It all started when...
Susan Berishaj, the founder of Sia Admissions Consulting, graduated with honors from NYU and obtained a master’s degree from Yale University. Having done it twice, Susan understands the importance of submitting a stellar admissions application. She has also coached others in writing superior applications sympathetic to both the authors’ stories and voice, as well as the mission and values of their chosen academic institutions.
"Feeling more like a number than a person, she sought counsel elsewhere"
In fact, the idea of Sia was born when a colleague approached Susan seeking assistance with her MBA application. Her colleague had already contracted a competitor admissions consulting firm with the intent to apply to a total of five (5) universities. However, she found disappointment with her consultant’s lack of engagement; feeling more like a number than a person, she sought counsel elsewhere. Because of Susan’s background, her colleague requested assistance with her top choice of MBA program, Harvard Business School (HBS).
"Susan listened to her story, asked questions, and helped bring out her unique voice the first consultant simply couldn’t or perhaps chose not to hear"
Susan read her initial draft and found it lacking personality, perspective, specificity, and most importantly, lacking a unique voice. Convinced her story was far more pellucid and her voice far more indomitable than reflected on the pages of the initial draft, Susan set out to uncover her colleague’s personal story. The goal was to help in the areas her initial consultant fell short—Susan listened to her story, asked questions, and helped bring out her unique voice the first consultant simply couldn’t or perhaps chose not to hear.
Susan's goal was to coach her in amalgamating the elements of her experiences and ambitions all the while reflecting her determination to succeed, in effect, showcasing herself as an excellent HBS candidate.
The first draft enabled the initial conversation; the final draft, however, revealed strengths, skills, and ambitions of a unique character who did not shy away from her experiences and voiced them with sincerity, enthusiasm, and vitality. The HBS admissions committee granted admission, having read an application of a candidate that was fervent in her goals and abounding in her plans to succeed; the committee saw that not even adversity would impede her objectives. Susan worked tirelessly, strategically coaching her colleague through the initial brainstorming session, holding her to task and working on multiple drafts until they both felt the personal statement revealed her story in the most genuine way.
"... only HBS sent her a letter of acceptance!"
In addition to the personal statement, Susan’s approach to a stellar application is building a holistic admissions profile, including guidance on how to approach references, interviews, informal communication with the institution(s) of choice, as well as crafting an effective resume that tells a far more compelling story than grades and standardized tests alone ever could. The final admissions application calls for a comprehensive whole, tying together academic success with experiences and ambitions. The goal is to simultaneously inform the admissions committee of an applicant’s strengths, while showcasing their character, and why they must consider helping this applicant achieve his/her goals.
In the case of Susan’s colleague, from the five (5) applications she submitted, only HBS sent her a letter of acceptance!