Antonio Cruz

Content Lead

Antonio majored in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago, and has been on archaeological expeditions both in the US and abroad. He greatly enjoyed his time in college, as UChicago provided a challenging and nurturing environment, despite its reputation as where fun goes to die. His favorite moments in college include playing Tybalt in the ballet Romeo and Juliet, excavating the ruins of Ashkelon in Israel, and starting a DnD group that’s still going strong. He gained experience in education while working at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, UChicago’s associated primary and secondary school, and joined Ivy Scholars as a mentor and content creator in 2020. Outside of the virtual, he works with high school students as a guest artist in ballet productions with several studios.

Antonio has several roles at Ivy Scholars. He is a mentor, working with students to craft the perfect college applications; from activities to essays. In this role he works primarily with pro bono students. His most recent success is helping a student from Afghanistan gain acceptance to Columbia University. Antonio is one of the leads on Ivy Scholars pro bono program, and is helping to build it into its current form. Finally, he is the head content developer for Ivy Scholars, writing and editing both the curriculum documents we use with our students, and the resources you find on our blog. He is the primary writer for the Ivy Scholars blog and guides, and has written much of the copy on this site.

Antonio enjoys learning and teaching in equal measure, and Ivy Scholars affords the chance to pursue both. 

“Children are our future, and will build the world we get to enjoy in our golden years; it is our task as adults to make sure they are well prepared for the challenges they will face, with the skills and tools they need to conquer any obstacle.”

College applications are incredibly challenging, and cause far too much undue stress to high school students. Being able to help them through that is enjoyable in its own right, and the wonderful people you meet are merely a bonus. 

Fun Fact: My DnD group is writing our own tabletop RPG.

Antonio has helped students get into the following colleges: Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, Northeastern, Princeton, Stanford, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Yale


Alma Mater: University of Chicago

Based In: Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkein


Here are some of Antonio’s past successes with students. Click to expand:

Jane came to Ivy Scholars as an accomplished student with a passion for bioengineering. She had completed an internship in the field, and was a talented athlete and musician as well. She began working with Antonio on her college applications, wanting to tell her story right. 

Jane wanted schools to be firmly aware of her bioengineering internship, so her personal statement was devoted to it, and how participating forced her to confront and overcome her anxiety. Fear is a natural response, but it is by facing and overcoming our fears that we achieve great things. Antonio helped Jane craft an essay which showed how she learned to confront her fear, and to succeed in spite of her own doubts and worries. 

Jane applied to Vanderbilt ED II, and was accepted into their bioengineering program. Her academic strengths and skill with writing made her a joy to work with, and we look forward to seeing what she will go on to accomplish in the future.

Student R was a very talented dancer and a skilled writer, though she struggled with taking tests. Her extracurriculars were remarkable, with multiple wins in dance competitions, and many hours spent both working and volunteering. The goal was to help admissions officers understand what a passionate and talented person she was, in spite of her struggles with testing.

Antonio helped student R compose her personal statement about dance, to show her passion and drive and love for artistry, the ability to express herself truly. Her other essays touched on other aspects of her story; how she came to terms with her ancestry and identity, how she came to feel a passion for statistics, and how learning to teach dance in turn helped her better appreciate both the art, and her own skills as a leader. 

While student R got into a number of great schools, including a large scholarship offer for Northeastern, she decided to pursue statistics at Fordham, due to the artistic options living in New York would provide.

Transform your college application.

Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
Arda E.
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
Samson S.
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!