Welcome to the inaugural cohort of Laurel Scholars! We are proud of all our students have accomplished, and are eager to share their stories and experiences with you.
Abrar was an accomplished student and scholar when he came to Laurel Scholars, but he needed our support in the college application process. Living in Bangladesh, Abrar’s high school graduation had been complicated by Covid, and his chances of getting into college made difficult by a system in the US he was unfamiliar with.
Abrar had written extensively on multiple subjects, ran a successful blog, and organized an online and in-person support community in Bangladesh to help both students suffering from poor mental health, and to support the LGBT+ community. Both of these were done at personal risk, due to the societal status of those groups in his country, but he persisted nonetheless.
We began by helping Abrar find colleges in the US which would meet his full financial need, not just for tuition, but for the associated costs which accrue during college. From these schools we built a college list.
Abrar was an accomplished writer already, so we advised him how to best demonstrate his strengths to colleges. Through his personal statement and supplemental essays he was able to tell his story fully, and express his identity clearly.
Finally, we helped him explore the breadth of majors offered at university, and advised him which would best suit his own aims. Abrar was accepted into Carleton college with a full scholarship, including funds for transport and housing. He is planning on studying economics.
Henry is a Vietnamese immigrant, who only began learning English seriously when he moved to the US at the start of his freshman year of highschool. Indeed, he didn’t begin thinking in English until he had to take Spanish as his third language, as the act of translating from Spanish to English, and the English to Vietnamese, and then reversing the entire process allowed him to begin to think fluidly in English.
His parents are separated, and his mom is attending community college, meaning Henry had to step up and assume responsibility for taking care of his younger sister. Henry serves as both academic and personal advisor for her, as other family members are frequently busy with their own jobs.
Living in a house shared with three families, Henry needed to find some way to manage his studies. He began waking up at 3:00 AM to do his school work, and is the valedictorian of his high school.
Learning excited him for its own sake, and he soon became engrossed with math. He started a math club at his high school, with the goal of preparing students to take part in national math contests. As Henry’s club grew, Covid threw a wrench into his plans. He ended up forming an online community thousands strong which supported each other in their pursuit of math, and which helped other students prepare for national math competitions.
Henry also worked multiple jobs to help support his family, working as an AP tutor, making short educational videos, and serving as a data analyst. While he had applied for (and received) Questbridge, a paperwork error had prevented him from taking advantage of their match process. He came to Laurel Scholars for assistance in polishing his essays.
We helped Henry polish the language of his essays, and advised him on application strategy. While he had some work done on essays already, we helped him refine his points to fully express who he was as a person and a scholar. He wanted assistance improving his SAT scores as well, so he met with Alex Nelson, Ivy Scholars head of test prep. Despite only having two weeks before his next test date, Henry improved his SAT score by 70 points, due to his diligent self-study.
He applied to a number of top universities which offered great financial aid, and was accepted into many of them, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Caltech, and MIT. He is currently planning on studying economics at Harvard, which offered him a full scholarship.
Born to Vietnamese immigrants, Dean’s parents worked very hard to provide for him and his family. Unfortunately, this meant he rarely got to spend much time with them, though he cherished what time he got. On top of this, he had many responsibilities placed upon him at a young age, becoming the family’s tech consultant at the age of eight, and serving as a translator for his grandparents.
As he grew, this led to an increased sense of independence and responsibility. He formed a club for Vietnamese students at his high school, but his primary extracurricular involvement was assisting at a camp for students with developmental disabilities. This not only introduced him to leadership, but also sparked his interest in engineering.
The possibilities offered by biomedical engineering to substantially improve the lives of individuals intrigued Dean as much as the engineering challenges involved in doing so. He has further explored his interest in engineering through robotics courses and programming languages, but knows that biomedical engineering is his future.
Dean came to us for help honing his essays; while he had some ideas for what he wanted to write, he knew he needed stellar work to get into top colleges. We helped him polish what he already had, and discuss how his past experiences made him interested in biomedical engineering.
While we had a shortened time to work with Dean, as he joined shortly before the Early deadline, we were still able to get his essays to the place where he wanted them. This approach worked well, and Dean got into Tulane Early Action – his top choice for biomedical engineering programs.
Bri came to us as a nontraditional student, who had taken time off from pursuing her studies for personal reasons. She had accomplished numerous impressive things in the intervening time, including research in a lab, political advocacy, and musical performance, but the college application system is not set up to benefit students in her situation.
She had applied to universities in a prior year but been unsuccessful, as she had trouble expressing her story fully in the constraints of space. She came to Laurel Scholars for help, and we advised her on writing her essays and additional information section to capture as much of what she did as possible, but we encountered problems here as well.
While she had been out of high school for some time, colleges still required letters of recommendation from her teachers there, who had not seen or talked to her in years, and would not accept letters from her more recent mentors or employers. While there was the additional information section, the application as a whole is not set up to help nontraditional students, who often have far more experience outside the classroom to highlight and show off.
We helped Bri use her activities list, an additional resume, and her essays to their fullest extent, demonstrating all she had done since high school. While the application process was difficult, it was ultimately successful, and Bri will be attending an Ivy League school in the fall. While the system is not designed to accommodate students in her position, we are glad we were able to help her find success in the application process.