10 Commandments of College Admissions

T H E S E R I E S: R U L E # 5

Thou Shall Prepare Thyself with a Winning Strategy

By Jinsil V. Kim, MBA, M.Div.


If you aspire to achieve exceptional outcomes in your college admissions journey, it’s imperative to craft your own winning strategy that sets you apart from the competition.

In our journey through life, we invariably encounter many challenges and struggles. Preparing for college admission is one such formidable hurdle. While many students rely on their past experiences, logical reasoning, or available information to guide them through this process, following the well-trodden path often leads to average results.

But what exactly is this winning strategy? How can you obtain it? A winning strategy requires you to elevate your level of competing above the ordinary. Most prospective college students rely on familiar approaches like consulting the U.S. News & World Report for college rankings, seeking advice from school academic counselors, and compiling a list of colleges based on interests, proximity, and recommendations.

Your strategy must go beyond the conventional.

To create a winning strategy, you must uncover the ‘truth’ about the institutions you’re considering. This truth goes beyond the readily available public information on school websites, in books, or through promotional materials.

For instance, one of the top colleges in the United States recently established a new school after splitting from another institution. While superficial knowledge might mention the establishment of this new school, the more profound truth reveals that they were actively launching new programs and had more open admission standards to attract students interested in this major or their school. If you aim to secure admission to a top-10 U.S. college and your interests align with this new school’s offerings, prioritizing entry to this institution could be a winning strategy many overlook.

A winning strategy involves the ability to see what others miss, penetrating the veil of superficial knowledge to uncover the hidden truths about the schools or organizations you’re targeting. It’s about understanding what genuinely transpires at your chosen institutions and how you can present yourself in a way that aligns with their needs. An old Korean proverb wisely states, “Know thyself, know thy enemy, and your victory is certain.”

 In the highly competitive battlefield of college admissions, where the acceptance rate for your dream schools may be less than 10 percent, you must also understand what the schools seek in an applicant and align your application to answer their questions. Uncover the truth that lies beneath the surface.

So, how can you access this truth that goes beyond superficial knowledge?

The truth often emerges from meaningful interactions and relationships built on trust. It’s essential to remember that colleges and universities are ultimately run by people, comprised of people, and designed for people. Each institution has its unique desires, stories, and vulnerabilities, much like individuals. Understanding these aspects can provide you with a strategic advantage in preparing for college admissions.

            For instance, imagine having the opportunity to participate in a campus tour at an Ivy League school. While this is a common experience at such institutions, most students treat it merely as a surface-level tour. To understand the school’s truth, you must intentionally create meaningful interactions and cultivate relationships within the school community.

Are there events hosted by the school for the local community that you can attend or even volunteer for? You’d be surprised at the meaningful connections you can forge through such opportunities.

Are there academic conferences organized by the school you’re interested in, where you can purchase a ticket and engage with members of the school community on a profound level? You could be one of the students who actively participates by asking questions and lingers after the conference to establish deeper connections.

The activities may vary, but the objective remains the same: uncover the truth about the organization and get to know the people in the school community through personal interactions.

Your winning strategy for college admissions is a truth grounded in trust that can be leveraged to your advantage.


Ms. Kim is the CEO of Joy & Joseph’s C2 Education Franchise Group, located in Washington, D.C., and Florida. She embarked on her journey with C2 Education in 2007 and has since overseen one of the most thriving franchise groups nationwide. Ms. Kim was honored with a nomination for The Carey Relentless Advancement Award by Johns Hopkins University in May of 2023. Ms. Kim holds a Distinction from UCLA Extension as a Certified College Counselor. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Ms. Kim is a devoted wife and a loving mother of three children: Sebastian (7), Theodore (5), and Sophia Grace (3). She met her husband, Dr. Crutchley, during his Anesthesiology Residency interview at Johns Hopkins, a divine moment that led to a beautiful family. Ms. Kim is also an alumna of Oral Roberts University, where she earned her Master of Divinity in 2006. Her mission is to please God and love people, values that she brings to her professional and personal life.

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