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Magna Services

The Magna Method

At Magna College Consulting, we are committed to finding the university that is the best fit for your student because that is where they will thrive. We believe that college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won. Our process requires a long-term approach with a cohesive strategy based on your student’s goals. Our comprehensive package takes into account every single aspect of the application process. While challenging, this can be a truly transformative and rewarding process that allows students to succeed by providing opportunities to develop to their fullest potential.

Our method relies on two key components: deep relationships with our consultants and a distinctive strategy that can begin as early as freshman year. This formula has resulted in incredible results for over a decade. High GPA and test scores alone will not get your student accepted to the country’s top schools. Finding a way to differentiate them from the thousands of other qualified applicants requires thoughtful and strategic guidance.

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The Changing Landscape

Thirty years ago, an impressive transcript and high test scores could secure a seat at the most selective universities. Today, highly selective colleges could accept their freshman class five times over with the students who “have the numbers.” But the number of seats in the freshman class isn’t increasing. Qualifying GPA and SAT/ACT scores make a student “competitive” and get their foot in the door, but qualifying GPA and test scores alone don’t guarantee admission.

To get to the committee table takes more than numbers. It takes outstanding teacher recommendations, meaningful, impactful activities, and distinct essays to create a compelling application that stands out in today’s crowded applicant pool.

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The Four Key Factors

There are more college students today than thirty years ago: 20 million vs 14.5 million.

The Common Application, accepted by over 900 colleges, makes it easier to apply to more universities. And students are taking advantage of this opportunity by applying to, on average, 12 colleges.

Early Decision applications have become more important than ever before. Many colleges are filling 50-60% of their incoming freshman class with students who apply Early Decision.

Optional standardized testing has complicated matters even further. Students who aren't strong test takers are applying to more selective schools. All of the above factors combine to create an enormous pool of candidates all vying for the same number of seats.
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The Comprehensive Program

Our team intentionally limits the number of comprehensive clients to 15 students per counselor each year so that we can provide the highest quality services. The comprehensive program begins in your student’s junior year. In January, we meet with students once per month, two to three times monthly during the summer and then weekly beginning fall of senior year until the last application is filed. In April, we meet again to assess decisions and help your student determine which college they will attend. Throughout the program, we closely monitor your student’s progress to make sure they are on track and ahead of schedule. This program is designed to meet the needs of students as they navigate the complexities of the college admissions process.

High School Curriculum

If the three rules of real estate are location, location, location, the three rules of admissions are transcript, transcript, transcript. By starting as early as freshman year, we can help map out your student’s high school curriculum over the following three years. We encourage students to increase the rigor in those courses that they enjoy most.

Standardized Testing

By analyzing your student’s practice ACT and SAT scores, we can determine the best testing strategy to maximize your student’s success. Given that the College Board has eliminated standardized subject tests, Advanced Placement (AP) scores have become even more important. Now that standardized tests (the SAT and ACT) are optional for many colleges, we take a strategic approach to helping determine which scores to report to colleges and which to hold back.

College List

Creating your student’s college list is both art and science. We base the college list on your student’s personal criteria: major selection, size, geographic location, environment (urban, suburban or rural), research opportunities, extracurricular interest, culture, and school spirit. And we use current admissions data to create a comprehensive portfolio that includes Reach, Target and Likely colleges.

College Research

Through college visits, research tools, and thoughtful conversations with your student, we are able to design a well-balanced college list. Demonstrated interest is an important consideration.

Major Selection

Universities have higher standards for applicants to certain majors or academic departments: engineering, computer science, the sciences, and economics among them! We analyze the universities’ published admissions data and draw upon Magna’s collective experience to help students seek a competitive edge while staying true to their academic interests.

Teacher Recommendations

An often-overlooked category, teacher recommendations are critical to your student’s success. Teacher recommendations give insight into class participation, intellectual curiosity and leadership in the classroom. We advise students to choose teachers from junior year: one from the humanities and one from the STEM field.


We encourage students to try many different activities to determine what they enjoy most. Beginning sophomore and junior years, we motivate students to focus on 1-2 meaningful activities that they can grow into over their high school career. We emphasize depth over breadth and leadership over membership.

Summer Activities

Summer is a natural extension of the academic calendar and competitive colleges want to see students who expand their intellectual and artistic interests outside the classroom. And you don’t need to pay for pricey “pay to play” programs. We help your student identify summer opportunities based on their unique interests. And some of these resources are free!


Admissions officers are no different than toddlers –- they love reading a great story! We take pride in our proprietary writing workshop, brainstorming activities, and essay development process, which can be the most revealing and rewarding aspect of the college process. We don’t outsource this important piece of the application. Our students don’t write about what they do; they write about who they are. At the same time, we ensure that they showcase their intellectual vitality and academic strengths. By getting to know your student, we help them to craft a reflective, refreshing, and creative personal narrative that enables them to stand out in the competitive admissions arena.

Application Strategy

Based on your student’s profile, we determine the best mix of Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision applications. Early Decision is an important strategy to deploy if your student loves one college above all others. And it’s heavily rewarded: some colleges fill over 50% of their freshman class with early decision applicants. At some colleges, a student’s chances for acceptance in Early Decision versus Regular Decision is increased by a factor of 3.

Application Review

Once your student’s application is in the final stages, we stand back and look at the entire package from the vantage point of a college admissions officer. Our team works collaboratively to share insights and perspectives to make sure your student’s application is letter perfect, distinctive, unique and compelling. Our services extend beyond the Common Application to the University of California, California State, Coalition and the unique MIT and Georgetown applications. We also support students that are applying to universities outside the United States.

Interview Preparation

We know what colleges are looking for: intellectual vitality, impact, and demonstrated interest among others variables. We conduct mock interviews and provide specific feedback as to how students can weave their unique story and improve their performance.

Acceptances, Deferrals and Wait Lists

We celebrate every acceptance – whether it’s a Reach, Target or Likely college. We deliberate over deferrals and we employ a strategic plan of attack for wait lists. We don’t simply opt into wait lists. Our students learn how to strategically “work” the wait list.

The Hourly Program

Hourly packages are available for students who are focused and independent. Students contact us when they need to meet for specific elements of the application process. At the end of every meeting, they receive clear next steps for moving forward.

Hourly students prefer to work on specific elements of the planning, application and selection process. The choices include: academic counseling, standardized testing preparation and planning, college list assessment, college research, major selection, teacher recommendations, extracurricular planning, essay development, application strategy, application review, interview preparation, deadline structure, and more!

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