Apply. Compete. Succeed.  Blog

Category: Academics

Jason Lum interviewed on KSDK, St. Louis, Missouri

March 27, 2019

My thoughts on the ongoing debate about college admissions from Channel 5, KSDK, in St. Louis, Missouri. It's a great piece that gives an overview of the increasing complexity of college admissions. As always, contact me at 651-765-7485 if you'd like a free consultation about how I can help your family in this process. Link below:

KSDK St. Louis



Read More

ScholarEdge Shares the Outrage over Bribery in College Admissions

March 23, 2019

With all the media attention (rightfully so) about alleged payoffs to coaches and alleged fraud in taking the SAT and ACT, I wanted to keep things in perspective. Keep in mind I have been a private college consultant for nearly 20 years, so I know what I am talking about here.

1. I have never heard of anything REMOTELY similar to this controversy. You can rest assured that based on my experience, this does NOT happen with any level of frequency in the college admissions process. Even some of the universities in question, like USC, were unaware that their coaches were allegedly being bribed!

2. ScholarEdge, to repeat, fully condemns these practices if true. We have never paid anyone at a college to help get our students admitted. Period. And that is not going to change. 

3. Our students do perfectly fine and our services, rates, and professionalism are among the best in private college consulting,

Call me directly at 651-765-7485 if you have any concerns whatsoever. Remember, as in any profession - law, medicine, accounting, etc. - a few so-called "bad apples" do not represent the overwhelming number of professionals who adhere to superior ethical principles.

All the best,


Read More

ScholarEdge Endorses IECA Ethics News Release

March 12, 2019

IECA Stresses Ethics and Personal Fit to Guide Students in Choosing a College

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and its members are committed to helping families find the most appropriate college for their students, and assist families in navigating the application process. [NOTE: Jason Lum is an IECA Professional Member] Following a comprehensive code of ethics, IECA members are professionals who understand and adhere to high ethical standards in all their interactions with clients and institutions and are compensated by and work exclusively on behalf of their client families.

In response to the breaking news of an FBI probe and Justice Department charges for 50 people—college officials from elite institutions, wealthy parents, coaches, and others—in a long-running admissions bribery scheme, IECA CEO Mark Sklarow said, “The charges presented today exemplify the intense anxiety that even some wealthy parents feel about their children being admitted to their preferred colleges.”

Parents and students should keep the following advice in mind as they begin their college search.

The college search and application process should be a fun and exciting time for students and their families. If anyone in any setting is exerting pressure or causing undue anxiety and pressure, be cautious. If you are told someone has “inside” information, can pull strings, provide shortcuts to admission, or give you a special advantage (for a fee or otherwise), you are being misled.
There are many great postsecondary options for every student, and no student should be made to feel that they must become something they are not to get accepted. The “best” school is the school that fits a student academically, socially, and financially. Being and presenting one’s authentic self and demonstrating one’s own talents and abilities is a way of ensuring the right college fit. This is central to what an ethical independent educational consultant does.
The vast majority of admissions officers, school counselors, and IECs are ethical and compassionate professionals who dedicate their careers to advising students and families.

If you decide to seek help with the college search and application process outside of the school setting, ensure that you hire someone who is a member of a professional organization, such as IECA or NACAC, that requires them to abide by the highest ethical standards. A fully vetted independent educational consultant (IEC) will be solely concerned about an individual student’s well-being and helping to gain admission to a school where they will thrive and succeed on their own merits.

Read More

ScholarEdge and Integrity

March 12, 2019

You may have read today about an elaborate "pay to play" college admissions scam, where - allegedly - some very high net worth celebrities and business people paid individuals to bribe coaches to increase their kids' chances of college admission. Even worse, there are allegations of cheating on the SAT and ACT promoted by individuals who allegedly used expert test-takers to pose as students.

Rest assured that ScholarEdge has never and will never pay anyone in the college admissions process to give one of our students an advantage. The simple truth is that we don't need to - our students do just fine in the college application process and thrive at the colleges or universities they attend.

Jason Lum is a professional member of IECA and a member of NACAC. Both organizations have firm rules of ethics that prohibit independent college advisors from engaging in this type of unethical and allegedly criminal behavior.

Just FYI, some useful links to give you peace of mind that when you work with ScholarEdge, you work with America's top college application professionals who adhere to the highest standards of ethics:

• Why Choose a Member of the IECA? 

• 10 Important Ways IECA Members Are Unlike Other IECs:

• Principles of Good Practice:

Read More

Getting a Head Start on the Common Application – Why You Should Start This Summer

March 21, 2017

Getting a head start on the Common Application – why you should start this summer How would you like to spend your senior year? Would you like to spend it harried, running around frantically trying to complete your college applications? Or would you rather complete your college applications early so that you can enjoy your senior year without worries of essay prompts and recommendations in the forefront of your mind?

If you chose the latter, then you should start the application process this summer.  Getting a head start on the Common Application will not only save you a ton of stress, but will also help you stay organized during the process.

Read More

Class Planning for Senior Year: What to Take and Why

February 20, 2017

Class Planning for Senior Year What to Take and WhyIt’s your senior year and you're probably feeling just as excited as you are exhausted. You don’t know what the future holds, but you’re hoping that college is your next big step.  After all, you’ve paid your dues: you’ve taken the standardized tests, made good grades, volunteered when needed, and also took on extracurricular activities from sports to band – all to impress a panel of strangers who hold the key to your future in their hands.

Clearly, the college admissions process can be an emotional rollercoaster.  And at this point in the process, most students will decide that they’ve done all that they can do to convince admissions to select them over another candidate.

Blaming senioritis, seniors everywhere will convince themselves that their last year of high school doesn’t really matter to colleges.  Many students will be tempted to slack off and will make the mistake of cruising through their senior year, hoping to avoid taking anything that could be considered academically rigorous.  

But before you write-off your senior year as nothing more than a waiting period until your “real” life starts, consider using your senior year instead as a way to prepare for the academic rigor of college.  Furthermore, enrolling in certain types of courses can help you earn credit in high school that you can use later in college.

Below are a few ideas of what courses to take during your senior year and why...

Read More

ScholarEdge’s Top Three State Universities

February 17, 2015

Many years ago, someone coined the term “Public Ivy League School.” The phrase was meant to refer to state universities that have such high academic standards and international stature that they approximate – if not equal – anything the Ivy League has to offer.

Not many public universities can claim this. However, three undoubtedly do.

In fact, one of the most common questions I get from my clients is what are the top state universities in the USA. I think it’s a very good question. Obviously every state in the nation has publically-funded universities. But just like private universities, not all public universities are created equal. There are real differences in the academic rigor, alumni loyalty, endowments, and selectivity between state universities.

Here are my top three institutions:

Read More

Reed College: The Best College You Have (Probably) Never Heard Of

February 3, 2014

With almost 3,000 public and private four-year colleges and universities in the United States, there is a bewildering number of higher education options. One school that you probably have never heard of is Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon. Reed is a terrific liberal arts college, and like most small liberal arts colleges it doesn’t have sports teams that you hear about on SportsCenter, or read about in the papers. It’s a school that is often eclipsed by the large state universities in the Pacific Northwest, especially the University of Oregon and the University of Washington. However, this is a wonderful school well worth checking out – for a particular kind student.

Reed creates students who often go on to get PhD’s. It’s a place for people who truly love to study, and love to study oftentimes arcane and esoteric materials. Their motto is “Communism, Atheism, and Free Love” (note: I am not making this up). I often describe Reed those who haven’t been there as a place where thinkers love to think with other creative minds. Most first-time visitors to Reed are shocked by the way the students dress and the interests that students have. This is a student body that comes to master seemingly exotic interests, ranging from Byzantine history to Romanesque architecture to minutiae about Nietzsche. This is absolute not a place to go for students that want to experience a student body that represents the kind of atmosphere that they experienced in high school.

But for students looking to continue their studies after Reed to become PhD’s, and who love being iconoclasts, this is a terrific option. Its academics are top-notch across-the-board, Portland is of course one the most beautiful cities in the United States, and there is something very positive to be said about being surrounded by students who have a deep and abiding love for learning for learning’s sake. If you’re ever in Portland, be sure to contact Reed and visit the school. It’s clearly not a place for everyone but for those who fit into this atmosphere it can be a four-year adventure unlike any other in the United States.

Read More