The college admissions process has never been more competitive. Last year the Ivy League received almost 250,000 applications for 17,000 spots and at UCLA, one of the top public universities in the country, 92,000 applications came in for its 5,800 spots in the freshman class.
With his new book, "Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges," Carmel Valley native Greg Kaplan hopes to help position students for success. His book provides a guide to help kids meet their dreams of attending their top-choice school by using strategic planning that begins early and crafting an application that stands out from the rest.
Kaplan will share some of his strategies at a free book talk at the Carmel Valley Library on Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
"The book is designed to motivate people," Kaplan said. "It can work for you."
Kaplan, who attended Carmel Creek Elementary School and was part of the first graduating class of Carmel Valley Middle School, graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2005. He went to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and worked in private equity firms in Los Angeles and Brazil before heading to law school at UC Irvine.
Kaplan just completed law school and took the bar exam in July. He plans to work as an attorney as well as run his side business of college admissions consulting, Soaring Eagle College Consulting, that he co-founded three years ago.
Soaring Eagle works with applicants as early as seventh grade to develop high-value skills and interests that admissions officers admire, and provides assistance in crafting an admissions essay that demonstrates value and shows off the students' voice and personality. Soaring Eagle also helps international students who are looking to study in the U.S.
The idea for the book was born out of people always asking him how he got into Penn and how they could help their kids get into their choice school.
"It's something that I'm really passionate about," Kaplan said. "With a lot of strategy, you can take that application to the next level. I really enjoy helping people out."
In developing the book, Kaplan spoke with many people who sat on admissions committees and found out what they are most looking for in an application. He also drew a lot on his personal experiences, what worked for him, fellow classmates and close friends who found success.
The book offers advice on the objective parts of an application — grades, test scores and the importance of early test prep – and strategies on how to approach taking competitive classes in high school and mapping out a plan on how to perform well.
Parents and students may be tempted to sign up for as many Advanced Placement or honors classes as possible, but Kaplan said students shouldn't be in a rush to pack them in.
"Creating a compelling transcript is a marathon, not a sprint," Kaplan said. "Play to your child's strengths and encourage your child to take a schedule that is manageable and one that he or she can earn the best grades possible."
With the subjective part of an application, he takes the approach of an admissions officer, encouraging students to participate in after-school activities that "boost the odds of standing out from other applicants." Kaplan said it's important that kids are passionate about the activities they choose, whether its sports, volunteering or the arts.
"Your child should seek leadership opportunities wherever possible," Kaplan said. "Encourage your child to adopt the mantra of quality over quantity for the activities they participate in."
The book has also been translated to Chinese and Korean. As the number of kids coming to study in the U.S. from abroad has risen tenfold in the last 10 years, Kaplan said a lot of Asian-American kids are feeling a disadvantage.
More than anything, Kaplan hopes to help take some of the anxiety out of applying to college.
"This book will help people be calm," Kaplan said. "Have a plan in place and the college admission process will go better than you expect."
"Earning Admission" is available on Amazon, iBook and Barnes and Noble. For more information visit earningadmission.com or soaringeaglecollege.com. The Carmel Valley Library is located at 3919 Townsgate Drive, Carmel Valley, 92130.