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Ivy Scholars Pro-Bono College Consulting Program

Ivy Scholars is pleased to introduce our new Pro-Bono program, aimed at helping underprivileged students in the Houston area fulfill their collegiate dreams. 

There are three steps to the Ivy Scholars Pro Bono Program.

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Step 1 – Students nominate themselves for our program.

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Step 2 – Students complete the Pro Bono application that is shared with them following the completion of one of the forms in step 1. 

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Step 3 – Applications are reviewed by our team and students are notified of their acceptance or rejection within two weeks.

Our Mission

We are a for-profit company, but we are in a good position to see the problems students face from the current state of college admissions, and how schools’ admissions policies are failing students. We understand that, unfortunately, there are many outstanding students who are unable to hire a college admissions consultancy to assist in their educational journey.

After all, we often exhort our students on the benefits of volunteering, it would be remiss for us to do otherwise.

Although we do not have the resources to help every student, we do have a collection of insider resources and admission tools available for free to students and counselors.

Pro Bono FAQ

Pro-bono students should be high achievers academically, but struggle with college applications due to outside circumstances. We select students with high grades (i.e. mostly As), who have challenged themselves academically, and who are at the top of their class. We also require students in the pro-bono program come from families earning under $65,000 per year.

We want to see students with a compelling story, who have worked hard and made the best of their situation. We look for the same thing colleges look for; engagement with passions, a desire to learn for its own sake, and internal motivation. We want to help our students succeed, and because our resources are limited, we pick the students who are most likely to benefit from our assistance.

Our pro-bono curriculum is the same as the one we offer to all our students. You can read about how it works here.

We usually meet with students twice a week, for an hour or less each time. However, we assign a lot of work outside our meetings. While the amount of time this will take to complete varies, you should expect to spend up to five hours a week working on essays or doing homework. This is a lot of work, but colleges demand a lot from applicants. The overall length of an engagement varies, depending on how many applications we are doing together.

Once or twice a week, for an hour or less each meeting. We may meet more often or for longer as deadlines approach if we need to finish essays or applications. This schedule gives students time to work on their applications between meetings, and finish any homework that gets assigned.

Our first meetings are informational and designed to finish clear and short tasks. We try to finish these early and quickly. Later on, we begin work on essays, which are more complicated, and require more effort to do well.

We’ve had great success with our students so far, with graduates of the program attending Columbia, Rice, and UT Austin’s McCombs Business Honors Program. Another student attended University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business on a full-ride scholarship. For more information on our past students, check out our case studies below.

As with our regular college admissions program, all of the lessons take place online. Ivy Scholars hires the best mentors we can find, regardless of where they live, which means in-person meetings are often impossible. We use an online project management software, Asana, to keep our progress on track and organized. We meet with students over Zoom, and use Google Docs and Classroom to good effect.

Continue reading for a few of our Pro Bono success stories.

Case Studies

5/5
Wendy Y.
Parent
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.
5/5
Arda E.
Student
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.
5/5
Samson S.
Parent
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!