Student D Gets into Columbia, Early Decision!

Columbia - Early Decision

Student D started Candidacy Building with us in the 10th Grade and got accepted to his top choice school, Columbia, Early Decision!

Application Persona

A creative and socially aware environmentalist committed to creating sustainable impact in communities that are often overlooked

High School Location

New York





Areas of Interest

Environmental Science; Environmental Justice

Extracurricular Activities

  • Treasurer and Event Planner of Science Club
  • Treasurer of Cultural Diversity Club
  • Organizer of Environmental Awareness Initiative
  • Saxophonist
  • Juilliard Summer Program
  • Volunteer packing meals for local students without access to meals

The Challenges

  • Student D was still figuring out his academic interests. He enjoyed many subjects such as environmental science, psychology, and sociology.
  • Student D’s extracurricular activities didn’t support a focused narrative.
  • Student D had an ACT superscore of 30, which is below average for top schools.
  • Given his profile, Student D thought highly ranked schools were out of reach.

How Did Ingenius Prep Help?

Candidacy Building:

  • Meeting Reports and Creating a Schedule With Assignments: After each meeting with Student D, we sent out detailed meeting reports covering goals for the month, what we had discussed each day, alongside upcoming assignments.
  • Relationship-Building: The work started off by really getting to know each other on a deep level, building trust, and figuring out Student X’s interests, passions, and goals. They did this through video chat meetings and relationship-building exercises.
  • Standardized Test Planning: We recommended he try both the SAT and ACT practice tests. Since he performed better in the ACT diagnostic test, we encouraged him to take the ACT.
  • Course Selection:To help colleges see that Student D wasn’t afraid to challenge himself, we helped him select rigorous courses that would boost his profile academically in ways beyond his ACT score.
  • Educational Development: Throughout high school, Student X’s Former Admissions Officer worked on developing her as a student, friend, and member of the community. He did this by assigning her reading and writing assignments, and helping her with her reflection, analytical, and discussion abilities.
  • Summer Planning: 
    • Choosing Programs: To continue exploring his academic interests such as sociology, psychology, and environmental science, we suggested that Student D try pre-college courses at top schools. We recommended him suitable summer programs.
    • Editing: We provided edits on his summer program applications that ensured his interests came across clearly.
    • Choosing A Program: Student D was accepted to Summer@Brown, where he took a course on law, ethics, democracy. This course contributed to Student D realizing and expressing an interest in environmental justice.
    • School List Building: We also encouraged him to use the summer for campus visits, and register for virtual campus tours.
  • Extracurricular Enhancement:
    • Science Club: Student D was a regular member of his school’s science club but he didn’t hold any leadership positions. We advised him to bring his interest in the environment and introduce a sustainability focus to the club.
    • Signature Project: Together, we brainstormed an earth day event, the Environmental Awareness Initiative, focusing on the disproportionate impact of environmental issues on people of color. We helped Student D navigate ways to outline goals, recruit team members & teachers, and invite guest speakers. The event was successful and it held a high position on Student D’s activities list, showcasing his leadership skills.

 Application Counseling:

  • Application Persona:
    • Strategizing: Student D’s signature project heavily highlighted his passion for environmental justice and advocacy for people of color.
    • Application Persona: We thus assigned him the application persona of “a creative and socially aware environmentalist committed to creating sustainable impact in communities that are often overlooked.”
    • Applying the Persona: This theme would continue to inform his college application through his Activities List, Letters of Recommendation, and essays.
  • School List Research: Since Student D’s ACT score was comparatively low, he wasn’t sure whether he was a competitive applicant for top-ranked schools.
    • Balanced List: Because his interests were so distinct, and he was a top student, we wanted him to explore reach colleges from the get-go, while still ensuring that he had a balanced list. We suggested different schools with strong humanities programs that were also known for their commitment to diversity.
    • School List Tracker: Student D started a spreadsheet to keep track of schools that he was interested in.
    • ED Choice: After we helped him narrow down his options, Student D decided to apply Early Decision to Columbia University, which has strong programs in both Earth & Environmental Science and Human Rights.
  • Strategizing Around Test Optional Policy: Student D took note that almost all of his top schools had implemented test optional rules due to COVID. We encouraged him to take advantage of these policies and apply without test scores.
  • Letters of Recommendation Guidance:
    • Emphasis on project: We hoped that Student D’s letters of recommendation would emphasize his signature project, the Environmental Awareness Initiative.
    • Cover Letter Support: We helped him write cover letters to his teachers that highlighted the goals he had achieved through this initiative and how he wanted to continue his advocacy throughout college.
  • Activities List: A strong activities list would help distinguish Student D and help to balance out his ACT score.
    • Specific Feedback: We wanted to highlight Student D’s application persona and his interests in environmentalism and social justice. We offered feedback to help them stand out.
    • Final Version: The final version of Student D’s activities list depicted him as a passionate activist with clearly outlined interests and initiatives in environmental advocacy.
  • Personal Statement: 
    • Brainstorming: We assigned Student D a questionnaire to generate possible personal statement topics. In his answers, Student D mentioned how growing up in a predominantly white school district had shaped his perspective.
    • Choice of Topic: After a brainstorming session, we decided that he would write his personal statement on how this had motivated him to take on a more active role in his school community.
    • Editing: As Student D’s essay took shape, we offered comprehensive feedback to guide his towards making the connections clear between his background, his journey to finding community through his school’s Cultural Diversity Club, and advocating for his interest in environmental justice.
    • Final Version: The final version of Student D’s essay showcased his growth and portrayed him as a environmental activist who isn’t afraid to lead difficult conversations and challenge norms.
  • Supplemental Essays: Student D further demonstrated his application persona through his Columbia supplements.
    • Why Major + Why School Essays: He honed in on his interests through the “why Columbia” and “why major” essays.
    • Feedback: We offered feedback that would help him articulate his interests and goals within the allotted 250 word limit.
    • Final Version: The final version of Student D’s supplemental essays showed a clear appreciation towards the ways Columbia would offer intersections of his interests and allow him a space to grow and achieve his goals.

I just received news that I was admitted to the Columbia College Class of 2026! Thank you for all your help!

Student D
Student D Columbia - Early Decision

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