Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Immigrant to Harvard-bound in 8 years

Excited for a new life, anxious about the unknown, overwhelmed by how much busier and bigger everything seemed — Svilena Bochukova felt it all as a fourth-grader whose family was settling into their new American life after immigrating from Bulgaria.

She also remembers how badly her hand ached.

Three months later, she began fifth grade proficient in the formerly foreign language.

Svilena, an only child who lived with her parents on Chicago’s Northwest side for a few years before they moved to Des Plaines, didn’t speak a lick of English. So she spent that first summer copying 100 words a day at least 20 times apiece until they stuck.

And eight years later, the 18-year-old is preparing to move to Cambridge, Mass., to begin her freshman year at Harvard University.

“I honestly believe that if you’re willing to work hard, you can achieve anything,” Svilena said. “I saw how persevering and immersing myself in learning English resulted in progress, and that compels me to continually try to grow.”

Svilena recently graduated from Maine West High School, where her she assembled a resume that made her a shoo-in for the Ivy League.

In addition to scoring a perfect 36 on her ACT college entrance exam, Svilena was class salutatorian and won Maine Township High School District 207’s Best in Academic Excellence and Community Service award.

Then there’s the second- and third-place regional Math Team finishes, her DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) project that resulted in a donation of 3,000 cans of food to the local food pantry, as well as her involvement in track, cross country, yearbook, Amnesty International, Student Council, tutoring, election judging ... well, the list goes on and on.

“Svilena is an amazing young lady, both in and out of the classroom,” Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan said. “She is among the best I have ever met in my 26 years in education.

Even more extraordinary than her achievements, however, is her investment in each undertaking.

Svilena truly loves to learn. She welcomes new challenges that expose her limits so she can push past them. She wants to inspire and be inspired.

During a junior year physics lab, Svilena submitted corrections to improve her work despite already holding a 98 percent in the class. Classmates laughed, but Svilena doesn’t get why everyone wouldn’t take the same opportunity.

“It’s not about being obsessed with a grade,” she said. “It’s about seeking a deeper understanding in the concept.”

In some ways, Svilena feels she has no other choice than to wholly commit herself.

Though parents Stetoslav and Stela have never pressured her, Svilena knows they left a comfortable life in Bulgaria so she’d have more opportunities. Previously both educators, they now work as a construction worker and kindergarten teacher, respectively.

“That selflessness is inspiring to me, and I always have their sacrifice in the back of my head,” Svilena said. “I’ve met a lot of kids who don’t know how good they have it here, but I can’t afford to be that way.”

To spend more time with her parents before heading off to Harvard, she decided to stay in Des Plaines this summer waiting tables at a local country club instead of going back to Bulgaria as she always has.

Once Svilena gets to the 375-year-old university, she’ll consider majoring in government and statistics to prepare for a possible career with the World Bank. She wants to promote micro-financing in impoverished areas, provide financial assistance to refugees and empower immigrants to succeed.

She’s seen firsthand how international resources can lead to opportunities, and vividly remembers the expression on her parents’ faces after finally getting their green card following years of not getting picked in the visa lottery.

“My friends joke that I have a career of the week because I’ve changed my mind so much, but I know I don’t want to chase a profit, be famous or have a lot of power,” Svilena said. “I do want to see everything and do something to touch as many people as possible.”

• Elena Ferrarin and Kimberly Pohl are always looking for Suburban Standouts to profile. If you know of someone whose story just wows you, please send a note including name, town, email and phone contacts for you and the nominee to


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Beat The New GMAT

Harvard Business School Admits More Women, Fewer Finance Candidates

Harvard Business School Admits More Women, Fewer Finance Candidates

Harvard Business School (HBS) earlier this month released a preliminary profile for the Class of 2013, revealing a record number of women in the fall entering class and a notable drop in admits from private equity and finance backgrounds.
Women will make up 39 percent of the incoming class, the highest in the school’s history and an increase of 3 percentage points over each of the past two years. The percentage of admits from private equity and investment banking backgrounds, meanwhile, fell – 5 and 2 percentage points respectively. Overall, finance types will make up 25 percent of the fall entering class, representing a small but significant shift for a school where class makeup doesn’t often change much from year to year. Candidates with manufacturing backgrounds gained ground and will make up 14 percent of the entering class, up from just nine percent last year.
A recent PoetsandQuants piece attributes the shifts to the new HBS dean, Dean Nitin Nohria, noting that many believe the school now “appears to be favoring a more diverse set of applicants from manufacturing, healthcare, the military, the government, and non-profits over those from such financial powerhouses as Goldman Sachs, KKR, and Blackstone.”
P&Q went on to note that the shift away from finance could have ripple effects at other top-tier schools, especially those that tend to admit more finance candidates, such as Wharton, Columbia, and Chicago Booth.
In other HBS class profile news, the median Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) score rose this year to 730, breaking last year’s record high of 724. The overall number of applicants fell slightly, from 9,524 to 9,134, and the class size increased slightly, from 910 to 918, resulting in a slightly higher admissions rate, 12 percent as compared to 11 percent last year.
HBS is the first of the top-tier business schools to share Class of 2013 profile data. The school did note when it released the information that it was accurate as of June 1, 2011, and is subject to change.
For the full HBS Class of 2013 profile, click here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Women Killed It In Ivy League Business School Admissions This Year

Women must have been really impressive during the Ivy League b-school admissions process this year.

At Wharton, at Pennsylvania University, "nearly 45% of next year's incoming class will be women, up from 40% last year," the deputy director of MBA admissions there told the WSJ.

Harvard Business School will record its highest female percentage ever, with 39% of the class of 2013 being women.

Other groups that impressed admissions offices, at least at Harvard Business School, people with tech and manufacturing backgrounds.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

International admissions increase at U.S. colleges

International admissions increase at U.S. colleges - Post-Tribune

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a high school student from Singapore and intend to apply to a top American college. Our friends tell us that U. S. colleges are eager to admit international students. Is there any advice you can offer that will help me make a decision?

Signed: International Student

Dear Student: From Harvard and Yale to Indiana and Purdue, almost all U. S. colleges have increased the number of international students they have admitted in the past several years. There are no signs of any change in this trend in the near future so I suggest you consider applying to several colleges in America.

When I say this to international students they are surprised. The fact is that campus life in American colleges has been greatly enriched by the presence of international students. Harvard, for example, admitted a record 12 percent of its freshmen class this fall from countries outside the United Stated.

Do not limit yourself to only well-known colleges and universities. Part of the strength of American higher education is that it is possible to get a good education in every state and not just at the most elite and well-known institutions.

For example, my clients this year were admitted to more than 70 colleges and universities ranging from Amherst and Yale to the University of California Berkley and Notre Dame. A number of them were admitted to smaller colleges such as Valparaiso University, Wake Forest, Richmond, Pace and Carlton. In fact, many of the lesser known colleges tend to attract international students because they want to add to the intellectual diversity of their campus community.

International students tend to have higher test scores than regular applicants and that helps boost colleges in the rankings. In addition, they usually pay full tuition that helps offset costs for domestic admits.

Not all international students pay full tuition, however, and lacking financial means should not be a barrier to applying to an American college. There is financial aid available to international students from United World Colleges. UWC’s National Committees in nearly 130 countries award two-year scholarships to top students who want to study in the States.

Many international students already in college are not aware that they can transfer to the United States for academic reasons. Because many foreign colleges do not offer the broad range of majors and classes that are available in this country, students may need to transfer to complete their studies.

If you are an international student and want to transfer, be prepared to face considerable hurdles. You must take the SAT or ACT and that can be difficult to do in many foreign countries.

Don’t expect your counselors to know much more than you do about applying to colleges in the states. You will need to get teacher recommendations and learn about early decision applications and interview locations just like American students.

The best place to start is the Internet. Spend some time looking at the requirements for the schools of your choice.

College admissions standards vary, and there is no single qualification that will get you in to every school. In the end, if you do your research and prepare your application materials carefully, I am confident you will find a way to come to America for your education.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Baltimore cop to attend Harvard Law School

Baltimore cop to attend Harvard Law School

He's trading his gun for a Havard Law book.

Adam Braskich wants to become a lawyer. And this three-year veteran of the Baltimore Police force has gotten into one of the nation's most prestigious universities, Harvard Law School. And when he's done, he promises to return to the city's crime fight -- as a prosecutor.

"I realized fairly early on that I'd probably make a better prosecutor than a police officer," he told The Sun's Justin Fenton, who caught up with the 26-year-old guarding a body in a sweltering South Baltmore rowhouse. "I'm better at spotting logical faillacies than guns concealed in waistbands."

Well, he's pretty good spotting guns too.

While on a study break for his law school entrance exam, Braskich took a stroll around Hampden and stumbled on an armed robbery. He shot one of the suspects and chased down the other. He's one of 466 officers, out of 2,947, who hold four-year degrees. He's pictured here in photo by The Sun's Amy Davis.

Read more about Braskich here.

US high schools no easy path to Ivy League

US high schools no easy path to Ivy League
Source: Global Times [17:24 June 06 2011]Comments
By Patrick Mattimore

As a record number of Chinese students compete for a limited number of spots at the most selective US colleges, representatives of those institutions and private organizations are lining up to profit from their ambitions.

The US-based Institute of International Education has reported that during the 2009-10 academic year, 39,947 Chinese undergraduates were studying in the US, a 52 percent increase from the year before and about five times as many as six years ago.

There are more Chinese undergraduate students at American colleges than from any other country or region and the numbers of pre-collegiate Chinese students in the US is increasing every year too.

This April, the Associated Press reported that American high schools are actively recruiting Chinese students. Ken Smith, a school superintendent from Millinocket, a small town in Maine, went on a recruiting trip to China in the autumn of 2010, reporting that "They didn't know where Maine was, but they knew where Harvard was. They all want to go to Harvard."

But there should be a whole battalion of warning flags before parents send their children to an American public high school, especially if they're looking to place their kids at a top university.

The first thing to understand is that the average US public high school isn't very good. On the most recent international tests from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), released late last year, US students performed about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members tested, the US ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

Chinese students finished first in all three subjects, although the Shanghai schools the students were drawn from are accessible only to the nation's rich urban elite, and they were hardly representative of the average education received by Chinese children.

But if the families have the connections and cash to get their kids to the US, they should also be able to get them into a top Chinese school.

One year at Stearns High, the school in Maine, will cost Chinese families approximately $27,000 in tuition, room and board.

Stearns is a run-of-the-mill high school and doesn't appear on any "best high school lists."

The school building is over 40 years old. The school has only one Advanced Placement class and the school maps date from the Cold War era.

Millinocket is isolated. The closest mall and movie theater is one hour away. The town gets 93 inches of snow per year. Millinocket has about 5,000 residents but has experienced increasingly hard times since its paper mill filed for bankruptcy eight years ago. There were about 700 students at the high school in the 1970s. Today there are about 200?and the biggest kick for kids is hanging out in a supermarket parking lot.

Foreign students are eligible to attend public schools in the US for only one year, so unless a child was a senior when she went to Stearns High, she would have to leave the US before applying to colleges there. It's unlikely that a Chinese student would have the English proficiency to enter a secondary school as a senior.

Other than developing a student's English, it's unclear how attending an ordinary public high school in the US will improve a Chinese student's chances of being accepted at an American university.

Private secondary schools in the US have long recruited in China, but in addition to being generally much better schools, they are not restricted as to how long students may attend.

Unfortunately, some Chinese parents are likely to be drawn in by the possibility of getting their child an American education even at a mediocre high school like Stearns.

If Maine is able to recruit Chinese students, other US public school districts with similarly lackluster programs will no doubt follow.

Except for squandering some money, there is probably nothing wrong with the overseas experience.

However, parents should be wary and not expect that the average US public high school will do much to improve a child's chances of being accepted at a top-flight US university.

The author is an adjunct instructor at Tsinghua/Temple Law School LLM Program and a US public high-school teacher.

Why I will be studying at a US university

Alexandra Morton UK student

One student starting at Princeton this autumn says it was the incredible facilities at the Ivy League university that clinched her decision.

Alexandra Morton, 18, has turned down offers from four top UK universities – including Cambridge – to study at Princeton, in the US, this autumn.

Morton says it was the breadth of subjects and "incredible facilities" at the Ivy League university that clinched her decision.

The Cheltenham Ladies' College pupil will study for a four-year liberal arts degree, but hopes to major in English literature.

She is one of a growing number of UK students choosing US universities over their UK rivals. Morton says at least 10 of her school friends are also going to be undergraduates in the US this autumn.

"I'll be able to pick a subject that I have not studied before, such as Italian or Russian," Morton says.

She visited some US campuses with her parents three years ago on a family holiday. "Princeton was really impressive. It had a massive library and a beautiful campus. Some of the UK universities have buildings that are spread across cities, Princeton is more concentrated in one place."

The full cost, including tuition and living costs, comes to $60,000 a year (£37,000), but Morton will be in receipt of financial aid, which works out at a 15% to 20% discount.

Morton has lived in the UK since she was 11, but lived in the Middle East and Canada before that. "It is daunting to move, but it is really exciting," she says. "I'll discover a new way of life."

Homeless Teen Accepted to Harvard

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ivy League colleges report influx of British students

America's Ivy League colleges are reportedly experiencing an influx of British students, with increased tuition fees and dropping standards cited as the main reasons.

Harvard University has seen a jump in the number of applications from Britain of more than a third in 12 months, the Telegraph reports.

The college, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has received 500 applications from U.K. students for undergraduate courses this autumn, the Guardian reports.

Figures from seven big U.S. colleges show that enrollments of Brits at Yale and Princeton have doubled in five years.

According to the Telegraph:

Yale enrolled 36 British students onto undergraduate courses last year, up from 25 in 2009 – a 44 per cent rise. Five years ago, in 2006, just 15 students enrolled.

Some 197 students from England and Wales alone have applied to start courses at Cornell this autumn, up from 176 last year.

Information from Columbia University shows that 178 British students enrolled in 2009, up from 164 in 2008 and 151 in 2003.

And it's not only the Ivy League being sought-after.

Berkeley University, which is not an Ivy League college, has had 166 British applications for this autumn, compared with 130 last year.

Indiana, another leading, non-Ivy League institution, had nine British applications for this autumn, compared with seven last year.

Meanwhile, one of Europe’s leading universities — Maastricht in the Netherlands — has reported a 10-fold rise in the number of applications from Britain.

A limit on places for British students at English universities — coupled with the prospect of fees being raised to 9,000 pounds ($14,600) in 2012 — is fueling the rise.

While the cost of studying at an Ivy League university for a U.K. student can reach $60,000 a year, students are reportedly concerned about overcrowding and other considerations.

Andrew Halls, the head teacher at a leading British private school, King's College, told the Guardian:

"There is a bit of a sense that UK universities are creaking at the limits. Our 13- to 16-year-olds are talking about applying to US universities much more than they used to. There's a feeling that [if you go to a UK university that is not Oxbridge], you may not get as much teaching as you would like.

"US universities emphasize the 'whole man.' They love to hear about students playing the piano and other extra-curricular activities. They want a fulsomeness that Oxbridge and others seem distrustful of. Quite a lot of parents say this is the reason they are prepared to make a big financial sacrifice and pay for a U.S. university."

Original Article - United Kingdom

Bradshaw College Consultant - Gerald Bradshaw

Biography - Gerald Bradshaw

Founder, Bradshaw College Consulting

Gerald Bradshaw has spent nearly 15 years interviewing students for Harvard College before he started Bradshaw College Consulting.

As an alumni interviewer he gained tremendous insights into the admissions process--and not just at Harvard—but also across the board at all selective colleges and universities.

Bradshaw College Consulting focuses on working with students and their families with the college admissions process.

The most notable changes:

The decline in the number of legacies given preference
The increase in female applicants
The increase in GPA and test scores
The increase in tutoring for entrance examinations
The increase in the use of college consultants
The increase in international students
The increase in minority applicants
The increase in extra-curricular activities

International Students Studying In The U.S.

International Students

The number of international students studying in the U.S. is over 600,000. 

Approximately half that number are undergraduates. Almost 60 percent come from Asia. India accounts for the majority of students (15%), with China (12%) and South Korea (9%) increasing their presence at a rapid rate.

Most American colleges have already decided on the number of international students they will enroll in each class. The key to getting admitted is to prepare as far ahead as possible. It is best to start planning before the first year of high school. If that is not possible, plan to make sure you have completed all the necessary steps to qualify for American admissions. 
  • Take the SAT/ACT tests seriously. You will need to score higher than other students.
  • Focus on the TOEFL and the verbal section of the SAT/ACT if you are from a non-English speaking country. Not all students are required to take the test. If you are an American citizen graduating from an all-English speaking high school in another country you may be exempt. Seoul International School is one such example.
  • Most top American colleges require or recommend a personal interview with an alumnus. The interview is frequently held in the home country of the applicant. Where a face-to-face interview is not possible, the interview is conducted by telephone. Expect to be rated in a number of areas, including academic, extracurricular/athletic, personal qualities and an overall rating. The personal interview is a written evaluation and will be submitted to the admissions committee.
  • Apply early.