Taking the Leap - Australian High School Student to US College Grad

Be brave and be yourself...

Be brave and be yourself...

How I help students answer the question of “who am I?”

In 2015, I founded an admissions consultation firm named PROFEDVICE in Seattle, USA. The idea of founding PROFEDVICE came from my own bad experience of initiating a discouraging conversation with some admissions consultation agencies regarding my own graduate school application. At that time, I did not have a college GPA of 3.5 or above, so many agencies told me that I would not stand a chance of getting into any IvyLeague schools. (One told me that the best I could do is UCLA, not any school with a ranking higher than UCLA.)

I found this conversation very discouraging, but I still applied to Columbia for my master's and eventually, Princeton, for my Ph.D. It was only at the time I got admitted to both that I realized GPA was not everything. There were many agencies which refused to recognize the fact that in admissions, committees are looking for multiple qualities. Unfortunately, the practice of defining admissions success only by GPA discouraged many students to push their true limits. I decided to run a business which would not define rigidly who can get into which school. Instead, I would like to become a consultant who encouraged students to do their best by showcasing their strengths - and leave the decision of admission to the admissions officers.

From my experience, the biggest challenges college students face in college preparation is "uncertainty." By this, I mean students do not really know what college life is like, what to expect, and how they can get the most out of college life. Part of it is also that all of a sudden, students are placed in a much larger community where many activities are going on at the same time. Unlike high school life, college students have to actively make choices more frequently on how they should allocate time to all activities they hope to participate. From my experience of working with clients, there are also many would said they were confused but actually know what they want. Since I was originally trained as a historian, I love to "collect" information from clients first and then help them better organize their thoughts.

My job is to give my clients back what they gave me, but this is incredibly valuable to my clients because this enables them to revisit their thoughts through another person's pair of eyes. This is also the time people will start to raise more questions regarding what they really want to do, or even question whether going to a postgraduate program is a necessity or a passion.

In the modern world, many countries experience population influx. But on the personal level, it is not easy for everyone to start a new life in a foreign country. My main message to all students is: international experience has its value, and you need not question that just because people fail to understand your achievements in certain cultural context. Be brave and be yourself.


This Article was Written By: Michella Chiu - the Founder and Admissions Consultant of PROFEDVICE, a Seattle-based company which provides admissions consultation. She holds two graduate degrees from Columbia and Princeton, and has helped many students apply to college in IvyLeague schools. She herself has been extremely successful in graduate school application – in addition to above schools, she has also received Master’s and Ph.D. admission offers from University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania.