Dave enrolled at Dartmouth to study medicine, but fell in love with storytelling and learning and switched his major to Psychology. He was active in speech competitions, improv comedy, and wrote and illustrated a children’s book. He spent considerable time studying abroad in Greece, France and Hungary. He was traveling through Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall came down, and was seized by Czech border guards because he was American. He survived, barely. After college, Dave spent two decades as a professional writer in Hollywood, crafting pitch documents for major TV studios. His writing career culminated in a six-year stint as a Vice President at Disney, home of the world’s greatest storytellers. When it was time to leave the Hollywood grind, Dave returned to his academic roots, helping starry-eyed students like himself tell their own personal stories, write the perfect college essays, and get into their dream schools.
Dave joined Ivy Scholars first as a College Essay Specialist, and then as a Candidacy Building mentor. As much as Dave loves the process of helping students craft the perfect college essay, he knows that the real work begins years earlier, as an underclassman. The experiences you have earlier in your career will not only help you grow and develop as a person, they provide essential fodder for your application essays later on. It’s one thing to look back and try to put the best “spin” on what you’ve already done. It’s infinitely more powerful to look ahead and build the future you want to have. But regardless of whether he’s helping a student with Candidacy Building or College Applications, he tries to make his sessions as enjoyable as possible. He’s genuinely interested in getting to know his students and helping them discover what makes them shine.
“Being a mentor gives me a chance to re-do my own college application experience, where I was needlessly stressed and unprepared. While I was fortunate to get into my top choice school, my high school career lacked a clear narrative. I dabbled in everything, but excelled at nothing. These days, competitive schools don’t want generalists. They’re looking to recruit a student body of specialists who together will form a well-rounded class. When I work with generalists like myself, I help them find a unifying thread in all of their disparate activities — like leadership, entrepreneurialism, or fearlessness — to tie everything together. And when I work with specialists, I help them balance out their strong A-side with a compelling or unexpected B-side so they come across as multi-dimensional, layered, and interesting. In this way, I arm students with the insights and strategies to crack the college code.”
Fun Fact: Dave used to perform improv comedy with Rachel Dratch (aka Debbie Downer) from Saturday Night Live.
Alma Mater: Dartmouth College
Based In: Connecticut
“Stay hungry, stay curious, stay foolish. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you want to become.” — Steve Jobs
Here are some of Dave’s past successes with students. Click to expand:
The purpose of “branding” a student for college admissions is a bit like the purpose of fashion: it’s to accentuate a person’s strengths, de-emphasize their weaknesses, and present them in the best possible light. There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. We’re not robots. We all over-index in some areas, and under-index somewhere else. That’s normal, and even desirable. But our job as college consultants is to give colleges something to get really excited about. And the best way to do that is to brand each applicant as someone who’s extraordinary and unique and destined to accomplish great things. In essence, we come up with the “superhero” version of the applicant. And we make the case that this is a student who the college needs to have on their campus.
One recent example is a student named John. He’s a good student, not great. He’s also a good athlete, but not great. Neither of these areas are sufficient to get him into a top school. But the area where John really excels is public service. Since a young age, John has dedicated considerable time and effort to helping those around him. He’s taught English to kids abroad, he’s raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide mental health services to youth in his area, he’s spearheaded projects to provide books, laptops, and backpacks to refugees in his home city. John has founded or led more than a dozen philanthropic organizations that have had tangible, quantifiable benefits to members of his community. And his outreach efforts even earned him a recognition award from his local State Representative.
Because of John’s stellar track record as a community leader, we built his application around the concept of a future business leader and philanthropist. He applied Early Decision to Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, the #7-ranked undergraduate finance program in the country, and a Jesuit school that strongly promotes community service. He was accepted early, and we look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the future.