Why should we hire an admissions consultant? +

In California, the average ratio of students to guidance counselors is 945 to 1. That's the worst in the country, since the average ratio is 477 to 1. Guidance counselors are overworked and cannot possibly provide one-on-one coaching.

Meanwhile, the college admissions process is getting more competitive. For example, Stanford accepted just 4.4% of applicants in 2018, compared to 12.6% in 2008.

Hiring a counselor will give your teen a competitive edge and the whole family peace of mind.

Why should we work with you? +

  • Expertise - Alice is one of the top writing coaches in the field, a coach of coaches. She knows how to help your teen craft influential stories - she's done it herself and won everything from a full scholarship to Wellesley College, to travel grants to the Amazon and London. In fact, one of her news stories helped a nonprofit win a $4 million Google Grant.

    If you choose us, you'll work directly with Alice; she does not outsource editing to interns, graduate students, or recent graduates.

  • Live appointments - Alice primarily offers live meetings rather than email editing. Although working realtime greatly limits the number of students Alice can accept, she does it because she believes it offers better service to families. Since speaking is faster than typing, Alice can teach more principles of excellent writing to your teen. It also allows her to clarify questions immediately and improves the brainstorming process.
  • Application Strategy - Alice provides personalized application strategy, a high-level service where she synthesizes information about her students and can actually suggest content and additional supplemental materials to strengthen the application.
  • Service - You'll work with the owner of the company rather than an employee, so you'll receive top-notch service.
  • Continuity - Rather than being passed between multiple counselors, you'll work with one expert who will have a comprehensive view of your profile and help you craft a cohesive strategy.

Why do you do what you do? +

Alice wants to be your Stanley Kim.

In Alice’s freshman year at Stanford, she was accepted into the Structured Liberal Education program, the university's most rigorous humanities core for freshmen. Stanley was a writing tutor for the program so whenever Alice had a paper, Stanley dissected every line of her work.

“Do you mean ‘and’ or ‘but’? ‘And’ or ‘thus’? ‘And’ or ‘therefore’?'“ he'd ask.

After undergoing such intense editing, Alice learned how to write and more importantly, how to think. She wants to give your teen the same experience.

What should we look for in an admissions consultant? +

Competence and chemistry.

Those with more skill and experience increase a student's chances of success. Also, an excellent relationship with the consultant crucial, since your teen may have to discuss extremely personal topics in her personal statements. That's why BrightStory offers a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation to determine if we're a match.

Do you guarantee admission? +

The admission process is complex and there are many factors (grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, etc. ) out of our control. Therefore, we do not guarantee admission into any college. Students are strongly encouraged to apply to a range of schools.

What does "success" mean to you? +

We define success as equipping teens with excellent communication and thinking skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. We also help students produce the best applications possible while minimizing stress.

A satisfied client refers friends, and two thirds of our 2018 students were referrals.

What kind of student does well in your program? +

The students who are most successful:

  • Desire to work with us
  • Meet deadlines without reminders
  • Are open to feedback
  • Invest time in the program: The more time you spend with us, the more we can get to know you and help shape the overarching message of your application. Also, you'll learn more about how to write and think.

How much will you push my teen? +

Alice encourages students to perform to the best of their abilities. There are many paths to success in life, and entrance into a prestigious university is not the only way. Alice believes in a balance between work, play and rest.

How much involvement does the parent have in the process? +

As much or as little as you want. We typically meet with the student solo, to establish trust and rapport. Students often open up more during private meetings, which can make for better essays. Also, students demonstrate more independence and ownership when they are in meetings solo, since they are taking the lead in the process. If parents want updates or to give input, we generally schedule separate calls or communicate via email.

Do you accept long-distance students? +

Yes, Alice has worked with students from as far as Hong Kong and South Korea, and consults via video Skype, FaceTime, phone and email. Her live appointments occur during weekday afternoons, Pacific Standard Time.

When should we start working with you? +

We're a boutique consulting firm that accepts a very limited number of students, so we recommend that you register early before we hit capacity.

Since we focus on college admission essays and applications, we generally start working with students in the spring of their junior year. Students also sign up in the summer through early fall of their senior year.

What sort of help do you provide for freshman through junior year?

We can provide either strategy or full-service consulting for younger students.

For strategy, we'd advise your student. For full-service, we would actively guide your student through the actual process of executing the task.

For example, if we advised your student to start a blog, with a strategy consulting package, your student would take the idea and execute.

With a full-service package, we could help your student brainstorm blog names, edit blog posts, brainstorm ways to grow readership, etc.

How much do you charge? +

Working with BrightStory is an investment in your teen's future. Four years at a private college can cost upwards of $300,000. Strong writing and verbal skills can help your teen win scholarships, grants and jobs.

BrightStory offers custom packages for families. Rates depend on factors like number of meetings, topics covered, depth of editing, and our availability. Special early bird packages for Seniors start at $5,500.

Prices are subject to change without notice. Email alice.c.chen [AT] stanfordalumni.org to schedule a free 20-minute discussion about your needs.

What is your cancellation policy, etc.? +

Feel free to review our Policy Sheet.

Can you provide us with client references? +

We value client privacy so we do not provide references. You can visit Yelp and our testimonials page to read feedback from previous students.

Can we see some examples of Alice's writing? +

Here are some of Alice's stories in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Humble Comic

Playing for Keeps

Algae, the New Crop Harvested by Home-Growers

Eminent Doctor Chooses Service Over Retirement

I'm a new student. What information should I submit before our first meeting? +

Welcome! We are so happy to have you join us.

Students should email us the following:

  • Transcript
  • Official test scores
  • Resume (if available)
  • College list
  • List of essay questions and deadlines
  • Rough drafts of college admissions essays
  • Any supplemental material that could be helpful, for example, other personal essays, scholarship applications, etc. that could work for college admissions

We look forward to hearing your story!