Question: How long have you been a graduate admissions consultant?
Answer: I have been a full-time graduate admissions consultant for 15 years.
Question: So you like admissions consulting?
Answer: No, I am passionate about it. Which means that I tend to work best with highly focused clients who take the process seriously. My passion comes from belief in the value of education, my desire to help others find meaning in their own lives, and because I love learning about other people.
Question: Why are you good?
Answer: I bring unique skills and experiences that allow me to add significant value to my clients. Here are some specific ways I add value:
I provide individualized services to clients based on their specific needs and budget. I treat each relationship I form seriously and provide the best advice possible for each person I work with. I don’t believe in one size fits all advice.
I am a methodological pluralist. I believe there are many ways to make a great application and many viable best practices. I tailor those practices to meet the diverse needs of my clients. On my blog, I try to innovate how I explain the admissions process. I put significant time into figuring out new ways of helping clients to stay fresh. I believe in the wisdom that comes with age and value of approaching things with the openness of a child.
I work with an incredibly diverse group of clients, which allows me to benchmark my clients against the overall applicant pool. While I am based in Japan, only about 20% of my clients are Japanese. About 30% of my clients are based in the US and Canada About 30% are Indian either in India or expats. The rest are mostly based in Australia, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Middle East, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey with occasional clients from Latin America. In terms of nationality, I work with large numbers of Americans, Chinese, Indians, and Japanese and smaller numbers of clients from elsewhere.
I understand the audience that my clients have to appeal to. The only function of an application is to gain a positive result from the reviewers of your application. Therefore the only effective approach to admissions consulting on essays, resumes, recommendations, application forms, and interviews is one that is focused on convincing the audience. I have spent considerable time talking with and observing admissions officers for purpose of understanding exactly who they are and what their perspective is.
I am an expert at localizing clients for an English language based admissions audience. One primary need that international clients often have is for such localization. Since 2007, I have helped clients from throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East localize themselves. This began with Japanese clients in 2001. I find that my cross-cultural abilities, which I cultivated since 1995 when first came to Japan to teach English business skills at companies and government agencies and then developed since 2001 as an admissions consultant, are valuable for for any international student applicant. My objective is to help any client communicate their experience and perspective effectively in a way that the admissions reader will both understand and be impressed by.
In addition to my own perspective, I suggest you take a look at my client’s testimonials.
Question: What is your background?
Answer: I was born and raised in Los Angeles California. I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz for my BA (1989) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1993) for my MA. I studied political science at both schools. I had become interested in Japan when studying comparative political economy and took a position teaching business English at Japanese government agencies and major corporations in 1995. I left Tokyo in 1997 and then worked at the University of California, Berkeley promoting their English language and professional certificate programs.
In 1999, I moved to New York City and joined the International Division at Kaplan, the test prep company. At Kaplan, I worked in online sales and marketing. In 2001, my wife and I, now refugees from the exploded tech bubble, decided to go back to Tokyo. I started working at The Princeton Review of Japan almost immediately after arriving. I learned to be an admissions consultant in one of the few places in the world where admissions consulting training was taken seriously.
At The Princeton Review of Japan, I did an average of 900 hours of face-to-face consulting per year between 2001 and 2007, even when my responsibilities greatly expanded to include managing other counselors and running the one-to-one service. In 2007, I decided to create my own consulting business so that I could focus only on admissions consulting, alter my lifestyle, be my own boss, and always select my own clients. This has worked out even better than I expected.
I am currently a student at INSEAD in the Executive Masters in Consulting and Coaching for Change program. I will complete my course modules at the Singapore campus this February and then write my thesis. The program has given me strong foundation in core areas of organizational and clinical psychology that relate directly to my work as an admissions consultant and coach.
Question: So who do you work with?
Answer: See my answer above regarding nationality mix. I intentionally try to work with a wide range of clients, which is a great way for me to leverage my schedule as well as continually increase my ability to learn from a really diverse and a remarkable range of individuals. Regardless of where my clients are from, they are focused on their futures. They are passionate about improving themselves. They understand that the admissions process is hard. They want to win and they are looking for a coach who will work hard to get them to perform to their highest level.
Question: You call yourself a consultant. Why? Don’t you just edit?
Answer: My primary role is to provide advice. Like any successful consultant, I know what the nature of the competition is, can assess the strength of my client, work to enhance their performance, and generate a win. My methods involve dialogue, written feedback, and, as a very secondary consideration, editing. I don’t do ghostwriting, so my editing tends to take the form of helping with word count or page length issues, eliminating obvious problems, and/or making suggestions for moving the text around to maximize its impact. Sometimes I have to act as a censor when a client writes about a topic that is, for a variety of reasons, damaging.
Keep in mind that many of my clients don’t need me to edit anything. They need me to make sure that they are presenting the best possible case through both analytical writing (goals essays) and interpretative storytelling (most other essays) that they can. My objective is to teach a set of skills that my clients can master. I am always looking to create a learning curve so that my client is continually improving as he/she moves from essay set to essay set and/or interview to interview.