Why I’m Thankful To Be At Duke Today + How Opus Helped

Written by a current Duke student blogger and Opus College Prep alum

When I was a freshman in high school, I always knew that I wanted to attend a top-tier university. However, I didn’t exactly know what that school may be, as well as what being a top-tier university even means, besides having a small admissions rate and strong academics. I did what I could in 9th grade – aced my classes, joined various clubs such as Model United Nations and Future Business Leaders of America, and played basketball. But, I had no clear direction.

By the time sophomore year rolled around, I knew I wanted to study computer science and possibly finance. I continued my involvement in my clubs and also gained a few leadership positions. I also started taking more AP classes and worked a part-time job. However, as I started looking at what selective colleges look for in applicants, I realized that I wasn’t exactly shaping up to be that kind of student. 9th and 10th grade came and went, and I was in no position to be accepted to the schools I wanted to attend.

My experience with Opus College Prep began during my junior year and has proved to be extremely invaluable. At the time, I was ranked #1 at my school and felt happy with my overall academic outlook.  My Opus College Prep admissions coach helped me make my 11th grade year the most successful academic school year I ever had.  My counselor genuinely cared about my success in high school, which I could see through her enthusiasm for helping me navigate the many difficulties I encountered as well as her prompt responses.

Throughout 11th grade, my Opus College Prep admissions coach sent me information about awards and programs that are given particular emphasis at various universities. She helped me in the application process by reviewing my essays multiple times and giving me personalized feedback. Her advice has led me to earning several national awards and taking part in prestigious programs, which wouldn’t have been possible without her guidance. She encouraged me to write stellar speeches and helped me to achieve at every turn. I was proudest after being elected to our school’s leadership board. My counselor guided me on ways to present myself that I had never considered and it helped me enhance my image, too. Her coaching led me to being elected to President of four(4) clubs. I was also able to secure many research internships at prestigious universities during junior year. 

My coach never did the work for me, but she was thoughtful in guiding me to approach the work and offered insights and support on how to take the next steps. I could ask her any question and she was always there for me. Any problems that I was facing…whether it was no response from a particular program to confusion about how to start my essay, were solved with the help of my counselor. After 11th grade was finished, I was confident that I was a student that the best schools were looking for.

The summer before senior year was the summer of college applications. My counselor assisted in creating a list of colleges for me to apply to. After I knew which colleges to apply to, I spent dozens of hours drafting strong college essays. She would review each one in great detail and offer extensive feedback. She was always willing to meet me to go over essays and talk them through. By now, she knew me really well and would suggest creative ideas for me to add based on my personal experiences with leadership positions, clubs, awards, etc. She also assisted me in picking the best recommenders, while also helping me guide them to highlight my greatest strengths. I reviewed all of my school counselor and teacher questionnaires with her and was able to present recommenders with a resume I could be proud of. I am sure that my recommenders wrote the strongest letters of recommendation possible for this reason.  We also went through multiple rounds of mock interviews that ultimately allowed me to ace my interview for my dream school. My counselor even supported me at every turn and I overcame every obstacle with her support.

Working with Opus College Prep, I was also able to work with a financial aid specialist, who was very useful and guided my parents and me through the FAFSA, IDOC, and CSS Profile differences.   

I was able to win multiple national awards, work with several professors on their research projects at my top choice school, and craft essays that were stronger than what I could’ve imagined. I transformed from an unsure underclassman that had no spike to a strong, confident upperclassman going to one of the top schools in the country. Because of the support I received from Opus College Prep, I was accepted to my dream school of Duke University and I cannot thank Opus College Prep enough. 

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