A few words from our students and families:
Elton's guidance was invaluable to me during my high school career. Over the past two years, Elton challenged me to explore my potential and make my high school experience both successful and enjoyable. From our first meeting, I knew Elton would be more than a consultant. Like a close friend, Elton understood my strengths and weaknesses, and I felt truly comfortable sharing my experiences, beliefs and convictions with him. Our time together was also beneficial to me because it helped me understand myself better, a very important component in writing colleges essays. Last but not least, Elton himself was an inspiration to me and a major influence in my quest for success.
- Student Admitted to Stanford University
Both my family and I really appreciate the incredible effort and support John provided me throughout high school and my college application. My relationship with him is more of a mentor and big brother rather than just a consultant. He not only gave me excellent feedback and advice on how to make my essay personal yet powerful, but he also made sure I never felt lost throughout the complicated process.
I can definitely say that without John, I would not be as confident and or as mature as I am today.
- Student Admitted to Duke University
Azure helped my daughter prepare her college essays. She had the right intermix of rigor and freedom, made the authentic voice of my daughter come out in the essays, when we as parents were aiming for a too mature and probably somewhat mundane style. She was always willing to listen when I had thoughts on essays, and also convinced us why a certain way of presenting the student was better than another. She took great pains to go through several iterations of the college essays, and her initial briefings were also very useful to put my daughter in the proper writing mindset and suitable essay themes to start with. Overall, I was very happy with the college counselor experience she provided.
- Parents of Student Admitted to UC Berkeley
Katie was an invaluable resource throughout the application process. From the beginning to the end, she listened and truly inspired me with feedback and thought-provoking comments. She supported my ideas and guided their development to their full potential. She graced every meeting with kindness and enthusiasm, and understood what I wanted to say even when I couldn't get it on paper. As a consultant, she knew my personality and interests, and more so, recognized what made me unique. She was always willing to help and talk, both as a mentor and friend, even in times of high stress. I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have been able to work with Katie. I would not be where I am today if not for her guidance and wisdom.
- Student Admitted to Harvard College
As a rising college freshman committed to Stanford, I feel very blessed to have had Lia as my college counselor for the past three years. Whether it be face-to-face meetings or video conferences online, Lia always managed to foster a comfortable atmosphere where I am able to communicate topics frankly and thoroughly. Far from simply being preoccupied with my academic portfolio, Lia also provided genuine advice concerning my extracurricular activities, and frequently encouraged me to take my personal projects a step further. All professionalism aside, I felt that Lia sincerely made my progress and well-being a priority, responding timely to my urgent emails and pressing requests with helpful insight, even when I was unable to meet in person. For the above reasons, and many others, I would not hesitate to recommend Lia as a college counselor to any of my peers.
- Student admitted to Stanford University
I can not express enough gratitude to you after knowing our son made into the 20% percent of highly qualified and highly motivated ED applicants! You played a critical role in helping him shape his application - without your help, he would not been able to get in. Thank you for patiently reading his essays again and again, especially during the stressful hours before the ED deadline. You are probably sick of reading of all those essays! THANK YOU!
- Parents of Student Accepted to Duke University
I got into my dream school with thanks to Yii-Shyun! Northwestern has always been my first choice and I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without your help. Thank you so much!
- Student Admitted to Northwestern University
Elton is almost overqualified in what he does, as is the rest of the team at ILUMIN, but as that was clear to me even before I had my first meeting with him, I won't bother explaining what's already a given. What sets him apart from others, or rather, puts him a step above others, is the genuine relationship he forged with me and no doubt forges with his other students. Elton never sugarcoats anything, is honest and straightforward, and truly prioritizes students' goals and needs (often more than I prioritized them, in fact), ever the encourager.
I learned a little more about myself each time I talked with Elton or Azure, and Laura never pulled her punches when it came to reading my college application essays. I persevered through some rough situations with their help, not only with college, but also with the way I view the world and other people. (Let me tell you, brainstorming college essays will really make you take a long, hard look at yourself, but I wouldn't have traded those tough conversations with Elton for anything else.)
Elton was more than my counselor for college; he was my counselor for life, and someone I'm grateful to call a friend.
- Student Admitted to University of Chicago
First of all, John definitely cares about each one of us a lot shown by the amount of time he spends with us and on our essays (over 14 drafts for me!). He believes in my abilities, which helps me believe in myself throughout this challenging and long application process. I was able to talk to him about anything, and I felt comfortable sharing the intricate details of my life with him, whether it was for the essays or advice for life. Last, but not least, John gave wonderful insight and helped organize my ideas clearly to write an unique essay that strengthened my application. I could not have gotten into USC without his support.
- Student Admitted to USC
As someone who dislikes writing, I feel that Azure was the perfect college admissions counselor for me. When I say dislike, I’m serious - it took me an hour just to write that first sentence. And if one sentence takes that long, you can imagine how frustrating it was to write draft after draft of essay after essay...
Azure made that arduous process as painless as possible. By setting reasonable and prudent deadlines, she allowed me to complete my essays with time to spare. Furthermore, the constructive criticism she provided helped me refine the language of my essays without sacrificing my writing style. Most importantly, our conversations always inspired me to discover something – whether it be an experience or an idea – that I would enjoy writing about. College applications were stressful and difficult, but with Azure’s guidance, they became manageable. Plus, she made writing fun. To me, that’s amazing.
- Student Admitted to MIT and Caltech
Despite having a strenuous reputation, the college application process was not as difficult as it could have been because of Katie's counseling. She simplified many of the actions I had to take and alleviated much of the perceived agony I believed I would go through. From building a college list to helping me translate the stories in my mind into my essays, Katie had broken down many of the steps and provided much-needed structure in a confusing time. I struggled a lot with conveying my personality and individuality within my personal statements and essays, but I was able to accomplish such through sounding out my ideas and refining my writing in my time with Katie.
- Student Admitted to Bowdoin College
Lia turned out to be more than a counselor to me; she was like a teacher who helped me with random questions I had about school and extracurriculars, a mentor who asked me questions to stimulate a lot of personal reflection, and a friend who understood my strengths and weaknesses. Since our first meeting, I quickly felt comfortable sharing my stories and challenges. Lia was able to help me re-articulate my stories in a more creative and interesting way. Her email replies were always prompt, as she fully answers my questions and provides even more information to guide me. My family and I really appreciate the effort Lia has put in, from constantly checking up on me to making sure I felt comfortable and confident throughout the whole application process. Thank you Lia!
- Student Admitted to Johns Hopkins University
First of all, I want to thank Yii-Shyun for everything she has done for me during my application process. Yii-Shyun is definitely one of the major reasons why I got into my first choice school. I was never good at writing personal essays, alway struggling. But Yii-Shyun was able to help me discover my positive attributes that made me stood out. Before we started writing, we spent a long time brainstorming, and she patiently helped me evaluate each topic. Yii-Shyun is a very accommodating person, even during our non-scheduled time, she answered my questions whenever she was free. I really enjoyed my experience with her, and I am glad that I had worked with her.
- Student Admitted to Hamilton College
With Elton's guidance this application season, I have not only produced a set of essays I was personally proud of, but also achieved a clearer understanding of my identity and my future goals. Elton pushed me to articulate myself in the best manner possible, and to illustrate my true perspectives and motivations to the reader. He always prioritized content, and was never afraid to spend the time to completely rework an essay when he saw a better path. Furthermore, his expertise with both small, specific details of the application process as well as the broader picture meant I never felt lost. Ultimately, my experience with ILUMIN was both rewarding and inspirational, and has undeniably shaped my present and future self for the better.
- Student Admitted to Harvard and MIT
I'd definitely recommend ILUMIN to anyone who is about to go through the college application process. All of the advisors are very knowledgeable about what colleges are looking for and are great at helping you implement those elements into your application. They take you through the process of application step by step and refine every inch of your application so that it's the best it can be.
Besides all that, all the advisors are also great people who care about what's going on in your life. John pushed me to write truly reflective essays and made sure that colleges really understood who I was through my essays. He also set deadlines so that the writing was paced out and very manageable, even though my applications required 21 essays in total. He was willing to answer every single one of my many questions any time I contacted him. Without his advice and ILUMIN’s expertise, I doubt I would have gotten into as many schools as I did. Having a counselor for the college application is invaluable, and this is the best there is!
- Student Admitted to Emory University and Scripps College ($80k scholarship)
I had no idea how to organize myself for my college applications. However, my stress was diminished when Azure gave me a clear schedule. In terms of my writing, Azure was able to pinpoint what was unique about me, which helped me write an amazing personal statement around an event in my life I never would have thought would yield success. She told me what each school was looking for in terms of essay style and guided me in the right direction with progressive and constructive feedback. Thanks to Azure I was able to get admitted to my dream school.
- Student Admitted to Rice University
Katie helped me and my parents in a multitude of ways. Her knowledge about the California and out-of-state college systems is immense and really made my college application process much easier and less stressful. Katie has great note taking skills as she would write up meeting recaps every month and gave me monthly to-do list of things to look out for, so the whole application season never got too burdensome. She even conveyed the ideas I would talk about during meetings and apply them to prompt topics for college essays. I applied to a lot of schools and Katie helped me organize an excel sheet with the average GPA and test scores for getting in. Katie was someone I could talk about anything to as she is incredibly accepting and wholehearted albeit when she needs to be strict with you, she will not hesitate.
- Student Admitted to Penn St.
I have been working with Lia since my sophomore year of high school. On top of being very professional and always being prompt about communicating, scheduling meetings, and editing applications, she also became someone that I could talk to about personal issues. Lia worked with me to figure out my high school schedule and extracurricular activities, as well as my summer plans, and was someone I felt comfortable confiding in as a mentor. When college application season rolled around, she helped me edit my essays in a timely manner and always gave useful feedback!
- Student Admitted to Georgetown, Tufts, and UC Berkeley
Getting help from Yii-Shyun was one of the best choices I've ever made! She helped me so much for getting ready for college! Not only did she help me with the essay editing, but she recommended different colleges, helped me get a clearer vision of what I really want to study in the future, and made the college application process less stressful! Because of her help, I got accepted to all the colleges that I applied to, which is a miracle!
- Student Admitted to UCSD
Elton has been an integral part of my high school career. His knowledge regarding the in's and out's of the entire college application process, from extracurricular activities to the essay writing portion, is astonishing. I connected extremely well with Elton and see him more as a life mentor than just a college coach. His entrepreneurial, start-things-yourself, approach to everything has been very insightful and not only helped me stand out as a student but also greatly improved my leadership abilities. Whether it’s helping me turn a community service idea into a small company, guiding me through the personal statement essays, or simply helping me discover my true passion in entrepreneurship and business, Elton’s patient yet proactive style of coaching helped improve not only my college application but also my character.
- Student Admitted to University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
John is a knowledgeable and friendly consultant who was an extremely valuable asset in my college application process. He was able to answer all my questions about colleges, majors, resumes, and extracurricular activities. John also provided clear and important feedback on my essays.
Yet what makes John a counselor I would highly recommend is his dedication to understanding every student on a personal level. He made a genuine effort to know everything about me, including my experiences, family life, and interests in order to better portray my strengths in the application. This is something I feel not a lot of counselors try to do, or are even able to. By having a better understanding of the student, John created an application that represented me well and resonated with me personally.
Also he brought snacks to our work sessions, and snacks are essential for any growing teenager.
- Student Admitted to UCSD, USC, and NYU
Azure was truly the best college counselor I could ask for. She fully supported me in my choice to pursue a number of selective colleges and made sure I had constructed a college list that best suited me.
She especially guided me through the difficult process of writing college essays. Doors at the office were always open for me to come in, write, and receive immediate feedback on my essays. Azure encouraged me to tell my stories in their truest form and maintain a writing style I was most comfortable with. Most importantly, she helped me tailor my writing of the UC essays to fit what the UC schools were specifically looking for—a style completely different from what most private schools seek. I would not have known to do this without her help!
And, because I was always a bit concerned with making small errors in the actual application portals, Azure would go over every single step of the application with me, whether it be over the phone or in person, to make sure I submitted perfect work. I’m so grateful for her help not only as a college counselor, but also as a genuinely kind, honest, and helpful mentor in writing and in exploring my options for the future!
- Student Admitted to UC Berkeley and Michigan
I can list many people who have played a part in shaping the person that I am today and giving me the opportunities I have now. Without a doubt, Elton is on the top of this list. As a consultant, Elton’s responsive communication, attentiveness to students’ needs, and professional expertise are all unquestionable. There is very little I need to elaborate on: he is simply one of the best. If you are looking for a professional yet personable college counselor, look no further. But besides his capability, insight, and experience, there are other aspects of a consultant that people often overlook. So I will be honest and direct: Elton did not push me to work only at things that would strengthen my resume. He has never once told me to do join a club or do an extracurricular simply because “it would look good on my application.” Instead, he challenged me to excel at the things I enjoyed – to work towards my own goals. Academic and personal achievements soon followed. Elton truly cares about his students’ well-being and growth, on top of their academic achievements. He not only took it upon himself to help me into my dream schools, but challenged me to grow as a student and as a person, each step along the way. I can surely and confidently recommend Elton as a consultant for anyone wanting a truly exceptional mentor. And he truly is a mentor, in every sense of the word.
- Student Admitted to UCLA
John impressed me in so many ways. I experienced these great qualities by interacting with him, rather than him telling me.
First, John is very professional. He has a lot of experience regarding the college application process. He helps every student develop his or her unique essays, regardless of how many drafts (over 12 drafts for me, and I’m certainly not the only one).
Secondly, John has a long view. He not only helps his students apply to college, but aims at helping them succeed in the future. He always mentions how when I apply for jobs in the future, the skills he taught me will be useful.
Thirdly, Not only is John my college counselor, he’s also a friend. When I was stressing out during senior year, he would call me up, comfort me and encourage me to keep going.
Lastly, he cares about his students like they are his younger brothers and sisters. I’ve had a couple of mentors that helped pave my way to college, and John is definitely a very important one. Looking back, I’m very glad that I decided to work with him on my college applications. I could not have gotten into any of my schools without him!
- Student Admitted UC Berkeley, Michigan and Boston College
I met Azure the summer before my senior year, and I am so thankful for her guidance and support throughout the college application process. Azure and I had a very strong relationship, and whenever I felt like I was stuck, talking with her always gave me new ideas and new perspectives to approach the idea from. What I am most thankful to her for is the emotional support–when I was conflicted or stressed, she calmed me down and made sure I was still on track for my deadlines. The college application process really helps you learn a lot about yourself, and without her help, I would not be as mature as I am today.
Throughout the months until my last deadline, Azure met with me weekly to review drafts, and during our meetings I would update her with what was going on in my life, which helped us grow closer and also was a resource for potential essay topics. Towards the few days before essays were due, she always made sure we could get a phone call in to ensure I was feeling 100% about my essays before submitting them. She definitely made college essays fun to write and the entire process much more relaxed and organized. Thank you so much, Azure!
- Student Admitted to Duke University
ILUMIN gave me a step-by-step breakdown of the college application process. Right from making a college list to reviewing essays, Elton and his team have always been hands-on. What really stood out to me was how tailored and personalized his work was, especially in the essay writing process. Elton took the time to learn about my passions, hobbies and activities before so much as mentioning essays!
As an applicant from India, Elton demonstrated beyond convincingly his ability to cater his work to an international market. Elton’s work was miles beyond the other options India offers in terms of college counseling and guidance.
Elton’s individual commitment to the job is something that truly distinguishes his services from others. From him working ridiculous hours with me over Christmas break to him actually visiting me personally all the way from California, his sheer dedication shined through over our time together.
All in all, with admissions becoming ever more cutthroat in top schools, Elton’s services help set my application apart. ILUMIN delivers results.
- Student Admitted to the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire college application process with John. He helped transform my ideas into excellent essays that were powerful and persuasive, yet still stayed true to who I was. John was extremely easy to work with and made the essay writing process smooth, manageable and even fun.
His structured application process was extremely helpful because it allowed me to stay on track even with over 30 essays to write. He also took the time to really teach me how to write better and present myself more clearly on paper—skills that I will definitely use in college and beyond. I can’t express how thankful I am to John for taking the time to make sure this process was not only rewarding, but also for teaching me a valuable skill for the future!
- Student Admitted to University of Michigan Engineering
Azure is a hard worker who cares about her students. This is definitely reflected in the essays she helps students produce, since she takes the time and effort to connect with her students. Azure was extremely helpful in crafting personal and colorful essays. The time and effort she made to connect with me helped me feel comfortable in sharing personal details of my life, which definitely helped my essay be unique. She is also respectful of students' opinions and is extremely willing to meet in person or talk on the phone. Overall, Azure not only helped me write better essays, she also helped me develop my writing skills and my writing tone. It was fun working with her!
-Student Admitted to UCLA
Before I met Elton, I was a cynical student with no plans of what to do to get into college. However, after all his sage wisdom, moral support, and planning of extracurriculars and logistics, I am now less cynical and accepted into Carnegie Mellon. Hanging out in his office with him on occasion for a consecutive 8 hours certainly improved both my writing focus and skill for a variety of essays. Joining the camps and programs he recommended netted me extra items to throw on my previously bare resume, and more importantly, extra happiness to my life. Elton would say that all students have value, regardless of what others or colleges would say; I would say Elton is the man to go to unearth that value.
- Student Admitted to Carnegie Mellon
John was instrumental to our daughter’s admission to UC Berkeley. He met with her every week to develop her essay ideas, review her drafts in detail, and most importantly of all emotionally support her through this major life step. John developed a genuine friendship with her where he was not only able to encourage her during tough times, but also gently yet effectively challenge her to write outstanding essays. He was completely invested in her success, personal growth and college application from day one.
We now consider John not just as a counselor, but as a family friend that we can go to for anything.
- Parents of Student Admitted to UC Berkeley
College applications are definitely one of the most challenging parts of high school, especially for me as an international student, but I made it through with valuable guidance from Azure. Instead of a counselor, she made me feel like she’s a friend of mine by trying to understand my personality and life experience. She helped me find the stories that I were unique to me and exciting to write about. I remember being overwhelmed by the SAT, personal statement and all the school work on my shoulders. Although I wasn’t able to finish my essays early because I was so stressed out, Azure was willing to sacrifice her weekends and even Christmas break to help me refine my essays. Her assistance not only gave me college offers that I only dreamed of, but more importantly, a deep understanding of my major and getting the most of my college years.
- Student Admitted to Boston University and Northeastern
大學申請方案是非常複雜和冗長的,必需要有一套完整的完整的方案，而這就是Elton 所提供的專業服務. Elton, 幫助我的兩個十幾歲的青少年,找到自己的長處，補強他們的弱點，幫助他們選取對的的高中課程，找課外活動參與，找合適的學校名單，獎學金的機會。,但是,Elton 除了提供專業服務之外,他還教會我最重要的一件事. “尊重我們的孩子，尊重他們的選擇和決定。“ 讓他們能夠自動自發來和 Elton一起來做他們自己的大學申請書,參與整個過程，因為這是他們將來的人生，他們應該做出他們的決定。父母要能學會尊重這一點。我們的孩子才會長大成熟.
- Parent of Student Admitted to UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and University of San Diego
- Parent of Student Admitted to Carnegie Mellon
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