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Meet Laura Rogers of Advanced Ivy Prep in Lisle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Rogers.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started helping students with the college admission essays somewhat by accident. After getting my Ph.D. from Cornell in Biochemistry, I planned to go into biotech finance, hopefully as an equity research analyst. Unfortunately, no one in the field of finance was hiring in 2008, so I started helping students with math, science, and writing on the side. I quickly discovered how much I enjoy helping students excel. I absolutely love learning, and this is a way to share that passion with others. Before I knew it, I had a completely full schedule, and I have never looked back.

When it came time for college applications, many of my students felt overwhelmed by the process and looked to me for help. For the admissions essay, I especially had a knack for guiding them so that their personalities came to life on the page. I realized that this is what made me unique as a tutor, so I decided to specifically focus on college essay and admissions assistance.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Initially, I worked with students whom I had already been helping for months or years with their normal coursework. I already knew the students and their personalities, so I could immediately guide them towards interesting essay topics. When I started focusing primarily on admissions essays, I was assisting students I had only just met. Trying to find the ideal topic in a one to two hour brainstorming session was challenging. I created a questionnaire so the students are reflecting on what is important to them even before the meeting, and I get to know them a little beforehand as well. I developed a sense about which questions to ask and which paths of conversation to follow. I listen, listen, listen to pick up important but sometimes small nuances of what the students are saying. I also read incessantly (books, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal) and listen to podcasts (Invisibilia, On Point, Fresh Air), and many times I use something I’ve read or heard to give the student inspiration.

Please tell us about Advanced Ivy Prep.
I guide students through the entire college admission process, especially the essays. Admissions officers evaluate students’ applications without ever meeting them, so the essay is the main tool to differentiate themselves from hundreds of other applicants from the same region with similar test scores and GPAs. A successful essay makes the admissions counselor not only feel like they know the student but also really advocate for the student’s admission. That’s a lot to ask from a piece of paper! Many students think, therefore, that they have to write about a big accomplishment or, alternatively, a huge failure that they have learned from. These can lead to impersonal, generic, or even contrived essays. I help students find an authentic topic that conveys their voice to the reader. Their personalities should shine through the essay. We look for an original topic or a common one that we can give an original spin. Then we work together through many rounds of edits so that the essay grabs the reader’s attention and holds it all the way through. Finally, we perfect the sentence structure and word choice.

What sets me apart is that I understand the process from many angles. I have gone through the process myself and gained admissions to elite schools at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I completed my undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and my Ph.D. at Cornell University. I also volunteered as an alumni interviewer for Dartmouth and have spent years helping others gain admissions to their top choice colleges. Most importantly, I am able to connect with the students and draw out their story. Everyone has a unique story to tell!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I knew that I would end up here, I suppose I would have taken a more direct, planned route. But the journey has taught me so much about myself and how to effectively help others that I’m honestly glad it went the way it did!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jillana Perretta

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