The story of a former high school student:
Stepping back in America for high school after spending over three years in India was not an easy experience for me. I had no clue as to what to expect from the educational system and the college admissions process.
In fact, I was intimidated by the fact that my peers were already presidents of over 3 clubs, engaged in community service and varsity sports players while I was still navigating the waters of my new high school. Had someone told me in two years that I would be a Charles Prescott Davis scholar at Columbia University, I would have simply laughed and called them naive for overestimating my talent.
One day, however, things started to change when my mom told me she stumbled upon a firm called Empowerly. We decided to schedule a meeting and I got a chance to talk to their team about my interests and ambitions in life. They noticed I had a seed of an idea of my interest in entrepreneurship, but also knew that I had no specific goal in my mind as to how I would explore this space. They told me to experiment with 4 to 5 different activities and think about my experience deeply to find a passion that I could explore over the course of the next year.
As I got involved with a local organization in the environmental sector and a green club, I began to noticed that I was particularly passionate about the clean-tech movement and sustainable development. I talked to the team about this and they told me to get engaged in research within the field to start exploring this interest, something I never thought of. Before meeting Empowerly, I always assumed that these research opportunities were reserved for undergraduates, but their team helped me realize that age is no barrier to innovate. I emailed over 300 Professors over the course of the next few weeks and eventually I was able to land an internship with Dr. June Flora at Stanford University. The Empowerly team taught me how to be a powerful communicator and how to structure emails in a manner to improve reply rates with these professors. This is a skill that still has served me effectively in college, and I was able to leverage it to land a job at a venture capital firm the past summer.
I slowly got more ambitious after I got engaged in research and wanted to get involved in the startup community. Empowerly helped me identify specific summer programs and we discovered MIT Launch, a four week long incubator for high school students. The program’s acceptance rate was roughly 10 percent and I knew that the odds were against me, but Empowerly helped me put together a compelling application and taught me how to sell myself effectively in interviews. Within a few weeks, I was accepted and got the opportunity to work at the MIT Sloan School of Management with some of the most talented students on my own startup. Had it not been for Empowerly, I would have never gotten this opportunity to dive into the startup ecosystem at such a young age.
Eventually, I started becoming more creative thanks to the Empowerly team’s guidance and I started developing my own opportunities. I was able to start my own nonprofit, FIERCE, that helped foster student interest in environmentalism by approaching issues through a technological lens. Empowerly helped me learn how to fundraise, file for 501 certification and build a successful team. I started to realize that rather than just offering college guidance, Empowerly almost becomes a platform for offering personal mentorship to allow students to harness their talents more effectively.
Due to Empowerly, I had an exciting story to talk about for my college application and the entire process to me was lots of fun. My classmates, on the other hand, were stressed about the process and didn’t enjoy the activities they were engaged in within the community. I was able to win awards, build my own startup, engage in research and run a nonprofit around the environmental sector. Empowerly helped me position this entire experience into one powerful story that helped me stand out as an applicant. I worked with Empowerly on over 50 different essays and we were able to finish all of them by November, while my peers were stressing out until the last minute.
Within a few weeks of applying, I started getting multiple likely letters and admissions officers from different schools like USC, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and Duke. My experience with Empowerly, however, has helped me for more than just the purpose of college admissions. Looking back, after my Empowerly experience I was able to mature as a person and develop skills that I find applicable in the real world. For instance, the Empowerly team’s feedback on my MIT Launch application and interviewing has helped me get into selective clubs within the Columbia Community that have over 230 people applying for 10 spots. I also have a deeper insight about my career and the impact I want to have in the world, whereas, most of my peers are still struggling to even determine their majors.
So the big question is: why Empowerly over other college counseling firms? Empowerly is run by people who don’t approach this process in a formulaic manner, but more importantly focus on personal development as a tool to shine in the college admissions manner. If there was a formula to get into a top university then everyone would know it, but the secret itself is to discover your interests and make an impact within these spaces. Empowerly isn’t just about college counseling, but it’s a firm that offers you the mentors and tools to grow and eventually position yourself as a powerful applicant.