How To Get Your Child Admitted Into Top U.S. Universities Even If You Know Nothing About The College Admissions Process

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Los Angeles, California
From the desk of Dr. Agnia Grigas

Dear parent,

If you have a child that just finished middle school…

Or maybe your child is already going through high school.

Then you might be aware of how little time there is before college.

In the next four years (or perhaps even less!), your child should be ready to make one of the most important decisions of their young years:

To pick the college and career that will make their personal and professional dreams possible.

Now, this might not sound “mainstream,” but if you are like me, you don’t want your child to choose just any university, let alone a random career!


We want excellence, academic achievement, and professional success for our children.

That means we want them to choose a rewarding and profitable career that provides for them and their family in the future.

But before you keep reading, I must warn you...

This report is ONLY for ambitious parents with big dreams for their children.

Parents who believe in discipline, hard work, and sacrifice.

Parents that see academic achievement as an outcome of successful parenting.

And parents who value top education for their children.

If that’s not you, I advise you to close this report as the information inside will not resonate and might even be counterproductive for you and your child.

But if it DOES resonate with you…

Then you need to read every single word of this report.

Inside, I have mapped out the path and secret methodology we use to help students get into some of the most competitive universities in the United States.

In a moment, I’ll show you how you can help your child fulfill all of their education and career dreams by using our Million Dollar College Admissions Method™.

Who Am I?

Before we start, let’s rewind for a second.

My name is Agnia Grigas; In 1998, I graduated from high school ready to tackle my next challenge, college.

After completing the application process, my efforts yielded a list of 10 acceptance letters from universities like Columbia, Brown, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, UCLA, NYU, and USC.

After four years, I graduated cum laude from Columbia University in the city of New York;

Later, with admissions letters and scholarship offers from Harvard, Columbia, Oxford, Georgetown, and LSE, I completed my Master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Oxford in England.

I’ve had more than a million dollars in scholarships granted to my name.

Here’s why this matters to you:

The admissions process we went through as parents is different from the one our kids will be going through.

  • Universities have gotten ultra-competitive (Applications come from all over the world.)
  • The acceptance rate is lower than ever (Some colleges in the Top 20 accept less than 3-5% of the applicants.)
  • Admission officers are looking for something different (We’ll get to that in a minute.)

Despite these facts, I still see applicants following the same generic advice I had heard 20 years ago.

Advice such as:

  • Focus on extracurriculars.
  • Get your SAT score as high as possible.
  • Take every AP class available.
  • Get straight As.
  • Show your passion by volunteering and helping the community.
  • Write a remarkable college essay.

The problem with generic advice is that it is technically not wrong.

But if you and your kid have big goals and ambitions for the future, you will have to take a different approach.

You will have to find (or create) a competitive advantage.

Universities evolved, and the admissions process changed, but by following generic and worn-out methods, everyone looks the same.

You’ve probably heard the horror stories of bright, talented students with outstanding GPAs and SAT scores getting rejected from ALL their universities of choice.

Their college and professional dreams vanish right before their eyes, one-rejection-letter-at-a-time.

We are talking about excellent kids who have to settle for less because they have no other option.

The Wall Street Journal highlighted a case like this; The article reads:

To Get Into the Ivy League, ‘Extraordinary’ Isn’t Always Enough These Days”

It presents the story of Kaitlyn Younger, a young woman who, despite being an academic standout since the third grade, got rejected by 10 out of the 12 schools she applied for:

Animated college list with the names getting crossed, the list shows:
Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Upenn, USC, University of California, U C Berkely, NorthwesternAnimated college list with the names getting crossed, the list shows:
Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Upenn, USC, University of California, U C Berkely, Northwestern
Animated college list with the names getting crossed, the list shows:
Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Upenn, USC, University of California, U C Berkely, NorthwesternAnimated college list with the names getting crossed, the list shows:
Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Upenn, USC, University of California, U C Berkely, Northwestern

They all rejected her.

She was wait-listed at Rice University and accepted at Arizona State University and the University of Texas, Austin — but not to the business school.

You see, the best US universities receive around 50k applications each year, all from some of the most talented students in the world. For instance, in 2022, UCLA received nearly 150,000 applications. 

There is no other environment as competitive as this.

Every applicant has won awards, developed multiple talents and skills, and has excellent grades and SAT scores.

Every applicant looks just as intelligent, talented, and hard-working as the previous one.

Every applicant could be considered the “Perfect Student.”

This creates ample opportunity for universities to get top talent in specific areas.

In an environment where everyone is competing to be “better.”

The only way to win is by being different.

The definition of ‘different’ entails that you and your child won’t be doing what everyone else is doing. This is why I’ve included some of my best secrets, frameworks, and strategies.

For those of you who have more experience (due to having an older child going through university or some connections in the space), you will love what you’re about to read.

This report won’t contain any “follow your passion no matter what” motivational speak. I will be transparent, honest, and blunt and share all the facts with a pragmatic earth approach.

And by the end of this document, we’ll discuss what it looks like to hire an expert team to help you implement what you’ll discover today.

We’re about to shine a light on the secrets of the admissions system, and you will learn how to use this information for your child’s advantage.

Why Did I Write This & How Can You Get The Most Out Of It?

This report exists for two reasons:

Reason #1: So that you’ll eventually hire my expert team and me to implement everything you read with your child.

Reason #2: Regardless if you choose to work with us or not, I want to give you applicable, hands-on information that you and your kid can apply RIGHT NOW.

Now here’s something you must know.

The college admissions process has a lot of moving pieces.


A simple principle guides the outcomes of the college admissions process.

We are talking about Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 rule.

Representative graphic of Pareto's Rule, shows two circles divided on 80% and 20%, one represents effort and one results.

Both circles have arrows point to each other one following the 80/20 rule.Representative graphic of Pareto's Rule, shows two circles divided on 80% and 20%, one represents effort and one results.

Both circles have arrows point to each other one following the 80/20 rule.

This principle dictates that 80% of the results or outcomes on anything come from 20% of our actions or efforts.

So while there are dozens of moving pieces on admissions, we will only focus on the 20% that creates the most significant outcomes.

For that reason, I’ve structured this report as follows:

1ST: I will review some mindsets, myths, and principles regarding college and career selection.

2ND: I will share with you our Million Dollar College Admissions Method™

This is a formula you can use to guide your child into a top university and an outstanding education.

I’m talking about…

  • Standing out in the eyes of admission officers (A.O.’s) by using novel principles of differentiation.
  • Showcasing their unique personality and clear identity using our unique branding and positioning techniques.
  • Our unique way of presenting their authentic self through their passions, talents, and genuine motivation.
  • How to present everything the student has to offer to the college community in the most compelling way.

This section will cover what you need to know to crack the college admissions code and give your child the advantage of an outstanding education without over-scheduling, stressing, and burning out your kid.

At America’s BEST universities.

3RD: Once we’ve discussed the Million Dollar College Admissions Method™, I’ll extend an invitation for you to work one-on-one with us.

This is what we do.

We help parents and kids align their goals and get accepted at their dream universities.

And we’re very good at it.

Let’s get started.

Making The Most Out Of Your College Investment

A college education is an investment in our children's future.

As with any investment, we want to see a return on it.

And the safest way to see this return is by making informed and long-term decisions.

There are two main drivers that you must consider to guide your college investment decision.

  1. The universities that will provide the education.
  2. The major and career your child is going to pursue.

A clear understanding of each makes the college admissions process easier for our children and creates a feeling of security for the whole family.

Choosing the right university to invest in — Top 50 vs. the rest.

Think of it as investing in stocks. On one side, you have companies that make up the S&P 500. On the other side, you have penny stocks; the choice is clear.

From the 900+ universities in the United States, the top 50 schools get an overwhelming number of applicants each year while the rest struggle to fill their classrooms.

This is not a coincidence; top-ranked universities stand out among others in terms of knowledge, opportunities, connections, infrastructure, and all sorts of value for their students.

That makes their graduates more valuable and competitive in the current global economic landscape.

Every competitive college has a limited capacity. No matter how many applicants there are, only a tiny percentage of students get in each year.

I would be lying to you if I told you our method would 100% guarantee your child’s acceptance into a specific university of choice.

But by following this approach, we can exponentially increase their chances of getting into many top universities and not settle for lower-ranking ones.

Now let’s talk about how major and career selection affect the process.

Many families believe that the most important thing when choosing a career is to follow your passion and dreams.

Without context, this belief can guide kids into making emotional and careless decisions about their careers and future.

And most of the time, a poor decision can derail the college admissions process.

While I agree with following dreams, we must add some context.

Let me illustrate this concept with an example:

Let’s imagine your kid has a deep-rooted love for the sea, its animals, and ecology. She also loves to swim and has even won diving competitions.

Marine biology or zoology.

It seems like a dream career where you would spend your time scuba diving and exploring life under the sea.

But things change when we examine this career up close.

In the US, there are around 160 schools that offer a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 18,500 people are making a living as marine biologists.

The median salary is $66,350 annually, and the projected employment growth is only 5% between 2020 and 2030.

This means that there are less than 1,700 job openings each year for this career. (These openings result from replacing workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as retiring.)

Now, let’s be conservative and assume each of the 160 schools offering a Marine Biology and Zoology degree brings 30 new graduates to the workplace.

That’s 4,800 new Marine Biologists and Zoologists competing for one of the 1,700 openings.

Each year.

A competition ratio of 2.6 to 1 means more than half of the graduates will not find a job, or at least not in the first year after graduating. Facing these facts would make a lot of people reconsider choosing Marine Biology as their career of choice.

Decorative bars diagram, no background.Decorative bars diagram, no background.

And while the value of a career is subjective, there’re many factors one should consider before making a final decision.

Here’s another example:

Let’s say your kid learned how algorithms work from a very early age, they understand computational logic on a natural level, and that’s all they talk about daily.

A possible career choice is Computer Programming.

The kid would have a great career in STEM with substantial long-term potential.

Let’s examine this career up close.

In the US, around 185,700 people are making a living as Computer Programmers.

The median salary is $93,000 per year, and the projected job growth is -10% (that’s not a typo, it’s a 10% decrease) between 2020 and 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

A reason for this is that businesses are outsourcing their labor to less expensive contractors overseas.

Despite declining employment, about 9,700 openings for computer programmers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. With  10,700 graduates coming to the market each year and a competition ratio of 1 to 1.1, almost everyone will get a job.

Decorative bars diagram, no background.Decorative bars diagram, no background.

Similar careers, such as Software Developers, offer a better salary right out of college. The median annual wage for software developers was $120,730 in May 2021.

Overall employment of software developers is projected to grow 25 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

In this example, computer programming is not a bad choice and can still be a very profitable career, but a career as a software developer is a stronger choice with a better salary and greater long-term opportunities.

That’s why staying up to date and guiding our children on their research will be the key to making an informed decision.

In the next section, you will learn what makes students stand out when developing an authentic student profile.

The Secret Of Differentiation And Focus

Students who want to apply to a top university now have to build a profile that gives them an edge in admissions.

Kids, especially the ambitious ones, often push harder based on what they see or hear everyone else is doing.

To “do more” than everyone else and not get left behind, applicants to top universities often spend their time doing various activities.

Some of these activities include:

  • Playing musical instruments.
  • Volunteering and community service
  • Playing sports.
  • Founding/becoming president of a school club.
  • Taking as many AP classes as offered in their school.

This is the wrong approach.

By trying to do what everyone else is doing, students miss the point and waste a lot of time and effort on activities that will not yield anything to their admissions profile.

Take a look at this example:

Imagine you’re the admissions officer of an Ivy League University, you’re checking applications one by one, and the next one is from Lisa from California:

  • 4.6 GPA (weighted)
  • National Honor Society
  • Soccer Player (2 Years)
  • Piano (3 Years)
  • President of Spanish Club (Junior Year)
  • Soup Kitchen Volunteer (2 Years)
  • Personal project: Helping a foundation in need by starting a band, playing in different cafes and bars, and raising money through donations.

Lisa checks all of the boxes.

Her grades are superb, she is involved in the community, as shown with her personal project, and she seems “well rounded.”

However, it’s the 10th student with a similar profile you’ve seen in the last hour.

She’s applying to business school with an Economics major. Still, her profile does not show a proven interest or achievement in this area.


The next application comes from Maddie from Minnesota:

  • 3.98 GPA (unweighted)
  • Volunteer at of Community Math Tutoring Program (4 years)
  • Math Olympiad Champion (Participating in AMC since elementary school)
  • Research assistant of a Math Professor at their closest university
  • Personal project: Improved math scores of all participating students in a local middle school by restructuring the after-school math tutoring curriculum and introducing a new way of teaching math.

This girl checks all the boxes, a GPA close to perfect, and an evident passion for math with many related achievements.

Maddie is applying for a major in Mathematics; she would be an excellent fit for the math department.

Lisa and Maddie are both brilliant, hard-working girls.

But only one of them received an acceptance letter from her dream college. 

That’s right. It was Maddie. 

So what made Maddie different from Lisa?

  • She discovered and developed her love for mathematics.
  • She built her profile around mathematics with many extracurriculars and achievements that supported it.
  • She went for the right major and applied to the right schools.

During her high school years, Maddie doubled down on her skills, bringing better results than jumping from one activity to the other for four years.

She was not average at many activities; she was great at one thing, which made her different.

Graphic demonstration of energy and focus.Graphic demonstration of energy and focus.

Leveraging Your Child's Potential...

I want to emphasize the importance of starting this process as early as possible; The earlier you start, the better the results you’ll accomplish with your children.

We use this process with 8th and 9th graders looking for help to develop their skills and find their passion.

No matter the grade or age of your child, I’m sure you will find this section insightful as it will help you understand the upcoming sections of the report.

So, let’s talk about how to leverage your child’s potential!

Graphic demonstration of leverageGraphic demonstration of leverage

Three phases will guide you and your child through this exciting process.

Every phase has a milestone that, once achieved, will let you know you can start the next phase.

Each phase builds upon the previous; trusting the process and following the sequence is crucial.

Without further ado, let me show you each phase:

Phase #1: The Free Schedule Student

Generic advice for college admissions dictates that kids need to fill their schedules with as many activities as they can juggle.

By now, you know that this advice is wrong.

When I start working with a student, I always suggest leaving some free exploration time in their schedule.

As parents, we need to point them in the direction of open exploration, which means we want them to explore and stay on the lookout for exciting things. Once they find something that hooks them, double down on it.

Remember, universities are looking for passionate teens with an evident passion and purpose.

Phase #2: Laser Focus

Graphic demonstration of focus.Graphic demonstration of focus.

The free schedule is good for exploring and expanding your horizons. Still, there’s no time to waste when an evident passion shows up.

We must encourage our children to focus on this specific interest so they can master it.

The reason why this works is straightforward:

Reaching a high level of accomplishment in a single area makes it easier to gain extra achievements for little additional effort.

Kids that focus on one area will always have the advantage over the kids who try multiple things but don't ever narrow down and focus on anything.

Mastering an area creates a window to develop the third phase of this process.

Phase #3: The Breakthrough Project

Graphic demonstration of breakthrough.Graphic demonstration of breakthrough.

Achieving mastery over a topic will put your kid ahead of most applicants; that’s where we create an “unfair” advantage.

The Breakthrough Project makes it a no-brainer for admissions officers to choose THEM over the rest of their peers.

Now everyone knows that working on a project will aid in admissions.

But very few people work on projects or achievements the way we do, and that’s what I’m about to teach you next.

Let’s get into more advanced strategies.

Let me introduce you to “The Impressiveness Meter.”

Graphic demonstration of an impressiveness meter.Graphic demonstration of an impressiveness meter.

Each one of us has an Impressiveness Meter installed in our brain, and it measures how impressive an accomplishment is based on a simple formula:

Talent + Hard-work = Impressive

While most people have a calibrated meter that is in touch with reality, Admission Officers have gotten theirs broken after sorting through hundreds of thousands of impressive candidates worldwide.

That’s why:

We’ve figured out a particular type of project that is guaranteed to help applicants make a lasting impression by tricking A.O.’s broken meters.

I’ve called it the Breakthrough Project, which tricks the meter by triggering a psychological effect that makes it almost impossible NOT to get noticed.

To make this very simple:

When A.O. cannot imagine themselves recreating the process behind the student’s accomplishment, their “impressiveness meter” scores high.

Let me illustrate this concept using the applications Lisa and Maddie sent.

Applicant #1: Lisa

She helped a foundation in need by starting a band. She played at different cafes and bars and raised money through donations.

  • Requires hard work? Check! ✅
  • Requires talent? Check! ✅
  • Helps the community? Check! ✅

The impressiveness meter scores this Breakthrough Project.

7 — Good, but not good enough.

Lisa’s Breakthrough Project is not that impressive to the A.O. because it is what you call a “project in a box.

This means anyone can replicate this project (and most students do) by following a few simple instructions.

  1. Find a non-profit that needs funds (Any non-profit.)
  2. Gather a group of friends who can play an instrument and create a band.
  3. Use your musical talents to get gigs at frequented places.
  4. Collect the money.

When presenting it this way, it doesn’t sound impressive anymore.

Applicant #2: Maddie

She improved the math scores of all participating students in a local middle school by restructuring the after-school math tutoring curriculum and introducing a new teaching method.

  • Requires hard work? Check! ✅
  • Requires talent? Check! ✅
  • Helps the community? Check! ✅

The impressiveness meter scores this Breakthrough Project.

9 — Great! I haven’t seen this before. 

Maddie’s Breakthrough Project impressed the A.O. because her project is innovative and closely related to her unique experiences. It cannot be copied by anyone else, and it cannot be watered down into simple steps to follow.

 *Mission accomplished*

Maddie's project puts the cherry on the cake and makes it a no-brainer to get her accepted to her dream university.

This process is unlike everything you will see anyone do because our approach does not focus on checking boxes on a checklist, following a standard procedure, or making our students “better” than the rest.

Instead, we make them different.

I adapted this idea from the business world, where business owners face the challenges of a highly competitive environment.

This concept is evident in the so-called “saturated markets,” where every business tries to compete by creating slightly better products or reducing the cost of a product.

This is the equivalent of adding more extracurricular activities or settling for less competitive colleges.

So, while everyone is focusing on making their students 1% better or aiming for a “more achievable” goal…

Our methods focus on making students different and putting them in a league of their own.

Write this down and keep it present at all times: Different is always better than better.

At this point of the report, we've explored how to:

  • Guide your kid on their career decision.
  • Find their hidden potential and passion.
  • Leverage this potential to build a breakthrough project.

These are the foundation of your child’s brand.

But we’re not done yet.

The following section will cover how to highlight your kid’s greatness and showcase it in the most compelling way.

I advise you to pay close attention as this is a “make or break'' part of our process.

Failing at this step could make all previous efforts irrelevant.

Let's continue.

Personal Statement - The Two Types Of Admissions Essays

Note: I have used the terms “Personal Statement” and “Admissions Essay” interchangeably throughout this chapter.

As the author of three award-winning books published by Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, and Routledge, I love writing and working with students on their essays.

This is my favorite part of the process as I can connect with students on a different level and get to know their thought process, values and how they see the world.

Unlike with academic essays (where students present information and support it with data) a personal statement or admissions essay will focus on telling a story that highlights the student’s values and accomplishments in the most compelling way.

As humans, we are wired for stories; stories move us to action, evoke feelings and let us experience different worlds through our imagination.

That’s true for me, for you, and admissions officers.

By writing a captivating personal statement, an applicant can build a connection and a sense of familiarity that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

The Two Ways Of Structuring A Personal Statement:

Many students get stuck writing their personal statements before they even start; that’s because it’s challenging to let creativity flow if we lack structure.

After reviewing essay after essay, I realized the best ones focus on telling a single story or stacking a few.

Let’s go through both structures.

#1 - The Single Story Essay:

This type of essay follows a “Story Arc,” which often looks like this:

Graphic demonstration of an storytelling framework.Graphic demonstration of an storytelling framework.

Students with a unique story can significantly benefit from this type of essay because it can take the admissions officer on a unique journey through the student's life.

In a Single Story Essay, the student can evoke many emotions, values, and details that make the student unique.

While powerful, it could be a double-edged sword.

That’s because the story must revolve around a big problem or struggle not to risk sounding like a sob story.

You wouldn’t believe the number of essays we’ve reviewed in which applicants take an inconvenient event — and try to frame it as a high-stakes challenge.

Choosing the right story and telling it the right way is crucial and often makes the difference between gaining admission and rejection.

While powerful, Single Story Essays might not be for everyone.

This is why I’ll show you another type of essay that can be just as impactful, if not more.

#2 - The Stacked Essay

In movies or TV shows, the director must give context or background to a character or situation in the most efficient way.

Instead of going back through another story arc with many details and interactions, they choose particular scenes and combine them one after the other in a way that makes sense and correlates to the point they are trying to convey.

Stacked Essays follow the same principle: they are a collection of short stories, each conveying a specific point.

Graphic demonstration of an storytelling framework stacked stories.Graphic demonstration of an storytelling framework stacked stories.

Here’s an example of an outline for a Stacked Essay.

  • The story of how they left the country where they were born.
  • The story about the family's business and how it created opportunities for their family.
  • The story about their favorite teacher and how they discovered a hidden skill.
  • The story about their most significant accomplishment.

These are all great stories, but connecting them can be difficult and, if done wrong, can become dull and confusing to the reader.

To prevent this, we want to develop a theme that interconnects the stories with each other.

We want to give our essay a single topic that makes all the stories relevant and creates the opportunity for a conclusion and a climax.

Let’s look at what the structure for this essay might look like if we add a theme:

  • Fate made the family leave their country
  • The family business started by accident and opened new opportunities
  • A coincidence made the teacher discover a hidden skill in the student
  • A lucky exchange put the student on the way to their biggest accomplishment

Destiny has taught the student their most significant lessons, and the student is patiently waiting for what’s to come.

The theme behind the essay is clear: Destiny.

Stacked Essays are incredible tools that allow anyone to craft personal statements or essays that hook attention and captivate with a compelling collection of stories.

These two structures make it easy for anyone to craft fascinating application essays.

What you’ve read so far are just some of the many strategies we use with students to help them enroll in prestigious universities in the US.

You won’t find these strategies anywhere else, which makes my team different from anyone else.

Your Invitation To Work With Us

As I mentioned in the opening of this report.

This is what we do.

We help families win the competitive battle to get kids into the top university of their choice.

If you’d like my help implementing what you’ve read inside of this report, here’s how we can help:

You can start by booking a 15-minute action call today.

On this call, we’ll evaluate your student's current situation and the college goals you have in mind.

Based on this evaluation, we can suggest a strategy for your kid and the next steps you could take.

Closing Thoughts

When I put this together, I didn’t want to create just another generic resource. I wanted to share valuable insights & walk you through some of the steps we take to get our students into the colleges of their dreams.

Thanks for spending this time with me. I’ll talk to you soon.

See you in our Facebook  group,

Dr. Agnia Grigas smiling. Circle portrait on a cream background.