Note: To ensure client privacy, we have masked the protagonists' names in each of the following stories.
Situation: Cassandra had eight years of full-time work experience post-college. She was also a re-applicant to HBS.
Our work: We examined Cassandra’s past application and worked hard to understand her unique story. We focused on telling the progression of her career as a technical program manager. Her work was uniquely vertical, and because of that, it took some longer time to see the bigger picture. Through her years she had empowered teams, engineered new solutions, and innovated in ways that others wouldn’t have. Her impact is deeply felt by the consumers of her innovation. We helped Cassandra demonstrate that the depth of her experience was an asset rather than a disadvantage. She was able to articulate her value to the HBS case method and find points in her past where she presented consistent evidence of giving back. She was a net giver and not a taker.
Outcome: Accepted to HBS Round 3!
Situation: After studying for a couple of years, David’s GMAT score was consistently peaking at 480. Two months before the Round 3 deadlines, David contacted Ivy Advisors to help him with both GMAT prep and applications help.
Our work: With so little time in our hands, we made our expectations clear. We told David that his goal was an almost impossible one, and we almost declined working with him. But after some discussion, we saw a spark in David. He was unique, and he had the raw talent. After some diagnostic exercises, our instructors suggested that he would be a better candidate for the GRE test. With a few weeks of instruction, David scored the equivalent of a 590. Then we helped him articulate the unique qualities he offers. We focused on his manufacturing background, where he had spent significant time soldering, working with steel, and participating in large construction projects. We helped David uncover and plan out his career aspirations and determine which school would best fit his needs.
Outcome: Accepted to Sloan Round 3!
Situation: Although Chris had an outstanding 4.3 GPA, a 2,300 on his SAT, and a resume full of extracurricular activities, he went to an affluent private high school where many of his classmates were similarly accomplished. In fact, most students from the same school district carried similar credentials. This made it very hard for him to stand out to his first-choice schools.
Our work: We chose to not talk about achievements or academics—instead we wanted to know Chris the person. We zoomed in on an aspect of his life where he demonstrates his creativity: cooking. Through this lens, Chris told stories of culture shock, of moving to different cities as a child, of his family traditions, and of his dreams for the future. Chris differentiated himself with his story and his passion. Cooking was the enjoyable hobby that had brought all his traditions together. Chris delivered a rich essay, showing a side of him that was hidden behind his academic achievements. We also helped Chris choose his major, which schools to apply to, his choice of extracurricular activities, and make other important decisions.
Outcome: Chris was accepted by Yale, the University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, and many other schools.
Situation: Yelena dropped out of a lower-ranked "party" school after her freshman year. She took a year off and was applying to UC Berkeley, a much more prestigious college than the one she’d left. She had applied on her own as a high school student to UC berkeley freshmen admissions but was rejected. This was her second try, but as a transfer student.
Our work: We met with Yelena multiple times to understand her decisions. After a lot of probing, we discovered that she had dropped out because of her lack of passion. We encouraged Yelena to honestly tell her story—she wasn’t motivated to pursue her first career choice of business administration. We focused on explaining her gap year, when she took part-time classes and worked with nonprofit organizations to help disadvantaged children. Yelena was able to pour her newfound passion into a moving and emotional essay. Through research and mentorship sessions, we also helped her select the right school and program to best fit her learning needs.
Outcome: Accepted as a transfer student to UC Berkeley with a major in social service!
Situation: Because of work demands, Matt had very little community involvement. He was the classical candidate who loved his work and focused only on his work.
Our work: We interviewed Matt several times and gave him a lot of homework to draw out his stories. We discovered that he was a professional cyclist, and that unknown to many, cycling is actually a team sport. Matt was passionate about describing the training and the rigor required to become a professional cyclist. Utilizing that background, we drew out analogies to his work and uncovered the many transformations that Matt had led. It turns out, Matt was simply not used to talking about himself and his accomplishments. We highlighted his work at the manufacturing plant, his personal management style, and his insights into the meaning of innovation.
Outcome: Matt was admitted to all the schools he applied to—HBS, Ross, Anderson, and Fuqua.
Situation: At the time of her application, Olivia had just two years of full-time work experience at a boutique consulting company. She had been a consultant without any promotion. Olivia was unsure about her chances of landing in a top MBA program. She wanted to test the waters, and if unsuccessful, apply again the following year.
Our work: After several interviews and brainstorming exercises, we found out that Olivia was in fact a trailblazer. Time was not a good measure of her experience because she brought a different depth to her profile. We delved into consulting projects where she was challenged not only at a professional level, but on a personal level as well. She was a catalyst for change with a natural talent for earning the trust of others despite her age. We also helped her string together the non-work components of her profile: her community contributions, family history, and personal passions were all linked to healthcare. Although Olivia was hesitant, the Ivy Advisors team encouraged her to apply for top-ten schools instead of the top twenty.
Outcome: Olivia was admitted to all four of the schools she applied to: HBS, Sloan, Kellogg, and Haas.
Situation: Due to a struggling economy and minimal business relationships with the U.S., few applicants from Alexey’s home country are accepted by top LLM schools. In addition to that challenge, most prominent LLM schools prefer candidates who have scored higher than 25 on the TOEFL speaking section. Alexey had taken the TOEFL three times and was peaking at 24.
Our work: We helped Alexey craft a holistic profile that told a coherent story of his personal and professional growth. He grew up with his grandmother in an isolated town of 30,000 people. Alexey ventured out and landed a career in law. We helped him articulate his career path and his vision for the future. We also emphasized his ability to lead cross-border deals and his verbal communication skills.
Outcome: Alexey was admitted to the Columbia, Georgetown, and NYU LLM programs with scholarships to cover full tuition and living expenses.
A graduate from the MBA program at the Harvard Business School, Lulu has mentored people from more than 15 different countries across continents to successfully transform their careers and to gain admission to top-ten colleges, MBAs, and LLM programs. Having lived in different cultures, Lulu has always been fascinated by how everyone has a unique story to tell. Using her computer engineering background, Lulu is quick to detect patterns in people’s stories, behaviors, and profiles, and finds commonalities with admitted students’ presentations. She combines her analytical mindset with her rich cultural background to help people craft unique messages that are consistent with their identity.
In her career, Lulu has negotiated multimillion-dollar deals and allocated billion-dollar quotas in the Technology sector. Before her MBA, Lulu was a consultant at Deloitte Consulting, where she led multiple nationwide initiatives to promote diversity. Lulu serves on the Board of Directors for the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association. She graduated summa cum laude with a computer systems engineering degree from Boston University.
A graduate from the MBA program at the Harvard Business School, Maki is an internationally respected marketing expert with a strong track record in building strategies for local and global brands. Maki masters the art of forging strong connections with the consumer, while ensuring a consistent and impeccable execution. She has managed worldwide brands for P&G, Kraft, Novartis, and Sigma, reaching millions of consumers on the North American, South American, and European continents.
Maki is the miracle worker of our team, helping people with less than optimal profiles strengthen their presentation. She understands that the key to building a strong brand is to capitalize on who you truly are. Maki has an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages from Universidad Metropolitana.
A graduate from the MBA program at the Wharton School of Business, Dahri was most recently an adjunct professor in the Math and Science Department at Babson College. She has mentored and educated a wide range of international and domestic students. Dahri consistently scored in the highest percentiles of standardized tests for undergraduate and graduate admissions (GMAT, GRE, SAT, ACT). She received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma and gained broad-based corporate experience with Shell Oil and as the Director of Perinatal Research with Georgetown University/National Institutes for Health.
Dahri is a marathoner and an athletic trainer. Her other passions include international development and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. She is a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team leader and a Children’s HeartLink member who has volunteered with teams in Guatemala, Kenya, and China. Dahri also sits on the Tulane University CPS Advisory Council.
With degrees from Claremont McKenna College (Honors B.A. in History and Literature, Cum Laude), Claremont Graduate University (M.A. in Teacher Education with a Single Subject English Credential) and the University of Redlands (Doctorate in Leadership for Educational Justice), Marina is a long-time educator and educational leader with a passion for helping students navigate their secondary and post-secondary educations. She has taught in both traditional and non-traditional K-12 settings, with most of her teaching experience in the high school English Language Arts classroom. At the university level, she has taught courses ranging from undergraduate research methods and master’s level education and literacy courses to doctoral qualitative research methods and educational theory classes.
Marina is a four-time published author and educational consultant who writes and lectures throughout the country on issues related to access, equity and opportunity in education. She has also conducted award-winning research on the experiences of underserved youth in urban environments. When she’s not teaching, advising, or writing and speaking about education, she loves to run the trails in the small mountainside community where she lives with her family.
Luis holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Luis is a strong people leader with more than 15 years of experience in managing high-performing teams at McKinsey, IBM, Time Warner Cable, and other business ventures. Luis is also a marketing expert who understands diverse audiences and ways to reach them. He has produced hundreds of marketing briefs for top-level executives and investors.
Luis is passionate about the power of education to transform careers and lives. He has successfully mentored a wide range of admits to Stanford, Harvard, and other renowned institutions.
A graduate from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, Tina worked with the admissions team at Kellogg to review MBA applications and interview reports. With an undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College, Tina worked closely with the office of admissions to spearhead the Diversity recruitment goals of her Alma matter. She also served as a career consultant, helping more than 100 students with their job placement needs. Tina had a previous career in the public sector, during which she assisted government officials in California with community development, program management and implementation, policy development, and speech writing. She has supervised teams of more than 100 people across the state of California to provide financial education and services to low-income families.
Tina served on the boards of Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association,, Posse Foundation Los Angles Alumni Committee, and Young Government Leaders. Through her education, Tina has obtained numerous scholarships and grants. She utilizes her experience to help others attain their educational goals.