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College Of Your Dreams

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"College of Your Dreams" Reveals Key to College Admissions: be the Anti-Stereotype

Former NASA Education Lead teams up with Stanford economics alum to form organization that helps students demystify the college admissions process.

Oakland, CA, March 30, 2011 --( Can you leverage ethnic and socioeconomic stereotypes to your advantage to get into a top-tier college? “Absolutely,” says Michelle Cho, the founder of, a free web portal that provides application assistance to college-bound high school students.

“Students often think that they’re competing for admission with all of America,” says Cho. “But that’s not the case. They’re really only competing with other people who share their demographics. For example, an Asian student isn’t really competing with a Caucasian or an African-American student. However, an Asian student who has great academics and plays the piano is a dime a dozen. We’re telling people to be the anti-stereotype in order to stand out.”

The Asian jock

Cho, a Stanford graduate and an Asian American, unexpectedly hit on the concept of the “anti-stereotype” during her own college application process several years ago. “The typical Asian student is a whiz at math and science. They’re probably in the debate club and they probably play an instrument. But that wasn’t necessarily me.

“I grew up watching my older sister and I knew I couldn’t compete with her academically, although I was still in the top 10% of my class,” Cho continues. “She said to me, ‘You may not be as good academically, but you have all these other things. Play to your strengths.’”

Athletics were something that Cho was passionate about. In addition to maintaining her solid academic record, she became captain of the volleyball team and played varsity basketball. So when it came time to apply for college, Cho’s application played up her strengths as a unique candidate: An Asian jock.

The keys to the kingdom: Finding your passion will make you marketable

College of Your Dreams encourages students to throw out any ideas of what they’re “supposed” to look like on a college application. “In high school, everyone wants to be the same. There’s peer pressure. So when colleges are looking at applications, there are often many that look the same. College of Your Dreams asks, “What’s going to make you stand out?’

“The idea is that if you’re passionate about something, you’re probably going to be good at it,” Cho explains. That can provide opportunities to rack up awards, honors and leadership experience in sometimes unexpected areas.

“Unless you’re going to be a concert pianist, playing the piano isn’t necessarily going to be a leg up on an application when you’re competing with hundreds of other students who look just like you,” Cho says.

There’s another advantage to this approach as well. “Expanding your comfort zones is not only going to help you get into college, it’s going to help you in life,” Cho states. “We encourage people to look beyond college and look at the big picture. It’s about finding out who you are.”

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College Of Your Dreams
Wendell Tull

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