We recently celebrated Green Ivy Educational Consulting’s 15th anniversary, and in celebration, we wanted to share the stories of a few of the many students who have worked with us over the years. 

Bo's story is one of my favorites, especially in the area of setting personal and academic goals. When he first started working with us, he set a GPA goal, and was determined to both start on the varsity water polo team and win CCS—and all three came true! 

Why did you originally come to Green Ivy?

I wasn't the most studious high school student, but I had ambitions to go to a great university and I wanted options. When I started at Green Ivy, my grades were poor and I was a horrible test taker, and while I realized grades aren't everything, raising mine meant I would have a wider range of options for college.

How long did you work with us? Almost three years.

Which skills or habits did you learn that were the most effective in helping you achieve your own goals? Test taking + organization! That was what helped me the most, that and how to study effectively and retain the most important information. I was used to just getting by, barely getting my homework done in time, and didn't know how to use the knowledge I was learning.

Did you continue to use these skills throughout high school and college?

If yes, which ones specifically? Organization and preparation! I am now in the travel industry and am one of the biggest "planners" around, according to my peers. I like to have everything mapped out these days, and it all goes back to the skills I learned working with Ana!

Describe your work today. What is your favorite part of your job?

I started a company, JusCollege, with a high school friend. We are a student travel company focused on providing high-end experiences for students at a fraction of the cost. We focus on Spring Break travel, senior trips to Vegas, ski trips, fraternity weekenders in cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville and much more. We also are the official collegiate marketing arm and partner of music festivals around the country that provides discounts for 18-25 year olds. My favorite part of my job is doing what I love. I enjoy going to work every day, creating my own schedule (even though I work 60-100 hour weeks) and providing experiences my clients are going to remember for the rest of their lives.

What surprised you most about working with Green Ivy?

I enjoyed it (haha). Previously, I hated academic counseling and tutoring, but Ana made my experience amazing. Not only did I see results, but I enjoyed spending time in the office.

Do you have any favorite moments or stories about your time at Green Ivy that you’d like to share?

I would say meeting my goals, from my GPA and water polo achievements to college admissions. I got into 4 out of the 5 top schools I wanted to go to, and ended up at CU-Boulder. I set a goal before my junior year to start on the varsity water polo team as well as win CCS that year. Halfway through the year the head coach decided to bench three seniors and move younger guys (one of them being me) into the starting lineup. Once that happened, we didn't lose a single game and upset Menlo in the championship against a goalie who was ranked as best in the world at that time. I ended up scoring the winning goal with a buzzer beater at the end of the 3rd quarter.

If you could go back and have a conversation with your younger self about school, what advice would you give?

Listen to your elders and take their advice. They have been there before and have learned from many mistakes.

What are your current professional and personal goals?

To sell my company in the next 1-4 years, take a year off and travel the world (for enjoyment and not work) and then come back into a sales consulting role or VP of Sales for another startup. I want to enjoy what I'm doing and go into work every day with a smile on my face. I was lucky enough to take a risk and become an entrepreneur as soon as I graduated. Somehow I've been lucky enough to have my first endeavor actually work out but I believe that's a testamant to my hard work, dedication and refusal to give up. I plan to take this with me for the rest of my life on helping smaller companies grow themselves into what they envision.

What do you love most about where you are now in life?

For years after paying yourself next to nothing, to see things come to fruition and be financially taken care of is quite satisfying. More importantly, I'm closer with my friends and family than ever since I can finally be okay with taking some time off. I'm able to travel where I want to, do the things I want and don't have a sense of guilt that I should be working. After grinding for 4-5 years, having that freedom I'd say is rather satisfying. It's also rather gratifying at 29 years old, knowing you'll be "okay" in life no matter what happens.

And a few more just for fun...

Dream gig: Being a father
Best invention of all time: A plane
Dream vacation: Traveling all over the world in a private jet for a month (snowboarding + beaches)
Favorite movie: Too difficult, too many
Breakfast staple(s): French Toast

I still remember when Erin drove down to our Green Ivy office and joyfully proclaimed, "I GOT IN!!!" after getting into her first choice college, Notre Dame (where she works today). Erin always brought such a wonderful energy and joy to our office, and I am so thrilled to hear about the work she is doing today.

Why did you originally come to Green Ivy?

I came to Green Ivy because I was looking for guidance with my college applications and SAT prep. I wanted to improve my critical thinking skills to both do well on the SAT and create stronger college essays. Ana and her staff listened to my opinions about what I wanted in a college experience and used their expertise to collaborate with me to create a fantastic college list. What stays with me is how much time Ana and her staff spent getting to know me as a person beyond the application process. Everyone in the office was always incredibly welcoming and kind.

How long did you work with us?

I started at Green Ivy during my junior year for SAT tutoring, and then worked with Ana in senior year during the college admission process.

Did you continue to use these skills throughout high school and college? If yes, which ones specifically?

My weekly meetings with Ana and her staff members kept me accountable, and decreased my tendency to procrastinate. I also learned valuable organizational skills, like how to plan out my time effectively and strategically. I used these skills throughout high school and college, and they are still crucial to me as I move forward in my career.

Describe your work today. What is your favorite part of your job?

Today, I'm working in Higher Education at the University of Notre Dame. After I graduated from college, I decided to pursue alternative-certification teaching through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Teaching Fellows Program. This allowed me to pursue a cost-free Master of Education degree from Notre Dame while teaching full-time at a Catholic school and living in an international community in Oklahoma. Now, my job is the recruitment, selection, placement and formation of current ACE teachers out in the field. One of my favorite parts of the job is how varied it is; I'm responsible for visiting universities, checking in with our current teachers at their schools, and many different types of year-round programming.

What surprised you most about working with Green Ivy?

How much I learned about my own strengths, but also the ways I could work to improve my faults or traits I wasn't happy with. Ana and her staff always challenged me to think about the ways I could alter the habits that weren't working for me and implement something new. I've used this method of self-reflection throughout my time as an undergraduate and graduate student, and now as a professional.

Do you have any favorite moments or stories about your time at Green Ivy that you’d like to share?

The college admissions process is tense and high-stress, so that is a lot of what I remember. However, while I don't have one favorite memory, I always found myself laughing and smiling at some point during my sessions at Green Ivy. This was partly because I felt so comfortable there and because I knew everyone cared about me as a person as well as a student.

If you could go back and have a conversation with your younger self about school, what advice would you give?

Definitely to stress less, and that life will all work out exactly as it's supposed to. It's just not worth it to micromanage yourself. I would also tell myself to relax more about grades and numbers, and to learn more about the world outside of high school. I would advise expanding my horizons and exploring unfamiliar communities by asking questions, and by listening to other people's stories.

What are your current professional and personal goals?

Currently, I'm really happy in my work, but I miss being a classroom teacher. I think that at some point, I will probably go back to earn another graduate degree. I love my work in the  Catholic community and its schools, and am interested in eventually taking on a leadership role. I'm not sure if that means I'll become a principal eventually or keep working in the field of teacher development, but I'm excited to see what the next phase of my career might be.

What do you love most about where you are now in life?

I love my community. So much of who you develop into as a person depends on the people with whom you surround surround yourself. High school and college was a harder time, because I was still trying to find my place in the world. Starting to explore and find that niche in the last several years for myself has been a complete joy.

And a few more just for fun...

Last book you read just because:
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Definitely worth reading when you've got some time to delve into a fun, complex story intertwining generations and nations.
Best invention of all time:
Is ice cream considered an invention? If so, then ice cream. Any Ben & Jerry's flavor works for me...
Dream vacation:
After reading Beautiful Ruins, I've really been set on Italy lately. Or Hawaii. You can't beat Hawaii.
Favorite movie:
About Time is a great, newer movie. Finding Nemo is a classic that I can always sit down and watch.
Breakfast staple(s):
I love my Special K breakfast bars and a cup of heavily sweetened coffee or tea.

Julia and I met at a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club when she was a high school junior, and we've had so many great memories over the years that it is hard to find a favorite. I'll share one. Like many students, Julia was pretty stressed out about everything during her senior year in high school, and during a December breakfast meeting at Stacks in Menlo Park, I had her write three goals on the back of some receipt paper. Six months later, all three of those goals (including getting into college and finding a way to pay for it) happened. Four years later, this picture was taken at her graduation from Loyola Marymount University. Julia recently wrote this op-ed in the SF Chronicle about The Priceless Gift of Mentoring. 

Why did you originally come to Green Ivy?

At the beginning of my junior year, I met Ana at a Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser in San Francisco. Ever since I was a kid, I had been going to the East Palo Alto Boys and Girls Club, and was being honored as the Boys and Girls Club "Girl of the Year" and went up to her because she was the only person that seemed to be around my age. As we were talking, I began to complain about the up coming SAT test I had to take. About a week later, Ana reached out to me and invited me to come to her office and receive free tutoring sessions.

How long did you work with us?

I worked with Green Ivy for two years.

Which skills or habits did you learn that were the most effective in helping you achieve your own goals?

Ana would always ask me to write out my future goals. This helped me visualize my goals and create specific plans to achieve them. Whenever I felt anxious or stressed about school or life, I would reflect on my ultimate plans and re-organize my thoughts.

Did you continue to use these skills throughout high school and college? If yes, which ones specifically?

Yes, it has become a life skill that I use everyday. After college, I was confused about my future career plans. I began reflecting on what I wanted in a job and all the things I would have to do to achieve my goal.  By the end of last summer, I cofounded a tech startup, called Trekk Moving. We are based in LA, and we help small businesses with daily delivery services. We've been quite successful so far, and received interest from a startup incubator and hope to start working with them next year.

Describe your work today. What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working for my own startup that provides business delivery services. My work comes with many challenges but it’s the most rewarding job I have ever had, and I love implementing my ideas and watching my company grow.

What surprised you most about working with Green Ivy?

I was surprised I would make so many connections with my tutors. Ana has become one of my mentors. I am truly surprised by how meaningful my relationship with Ana has been. It inspired me to to write about my experience in an OpEd piece called, The Priceless Gift of a Mentor, that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Do you have any favorite moments or stories about your time at Green Ivy that you’d like to share?

I remember I spent a whole day at the Green Ivy office while I was working on my college essays. I received help from every tutor at the office. I was determined to get the perfect essay and I remembered thinking how this was the most stressful assignment I had done at the time. So when I received 7 out of 7 college acceptance letters I could not wait to show off to Ana, Becca and all the other tutors.

If you could go back and have a conversation with your younger self about school, what advice would you give?

Enjoy college because it goes by fast. Don't try to be perfect just have fun.

What are your current professional and personal goals?

My professional goals are to continue to learn as much as I can, mentor students and grow my company.

What do you love most about where you are now in life?

I love how I still have so much to learn and am excited about that for the first time.

And a few more just for fun...

Last book you read just because: Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso
Dream acting gig: How to Get Away With Murder
Best invention of all time: Laptop
Dream vacation: Italy
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump
Breakfast staple(s): French Toast

I still remember Mary's college application essay about her love for dance and her dream of becoming a Rockette, and she moved to NYC, graduated from NYU, and is now a professional dancer.

Why did you originally come to Green Ivy?

I came to Green Ivy early in my junior year of high school—at the peak of SAT stress, looming college applications, and tough AP courses.  It was great to have academic support outside of school and someone other than my parents to nag me about potential college choices and application deadlines.

How long did you work with us?

I visited Green Ivy throughout my last two years of high school.

Which skills or habits did you learn that were the most effective in helping
 you achieve your own goals?

I believe that I came into Green Ivy with some pretty good study skills and work habits...but perhaps I was a little too stubborn in my ways. The greatest lesson I learned was to ask for help, both in school and life in general.  Instead of fighting through a tough subject alone—which I used to think was admirable—asking for help made me more engaged in the material and, as a result, more successful.

Did you continue to use these skills throughout high school and college? If yes, which ones specifically?

This newfound fearlessness in the classroom really helped shape my college experience.  In classes that were out of my comfort zone, I would go to peer study groups and my professors’ office hours.  And in my core classes I began to ask questions and pose arguments to challenge myself and engage with the subject matter beyond just listening to a lecture, taking notes, and passing an exam.  I believe that the more you immerse yourself in your education, the more you’ll get out of it.

What surprised you most about working with Green Ivy?

I was both surprised and grateful by how smooth the college application process was.  I had a plan from the minute I stepped into Green Ivy—when I would take the SATs, how I would research schools I was interested in, and when deadlines were.  The whole experience can seem daunting, but thanks to Green Ivy I was never stressed about deadlines or overwhelmed with the process.

Do you have any favorite moments or stories about your time at Green Ivy that you’d like to share?

A standout moment was when Mason jumped on my lap in the middle of a session! I love when Mason and Sallie are in the office.  They’re a testament to how much the office feels like a home. When you walk in, everyone greets you by name and asks about your day.  It really is like a family.

If you could go back and have a conversation with your younger self about school, what advice would you give?

There are two pieces of writing that I wish I had read and really taken the time to understand.  You know that poem “The Road Less Taken” by Robert Frost?  True story.  And Marianne Williamson’s “Our Deepest Fear.”
One of my favorite memories is how your college application personal statement was all about your love for dance, and how you continue to dance professionally today.

Describe your work today. What is your favorite part of your job? What are your current professional and personal goals?

I am still so proud of my college essay—I wrote about my dream of becoming a Rockette and about my beliefs as a feminist.  I honestly feel that writing and submitting that essay was a turning point in my life — a declaration to the world (and to myself) of my vocation.

After high school I attended Scripps College, a very small liberal arts women’s college in Southern California.  I loved the empowering intellectual environment at Scripps.  Every student was so passionate about what she was studying.  I found my voice there, especially when I decided to double major in Dance and Writing.  But when all of my friends were applying to go abroad their junior year, I felt hesitant.  Of course I wanted to travel and study abroad, but I was pulled in another direction.  On kind of a whim I applied to a professional training program at Broadway Dance Center in New York City.  To my surprise, I was accepted, and my parents agreed to let me take a semester off from college to live in New York and “get dance out of my system.”  That didn’t exactly happen.  The training program was incredible; I took twelve dance classes per week including seminars and mock auditions taught by renowned choreographers in the industry.  And at the end of my program, a talent agent signed me—an affirmation that I not only loved this business, but someone else believed I could be successful in it, too.

While working as a professional dancer in New York, I graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School where I was able to take night classes part-time.  At Gallatin, I self-designed my own major in Writing Dance.  Since graduating I’ve continued to dance (for commercials, national tours, regional theatre, and music videos) and write (for publications like Dance Spirit, Dance Informa, and Broadway World).
I both love and hate how untraditional my jobs are.  I don’t work 9-5 at a cubicle.  I can bring my laptop to get work done in Central Park or take dance classes in the middle of the day.  But this business is never secure.  So I also feel like I’m always working—pitching articles, taking classes, attending auditions—because you never know when your next gig will be or how long it will last.

I want to keep dancing for as long as I can.  It brings me so much joy.  Last year I performed on the national tour of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and herniated a disc in my back several months into the run.  The injury made me realize how important dance is to me but also that I’m really passionate about writing and the administrative side of the performing arts.  I’m currently looking into going to business school—but trying to make it work so I can keep dancing at the same time.

What do you love most about where you are now in life?

I love that I am in control of where I choose to go in my life.  That sounds obvious, but in high school it often seemed like life was a formula: if you take these classes you’ll attend this college, get this job, and live a “normal” life.  I love that I’m on my own path and am creating opportunities that work for me rather than fitting myself into some kind of mold.

And a few more just for fun...

Last book you read just because: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Dream gig: Radio City Rockettes
Best invention of all time: Keurig
Dream vacation: Paris
Favorite movie: (that’s tough...but favorite TV show is Unreal)
Breakfast staple(s): Avocado toast...and coffee!

When Julian first came to my office, he thought he needed to attend a certain exclusive science program to demonstrate his interest in science. I suggested he instead look into getting an internship, and helped him put his resume together. He landed a (paid!!) research lab position at Stanford, where the lovely professor allowed him the opportunity to do his own experiments as well. As a result of that experience, he was a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search contest in 2011 for his research on how plant roots mainly grow toward gravity but also away from light.

On March 30, 2011, he wrote me one of my favorite emails of all time (yes, I kept it):

SUBJECT: College News!!!!!!!!

Hi Ana,

I got waitlisted by Stanford, rejected by Princeton, but none of that matters, because I got into Harvard!!!!!!!

Thanks for everything!!!

Julian

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Why did you originally come to Green Ivy?

I came to Green Ivy because I was looking for a college counselor who could provide individualized and honest, guidance that is often missing in public school counseling programs.

How long did you work with us?

I started working with Ana from around March of my junior spring, until after college applications were submitted that winter.

Which skills or habits did you learn that were the most effective in helping you achieve your own goals?

Perhaps the most important idea I learned from working with Ana was not to be afraid of taking risks in carving out your own interests. Each of us has grown up with so many different experiences, and they come together to form unique interests, regardless of how similar they may initially seem. Many times, it is impossible for existing opportunities to cater to exactly what you want, so sometimes it may be up to you to seek them out or create them.

Did you continue to use these skills throughout high school and college? If yes, which ones specifically?

Yes, many of the experiences that I have had in college were a direct result of me seeking out my own interests when they were not posted on the school website, or printed on flyers across campus. Not all of my projects panned out the way I wanted them to, but each of them helped shape who I am today and what I want to do in the future.

Describe your work today. What is your favorite part of your job? 

Currently, I help run clinical trials for cancer patients. My favorite part of the job is having the opportunity to be a part of each patient's unique story, and to support and guide them through their treatments, through good news and bad .

What surprised you most about working with Green Ivy?

I was most surprised about the truly individualized guidance I received. Each time I came to Green Ivy, I was able to meet with Ana, who was familiar with my experiences and goals right from the start; all of our discussions were shaped by my own personal aspirations. Ana always worked hard to make sure that I could present the best version of myself, instead of simply trying to mold my application after that of another successful students. 

Do you have any favorite moments or stories about your time at Green Ivy that you’d like to share

At one meeting, in the midst of college application season, Ana strongly encouraged me to get my driver's license. Moments like this remind that Green Ivy is about helping students develop into young adults, not just picking out a list of colleges to apply to, or creating the perfect college application.

If you could go back and have a conversation with your younger self about school, what advice would you give?

Don't be afraid to take risks! Each time you start to feel comfortable, it means you need to push yourself just a little further out of your comfort zone.

What are your current professional and personal goals?

I am currently applying to medical school.

What do you love most about where you are now in life?

I love that I have had the opportunity to have work experience before starting medical school again. I'm glad that I had the chance to learn how to live by myself as an adult, and I know these experiences will help conceptualize medical school not just as an educational program, but as part of my own life.

And a few more just for fun. . . 

Best invention of all time: Airplane

Dream vacation: Spending a few months in the Italian countryside 

Favorite movie: La Dolce Vita

Breakfast staple(s): Bacon and eggs