specific personality traits that they wanted each recommender to highlight. Then, Student C and his counselors put together a letter of recommendation package that included a cover letter, specific personality
      traits with supporting examples to highlight, and his resume.
    • Making the Ask: Student C’s counseling team walked him through how to ask his teachers. They even helped him draft his outreach emails.
    • Parent Brag Sheet: Student C’s parents were also asked to write a parent letter of recommendation to help the school guidance counselor.
  • Final Review: Before Student C submitted, his team reviewed his application line-by-line to make sure that everything was as good as could be. They provided him with final feedback, helped him implement those changes, and then reviewed everything again before giving him the go-ahead to submit!

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