A letter to the parents of the Class of 2025


By Rajkamal Rao

Updated: Jan 10, 2024

I wanted to take a few moments to outline what to expect for your teenager during the next few months.

Core academics: In most cases, the foundation of a high school student's profile is formed by the end-of-11th grade credentials (WGPA, class rank, and special certificates such as the AP Capstone Diploma). Please review our post: What colleges look for in high school students.

Summer extracurriculars: The summer between the 11th and 12th grade can be crucial to demonstrating extracurricular interest/leadership/experience in your student's field. Please visit our post here - we have significantly expanded our summer opportunity list. Many institutions have already closed their application windows, but several are still open. We urge you to act promptly. If you have not received our long-form resume template in which your teenager will brag about all their accomplishments, we will send it to you when we meet for our college selection discussion.

College admission tests: Tests are
important because they help confirm the legitimacy of your high school GPA. We require you to have at least one SAT or ACT score on file before scheduling a meeting to discuss potential colleges and majors. Our tool relies on Department of Education data about the 25th and 75th percentile cutoffs for your desired college. If you have not taken the SAT/ACT even once, you must at least have the results of one official mock test that you have taken at home before you can meet with us. Review our post here about preparing for the SAT/ACT if you are taking it this summer. All the California public universities, Harvard and the other Ivies, Stanford, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago will be test-optional for the Class of 2025. The southern California public schools, such as UCLA and UC San Diego, will be test-blind for the Class of 2024. We can decide your score submission strategy when we meet.

Task plan: Please review our post that outlines your student's various steps to complete college applications this season. We list our proprietary tools to assist you at each stage - tools that we will share with you as we encounter each step. Many of these tools are designed to limit your engagement with us so that your teenager builds confidence as a do-it-yourself-er and you save from fewer invoices from us!

Essays: Your student's college essays will remain the most critical part of the application package. Please sit with your teenager to review our primer on essays. We have invested heavily in the essay review process and replicate the process that colleges employ.

Each essay goes through a two-pass review.
On our team are strong creative writers affiliated with institutions such as Stanford and Duke. Our second-pass review examines every word and punctuation mark for correctness, clarity, engagement, delivery, final presentation, and plagiarism. 

I will use my years of experience as a columnist and 17-years of management consulting experience to oversee review operations. I currently serve on the editorial board of tippinsights, from America's most accurate pollster, writing 3-4 editorials a week. More than 550 articles of mine have already appeared across various media outlets including The Hindu and the Times of India. I bring this writing experience and context to world affairs to each college essay I review.

Results: Our investments and efforts have paid off. Several clients were interviewed at the best schools, including MIT, Caltech, Yale, Columbia, CMU, Princeton, Penn, Brown, Cornell, CMU, and Johns Hopkins. During the Early Decision cycle for the class of 2024, students got confirmed admissions to Stanford, Rice, Johns Hopkins, and Wash U. Many clients reported getting into some of the best public Ivies. UT Austin, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, UCLA, the University of Michigan, Purdue, the University of Virginia, and the College of William and Mary repeatedly made the list. Clients also got into Texas A&M, Arizona State, the University of Washington, the University of Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.

Our clients have continued to acknowledge our work through their public reviews - we have been a Google 5-star small business for six years in a row.


Please review our latest Fees page. Our business model is to provide you with as much public information as you want for free - via our popular posts on this website, Facebook page, and public seminars. We only charge when you engage with us for one-on-one help, either online or offline. But you control how much you want to engage, down to the hour. This allows you to better budget your spend. It is one reason we are so popular with our clients.

We have developed new tools that will likely lower your overall hours of engagement, such as reusing essays, distributing detailed notes with action items, or self-managing your task plan. Our college selection sheet instantly predicts your chance of admission to 578 colleges based on your admission test scores. Our library of over 50 original posts dedicated to the 11th and 12th grader is loaded with information. Our Facebook Business Page, operational since 2013, contains a treasure-trove of information about every aspect of college readiness. Our model of encouraging you to limit engagement with us to only those elements for which you need one-on-one assistance may be counter-intuitive. But it is the reason for our growth and positioning in this industry.

So, how much money should you have to allocate for your student this college admission season? This will depend upon how many supplemental essays are required and how much of the developed essay content can be safely reused across institutions. Every student’s list of desired colleges and majors is different. Some want to apply for honors programs. Others want to apply to scholarships. Every student’s ability to write is different.

With so many variables, a package pricing model is sub-optimal, but, on average, a budget of 15-20 hours of engagement for Texas public universities (UT Austin, Texas A&M) is a reasonable estimate, honors and scholarship essays not included. UTD and the University of Houston generally do not require essays except in special circumstances (such as going test-optional). This estimate includes all aspects, from the initial meeting to professional reviews of resume and all required essays, plus assistance to fill out the college application and FAFSA.

Because we don't require contracts and offer plenty of do-it-yourself tools, you could further lower costs by engaging with us only when needed. With us, you're always in control.

Our customers have told us that they particularly like this flexibility.  We like it too.

Next steps: Please begin your engagement with us early. The first or second week of June is the best time to start. ApplyTex opens July 1. The Common App and Coalition App open on Aug 1. But essay prompts are already out. The earlier we complete your part of the admissions process, the better off you will be. Please use our online calendar to reserve your spot.

12th-graders are our most important constituency, given how truly life-changing the Senior year can be. As during previous years, we will shutter our services to all other grades between Sep 1 and Nov 1, the busiest eight weeks of the college admissions season. If you have a younger one needing help, we ask you to book appointments outside this window.

I hope to work with your student in the coming months. Good luck!

​Rajkamal Rao

A Note About Rao Advisors Premium Services
Our promise is to empower you with high-quality, ethical and free advice via this website.  But parents and students often ask us if they can engage with us for individual counseling sessions.

Individual counseling is part of the Premium Offering of Rao Advisors and involves a fee.  Please contact us for more information.

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