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Changes in the College Admission Landscape Post Pandemic

Rodney Sparrow

A 4.0 GPA and perfect test scores used to get students into Harvard and Princeton, but that’s no longer the case. “Meaningful extracurricular activities are not only essential but can also make up for less than stellar academic numbers,” says Christopher Rim, the founder of Command Education. “Don’t waste your time,” Christopher Rim’s high school guidance counselor replied when Rim said he wanted to apply to Yale. Fortunately, Rim ignored his counselor’s advice. Although he knew he lacked the perfect numbers Ivy League schools reputedly desire, he believed that his unique extracurricular activities made him stand out among his peers. He hoped Yale might recognize the entrepreneurial spirit that led to his starting a tutoring company in 8th grade and a global non-profit in high school. Christopher Rim was right. Yale accepted him for the class of 2017. After Yale, Rim started Command Education — the nation’s leading educational consulting company according to People magazine, in 2019.

Such a unique student profile is more important now than ever before, particularly given the changes in the college admissions process that have resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. During this past application cycle, all elite universities saw a marked increase in college applications. NYU received a record-breaking 100,000 applications. Class sizes remained the same, however, remained the same, and acceptance rates to the nation’s most competitive schools plummeted. Many attribute this increase in applicants to the test-optional standardized testing policy most schools adopted, a policy Command Education suggests students not take advantage of.

According to Rim, there are many things current juniors can be doing to maximize their college chances. Besides striving for academic excellence, students can make the most of available extracurricular opportunities. This summer, internships, and competitive summer programs have yet to resume full in-person attendance. Most programs and internships are still remote or have been canceled entirely. Although some programs have returned in-person, they are operating at a reduced capacity with fewer interns and participants. This limitation means that these in-person programs will be more competitive than ever, so applicants should be sure to spend time and effort on their applications.

Volunteering and community service are also great ways to make an impact, especially in a society ravaged by Covid-19. While many volunteering opportunities are still on hold, students can and should look into available service opportunities in their communities.

Beyond these recommendations, how does a student become part of the 3.4% of applicants accepted to Harvard and other top schools?

It all starts with what Command Education likes to call a “hook,” or a unique interest that sets a student apart from thousands of applicants. Rim’s entrepreneurial spirit, for example, had long been a defining characteristic, and he made sure to emphasize this in his application to Yale.

After arriving at Yale, Rim wanted to extend his good fortune to other students and began coaching high school seniors from his hometown. One Stanford and one MIT acceptance later, Rim had set the foundation for what would become Command Education.

Command Education’s current mentoring philosophy is rooted in the emotional intelligence research that Rim conducted throughout his four years at Yale alongside Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Rim came to understand that students are most successful when pursuing their passions.

Command Education’s mentors work with students to identify and develop their passions, which they are encouraged to explore in their classrooms and in communities. Mentors guide students to focus and excel academically, boost

student’s confidence, and excite students about potential lifelong areas of interest. They help students develop their passions through summer programs, like researching their interests with professors, graduate students, or postdoctoral fellows at local universities, and attending programs tailored to their interests.

In exploring their passions, students can receive guidance from their mentors as well as from Command Education’s marketing team and academic tutors. The importance of excellent SAT or ACT scores is part of Command Education’s mentoring. Parents and students are likely to

Command Education’s custom mentoring and private tutoring has resulted in the majority of its students achieving their dreams — and so much more. One NYC-based student’s passions lay in politics and international affairs. She carefully researched the plight of refugees in America, inspired by her grandfather’s life. She looked into ways to help people like her grandfather, immigrants struggling after having left everything behind in their home countries. She, with the guidance of her mentors, raised over $100,000 to help refugees in the United States. She was offered admission to Columbia University.