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Tokyo Academics Case Studies

The Missing Piece

The Story

Student S began working with us during her Sophomore year to prepare for the SAT. She already checked off many of the boxes that one normally considers for top schools: excellent grades in challenging courses, a clear and demonstrated interest in synthetic biology, strong extracurriculars and leadership across the board. But while her baseline was impressive, she was missing a more cohesive piece that really tied her interests together and framed them in a unique way.

How TA College Counseling helped

We worked with her closely to identify ways to further her interest in synthetic biology, a topic not taught in most high schools. More importantly, we helped her identify a way to not only combine her extracurricular interests with her academic ones in the form of a yearlong project, but do so in a way that also went on to serve the Tokyo community. This combination of academics, passion, and service forms the core of what universities are looking for in their candidates. Working with us allowed her to shape a clear, competitive “X-Factor” which helped her to stand out from the many other very strong candidates pursuing top university admissions.

We were also able to provide support by:

  • Matching her with the best TA tutors to support her most challenging academic subjects
  • Building a customized SAT plan that helped her reach 1580 on her first try
  • Providing priority feedback on her common application and supplement essays
  • Helping her manage her teacher relationships to ensure she was able to secure the best possible teacher recommendations

Her results

Accepted Early Decision into Princeton University

The Ivy League Hopeful

The Story

Student A began working with us in the 10th grade to begin preparing for her AP World History class, but had expressed early on that her interest was in gaining admissions to a top US school. Her grades and course rigor were average for the Ivy League application pool, so a lot of her success was going to depend on developing a unique narrative that would help her stand out while also improving the standard of her grades and course difficulty in order to be seriously evaluated.

How TA College Counseling helped

Worked closely with the student to develop a 3-prong approach to improving her overall profile: grades, test scores, and narrative. On our recommendation, she took on a much more rigorous course load for her Junior Year than she had initially intended, which we were able to provide tutoring and scheduling support for. The same holds true for her SAT, where through regular check-ins and discipline we were able to help her reach a 1500. We then approached her extracurriculars by helping her secure a series of internships for the summer but also by helping her brainstorm, iterate, and execute on a schoolwide teacher assistance program that improved the overall quality of education at her school. This allowed her to clearly demonstrate her passion for hospitality and creating human networks to optimize services, an aspect that was instrumental to her application to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

We were also able to provide support by:

  • Matching her with the best TA tutors to support her in AP Econ, Calculus AB, Biology, Seminar, English Language, and World History.
  • Providing a rigid SAT plan to help her progress from a starting score of 1340 to 1500.
  • Administering an official psychological career assessment to really iron out her potential career interests and plan backwards from those careers to identify majors and possible schools
  • Challenging her and supporting her to aim higher for herself across every high school metric to reach the profile that she needed to be competitive at the highest level.

Her results

Accepted Regular Decision to Cornell School of Hotel Administration

The Early Starter

The Story

Student J began working with us in 8th grade as an introverted, unmotivated student who was struggling to maintain his academic performance and leaving a strong impact on his classes, particularly in English, which is his second language. Starting with us early allowed us to draw him out of his shell, identify his love for baseball and encourage him to participate more in both his classes and community. The challenge for Student J was to organize his academic life so that he could spend more time focusing on developing his many other interests, particularly in art.

How TA College Counseling helped

What initially began as a general attempt to improve his academics on behalf of TA’s tutors and counselors over time became a concentrated effort to maximize what this student might be capable of given time and discipline. In addition to broader academic support, TA counseling helped him articulate and pursue his interest in art, adding a unique focus of woodblock printing to what was becoming a very strong STEM profile. His struggles with English and consequent hesitation to speak up and volunteer or lead was recognized early on and counseling team worked with him to build his confidence and challenge him to put himself in situations where those skills would be challenged. He ended up with a leadership role in an organization that donates used goods to Japanese teenagers who are leaving the home for the first time, providing them with simple furniture and other goods that will help ease their transition. He developed and presented his art gallery to the public by taking AP Studio Art, a risk and challenge that he would not have dared take on when he first started high school.

We were also able to provide support by:

  • Providing a safe, secure place to study where he was also surrounded by tutors and counselors who could regularly provide support. Student became notorious for staying almost every day until the last tutor left, often well after 9pm.
  • Pushed his academics forward by encouraging him to take uncomfortably challenging courses like AP US History and AP English Language.
  • Supported his interest in art by arranging museum visits, brainstorming concepts, and connecting with professional artists to provide review of his portfolio.
  • Overall scheduling of a timeline for both test preparation and college essay writing.
  • Worked closely with him on his essays and managing up to encourage the kinds of interactions that he needed to secure strong teacher recommendations.

Results

Accepted Regular Decision to the University of Southern California.

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