“It started with a personal dream realized, which evolved into a mission to elevate those around me…” – Cristina Castellano

The educational achievement gap for the underprivileged is less often about ability than it is about access. That imbalance was the genesis of my admissions consulting practice, Crimson & Ivy, LLC.

For me, it started with a personal dream realized, which evolved into a mission to elevate those around me, growing up like me, on the other side of access.

In the fall of 1995 in Miami, FL, I carefully typed my early application to Yale, placed it in a large yellow envelope and launched it into the mailbox. In December I received a large white envelope with blue letters that read “YALE”. I’d gotten in. Now I had to consider my options.

Getting into Yale knocked out most other schools I was considering. I applied to Harvard regular admission, was accepted and ended up attending the College. Four years later I embarked on a successful stint on Wall Street and eventually earned my MBA in Real Estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Both at Harvard and Wharton, I mentored several applicants, which was an eye-opening experience. Qualified candidates were unintentionally sabotaging themselves by not knowing the admissions “ropes”. I went on to successfully mentor applicants and eventually founded Crimson & Ivy.

I attended parochial school in Chicago and public schools in Miami Dade County. While I was lucky to have had great advocates in high school, which aided in my college admissions, I realize that not everyone is so fortunate. I see first-generation American college applicants, who attend large schools with little guidance support, whose parents have no clue on how to tackle the process. They have few relevant examples of admissions success and are navigating blind.

The admissions process today is the most competitive it has ever been. It’s not enough to get good grades and decent test scores. Students have to differentiate themselves early and learn to market their best qualities. Crimson & Ivy works alongside students way before applications are due to help craft their unique admissions journey--from developing their passions to translating them into concrete examples of future success. This is an important part of the application process that often gets overlooked until it’s too late.

Students also have to worry about choosing a competitive course load, strategizing for standardized tests and determining which subject tests to take, selecting the right recommenders, determining a target and reach school list, etc. And then there is The Essay and all the supplemental essays, which round out the process. Are you feeling overwhelmed yet?

Crimson & Ivy makes the application process less daunting. Nearly all of our previous clients have been admitted to at least one of their top three choices. Our consultants are proven insiders who have conquered the most competitive applications and have successful professional consulting experience. We are a coach and an unrelenting champion during the arduous and lengthy application process. We help students jump in, push them to reach higher and help them cross the finish line.

For more information go to www.crimsonandivy.com

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