Sara Su Jones is a Harvard-trained educational coach specializing in test prep, enrichment, writing, and high-school and college admissions. She founded Elite Educational Coaching in 2004 so that she could pursue her passion: helping young people discover and develop their talents. (This article explains why Sara Su decided to start coaching students.)
A unique and remarkably broad range of experiences and skills informs Sara Su's teaching.
She earned degrees in economics (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and law (cum laude) from Harvard; studied English literature, literary criticism, and music in England; and worked as a lawyer (Ropes & Gray), management consultant (McKinsey & Co.), and diplomatic intern (U.S. Embassy Moscow and U.S. State Department).
Teaching. Sara Su is a dynamic and highly effective teacher who uses discussion and Socratic dialogue to actively engage students' minds and promote learning. When coaching students, Sara Su analyzes each student's performance in depth to achieve deeper insights into his or her particular strengths and development needs; she then employs innovative problem-solving approaches to identify specific ways for each student to strengthen his or her skills and thereby improve grades and test scores.
Many of her students improve their academic and test-taking performance significantly in a relatively short period of time, and some achieve at the highest levels, earning 99th-percentile scores on the SAT, PSAT, and ACT, and gaining admission to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Brown, Duke, Penn, Cornell, Georgetown, Amherst, and other top schools. Sara Su's intellectual breadth (for instance, she earned a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam at age 14 and a 5 on the AP Biology exam at age 12) enables her to teach courses covering all sections of the SAT and ACT and to coach students on a wide range of academic subjects.
As an undergraduate at Harvard, Sara Su taught and tutored other Harvard students. While only a junior in college, she was selected to serve as a Teaching Fellow for Science A-22, a Harvard Core Curriculum physics course taught entirely in discussion sections. In that role, Sara Su co-led a discussion section of 15 students ranging from freshmen to seniors. The course leader, Prof. David Layzer, praised Sara Su's teaching:
Among the 200 or so students who have been discussion leaders in my Core courses during the past 25 years, Miss Jones was one of the half dozen most outstanding. I have never seen an undergraduate conduct a seminar with more poise, more skill, greater command of the material, or greater tact and sensitivity to the opinions and feelings of the participants. What seemed especially remarkable to me was the combination of these attributes. Strong-minded people are not always notable for their tact and sensitivity to other people’s opinions and feelings. Miss Jones projected warmth and respect for each student, and these attitudes were clearly reciprocated. At the same time, she did a masterful job of leading the discussion. She knew exactly where she wanted it to go, and with no apparent effort — indeed without anyone really noticing — she kept it on track the whole time.
Sara Su also served as a course assistant for the introductory economics course at Harvard. In addition, the Harvard Bureau of Study Counsel selected her as a Peer Tutor responsible for tutoring fellow undergraduates in economics and Russian during her sophomore, junior, and senior years in college.
Admissions coaching (essays, interviews, strategy). For the past 25 years, Sara Su has interviewed and evaluated applicants for college and prep school. She has served as an alumni admissions interviewer for Harvard, interviewing applicants in both Massachusetts and Illinois. A former co-chair of the Admission Committee and Bylaws Committee of Andover's Alumni Council and a former member of the Council's Executive Committee and Governance Committee, Sara Su has also served since 1996 as an alumni admission representative for Phillips Academy (Andover), interviewing applicants in New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Her students benefit from her insights and expertise, gaining admission to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Duke, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Cornell, University of Chicago, Amherst, Williams, Haverford, Swarthmore, Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Middlebury, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Boston College, Andover, Exeter, Deerfield, Groton, Choate, Milton, St. Paul's, and other top schools.
Writing and editing. Sara Su has extensive experience as a writer and editor. Writing was at the core of her job as a lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP, where she wrote research memoranda, litigation briefs, and a wide variety of other legal documents; she also regularly edited and critiqued other lawyers’ written work. Earlier, as a McKinsey consultant, she wrote the keynote speech for a pharmaceutical industry conference on strategic alliances and frequently prepared formal memoranda and presentations to client executives. While an undergraduate at Harvard, Sara Su served as a Senior Editor and member of the Executive Board of the Harvard International Review, a quarterly journal of international affairs, which published three articles by Sara Su.
Earlier, as a senior at Andover, Sara Su (then 15 years old) studied with Thylias Moss, an acclaimed poet and a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient who is now professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. In her end-of-term comments, Prof. Moss wrote:
If I am to discuss properly Sara Su's work, I must discuss the higher value placed on things delicate, fragile and irreplaceable than on that which is crude, mass produced and altogether too common. Probably there was compassion and meaning even in the way she held her pen or poised her hands above the keyboard -- that is how exacting, how stylistically accurate and significant she intended to be. Her work is in the category rare and priceless; once she polishes her style so that nothing remains to dull the sparkle, she will find her work consistently in that category beyond which no other category is named.