Elite Educational Coaching
Expert admissions coaching
For 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 member of the Council's Executive Committee and Governance Committee, Sara Su is an alumni admission representative for Phillips Academy (Andover). In that role, she has interviewed applicants in New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
Her students benefit from her insight and expertise, gaining admission to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Brown, Duke, U Penn, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Cornell, University of Chicago, Amherst, Williams, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, Haverford, Swarthmore, Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, Pomona, Boston College, Andover, Exeter, Deerfield, Choate, Milton, St. Paul's, and other top schools.
Private College-Admissions Coaching
Students may schedule private college-admissions coaching sessions with me, either in lieu of or in addition to participating in the College Admissions Workshops. In private coaching sessions, I offer personalized advice and guidance on all aspects of college admissions:
Essays (how to select the most compelling topics for the Common Application's main and supplemental essays and for other application essays; how to develop your unique voice as a writer; how to craft vivid, powerful essays that convey your personality and your strengths as an applicant) -- essay-writing is by far the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the college admissions process, and will therefore be the primary focus of these workshops
Interviews (commonly asked questions and how to prepare for them) and Campus Visits (which colleges to visit -- when and why to visit, and how to prepare for a college visit)
Common Application (how to communicate extracurricular accomplishments and awards effectively; selecting a strong topic for the short essay and coordinating/contrasting with the topic you select for the main Common Application essay)
Strategy (which colleges to apply to; how to craft an effective set of reaches, cores/targets, and safety/"likely" schools)
Early Decision/Early Action (whether to apply EA/ED; which schools to apply early to)
Standardized tests (whether and when to retake the SAT or ACT; which SAT Subject Tests to take or retake and when)
Recommendation letters (which two teachers should write your letters of recommendation; how to request recommendations and what information to provide to the teachers who are writing your recommendations)
Artistic/athletic supplements (whether to submit these supplements; how to craft the most compelling submissions)
Specialized strategies and programs (e.g., applying to special pre-application visitation programs offered by certain colleges; whether to include "additional information" regarding special circumstances that affected grades or test scores; gap years)
Choice of major(s)
Senior-year course selection
Contact me to request an appointment. I privately coach a small number of college applicants, typically between 4 and 9 seniors each year, so that I can give each student as much time and attention as he or she needs throughout the application process.
High-school and pre-college planning for students in grades 8-11
In addition to coaching college applicants, I advise younger students on how best to realize their potential:
which courses to take in high school, so as to be fully engaged and challenged academically, but not overwhelmed;
which extracurricular activities to focus on, since it's important to pursue a few activities deeply and seriously, both for a student's optimal development and sense of fulfillment, and for college admissions purposes;
when to take the ACT, SAT, PSAT/PLAN, and SAT Subject Tests (in addition to AP exams);
when to start preparing and how best to prepare for the abovementioned tests; and
how best to spend each summer from the summer before 9th grade through the summer before 12th grade (academic programs, extracurricular programs, test prep, online (AP) courses, travel (including language immersion), jobs, volunteering).
Often, when I meet with a 10th or 11th grader and his/her parents, they realize that the student did not make the best possible choices a year or two earlier regarding academics, extracurriculars, or summer activities, and that the student is now limited by his/her earlier choices. The earlier a student and his/her parents have an opportunity to discuss how the student can make the most of the opportunities in high school, focusing on what is in the student's best interest holistically, the more meaningful and fulfilling the student's high-school experience will be, and the more successful the student will be in the college-admissions process.
College Admissions Workshops (via Zoom)
These intensive workshops, which I aim to offer during the summer, are designed to give students a clear sense of direction and motivation as they work on their application essays and other application-related tasks during the summer.
The workshops will serve as a setting in which students can receive expert, personalized guidance on the key elements of their college applications. Students participating in the workshops may supplement the workshops with private college-admissions coaching as needed, but the workshops are by far the most cost-effective way for students to receive the benefit of my coaching on their college applications. In past years, students participating in my College Application Workshops have also enjoyed the company and moral support of their peers; the small-group setting makes this challenging work more palatable and even enjoyable.
College App Kickoff and Essay Brainstorming
Includes advice on early vs. regular applications, how to construct your Common Application extracurriculars list, how to brainstorm and select your essay topics, how to approach and manage the essay-writing process, and other important points.
Academic Interest Essays and "Why College X" Essays
Virtually every student will have to write multiple versions of these two essays (what you want to major in and why; why you want to attend a particular college) for several different colleges. Each student will brainstorm and draft his/her own academic interest essay(s) and "Why College X" essay(s) during this workshop.
Intensive Essay Workshop
Students will revise and refine essays in progress, with a focus on the main Common Application essay.
Supplemental Essay Workshop
Students will brainstorm and work on essays other than the main Common Application essay. A typical college applicant will have at least several supplemental essays to write for several different colleges. Students will learn how to exploit synergies among different essay topics to minimize the number of discrete essays they have to write while maximizing the quality of each essay.
A note on timing: The exact timing of each workshop will depend on students' schedules, but workshops will generally take place during a 2-hour time slot in the late morning or early afternoon on Sundays during the summer.
Students should plan to complete all (or virtually all) of their college application essays and application forms before the start of the school year in late August or early September. How much a particular student accomplishes over the summer, of course, depends on how steadily and consistently he/she works on college application tasks day by day and week by week.
I will give priority in enrollment to students who have worked with me before, but the workshops are open to all rising seniors. If the workshops are oversubscribed, I will give priority to students who plan to attend the greatest number of workshops.
Each student will receive individual attention during each workshop, in addition to general advice that will apply to all students.
My students have been admitted to top colleges, including the following:
• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Chicago
• Washington University in St. Louis
• Johns Hopkins
• Claremont McKenna
• UIC-GPPA (pre-med)
• UIC-GPPA (pre-dental)
• Carnegie Mellon
• Notre Dame
• University of Southern California (USC) (one student earned a full 4-year merit scholarship -- USC Presidential Scholarship and National Merit Scholarship)
• Boston College
• New York University (NYU)
• Case Western (with merit scholarships)
• Colorado College
• William and Mary
• University of Rochester
• Northeastern University
• University of Michigan (honors program)
• University of Wisconsin (Madison)
• Holy Cross