Helping youngsters navigate fierce competition to secure numerous Ivy League acceptances is no small feat, but Hale Education Group has managed just that. The Dubai-based educational consultancy has seen some impressive admission stats this year with acceptances to leading universities, including Ivies such as Yale, Columbia and Princeton, as well as Stanford, MIT, and Chicago, with students garnering almost $8 million (Dh29.38 million) in scholarships this year alone.

Founder and CEO Peter Davos attributes these triumphs to Hale’s model of connecting students with outlets for their academic and extracurricular interests, be it through conducting research with a university professor, developing a love for reading, launching a new service initiative, choosing the proper courses, or preparing for standardised tests. “This is a four-year process and the students we mentor from an early age benefit most from our guidance, as not only are they then well informed about the factors that will be considered in their candidacy, but we are also able to guide them on every step of their personal and academic journey.

“US universities will assess a candidate on four years of achievement and participation both inside and outside of the classroom, including summers. So we at Hale are mentors first. Our work does not begin with the application process, but culminates with it.”

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Which means that other than the obvious areas of academics, standardised test scores, extracurricular activities and internships, Hale helps students focus on personal development and building a genuine, organic narrative based on their interests, finding their voice and making an impact on their wider community. Peter stresses that exceptional grades and stellar test scores are simply not enough. “US universities care about who the applicants are as human beings – not simply as students. The most competitive applicants will have demonstrated exceptional achievement – or a ‘spike’ in the parlance of admissions – that has garnered them national recognition, whether it be in athletics, Math Olympiads, the Google Science Fair, global Model UN conferences, patents, app development, published works, or service. They must demonstrate academic mastery, as well as depth of personal character. They must also be excellent written and oral communicators.”

It was precisely such mentorship and strategising that helped 17-year-old Aadit Palicha from Gems Modern Academy get accepted into Stanford University recently. Aadit says his Hale counsellors served as a constant source of reliable, crucial advice to power him through the journey, lending his application an authenticity that helped him stand out. “Throughout most of my high school education, I didn’t prepare to impress an Admissions Officer. Instead, I worked on genuinely pursuing the fields I was interested in, such as entrepreneurship and politics.”

Dubai student Aadit Palicha got accepted to Stanford with Hale’s mentorship and application support
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He says the team at Hale encouraged him to push through major moments of self-doubt after rejections and deferrals early in this process. “It seriously made me reconsider my chances at any top university, but Peter and his team reassured me that rejection was a normal and necessary aspect of this process. I now plan to study Computer Science at Stanford University and I’m hoping to pursue a career in technology entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.”

Through the entire process, Peter says he always urges his students to dig below the surface of preconceived notions, “such as ‘Harvard is not good for Engineering’ or ‘Johns Hopkins is only for Pre-Med students’. Don’t be lured into making your application decisions based on subjective rankings, but on qualitative, in-depth research. You are shopping for a home for four years, please conduct your due diligence, as to be accepted is one aspect to consider, but to find the proper environment in which you will thrive is wholly another.”

For more information or for a free consultation with the Hale team, call 04 578 6499 or visit www.haleeducation.com.

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