College Admissions Decisions Released — Lessons Learned

College admissions decisions success is based on a lot of different factors.It was another great year for Strategic College Consulting with many great acceptances including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia and UPenn to the powerful University of California colleges including many Berkeley and UCLA acceptances to small liberal arts colleges and specialty colleges. Our students have had many successful college admissions decisions because of following a well-thought-out, strategic, and time-tested proven game plan. They worked hard, but more importantly, they worked “smart” while developing themselves to their fullest potential, and were intentional and purposeful about every step they took. 

Let’s break down some lessons learned in this successful college admissions application cycle. What worked and what didn’t work.

1.    Students who were serious about the college admissions process and who were eager, motivated, and proactive in their educational goals were the ones who, almost every time, experienced success in their college admission decisions. Additionally, students who had an unwavering commitment and desire to have a great outcome, and more importantly, believed they could do it, AND were willing to put the work into achieving their goals, experienced successful results.

2.    Students who understood early on how important quantitative numbers are in the college admissions process and who worked hard to earn high marks including standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, AP tests) experienced great outcomes. Through our college planning and admissions program, we explained how crucial grades and test scores are in the college admissions review process. We explained that most universities are “academic institutions”, and therefore, rely on the “numbers” to evaluate the promise and potential of a student. But our students understood that the quantitative profile was just the “baseline” for how many college admission officers review applications. They were aware that being successful is a comprehensive approach with many different factors that have to work seamlessly together, and tell a compelling, impactful story to achieve college admissions decision success.

Extracurriculars are very important in college admissions decisions success3.    Next, students understood that as part of the comprehensive review process, developing oneself “outside” of the classroom is also crucial to college admissions success. They knew that a big part of the college applications is showing demonstrated interest and making significant contributions in different areas, especially those related to one’s core major, and to service to the community. Developing their “whole” selves and not just the academic component, or qualitative factors, is what generally produces a successful outcome.

4.    Leadership, as always, has been a dominate theme in the college admissions process. Students who not only took part in leadership roles, but made meaningful contributions and led transformational successful outcomes in the clubs/organizations they were part of were looked favorably on in the college admissions process. Showing a genuine commitment to making a positive and meaningful difference, and taking an active role in extracurricular activities as more than just a member made a significant difference in how applicants were weighed. And the more competitive the university, the more commitment they wanted, with “top tier” leadership being desired at the best universities.

5.    Lastly, writing compelling essays that brought a voice to a student’s application, showed their contributions, successes, and seamlessly highlighted and showcased a student’s story was crucial to being successful in the college admissions process. In fact, having underdeveloped and poor or mediocre essays with little impact and significance are core reasons why students are not admitted to target colleges. The essays bring the application together and show admission officers not only the success and impact students have made during their high school years, but also how their mindset may align with the core mission statement and philosophy of a specific university.

Overall, it was students who “owned the process” and took charge of their lives, and drove their futures with determination and resolve, while following the college admissions formula in a purposeful and intentional way were the ones who had success this application year. While admissions is getting more competitive each year with the margin for error being more narrow each year, developing a strategic, well-thought-out game plan makes all the difference.

For more information on our successful, time-tested, and proven college admissions program, please contact us at

Dr. Jeff and Dr. Brian Haig