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So, Why Sierra?

"We know how to help you make the most out of the parts of your application that are within your control. This knowledge comes from reading tens of thousands of applications by students in the toughest college cultures in the US—the Bay Area and Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey, Texas, Washington State, and New England."

The numbers are out.

And if you’ve been poring over rankings and fantasizing about being admitted to schools that reject even students who have built a working nuclear reactor in their garage?

Well, the numbers aren’t looking good.

Does contemplating what life might be like at these “impossible” schools cause your breath to quicken? Do your parents lie awake at night worrying about what might happen if you don’t get in? You aren’t alone.

There’s a reason that in addition to being known as “reaches” or “stretches” or “highly selective colleges” or HYPSM, these schools are also known by a more accurate designation: “highly rejective.”

Our work is based around two things we know about admissions:

  1. The admissions process at highly selective schools is designed to weed out even the most highly qualified candidates.
  2. There is no secret sauce or one-size-fits-all formula for success—and success itself means different things to different people.

The right application strategy—one that delivers great results that help students thrive—looks different for every student we work with.

And how could it not? We work with students who are Regeneron finalists and nationally recognized violinists as well as students who feel beat up by the competitiveness of their high school. Students who write poetry or equations deep into the night; who dislike math but have mad sewing skills, or who read academic journals alongside Marx and Foucault because they're fascinated by systems of surveillance and control.

Our approach to college admissions is grounded in our expertise as writers, application strategists, and former admissions officers from some of the most selective colleges in the US. We know the admissions process-–backward and forward, inside and out. We know how to help you make the most out of the parts of your application that are within your control. This knowledge comes from reading tens-of-thousands of applications by students in the most highly competitive college cultures in the US—the Bay Area and Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey, Texas, Washington State, and New England. 

Our approach is also grounded in a candid acknowledgment of the enormous toll of chasing after prestige and the unprecedented levels of stress and confusion that students and their families experience through the application process.

Our goal as consultants is to help you reflect on what you want from your education, build a list of schools appropriate to that goal, and then help create an application that captures unique qualities, curiosities, and strengths. It’s also our goal to help you differentiate from the sea of sameness plaguing admissions today.

Our goal is not to dissuade you from considering colleges that you’ve been trained from childhood to consider the pinnacle of success. (In fact, we have plenty of data to back our work with students who have applied and been admitted to a wide range of schools.)

Instead, our goal is to provide holistic guidance and to help you explore all your options. We want you to get into schools that aren’t just abstractly “good,” but that are specifically good for you.

We don’t work with every family because not everyone aligns with the services we provide. You shouldn’t work with us if…

  • You want someone who will tell you that there’s a magic formula for getting into Harvard or Stanford or Yale.
  • You want someone to tell you to take five AP’s your Junior year even though you’re struggling with your Sophomore year coursework and sleeping five hours a night.
  • You want someone to tell you exactly how to write your story, and what matters to you.

Instead, here’s what you can expect if we work together:

  • We’ll give you honest truth about your chances at selective schools—and tell you when you need to reframe your ambitions.
  • We’ll act as partners who will push you to chart a course in high school that avoids burnout, balancing sustainability with academic rigor and challenge.
  • We'll work with you from as early as your first year of high school to tackle school strategically.
  • We’ll take time to understand the intimate details of your story and resume to help draw out your strongest narratives. We’ll help you put your story powerfully into your own words, in a way that connects with what admissions officers are looking for in applicants.

Our goal is to help you enter the application process with optimism and confidence—not paralyzing anxiety that your accomplishments “won’t be enough.”

And once the application process begins, our goal is to help you craft the best, most authentic application possible to schools that fit your needs and profile as an applicant. Because you’re not just a number—you’re you.

Our job is to help admissions officers see that.