Did you know that your high GPA (grade point average), near perfect SAT and ACT scores, and impressive list of extracurricular activities, along with your leadership and awards may not be enough of a ‘Wow Factor’ to get you admitted to the Ivy Leagues or other super-selective universities?  Naturally, the above factors will lead to your application being considered for admission but, on their own, these do not necessarily guarantee admission to top American universities. With the CommonApp making it easy to apply to U.S. institutions from across the globe, the number of students applying and the number of applications sent out by each applicant are ever increasing. As a result, acceptance rates to top colleges and universities are decreasing into the single digits. The overall admission rates of 5 or 6% at institutions like Harvard and Stanford make even the most competitive applicant uneasy. This is why Can-Am Test Prep Academy suggests that families we work with join forces with our team of collaborators, including Select College Admissions, to give students the added benefit of our collective wisdom and expertise.

What do the numbers tell us?SCAD-logo

  • 37,305 students applied to Harvard in 2014-15
  • 1,990 of these applicants were admitted
  • 5.3% was Harvard’s overall admission rate for the year
  • 10.8% of accepted students were international

This is not a reason to panic. The good news is that despite the statistics showing that the odds are against international students being admitted to some of the top schools, we succeed each and every year in having a number of outstanding students who have been working jointly with Can-Am Test Prep Academy and Select College Admissions admitted to top U.S. universities. How do we do it?

With an individualized approach, we draw up a strategy for our students, creating a ‘Wow Factor’, to distinguish them from their peers.  Each student is unique, demonstrating strength and passion in a specific discipline or area of interest.  We work with students who demonstrate a passion in academics (ranging from physics, genetics, languages, to writing), an expertise in tennis or golf, as well as students who are talented artists, musicians, dancers, and filmmakers or involved in debating or robotics competitions.  The question is what have they done about that passion over the years to create that ‘Wow Factor’?

Recently, we collaborated to help facilitate admission for a student with a passion for nature and bee-keeping to Stanford. He had outstanding ACT and SAT Subject test scores, exceptional writing skills and wrote about his bee hives and his love for rowing and biathlon. Another student with a passion for innovation and science was admitted to Harvard in the early round. In addition to being fluent in Mandarin (he is not Asian), he also happens to be an artist, submitting his ceramics portfolio with his application. A young man who wished to combine his interest in engineering with his love for philosophy is now at Columbia. We have a student who is on the golf team at Wharton (UPenn), and a young horticulturist who patented a species of plant for its anti-bacterial properties is pursuing pre-med studies at Brown University, another Ivy League institution. The big question is, how will you set yourself apart from your peer group? We can collectively help you fine-tune your special ‘Wow Factor’.

As for our athletes, through collaboration with Taronne Atley of Zone Golf Academy, we have placed students at all the Ivy Leagues and other highly selective universities for various sports ranging from Water Polo to Golf, from Tennis to Rowing, and from Field Hockey to Ice Hockey.  Many of our athletes get the go-ahead from the university coach at the end of grade 11 or early in grade 12.  As a result, they fill out one single application only and sign on with a top tier university.  It is a relief for them to go through their senior year in high school without the burden of many applications and essays and with the knowledge that their hard work has paid off and they have achieved their goal of university admission or obtaining an athletic scholarship.

For non-athletes and athletes alike, strategically planning ahead usually begins in grade 9, sometimes earlier.  Our colleagues at Select College Admissions encourage young students to explore their options by trying out new electives, attending summer programs, and by involvement within their school and their community.  They see every chance to be away from home as a chance to expand the students’ horizons and an opportunity which enables students to reinvent themselves. It is through these processes that we all watch their passions and aptitudes emerge. Only then does Select College Admissions encourage them to focus and maximize their impact in a couple of areas and to minimize their involvement in activities which are less interesting to them.  With every student, it is the totality of their profile (including their SAT and ACT scores) which enhances the probability for admission to their dream school.  Collectively, we help students develop that ‘Wow Factor’ and brainstorm and work with them to produce high standardized test scores as well as outstanding applications and essays which will draw attention to their unique and exceptional talents and qualities, highlighting what they will bring to the university community. Now it is your turn to shine – let our team help you discover your distinctive ‘Wow Factor’.