FLEX News

Common Application Common Mistakes

Duncan Yul Gweon De Caire
Education
  • Duke University – BA in English, minor in Creative Writing

Duncan D.

Associate Consultant

Duncan is a California native who is passionate about helping students reach their fullest potential. Since graduating from Duke University, he has dedicated himself to teaching and guiding students and their families through the college admissions process. 

With his strong writing background and ability to craft compelling essays, Duncan recognizes that each candidate has unique needs and requires a personalized approach. His aim is not only to assist his students in gaining admission to their preferred college or university, but also to cultivate lifelong literary skills and to develop as writers.

Gloria Un Chyr
Education
  • Stanford University – MSc in Materials Science & Engineering
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – BSc in Materials Science & Engineering, Minor in Japanese
  • University of Tokyo – Specialization in Materials Engineering & Japanese Culture
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly selective schools
  • MIT and Stanford-specific admissions
  • STEM majors
  • First-generation and other underrepresented students
  • Shy, quiet, and introverted students
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Gloria Un C.

Senior Associate Consultant

Gloria has over three years of experience in mentoring, teaching, and
counseling students through highly selective university admissions.
She is a graduate of MIT and Stanford and serves as an alumni
Educational Counselor for MIT Admissions where she continues to
conduct dozens of admissions interviews each year in the Bay Area.

Gloria’s approach to admissions comes from first-hand experience
both as a student and counselor. Her approach follows active “design thinking” — empathize and understand student backgrounds, define meaningful and actionable growth areas, ideate possible futures with the student, and prototype their visions throughout the pre-collegiate experience. Gloria believes that active involvement and continuous feedback are key to developing an application that is just as outstanding as the student, and more importantly, finding the school that best supports their goals.

How to Answer UC Personal Insight Questions

Recent Changes to College Admissions

FLEX 2023 Open Houses

Back-to-School Support For Your 6th-12th Grade Student

Featuring presentations by FLEX’s world-class Academic Instructors and Admissions Consultants.

ATTEND the seminar “2023-24: The Impact of Technology on School & College Planning.”

  1. The SAT is going completely digital. How will this impact your student?
  2. What is the role of ChatGPT and other AI in college admissions?
  3. Which classes and extracurriculars should my 6th-12th grader be taking?
  4. Why is personality the new emphasis in college applications?

INDULGE in refreshments, giveaways, games, and more while touring your local FLEX Center.

ENJOY a sneak peek of FLEX’s programs including Impacter Pathway.

MEET the FLEX team who will share tips on back-to-school success.

WIN amazing prizes, worth thousands off our programs, in our raffle drawing.

For more information email [email protected] or call your local center.

Cubbage
Education
  • University of California, Riverside – PhD in Sociology
  • University of California, Los Angeles – BA in Gender Studies
Areas of Specialization
  • Students looking to gain admission to top-25 colleges and universities
  • First-generation college students and transfer students
  • Students interested in graduate school and/or research
  • Students who are passionate about social justice work
  • Crafting extracurricular profiles to assist students to stand out
  • Merit-based scholarships and awards, including prestigious national titles
  • Students who’ve had to overcoming adversity, including learning disabilities

April C.

Master Admissions Consultant

Dr. April Cubbage has sat on the graduate admissions committee for UC Riverside and evaluates scholarship applications for UCLA. 

April has advised and assisted dozens of students in applying for college and getting them into their dream schools, such as Stanford, NYU, USC, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UCI. She is passionate about guiding students to reach their greatest success and has extensive experience doing so. She frequently mentors students on research projects that are accepted and presented at local and national conferences.

April is excited to bring her compassion, enthusiasm, and insider knowledge to help students attain their college admissions goals. 

AsokanSue
Education
  • Cornell University – BA in History of Art
  • Rutgers University – MA in History of Art
  • University of California Irvine – PhD in East Asian Studies
Languages
  • English
  • Korean
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to top-25 colleges and universities
  • International and first-generation college students
  • Developing compelling narratives for admission applications
  • Crafting unique personal statements

Sue A.

Master Admissions Consultant

Sue has over a decade of experience in education as an admissions counselor, essay coach, tutor, high-school teacher, and university professor. 

As an Admissions Consultant, Sue is passionate about helping students create a polished admission application within a warm and encouraging environment. She uses her expertise to take a holistic approach tailored to each individual. By providing step-by-step guidance and organized schedules, she helps manage deadlines and reduce anxiety.

Sue has helped applicants gain acceptance into Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, the University of Michigan and others.

How to Write Effective UC Admissions Essays

Does Having Perfect Academics Get You Into The UCs?

A Special Webinar Event

Class of 2023 College Admissions Trends:

Analyzing Surprising Results

Fall 2023 Education Expo

College Admissions Today: Your Personality, Technology & Essays

Meet former Admissions Officers from Harvard and Yale at a special in-person event near you! Join an experienced panel of former admissions officers and FLEX consultants from top colleges including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley as they discuss the importance of personality and character in the holistic review and help students, alongside their parents, develop a successful college admission strategy.

Additional Topics:
· The Latest Trends: 2023-24 School Year & College Admissions
· ChatGPT Impact on College Essays
· The Digital SAT
· Panel Discussion: Successful College Essay Case Studies

Plus, special promotions available for Expo attendees.

Middle Schoolers:

Maximize Your Summer

Why Admissions Officers Look for Personality in Essays

UCLA & Brown Admissions Officers Share Insights

Why A+ Students Don't Get 5s On AP Exams

How AP exams have changed, how colleges use scores, and how FLEX can help

The New "Perfect Profile"

For Getting Into The UCs

ACE Preview Workshop:

College Essay Topic - Common App Personal Statement

UCLA vs USC

Webinars for 6th - 9th Grade Students

Personality Testing: The Newest Trend in Post-Pandemic College Admission

Webinars for 6th - 9th Grade Students

Prepare for Success in High School, College & Beyond

ACE Preview Workshop

UC Insight Questions

Education
  • B.A. Biology and Asian Studies – Bowdoin College
  • M.A. Biological Sciences – CSUEB
Subjects
  • SAT Math
  • ACT Math and Science
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics
  • AP Calculus

Akimitsu Makino

Master Instructor

Aki graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Biology and Asian Studies.  Upon graduation, he gained experience in ophthalmic clinical research, where he was fortunate to co-author publications and co-invent a patent.  While working in the clinic, Aki pursued a master’s degree in the biological sciences at CSU East Bay, where he completed a biotechnology certificate and was one of the few students to be granted a visiting scholar position at UCSF as part of his master’s research for one year.

Aki’s passion for helping students overcome challenges in math and science is demonstrated in his extensive tutoring experience.  From supplementing a student’s school curriculum to designing a customized course; for nearly a decade, he has helped students realize their goals.  In his free time, Aki enjoys learning new subjects and topics, all of which he utilizes when teaching students.

ACE Preview Essay Workshop

Why My Major?

Extracurricular Activities: Summer Planning

School may be in session now, but summer is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable experiences outside the classroom, and planning ahead is important. In recent years, research internships have become an important part of the college admission process, and your student can start building an impressive research resume as early as 9th grade.

A student’s extracurricular profile has become a significant factor in college admissions, speaking volumes to a student’s intellectual curiosity, personal excellence, and character. So how do you go about building one? Should a student display a wide variety of interests or deep interest in a single field? Do colleges care about the quantity over quality of activities? How can you distinguish yourself from other applicants? This is the time to showcase to colleges your passions and accomplishments outside of the classroom.

Join FLEX as we discuss what an extracurricular activities profile is, the relevance of extracurricular and summer activities, and how to build them seamlessly into a robust and cohesive application profile!

Changes & Trends: 

Analyzing Early Results for the Class of 2024

Sarah-Kim
Education
  • B.A. Psychology & B.A. Criminal Justice – University of Maryland
  • M.A. Legal and Forensic Psychology – UC of Irvine
Subjects
  • SAT English
  • ACT English
  • English
  • AP Psychology

Sarah Kim

Associate Instructor

Sarah Kim graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Criminal Justice/Criminology. She currently studies at the University of California, Irvine pursuing a Master’s in Legal and Forensic Psychology. There, her research focuses on rapport and support building in interviews with adolescent victims of sex trafficking. She takes her research focus on rapport building to reach students individually in a gentle but focused manner. When not working or doing school work, she loves to read, dance, and spend time with her dog.

Sarah has been tutoring for 7 years with experience in K-12 general English as well as SAT/ACT Test Preparation. She specializes in the reading writing components of standardized tests. Her extensive background in tutoring has allowed her to be considerate of all students’ needs–whether that be young children learning how to read or high schoolers wanting to succeed on their SAT. Sarah believes that each student should be met where they are and strongly believes that every student can succeed.

Education
  • B.S. Economics – Arizona State University
  • M.A. Educational Leadership and Administration – UC Davis
  • Master of Education – Arizona State University
  • Ph.D. Sociocultural Studies and Educational Policy – Arizona State University
Subjects
  • English
  • Spanish
  • AP Spanish

Carmina Mendoza

Master Instructor

Dr. Carmina Mendoza is an education scholar with 25 years of experience in the public education sector. Her research and teaching have focused on Spanish instruction at different levels–elementary, secondary, and higher education.  Dr. Mendoza has decades of experience, both as a teacher and as a researcher of Spanish immersion programs in Arizona and California. 

Dr. Mendoza is also an active adjunct professor at Santa Clara University, teaching courses at the Masters of Arts in Teaching and Credential program. In this program, Dr. Mendoza has taught graduate level courses in Spanish to students who want to add a Spanish/English bilingual authorization to their teaching credential. 

Dr. Mendoza is also a published author. She is the author of the book Transnational Messages: Experiences of Chinese and Mexican Immigrants in American Schools.  She has also written chapters in edited volumes and articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, including the High School Journal and Multilingual Educator (publication of the California Association for Bilingual Education).

Education
  • B.A. Social Sciences, Emphasis Sociology – New York University
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP Psychology
  • AP US History
  • SAT Verbal

Sara Delgado

Associate Instructor

Sara has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with an emphasis on sociology from New York University, and an Associates of Art in Sociology from Fullerton College. Sara’s past experiences as an educator and tutor range from Elementary to College age students. She provided peer-led supplemental instruction during her time at Fullerton College; during this supplemental instruction, she assisted students with understanding concepts and assignments in English courses taught at the school. She currently works as a long-term substitute teacher for local high schools. Sara’s main motivation to pursue a career as an educator is to support students and provide them with a fun and conducive learning experience that will set them up for future success.

Education
  • B.S. Computer Game Science – UC Irvine
Subjects
  • AP Computer Science A
  • Computer Science: C/C++
  • Computer Science: Java
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 and Below)
  • Pathways – STEM Coding

Theodore (Teo) Lee

Associate Instructor

Theodore (Teo) Lee graduated from the University of California-Irvine with a B.S. in Computer Game Science. He has been tutoring computer science for the last 5 years, helping those new to the field understand and develop their computer science skills. In addition to tutoring, Teo is President of the local Association for Computing Machinery. He has led many team projects developing software, and he has won numerous prizes in the many competitions he has attended.

When teaching students, Teo likes to implement practical examples and explain concepts using visual models and diagrams. In the field of Computer Science more specifically, it is especially important to understand how things work “under the hood,” so Teo strives to equip his students with multiple ways of thinking about a problem, thereby developing their own style in navigating the various technical routes toward achieving a solution.

Education
  • B.S. Business Administration in Marketing and Finance – UC Berkeley
  • M.S Education – CSU East Bay
  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential – CSU East Bay
  • Single Subject Teaching Credential English, History Social Science, Science – CSU East Bay
Subjects
  • AP Macro and Micro
  • ACT English Reading Science
  • SAT Verbal
  • AP Gov
  • APUSH
  • AP Lit and Lang
  • AP Environmental Science

Rick Denny

Master Instructor

Rick attended San Francisco’s Lowell High, qualifying as a National Merit Finalist. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Denny spent 15 years marketing and managing tech startups that were acquired by Amazon, Microsoft, Time Warner, and others for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Seeking to make a meaningful difference in students’ lives, Rick earned an MS in Education, and seven California teaching credentials including single subject English, history and social science, and science. Since 2007, Denny has taught and tutored diverse learners in English through AP Language and AP Literature; social science through AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, and AP US History; and science through AP Environmental Science. Rick has also mentored students in individual college-level research projects.

Since 2013, Denny has helped students excel on standardized tests, especially the SAT and ACT.  Rick particularly enjoys individual tutoring because he likes getting to know his students and their interests, customizing instruction to meet their needs, and contributing to their growth and success. His tutoring superpowers are listening, analysis, patience, and humor.

Reem-Habbak
Education
  • M.A. Engineering Economic Systems and Operations Research – Stanford
  • B.A. Natural Science Area, Emphasis in Biology – Johns Hopkins
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • ACT Math & Science
  • Biology
  • College Essay
  • French
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 & Below)
  • SAT Math
  • SAT Verbal

Reem H.

Master Instructor

Reem’s tutoring career officially began as a peer tutor at the Tutorial Center at Mountain View High School. In college, she volunteered to tutor inner-city children through the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project. Her teaching continued at Stanford, where she taught graduate level Dynamic Equations.

As a tutor, Reem is amazingly friendly and upbeat while still being systematic in her assessment of her students’ needs and progress.

Education
  • B.A. English, Philosophy – University of Hartford
  • Ph.D. English – UC Irvine
Subjects
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP Psychology
  • FRMC – Humanities

Michael Mahoney

Master Instructor

Dr. Michael Mahoney holds a PhD in English from the University of California-Irvine, where he has extensive experience teaching university courses in College Writing, English, Philosophy, Film, and History. Michael is widely recognized for his ability to engage students. He has received multiple campus-wide awards in recognition of his excellence as an instructor. In addition to his teaching, Michael’s research has also been recognized for its innovative approach to interdisciplinarity. His doctoral work has received support from endowments in fields as diverse as literary criticism, medical humanities, and science and technology studies.

Michael believes strongly in a student-centered approach to teaching, one that emphasizes active engagement with core concepts in order to achieve specific learning outcomes. His goal is to equip students with the skills to think critically, meaningfully, and independently about texts, ultimately helping them gain a sense of mastery and command over their use of language. Drawing on nearly a decade of experience teaching college writing in various disciplines, Michael also aims to help students reach their full potential in developing compelling and insightful essays.

Elijah
Education
  • B.S. Mathematics – Harvey Mudd College
Subjects
  • AP Calculus
  • College Math
  • SAT Math
  • Math (lower and upper level)

Elisha Dayag

Associate Instructor

Elisha Dayag is a PhD student in Mathematics at UC Irvine. He received his BS in Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. For the past five years, he has taught and tutored a wide range of students and topics: everything from 6th graders to college students doing calculus and beyond.

As a tutor, Elisha feels that math instruction should be tailored to a student’s specific needs and help soothe any anxieties they may have regarding mathematics. He further believes that anyone can be proficient in and, more importantly, find joy in doing mathematics given enough practice and the right guidance.

Education
  • B.A. English, Minor in European Studies – UCLA
  • M.A. English – CSU Long Beach
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • Pathways – English & Writing
  • SAT Verbal

Chelsea Gibbons

Associate Instructor

Chelsea Gibbons holds a B.A. in English with a minor in European studies from UCLA and an M.A. in English from Cal State Long Beach, where she specialized in 18th century British literature. While pursuing her Master’s, Chelsea worked as a managing editor for the school’s academic journal and taught as a graduate assistant for numerous literature and history classes. Outside of the university setting, Chelsea has instructed high school students across the humanities, and specifically in the test prep environment: her teaching background includes AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP European History, AP US History, AP World History, college application essays, and standardized test prep (ACT, ISEE, PSAT, SAT).

Chelsea views the classroom as a democratic space. Her students are active participants in their own learning, guided as they are through thoughtful discussions and assignments. She strongly believes that the development of critical thinking and the promotion of a global perspective makes humanities classes crucial to every student’s education, no matter what their major or academic focus.

Education
  • M.S. Physics – New York University
  • M.S. Applied Mathematics – CalPoly University, Pomona
  • M.S. Physical Chemistry – CalPoly University, Pomona
  • B.S. Physics – CalPoly University, Pomona
Subjects
  • AP Calculus AB/BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics 1
  • AP Physics 2
  • AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Upper Level (Trig and Up)
  • Pathways – STEM Coding

Andres Cardenas

Principal Instructor

Andrés Cárdenas is an accomplished scientist and STEM teacher. He holds multiple Master’s degrees: one in Computational Physics from NYU, another in Applied Math from CalPoly, and one in Physical Chemistry, also from CalPoly.

After working as a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Andrés spent 8 years teaching AP Physics at New York City high schools. His passion for science, in part, explains his love for teaching: his classroom enthusiasm is immediately visible,  something his students find contagious. Andrés believes that a robust STEM education starts with a student’s sense of wonder and a desire to discover; and his curriculum work reflects an emphasis on connecting concepts with theory organically—be it in mathematics, physics, chemistry, or computer science.

AlexProfilePic
Education
  • B.A. Political Science – University of the Pacific
  • Ph.D. American History – Brandeis University
Subjects
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP US Government & Politics
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • FRMC – Humanities

Alexandra L.

Master Instructor

Alex has extensive experience teaching and tutoring advanced high school and college students. She has taught Analytical Writing and Freshman Composition at the college-level and has been tutoring students in AP US, World, and European History for the past eight years. 

In addition to teaching, Alex serves on the Board of Directors and frequently writes for the American Journal of Economics and Sociology and is a contributing editor of the six-volume book series, The Annotated Works of Henry George (Rowman & Littlefield). In 2016, she co-founded LectureSource, Inc.—an online marketplace for advanced high school and college course materials.

How to Build Your Extracurricular Activities Profile

For Stand-Out College Applications

Pre-Med and BS/MD Programs -
What It Takes to Get In:

Is There a Doctor in the House?

What Sophomores & Juniors Should Be Doing Right Now to Prepare for College

Senior year may seem like it’s far away, but if you start your college application planning now, you will reduce stress and reap the rewards of a seamless and quality college journey.

In this seminar, we will share how a little foresight in specific areas will help you achieve your college goals. Topics covered include:

  • Choosing Classes Strategically
    • Did you know that public schools and private schools calculate their GPA differently? Learn how to select classes that will optimize admission to your target college. We’ll also talk about the importance of taking Honors/AP® courses, as well as college level credits in high school.
  • Building Your Extracurricular Activities
    • What you do outside of class both in school and off campus is an important part of your college application journey. We’ll provide strategies on how to not only best keep track of your extra-curricular activities now but also give you insights on which activities can enhance your college application.
  • Preparing for Standardized Tests
    • Students should actively plan and prep for standardized tests well before their senior year. We’ll share how you can best approach your PSAT®/SAT®/ACT® and what you should start doing now to maximize your success on the target test date.

Attend this in-person seminar to learn what Sophomores and Juniors MUST know about college applications and how you can get a winning start!

Changes & Trends:

Early Results For The Class Of 2023

Maikel-Masoud
Education
  • BSC. Mechanical Engineer – University of Alexandria
  • A.S. Mechanical Engineering – Diablo College
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering – UC Berkeley
Subjects
  • AP Physics
  • Math (lower and upper level)
  • SAT Math
  • ACT Math and Science
  • AP Calculus

Maikel Masoud

Associate Instructor

Michael holds a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and another from Alexandria University in Egypt. And he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Robotics at the University of Maryland.

Michael is passionate about education. He believes that he can help make every student love Mathematics and Physics – even those who have had a hard time coping with the nuances and complexities of these fields. Michael has taught widely throughout the Bay Area. He has been an instructor and STEM tutor at Diablo Valley College, as well as working in that capacity with students in private schools in San Francisco and in Berkeley. Having served in the US Army as a Combat Medic Specialist, Michael is experienced in aiding individuals when they are under extreme stress and in need of a calming, motivating presence. Michael is generous and kind, and particularly enjoys connecting to different cultures and people of all backgrounds.

Flex College Prep
Education
  • PhD Sociology – University of Southern California

Alfredo Huante

College Essay Instructor

Alfredo Huante holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Southern California. He has taught several undergraduate courses, introducing students to or advancing their understanding of the social world. Alfredo has published works in academic journals and
websites and has ample editing experience. Alfredo excels at helping students translate their experiences into engaging, written essays by adjusting to each student’s specific needs.

Flex College Prep
Education
  • B.A. English – Stanford University

Cristina Herrera Mezgravis

College Essay Instructor

Cristina graduated from Stanford University with Distinction and awards both in fiction and nonfiction for exceptional work in Creative Writing. Her application essays were published in 50 Successful Stanford Application Essays and 50 Successful University of California Application Essays.

She taught English to elementary school students while studying abroad in Paris, ran a creative writing program for high school students during her senior year at Stanford, and currently volunteers as an ESL tutor with the Palo Alto Adult School. Cristina worked for two years at an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup, prototyping a new mobile app for teachers and students, and curating unpublished books, stories, and deleted scenes by New York Times bestselling authors.

Her experience in admissions consulting began by helping friends and family highlight the passions that set them apart as individuals and select the colleges that were a right fit for them. Students she advised were admitted to Stanford University, USC, and UC Berkeley, among others.

sara-fernandes
Education
  • B.A. English – Santa Clara University
  • Masters of Library and Information Science – San Jose State University

Sara Fernandes

Assistant Director of College Essay

Sara attended UC Berkeley and transferred to Santa Clara University after deciding she wanted the opportunity to work with faculty on research. While at Santa Clara University, she helped Professor Judy Dunbar research and edit her book The Winter’s Tale: Shakespeare In Performance . Sara then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University and graduated in the top 1% of her class.

She has used her undergraduate and graduate education to pursue her passion of teaching research and writing to students. Sara has over five years of experience teaching and coaching, over two of which are with FLEX College Prep. At FLEX, Sara has successfully taught classes in SAT Verbal, ACT Verbal, middle school writing and English classes, college essay, and AP English Language and Composition.

She is committed to staying current with trends in test prep and college admissions as well as setting realistic goals for each student so that he or she can achieve success.

NicholasD
Education
  • B.A. US History and Philosophy – UC Davis
  • M.A History – San Francisco State University

Nicholas Dawes

College Essay Instructor

Nick Dawes earned his BA in US History with a philosophy minor from the University of California, Davis, and an MA in History with a concentration in cross-cultural contact from San Francisco State University. While Nick was growing up, many in his family were teachers and school administrators across the South Bay, including Fremont Union High School District, so he is intimately familiar with the academic landscape of the Bay Area.

While in graduate school, he lectured in undergraduate courses, acted as an associate editor of an academic journal, and published his own original work. After graduation, Nick worked in standardized test prep, AP subject tutoring, and he most recently taught at a Bay Area private school for five years. He believes that students learn and work best when they have a productive relationship with their instructor.

In his essay coaching, he works to help students dig deeper into who they are as individuals and what motivates them in order to find the compelling, unique stories in each student. Nick has worked with students on their college admissions essays for the last 9 years, helping students gain admission to top UCs and other prestigious top 20 public and private institutions across the country.

Flex College Prep
Education
  • Doctoral study in Human Development and
  • Psychology – Harvard University
  • M.A. Applied Child Development – Tufts University
  • B.A. Anthropology – Boston University

Martha Crowe

Master Consultant & Instructor

Martha Crowe has worked with, for, and on behalf of youth for three decades, as a social worker, child advocate, nonprofit director, consultant, and for the past eight years, as a professor, researcher, and medical writer at SDSU. Helping people tell their stories has been at the heart of each phase of her career. Martha loves getting to know young people — to hear about what they care about, what they are good at, and what their dreams are for their futures. And magic can happen when they trust her enough to help them tell their stories in an authentic and compelling way that both honors who they are and convinces admissions counselors to accept them.

 

Martha believes in taking a personalized approach with each student, tailoring her time with them based on their individual writing skills and learning needs. Her approach is always based on genuine care and concern combined with concrete action items and deadlines. For the past four years, Martha has helped students get into a variety of colleges, as well as honors programs within those colleges, from tiny to huge, rural to urban, California to the East Coast: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, Northeastern, UMass Amherst, University of Michigan, Syracuse, Macalester, Santa Clara University, Pepperdine, University of San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Cal Lutheran, Cal Arts, Claremont McKenna Colleges, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois-Urbana Champagne, among others.

 

Martha grew up in Kansas City and joyfully left for Boston after high school, attending Boston University, Tufts, and Harvard for undergraduate and graduate school. She moved to SoCal in 2004 to spend time with her brother after graduation, and like so many others, forgot to leave. Most importantly, she’s a mom to three kids, who are, at the time of this writing, 18, 16, and 12, and an auntie to 58 nieces and nephews (true story) and too many great nieces and nephews to count. In her spare time, Martha volunteers with High Tech High, Miracle League, and Meals on Wheels, is an avid reader, and loves hanging out with her kids.

Flex College Prep
Education
  • B.S. Mathematics – UCSD
  • M.S. Psychology – King’s College London (In Progress)

Helena Chen

College Essay Instructor

Helena is a Masters student in Psychology with extensive experience in the education sector, where she has worked as a teacher, consultant and student advocate. She started tutoring students in high school and supported herself in college as an SAT instructor. With a mathematics background but still very much interested in pedagogy and mentorship, Helena decided to leverage her analytical mindset and ability to problem-solve by continuing to work in college admissions consulting–advising high school students and their families on the complex college admissions process. Through this work, she continued her passion for teaching others how to write and hone their narrative voice, which brought her to FLEX as a college essay instructor.

Flex College Prep
Education
  • B.A. English/Creative Writing; Minor: Music Industry and Cinematic Arts – University of Southern California

Gabriel Block

College Essay Instructor

Gabriel graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a BA in English/Creative Writing. He honed his writing skills through writing-intensive programs at USC and the University of Melbourne in Australia. After graduating, he spent four years in the music industry working for Sony Music Publishing, where he engaged in daily writing assignments and excelled at working with others and building trusting relationships. Gabriel has years of teaching experience; he brings a warm energy and first hand expertise in writing successful college essays. In the classroom, Gabriel values trust and joy. With a genuine interest in others, he builds trust through keen listening and clear and open communication, and asks for the same, in return. By having fun with the material and leading with positive reinforcement, he brings his best to the classroom and gets the best from his students. Most importantly, Gabriel believes in pursuing what you love. He can’t wait to learn what makes you who you are and to help you convey your authentic self to your dream school.

Northern California Info Banks September 17th

An Inside Look at Flex College Admissions
DanK
Education
  • UC Berkeley – BA in English
  • Santa Clara University School of Law – JD
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to the Ivy League
  • High-level students
  • Athletes

Dan K.

Senior VP of Admissions Consulting & Principal Consultant

Dan has over 7 years of experience working with students interested in a wide range of schools. While at the Santa Clara University School of Law, Dan was a Judicial Extern for a United States District Judge. Prior to joining FLEX, he worked at a specialty scientific instrumentation technology company.

Dan’s students have been placed at top-caliber universities, including all of the Top 20 private schools.

AlexC
Education
  • University of California, San Diego – PhD in Literature
  • University of California, Berkeley – BA in English

Alexander C.

Senior Associate Consultant

Alex has nearly a decade of experience mentoring and teaching students. In his current role as an Associate Admissions Consultant, Alex seeks to cultivate students not just academically but also holistically. He leads students toward a more contemplative life where they are able to reflect deeply on their own values, ambitions, and experiences. His goal is not merely to help students develop compelling profiles on paper that would earn them admission to an elite university, but also to help them develop into individuals who have the curiosity and passion for learning.

Alex is proud to have been part of the journey of students who have forged their way into such prestigious institutions as Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Wellesley, NYU, UC Berkeley, Georgia
Tech, and Caltech. 

Tiffany-Lu
Education
  • Stanford University – BS in Biological Sciences
  • Westminster Seminary – MDiv in Counseling and History
Language(s)
  • English
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking best fit school environments
  • Students interested in interdisciplinary fields
  • Scholar athletes & scholar musicians
  • Building personal narratives

Tiffany L.

Chief Director of ACE & Senior Principal Consultant

Tiffany has over a decade of experience at FLEX as a science and math instructor and academic counselor. She has previous work experience in the fields of land development, children’s ministry, and oncology research.

Tiffany has guided hundreds of students to selective schools during her tenure at FLEX, but she most enjoys finding the best-fit school environments for each student. She encourages students to focus not only on application strategy and outcomes, but also on personal growth through the application process and on goals beyond the undergraduate years.

jaimie
Education
  • UC Irvine – MA in Art History
  • UC Irvine – BA in Art History with a minor in English
Language(s)
  • English (native proficiency)
  • Korean (conversational)

Jaimie Joo

Associate Consultant & College Essay Instructor

Since her days as an undergraduate, Jaimie has had an insider’s perspective of the college admissions process at the University of California system. She has worked as a Campus Representative in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and as an Academic Advisor in the School of Humanities at UC Irvine, where she gained invaluable insight into the admissions and counseling process. Because of these experiences, Jaimie understands the importance of fit when selecting and applying to colleges. Additionally, she has been able to work with a diverse group of students, including international students and first-generation students.

With all of her students, Jaimie strives to help them gain entrance to a college or university that will not only set them up for career success, but will also help them find joy in learning. She hopes she can help her students feel empowered in their own skills and abilities.

Jaimie is also a FLEX College Essay Specialist, which allows her to bring out her students’ most authentic and compelling selves. She has a proven track record in producing high-quality storytelling with her students and finds that writing is a necessary strength for any major.

In terms of admissions, Jaimie has worked with students who have been granted admission to John Hopkins, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine.

During her free time, Jaimie volunteers for an Asian American art collective. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about pop culture.

dickson
Education
  • B.A. Computer Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley
Subjects
  • AP Computer Science A
  • Computer Science: Java
  • Computer Science: Python
  • Math, Lower Level (Alg2 and Below)
  • Math, Upper Level (Trig and Up)

Dickson Tsai

Master Instructor

Dickson Tsai graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics, and he is currently a software engineer. While at Berkeley, he worked as a teaching assistant for numerous computer science courses. In addition to teaching undergraduates, he also tutored high school students online in AP Computer Science and on the SAT, reaching the Top 10 in “Super Helpful” ratings at a top online education service platform.

Dickson cares most about cultivating a growth mindset in students, since an internal desire to improve leads to a stronger, healthier motivation than any external reward. He emphasizes a mastery of fundamentals through highly interactive activities like drawing program visualizations for AP Computer Science. 

Through this and other activities, Dickson works to accurately assess his students’ understanding and provide timely, actionable feedback. That way, students can gain the confidence to reason on their own from first principles.

HenryR
Education
  • B.A. Cinema and Media Studies – Carleton College
  • PhD Art History – Stanford University
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language Composition
  • AP English Language Literature
  • AP Art History
  • College Essay
  • Creative Writing
  • SAT Verbal

Henry R.

Master Consultant

Henry’s passion for education is demonstrated in his extensive experience teaching high school students at Stanford University’s summer program and Stanford undergraduates. Over the past 5+ years, he has worked with many students to develop more sensitivity and subtlety in their writing. He has also worked individually with high school and international students taking a wide array of Stanford courses over the summer, though he specializes in English, Art History, and Film Studies-his PhD being a strange mix of all three.

AshleyR
Education
  • B.A. Creative Writing – SFSU
Subjects
  • English Enrichment
  • College Essay

Ashley Rodriguez

Associate Instructor

Ashley attended San Francisco State University where she received her BA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry. As an avid writer, Ashley developed an interest in poetry at a very young age, after immersing herself in the collections of Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. Throughout her college experience, Ashley participated in numerous workshops where she was able to sharpen her skills in playwriting, poetry, short stories, novels, and essays. She worked as an Editor for Transfer Magazine, SF State’s literary publication, where she read and edited hundreds of submissions and selected the best pieces to be published. After college, Ashley worked as an Editor for an appraisal firm, interned as a writer for a travel magazine, and became the lead writer for a video game startup, here in the Silicon Valley.

Her passion for writing developed into a drive to educate youth on the English language. From Creative Writing to grammar and vocabulary, Ashley enjoys helping students hone their writing skills and prepare them for college. For over 5 years with FLEX, she has tutored students in essay writing for college and graduate school applications, with a focus on Architecture, History, Interior Design, Art, STEM, Social Sciences, and more! Ashley is a taskmaster who ensures her students complete coherent, authentic, and strategic essays well before application deadlines.

StevenP
Education
  • B.A. Linguistics – UC Santa Barbara
  • M.A. Eastern Classics – Saint John’s College
Subjects
  • ACT English and Reading
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • SAT Verbal

Steven P.

Associate Instructor

Steven Peterson research focuses on the history of language and literature: he presented on classical philology at the West Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium, for example, and his linguistic work has been published in the interdisciplinary journal Western Tributaries.

Steven has extensive experience successfully teaching the humanities and he has an in-depth knowledge of the SAT and ACT (as well as several of the AP tests), and specializes in preparing students for the Verbal components of standardized testing.

MattL
Education
  • B.S. Mathematics – Stanford University
  • M.S. Mathematics – San Jose State University
  • Ph.D. Mathematics – UC Santa Barbara
Subjects
  • SAT I & II Math
  • ACT Math
  • AP Calculus AB and BC
  • Computer Science (Java, C++, & Python)

Matt Lazar

Principal Instructor

Matt Lazar specializes in mathematics, including Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Discrete Mathematics. He is also familiar with higher level mathematics including abstract algebra, complex analysis, real analysis, differential geometry, differential topology, and point set topology. In addition, he has experience in editing math textbooks. Matt Lazar is capable of teaching introductory computer science languages, including the languages of C++, Java, and Python. Within the area of computer science, Dr. Lazar specializes in two dimensional and three-dimensional computer graphics.

At FLEX College Prep, Dr. Lazar would like to transfer his skills in mathematics and computer science to his students, so that his students can become successful in their education and their careers. Matt’s exceptional teaching ability is also shown in his AP track record, where the average AP Calc BC score of his students is 4.9, with 90% of his students earning 5s. His passion for math has enabled students across the ability spectrum to achieve their Calculus learning goals.

JimJ
Education
  • B.S. Social Science – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • B.S. Computer Science – University of Maryland
  • M.A. US History – George Mason University
  • M.S. Computer Information Systems – Boston University
  • Teaching Credential – Seattle Pacific University
Subjects
  • AP European History
  • AP U.S. History
  • AP World History

Jim Johnson

Principal Instructor

Jim served four years in the United States Army and was a Systems Engineer for Lockheed Martin for 29 years. Since retiring in 2007, he has been tutoring AP and non-AP United States History, European History, World History, essay writing and SAT preparation. He has also taught History and Geography part-time at a small private school. During his military service and Lockheed employment, he lived in Japan for two years and in Great Britain for 19 years and traveled in Russia, many western European countries, Scandinavia, China and Korea. Living abroad gave him the opportunity to see history through the eyes of several cultures and enhanced his understanding of history and his ability to communicate history to students.

KlausA
Education
  • B.S. Molecular Environmental Biology – UC Berkeley
Subjects
  • ACT Science and Math
  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB/BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • Math, Upper Level (Trig and Up)
  • SAT II Biology
  • SAT II Math 2C
  • SAT Math

Klaus A.

Principal Instructor

Klaus is FLEX’s Instructor Trainer and Supervisor and is also the head of Math and Science Curriculum. He has over 11 years of experience working with students in the Los Altos and Cupertino areas in biology, chemistry, physics and math. 

In 2012, Klaus started FLEX’s Biology Olympiad program which allows students to explore various disciplines in Biology, build conceptual understanding, and succeed on a very challenging exam. He has also overseen the creation of FLEX’s math curriculum for the SAT and math and science curriculum for the ACT. 

As the head of FLEX’s AP Programming, Klaus has phenomenal success in motivating and coaching students towards 5’s. Since 2014, every student who has followed his 3-month study plan has achieved a 5 score. 

yvonne
Education
  • UC Santa Cruz – PhD and MA in Sociology
  • University of Michigan – Certificates in R Programming; Bayesian Analysis; Intermediate Regression Analysis; and Statistics, Probability, and Advanced Calculus
  • UCLA – MA in Education
  • UCSD cum laude – BA in Ethnic Studies (Honors Distinction) and BA in Psychology
Language(s)
  • English
  • Cantonese
Areas of Specialization
  • Students who have experienced personal and/or academic challenges
  • Underrepresented and/or first generation students
  • Transfer students
  • Students in need to direct feedback and guidance in writing effective college application essays
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools who ultimately value fit more than prestige
  • Students seeking admission specifically to UCSD, UCLA, UCSC, UIUC, University of Michigan, Duke, and Dartmouth.

Yvonne Kwan

Master Consultant

Yvonne has 14 years of teaching and counseling experience: 10 in university settings and 6 in the private college prep and consulting industry. She is currently ladder-rank faculty at San Jose State and teaches classes in sociology and Asian American studies. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College where she taught, conducted research, and mentored students. 

Given her research and experience, Yvonne approaches college prep and admissions through a personalized and holistic lens—all the while keeping a keen awareness about students’ local context, college admissions trends, and family needs. Yvonne takes a hands-on approach with all her students. Her objective is to have students learn about themselves, their passions, and practical needs as they navigate the tumultuous process of determining the right college fit.

Yvonne’s college placements include but are not limited to Dartmouth, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, Duke, Northwestern, NYU, Brown, Pomona, CalTech, MIT, Georgia Tech, Michigan, CMU, USC, BU, BC, Vanderbilt, Rice, Wake Forest, Emory, and the UCs.

During her free time, Yvonne makes wheel-thrown pottery, rock climbs, serves on the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Task to build support for SJSU students, and advocates for immigrant rights. She works hard to not only give back to the communities that have been integral to her scholarly and personal growth but also impart critical thinking skills to all her students.

RyanV
Education
  • University of California Irvine – BA in Political Science, minor in Conflict Studies
Areas of Specialization
  • Crafting unique admission strategies
  • Art students and students submitting a portfolio/audition
  • Students with complex high school situations
  • Students applying to top-50 schools
  • Students with special needs
  • International and transfer students

Ryan V.

Admissions Consulting Assistant Director & Master Consultant

Since 2016, Ryan has been helping students at every level gain entry to selective colleges. He has extensive experience guiding students through the complicated pre-collegiate process — from advising them on high school courses, extracurriculars, college selection, and admissions essays, to everything in-between.

Many of his students have been accepted into some of the world’s most competitive institutions. These include traditional universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and USC, as well as more unique schools like West Point, Rhode Island School of Design, and Amherst College. Ryan works to ensure that his students matriculate to schools that are not only a good academic fit but also provide a supportive and empowering community.

JayZ
Education
  • New York University – MA in School Counseling
  • University of Southern California – MS in Global Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles – BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, minor in Chinese
Languages
  • English
  • Chinese
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to the University of California
  • Students seeking admission to BS/MD or BA/MD programs
  • International students

Jay Z.

Principal Consultant

Jay has over 9 years of experience working as a consultant in college admission. He has previously served as an application reader and interviewer for the UCLA Alumni Scholarships Program. In addition, Jay is a certified Strong Interest Inventory counselor who can help students discover and explore their interests to determine possible majors and careers.

As an admissions consultant, he takes an informative and nurturing approach. Jay aims to work collaboratively with parents and students to craft an individualized plan to help students get into their dream school or program.

Jay’s college placements include but are not limited to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, UChicago, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Emory, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Boston College, Michigan, Georgia Tech, UIUC, and all the UC campuses.

sunny
Education
  • UC Berkeley – BA in Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Biola University – MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Language(s)
  • English
  • Korean
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission into health-related majors
  • Underrepresented students
  • International students
  • Students who have experienced personal challenges in their lives

Sunny S.

Senior Master Consultant

Sunny has been with FLEX since 2013 and worked with over 140 students to help them achieve their different educational goals. Prior to that, she worked for a non-profit organization developing English language teaching materials for underprivileged children around the world. 

As a counselor at FLEX, Sunny’s goal is to help students find the right college by navigating them through high school and the college application process. In doing so, she strives to be a nurturing mentor who encourages students to grow in all aspects of their lives. 

Sunny has assisted students interested in Health, Business, Journalism, Engineering, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Arts, Education, and more. Her college placements include but are not limited to Princeton, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, USC, University of Michigan, University of Texas-Austin, and all the UCs.

ben
Education
  • Yale University – BA in Sociology (Intensive)
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Students seeking admission specifically to Yale, Cornell, Brown, NYU, UC Berkeley, or UCLA
  • Humanities and Social Science students
  • Transfer students
  • Students needing guidance with high-level writing in college application essays

Ben R.

Director of Admissions Consulting

Ben has been in college admission consulting since 2015, and in addition to his work as an admission consultant, since joining FLEX he has served as a College Essay Specialist, ACT/SAT Curriculum Developer, and all-around verbal instructor. He is currently the Director of Admissions Consulting, managing both the NorCal and SoCal Consulting teams.

Between his time as an undergraduate at Yale and his years of consulting experience, Ben knows what sets apart the most competitive applicants for elite colleges, among others. 

Ben’s college placements include but are not limited to Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Rice, Pomona, Brown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, NYU, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, as well as selective Aviation and Art programs.

PaulL
Education
  • Cornell University – School of Criticism and Theory, with distinction
  • UC Irvine – PhD in English (ABD), emphasis in Critical Theory
  • UC Irvine – MA in English
  • University of Southern California – BA in English (Honors), cum laude, minor in Art History
  • University of Kent at Canterbury, UK – University Diploma, with merit, in English and American Literature
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • Underrepresented students
  • Transfer students
  • Students who have experienced personal challenges in their lives
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Paul L.

Admissions Consultant Director & Principal Consultant

Paul has 24 combined years of teaching and counseling experience, 12 in a university setting and 12 in the college prep and educational consulting industry. He is a former professor in American Cultures and Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University and has also taught courses and advised students at UC Irvine. 

Given his extensive experience, Paul has a deep understanding of what colleges are looking for in a student. As an admissions consultant, he takes a direct, honest, and strategic approach with his students. 

Paul’s college placements include but are not limited to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, Duke, Northwestern, UChicago, UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, and Carnegie Mellon.

judy-liang
Education
  • Harvard University – BA in Social Studies, magna cum laude
  • Cal State LA – Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, K-8
  • UCLA – M.Ed in Educational Administration, Preliminary Clear Administrative Credential
Languages
  • English
  • Mandarin (basic conversation)
  • Taiwanese (basic conversation)
  • Spanish (conversational)
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective schools
  • International students
  • Transfer students
  • Connecting students with local groups and businesses
  • Crafting effective college application essays

Judy L.

Principal Consultant

Judy has over 21 years of experience as an educator, working with students spanning preschool to high school. 

As a daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, Judy understands the challenges many immigrant families face as they navigate the educational system in the US. She strives to help families and students make informed choices and attend a university that best fits their talents and personality.

Judy’s college placements include but are not limited to Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, UChicago, Cornell, Brown, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, and NYU. 

corbin
Education
  • Williams College – B.A. in Comparative Literature (Spanish Certificate, Africana Studies Concentration)
Language(s)
  • English
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Hokkien/Min Nan Dialect
Areas of Specialization
  • Students seeking admission to highly-selective universities and liberal arts colleges
  • Students with artistic talent and/or interest in creating supplemental portfolios
  • Crafting effective application essays
  • Students undecided on their college major
  • International students
  • Private K-12 schools
  • Students interested in graduate school

Corbin Chu

Master Consultant & College Essay Instructor

Corbin graduated from Williams College with a degree in Comparative Literature, certificate in Spanish, and concentration in Africana Studies. With more than ten years of experience counseling students from middle school to applying for medical school, Corbin’s college placements include: all Ivy League schools, UChicago, Rice, and all of the UCs—in addition to top 20 engineering and business programs, also helping students earn millions of dollars in scholarships. 

He is a caring, yet firm, counselor whose approach is methodical, creative, and strategically personalized to each student’s needs and goals. Having worked at his college’s Writing Center, at a local high school, and at a test prep academy, Corbin additionally brings multiple years of teaching experience to the FLEX team.  Given his background growing up in a multicultural family in Southern California, Corbin gets along well with students and families from diverse backgrounds.

Those who know Corbin think of him whenever there is good sushi. When not advising students, he can be found traveling across the globe, listening to podcasts, or brushing up on his Japanese and French.