When Lucent Education started almost 5 years ago, 'unicorns' were still mythical creatures, to 'disrupt' simply meant to be annoying and 'uber' was still most commonly used as a German adjective. Start-up culture was in its infancy and while we were excited to be part of a new venture, we certainly did not envision how internet-based technologies would transform businesses in such a short time!
Our website back then did not have fancy graphics, we did not hire any UX/UI designers and we certainly did not try to 'gamify' the college application or job search process through our the webpage. We did, however, insist on offering a quality service, primarily over the internet, that would be affordable to many.
With those guiding principles, Lucent Education has come a long way. Going through our records, we have helped hundreds of clients achieve success both in terms of college admissions as well as securing their dream job.
These successes remain our primary motivation moving forward. We are now more experienced, better prepared and have better tools to help serve you better. And the first step in improving starts with Lucent having a new look!
The webpage is a lot more streamlined and easier on the eye. We have bundled some of our services so that prices remain competitive while you get a more comprehensive experience. We also have newer pictures of ourselves, so you know exactly who you are working with!
And this is exactly what sets us apart from our competitors. Regardless when you call or email us, regardless of what services you are looking for, there are only 3 people who will get back in touch with you. You will receive a reply from either Agnes, Tilia or SS - no one else. No unsupervised inboxes, automated replies, or overseas call centers.
At Lucent Education, it is all about personalized services from real people. And we hope to continue to extend a helping hand to reach your goals.
For us three founders, Lucent Education isn’t just a business endeavor. We started with a collective vision in helping families similar to ours – those with limited knowledge of the opportunities of US colleges/graduate schools and even less information on the process itself. We operate with a double bottom line – our aim is to be accessible to applicants that are from families that may not have the full means to access high end-super star admissions consultants that cost $15,000+.
Our expertise and track record would allow us to charge these incredibly high prices since we are a high quality program with the experience and expertise to work with families that can more than afford the high price tag. But that wasn’t our vision; we decided to re-imagine a world in which this quality of service could be provided to a larger audience to even out the school admissions playing field. With wonderful non-profits already servicing low income families, we knew that there was a gap of students that deserved the coaching and expertise these two very different groups of people already have access to.
What we dreamed up was an à la carte service that is provided online – but, one that never dilutes quality of service.
We customize our service to what you need. Perhaps you’re great at research, but need support with application essays. Or, your parents are marketing professionals and capable of supporting the writing components of the application, but don’t quite understand the undergraduate system in the US. We work with your specific strengths and needs so that you’re not paying for an all-inclusive service that you don’t need. You’re also not paying for rent or travel time and other unnecessary overhead that comes with a formal office or tutoring center. However, you’re still getting access to personalized, one on one expertise and coaching that would often carry the much higher price tag.
It’s the time of year for tree-decorating and gift-giving, where you catch yourself whistling to carols in the shopping mall – yes, the holiday spirit is definitely sneaking up on us all. I’m always nostalgic this time of year, looking back and taking stock of all that we have experienced and learnt and what the coming year has in store for us.
The past 12 months at Lucent has been such a rewarding experience. Tilia, Agnes and I started this adventure just a few years ago and this has been the first time we’ve had the opportunity to sit down and look at how the past has been for Lucent. What started out as simply a passion to help level the playing field in terms of college admissions has, to my surprise, grown to be about a lot more!
I have personally found the successful admissions to be so much more rewarding than I thought they would be. Most of our partners first come to us shrouded in self-doubt and the transformation that we see through the process is amazing. We have many conversations about the students that we work with and we so often unanimously agree with little hesitation that a particular student will do very well once you peel through all that nervousness and anxiety. This year, we have been fortunate enough to see our predictions come true for so many of our students. It shouldn’t surprise us really, as we know these students are more than capable, but to share that journey truly gives me a sense of achievement.
I am particularly proud of our scholarship students. We have all come by difficult times and I am certain we remember the encouraging words and the kind gestures that have been extended to us for which we are all very grateful for. Too many times, I find myself trying to pass that kindness along, to share that generosity that has been extended to me. We have been lucky enough at Lucent in the past year that several students have reached out to us, giving us the opportunity to offer what guidance we can.
There is much to be thankful and joyful for this year. I have learnt many more lessons than I thought I would, both in terms of being part of an organization like Lucent and also on the general landscape of education today. I sincerely hope that the families continue to extend us the trust that together, we can make difference.
Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!
It’s that time of the year when the heat starts to cool and the heady days of summer begin to feel like a dream. Along with the changing fall foliage come the abundance of ‘back-to-school’ guides both in print and online, bracing students, new and old, for the end of long days out in the sun and the start of longer days in the library. While no single college experience is ‘typical’, it’s sometimes comforting to have a peek of what’s to come – and this is my recollection of the first few months of college a long time ago.
I remember the excitement. There is definitely a genuine pleasure in physically being in the school you worked so hard to be part of. Getting off the bus being greeted by the ever-smiling volunteers, it almost felt like all those hours of anxiety and uncertainty and inadequacy were finally banished – that I have indeed arrived. That smugness wore off very quickly once lectures started, but let yourself bask in that warm glow of achievement, you worked for this and you deserve every bit of excitement those first few days.
More than the fear of not doing well in college, I think the fear of not making friends was another preoccupation. After travelling thousands of miles to a city many of us have only been in for a few hours (if at all), making new friends seemed almost impossible at first. But I think it’s worth remembering that almost everyone there is new: just like you, they have been uprooted from a life they know well into a new one and they too are looking to share their experience with new friends and acquaintances. Cast away the insecurity; smile and just say hello – I found that there was only one secret to making friends; being friendly yourself.
For all the guides and tips that one can read, there is certainly no fool-proof, sure-fire manual to enjoy starting college. I was lucky enough to have exceedingly supportive friends and family who reminded me that the transition to college life was a big one and it was okay to be insecure and unsure of what to expect. Looking back, those days of being home-sick, of feeling alone while being in crowds, the crippling fear that I didn’t deserve my spot – these were the same emotions that help us all grow and feel comfortable in our own skin.
But more than anything else trust me on this...the good times, they will be awesome.
In my very first conversations with families and clients, one of the questions almost always is, “Agnes, why do you do this?” Well, there are a ton of reasons, but one of my most selfish reasons is that I love seeing the essays evolve. For many high school students that are in their senior year working on their college applications, this is the first time writing has no impact on their grade, but great of impact on where their life will lead. For many students, their writing for the first time has a different kind of drive.
Many of our Lucent Ed students opt for the unlimited revisions (great if you’re starting from scratch), and because of this new drive, there are significant improvements on student writing through the numerous revisions. From the very first outline or draft to the final product where each letter and comma has been agonized over – there’s a huge transformation – in not just the essay, but in the skills of the writer. Going through each revision, their questions become more thoughtful about everything from sentence structure to really articulating their aspirations, experiences, and emotions. As a coach in this process, I love seeing the student grow in their writing and personally as they tackle how they’d like to convey themselves to the world (well, really admissions), sometimes for the first time. It’s quite inspiring what they come up with, and it’s one of the primary reasons I love to be with Lucent Education.
At the start of another new year, we’ve all grown accustomed to resolving to keep resolutions yet again. THIS time will be different, THIS time we’ll keep everything we have listed down and when THIS time comes again next year, we’ll be so proud of ourselves.
Resolution-making has always been deemed a private affair – a conversation between the world-weary, present-day version with next year’s all-singing, all-dancing version 2.0. And perhaps, that’s where most resolutions die a lonely and secluded death – in our heads.
Having worked with several students this year, I’ve been able to witness first-hand some dreams coming true. Resolving to put our minds to achieving something significant is no easy task. However, formulating an action plan to tackle the hurdles along the way is even more daunting. And this is where we can use all the help we can get.
The simple act of sharing a resolution makes it so much more real. Having someone to merely acknowledge the possibility to achieving our new aims is a real confidence-booster.
Looking back at my 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness several resolutions coming full circle. Through simple conversations and casual suggestions, I have seen ideas put into action with very encouraging outcomes.
This year, I’m resolving to share my resolutions. To tell my friends what I’m thinking and hoping to achieve. I hope you will too. Do drop us an e-mail to simply say hello or to sound out a potential school you might be interested in. We’re always happy to have a conversation – not too long ago, we were exactly where you were, dreaming those same dreams.
Don’t let those resolutions die a lonely death. Let’s have something to celebrate next year.
Starting a company is never a straight forward endeavor. The one thing that was extremely clear cut among the 3 founders was the mission of the company. The three of us have an immigrant background and came to the United States in pursuit of a system that valued meritocracy. While the United States definitely upholds meritocracy, we have come to acknowledge the sheer luck and privilege it requires to get in to top schools. We decided that we wanted it to be our mission to level the college admissions playing field.
The benefits that privilege bring start way beyond the time the application process starts. From personal tutors, to being a legacy applicant, the setbacks to those not in the 1% are numerous. The disparity between the have and have-nots are even more pronounced when it comes to the application process. Kids who can afford it fly around the country to visit schools. They send out multiple applications without any regard to application fees. Parents send their kids to private schools that have multiple counselors swarming all over their applications or pay tens of thousands of dollars for celebrity college admissions consultants.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with utilizing all the resources you have to put yourself in the best position possible. That said, it does put others at a disadvantage which is what we hope to remedy at Lucent.
We worry about two things. First, that people who do not have those resources give up on attending top schools before applying. Second, that people who have limited resources will turn out worse applications because they lack the funds or network to get coaching, feedback, and support.
The first issue of giving up without trying, we try to remedy by telling stories of unlikely candidates who made it to top schools. We also give out scholarships to prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Very often, we do free consultation sessions with people.
The second issue of resources limiting access to help, we solve by splitting up our services in to multiple segments of the admissions process. Within the admissions process, most people are great at some things and not so great at others. There is absolutely no reason for you to pay someone to do something you are already great at! Therefore, by breaking up the process in to pieces, you only purchase help for parts where you are not confident. Instead of paying $20,000 for services you didn’t need, you end up paying $2,000 to focus on where you really needed help.
It sounds cliché, but we really care about getting you in to the best school you possibly can.
We hope that this article gives you a glimpse in to the minds of the people at Lucent Education and we look forward to helping you get in to your dream school.
Looking back to my high-school days, I would be hard-pressed to find too many unpleasant memories. Many of my best friends today I met during those awkward teenage years and having the freedom to explore varied interests have turned many into lifelong passions.
Fast forward a decade and several degrees later, I have come to appreciate that a lot of what I am proud of today is a direct consequence of the unwavering support I have had from family and friends. Being able to pursue an interest unburdened by the expectation of ‘making something of it’ has unfortunately become a rare luxury in today’s increasingly competitive academic environment. The unbridled inflation of college admissions criteria makes a successful application seem more and more like the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and privileged.
This toxic mix of expectation and anxiety seemed a world away from what I was used to. When I met Agnes and Tilia, I was struck by how similar (and how much more enjoyable) our own experiences were. Lucent Education was borne of this dedication to make the admissions process not so much an examination, but more an affirmation of one’s educational experience. We did not see ourselves telling students what clubs to join, what sports to play and what books to read, because we believe you already know that. Instead, we envisioned ourselves as partners in the journey, providing the support, advice and opinions that we were all fortunate enough to have.
My personal motivation with Lucent is that with that small nudge in the right direction, your college admissions process would be one less wrought with insecurity and self-doubt. Going to college is the start of an amazing journey and it would be great to know the journey started from a collection of experience of your own choosing and a collection of circumstances on your own terms. We do hope that we can be the partner to reaffirm the belief that you have in your academic journey thus far.
Southeast Asia has a population of 620 million people. Just to put that in perspective, the United States cracked 300 million just a few years ago. With a population twice the size of the United States. As 9% of the world population, our representation at top institutions is not representative of our place in the world.
During my time at Stanford and from conversations with some highly accomplished people I always wondered, “Where are all the Southeast Asians?” Then, I thought back to my experience as a student in Malaysia.
I grew up in Kuala Lumpur in a typical middle class family. My academic performance in secondary school was average. The reason for my unremarkable secondary experience wasn’t the inability to do well. It was the lack of incentives. I thought my options were either to do a pre-university course to go overseas, join a Malaysian private institution. For either choice, my secondary school grades didn’t have to be amazing.
The stories of the 15 straight A students going Cambridge or Harvard on a government scholarship seemed unattainable for myself.
I didn’t know I could, so I didn’t try.
All that changed when I met a group of American foreign exchange students in Australia. They went to Cornell, Duke, UCLA, and a host of other impressive schools. Talking to them convinced me that the United States would open doors to amazing opportunities. They told me what going to school in the U.S. was like, and what you had to do to get in.
My mind was made up to go to the U.S. But how to get there?
Honestly, the path was difficult. After a lot of research, a lot of conversations, and a lot of mistakes, I finally made it to the United States and got my undergraduate degree in civil engineering. I had a job waiting for me upon graduation even after the market crash in 2008. I made tons of American friends, and loved every bit of my experience.
After this success, I learnt the lesson to try to shoot for the best option for me.
I used this lesson when I applied to business school. Stanford’s business school has a 7% admissions rate. My year had one of the lowest historical admissions rates. I knew my odds were bad but I still wanted to try.
I will never forget how it felt to receive the phone call from the dean of admissions saying that I was accepted.
Ever since attending Stanford University, my life has been put on a completely different trajectory. I’ve managed to get jobs I would never have gotten before. I’ve met people I would never even be in the same room with. My network is filled with people who will be the future leaders of the corporate and political world.
Getting to America and then going to Stanford University improved my prospects dramatically. However, I almost didn’t get here. It was luck that enabled me to learn about the opportunity. Then, I had to try to seize it.
I think a lot of Southeast Asians were like me. They don’t know the height of their full potential so they don’t try. I want that to change.
America is still the land of opportunity. The academic institutions here give you an amazing education. The people you meet here will be instrumental to your development. Being here puts you in touch with thought leaders in every industry. The strong brand name of the top schools get you in the door of any company.
So by all means, try for the United States top institutions! You deserve to give yourself a shot to be great. With every Southeast Asian that joins the ranks of top institutions, we set an example and make it easier for all those that follow. When they see that we did it, they realize they too should try.
Admissions consulting for Asians applying to American universities is something I truly care about for this reason.
It is my hope that we will live up to our full potential and break in to the top ranks where we should be.
College, Graduate School, and Career Coaching.