Services for Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors
Jeff works with his students to ensure they pursue extracurriculars that are extraordinary.
Jeff leverages his personal network to ensure his students pursue meaningful and unique opportunities.
Jeff understands how stressful high school and the college application process can be and helps guide students through the best possible experience.
Just For Seniors
Jeff's essay coaching draws on his decades of experience writing for senior leaders like President Obama.
Jeff ensures applicants have compelling stories that convince admissions officers they will add something special to their campus.
Jeff works with his students to not only ensure that the colleges they apply to are competitive but also the right fit for them.
We have been internationally recognized for providing the most comprehensive essay revisions by our hand-selected essay specialists from top universities.
The curtain goes up. May 6, 2018. Anxiety is high. This was no dress rehearsal. Feet shuffled frantically backstage. Stagehands double- and triple-checked the lineup of models. I reviewed the sequence one last time: “Wait for the tap on your shoulder. Step out, walk to the center of the stage, turn onto the catwalk, walk to the end, stop, pose with the dog, walk back, turn back onto the stage, and walk until you’re behind the curtain. And, of course, smile.” As the music faded in, and the first model stepped on the runway, the realization hit me. This was really happening.
Rewind. Third grade, 2009. As a kid, I was frustrated that my mind constantly wandered from one thing to another. When Mrs. Mooney was teaching us division, my mind was drawn to the bright yellow sunflowers on her blouse. Sunflowers, summer field, sunlight, the beach, the ocean. When Ms.Washington was reviewing the states and capitals, I was focused on how she tapped her pencil. Tapping, drums, a band, an orchestra, the opera. When any teacher asked me if I was paying attention, I stumbled, stuttered, and apologized.
I always wondered if everyone else’s brain would wander like this. Surely it would! I’m no different than anyone else, right? It turned out that I was. My diagnosis of severe ADHD in fourth grade came not as a shame, but a relief. I now had an explanation for why my mind jumped frantically from thought to thought. It was cool to be different than everyone else. The 4th grade me saw it as a superpower.
Fast forward. Freshman year of high school, 2015. When we had some free time in art class, I started sketching the creations my mind was dreaming up. Every possible variation of party dresses, gowns, suits, and so much more. It was like I had a million silhouettes in my head and my sketchbook became the canvas for my mind. Then, near the end of my sophomore year, I decided I wanted to bring one of my own designs to life. After a poorly made miniature tote, a slightly more successful pillowcase, pajama pants, and a classic black pencil skirt, I executed my homecoming dress design and the result was better than I could’ve imagined. Before I knew it, I was making one dress after another for my friends and their friends. I turned from novice to sought-after-prom-dress maker in less than a year.
I craved more. More ways translate the ideas in my brain. Show the world something bold and new. I decided to stage the first annual Animal Cruelty Awareness Fashion Show: an event where human and canine models would show off my designs and those of local artists, and proceeds would support the Houston SPCA’s work in rescuing animals and promoting animal rights. My school’s administrators, who appreciated my creativity and partnership with the SPCA, readily backed the project. My parents, however, were another story; they worried my school work would suffer.
For the next six months, I worked tirelessly to both perform well in school and arrange the entire show -- drawing up contracts, making calls, designing flyers, finding models, making outfits, and training a team of assistants. Nothing would stand in my way.
The curtain goes down. May 6, 2018. As the last model-dog pair strode off the runway, the lights went down. I walked to the center of the stage, the models and stagehands followed. The lights came back on, and the audience roared, giving us a standing ovation as we announced how much we had raised. At that moment, I knew that all of those countless hours -- of stress, sleepless nights, fittings, rehearsals, and preparation -- had paid off. I had brought together my passions of fashion and animal welfare, planned and persevered, and pushed myself to achieve my goal. I knew then that I could accomplish anything.
I saw a smirk emanating from the back corner, where the freshmen stood. I proceeded to explain the fundamental marching technique to my saxophone section -- stuttering, stammering, and just plain butchering the instructions. Out of the corner of my eye, there were sneers and snickers down the entire line. They thought I wouldn’t notice, but every little detail added to my panic.
It is hard to say precisely when a person is a real leader. Like the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said on a different topic, “you know it when you see it.” Well, I know that the day in 10th grade when I was promoted to band section leader, I was no leader. My section somehow made it through my confused marching instructions, but my humiliation had just begun. During our next two rehearsals, I could barely get them listen to me. I should have been instructing and inspiring, but instead I was welling up with social anxiety and self-doubt.
I blamed anyone I could think of. My teachers just cared about how high I scored on tests and did nothing to help me fit in socially. My “tiger parents” had forced me to spend countless hours solving math equations rather than engage in sports or activities that would build interpersonal skills. My peers seemed to get straight As and at the same time lead in every activity at our school -- from student government to football to debate -- with an ease that eluded me.
Then, one night in February of my junior year, my life hit both pause and fast forward at the same time. My father told me that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I could barely move. But two days later my dad -- who never learned English and was not comfortable with American doctors -- got up and walked out the door for the airport. I hugged him and didn’t want to let go. He was a stern and insular man. But he had sacrificed everything -- leaving his prior life behind -- for me. I tried to hide my tears as I told him that I would make him proud. Two weeks later, my mom left to join him in Taiwan, telling me that she might be gone for four months. I was alone, my mind enveloped in a fog. But a clarifying voice -- maybe my mom, maybe my dad, maybe a combination of both -- pierced the haze and called out to me, “You are strong. You can do this.”
I kept my “secret” from everyone, but did what it took to survive. At a friend’s house for dinner, I observed carefully (but surreptitiously) how his mom prepared dinner in a wok. I drove to the local Asian market the next day, bought ingredients, and experimented. With the help of instructional YouTube videos, my cooking went from dog food to cafeteria quality in a week. With some trial-and-error, I figured out how to wash clothes, change sheets, and manage yard work. I kept a detailed calendar in order to not let my grades slip; in fact, I began to improve. I even added on to my full plate, joining Speech and Debate and founding a new leadership club at school.
Six months later, my dad improved enough to return home. When I sat down to tell him how surprised I was that his cancer had brought so much out of me. He looked into my eyes, and said, “Son, your teacher can open the door but you must enter by yourself.”
The lights went down and the concert hall was silent. The conductor signaled me. With a confident nod of my head I signaled my section to begin. They blew in perfect unison, without a millisecond of hesitation, igniting the orchestra. I knew then and there that I had walked through the door of leadership.
Most nights I lie awake haunted by a series of images. Three young men, freezing cold in the pouring rain, huddled together in an alleyway in the heart of Iranshahr. Thumping footsteps of revolutionary guards grow louder and then fade away. They dash across the street, jump into an old Paykan, and drive east to cross the border.
Since their daring escape in 1982, my father and his friends have not been able to return.
My life growing up in California was a world away from my father’s reality as a young man. I would bike, play video games, and go to 3 a.m. family parties filled with music and relatives who fed me an endless supply of kebabs and rose-infused ice cream. I paid almost no attention to my family’s past until one day in 7th grade when a kid called me an “Arab terrorist.” This racism did not bother me until years later. However, when I finally realized the injustice, I did everything I could to stop it.
I decided to ask my father his story. Were we Arabs? Why had he come here? Over our favorite saffron tea, I listened to the tale of an Iranian activist determined to stand up for his beliefs, but with the sense to know he would not be able to make a difference if he were imprisoned or dead. My mind flooded with realizations about just how much I had benefited from his sacrifices.
I was humbled, yet frustrated and a bit confused. After all his sacrifices to build a life in America, why was I experiencing some of the same zealotry he had faced back in Iran?
Inspired by my father’s courage in the face of fanaticism, I decided to channel my frustrations into concrete action, starting in my own backyard (or my lunch table to be more accurate). I stopped taking people’s racist jokes so lightly. I explained to people that I understood it was a joke, but it was hurtful. I told them my father’s story. People would listen and not say a word. You could see how much it moved them to hear the story of a man they would previously consider a terrorist. I came from a land filled with amazing art, cutting-edge scientific inventions, mesmerizing poetry, and delicious food. But it had been co-opted by fundamentalists and for decades the secular majority had been unable to free the society from the mullah’s shackles.
The racist jokes stopped. In fact, they not only stopped, but people began to take active interest. One of my best friends, Ho-Yen, began to follow my family’s tradition of gathering for Sunday meals and listening to Persian music.
Energized by my impact, I became the Middle East Representative in our Asian Cultural Acceptance club and started giving talks at my school and other schools in our district. I actively engaged in online debates by posting blogs, op-eds, and comments. I reached older audiences by speaking to senior centers as a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
It does not escape me that my accounts are all second-hand. My father is still on “a list” and so it has always been too risky for us to visit. But his courageous blood flows through my veins. I hope to study international relations in college and put my learnings to work in improving U.S.-Iranian relations. I will not rest until I have helped change the current cultural misunderstandings that flow in both directions. One day, when I am able to repay him with the ultimate gift -- the opportunity to return to the land he loves -- I will sleep through the night.
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Jeff is one of the most personable and dedicated mentors that somebody could ask for. He took time away from his life to work closely with me so that he could understand my unique situation, give me useful advice, and help me create the ideal college resume.
Jeff patiently took the time to get to know my son's unique strengths interests and character in order to ensure personalized guidance. He is a resourceful and motivating mentor who genuinely strives for an optimal outcome for the student. Professional approachable astute...Simply outstanding!
Jeff helped me transform from a confused student to a standout in my high school and on my college applications. Choosing him was one of the best decisions my parents and I made in high school. From freshman year, he checked with me on a constant basis to make sure I was focused and on track, and he really thought out of the box with me for my extracurriculars. I do not know what I would have done without him. I am convinced that he is the best college counselor in the world!