A productive gap year and Early Decision application helped him find his fit!

– Kunal, Vanderbilt University

The first time Kunal, applied to US colleges he was offered admission at many universities, but he couldn’t go because financial aid was essential and the universities he applied to did not offer need-based aid; so he decided to take a gap year.

Kunal refers to the gap year as a year of ‘enlightenment’ because he feels he grew intellectually, socially, and emotionally. He drew up a plan to utilize his gap year and improve his writing skills. He did an internship at USIEF to gain work-experience in an American work environment and an infrastructure company to gain hands on experience. He completed a research assistantship at IIT to enhance his practical knowledge in civil engineering and published a research paper.

The Red Pen helped Kunal identify the colleges that would fit his background, interests and financial aid requirements, including strategically applying to Vanderbilt University Early Decision II. Vanderbilt offered Kunal two things that were really important for him: music and civil engineering.

For Kunal, who enrolled at Vanderbilt on a full scholarship, the best part about attending his freshman year at Vanderbilt has been the diversity of his experiences. He has met people from all over the world making him feel like a global citizen. While academics and research play an important role, Kunal is trying different things – from learning German and Kung Fu to eating Jamaican and Mexican cuisine for the first time.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?