Dedication earns struggling student early admittance to Harvard

Peter Liu with Elite Instructor Jon Gentry

Peter Liu with Elite Instructor Jon Gentry

I met Peter Liu in one of my SAT Critical Reading classes during the summer of 2013. Initially, I thought I had failed him. The pace and learning curve seemed to be more than Peter could handle. He had only learned English three years prior and was now tackling the rigors of the SAT. The vocabulary was completely foreign; the passages were too convoluted. His reading speed was below average and often, he could not understand the particulars of the critical reading questions. During test review, Peter always wanted to dig deeper into why the right answers were correct and why his answers were wrong. Many times, he remained unsatisfied with the correct answer. I could tell Peter possessed a strong work ethic, but I also knew that he needed to invest much more time and effort than most. Little did I know, he coveted every bit of knowledge and would stop at nothing to reach his goals. Not until I started working with Peter on his college application essays, however, did I begin to understand the fullness of his story.


Peter had only learned English three years prior and was now tackling the rigors of the SAT. The vocabulary was completely foreign; the passages were too convoluted. His reading speed was below average, and often, he could not understand the particulars of the critical reading questions.


Peter immigrated to the United States from China at the start of 8th grade. Unfamiliar with English, he struggled just introducing himself in front of his new classmates, prompting an intense desire to learn the language as quickly as possible. By 9th grade, Peter had successfully lobbied for placement in Honors English, but his ambitions were much higher than merely gaining a command of English. When Peter realized that his high school did not offer Advanced Placement classes, he signed up for local community college courses to satiate his continued quest for knowledge. Attending Elite's summer boot camp was yet another stepping stone. Yes, the work posed new, unique challenges, but through dedication and persistence, Peter rose to the occasion.


Little did I know, Peter coveted every bit of knowledge and would stop at nothing to reach his goals . . . Beyond seizing every academic opportunity available to him, Peter fully immersed himself in both his school and local communities. 


A more complete picture of Peter was unveiled as I began advising him on his college personal statements. The strength of his character is apparent in his actions. Beyond seizing every academic opportunity available to him, Peter fully immersed himself in both his school and local communities. He holds multiple leadership positions in a number of activities, including serving as President of Student Council and Captain of the Varsity Swim Team. Outside of school, he has taken part in job shadowing programs, yet he is most proud of his work with a local immigrant rights community organization, through which he has met with members of Congress and organized booths at resource fairs. I understood Peter presented an impressive profile and was entirely on board with his aspirations.


Surprised and yet not at the same time, I knew that Peter's admittance to Harvard was a testament to his passionate purpose and unwavering dedication.


A graduate of Harvard University, I am ecstatic when any of my students decides to apply for admission. Imagine how I felt when Peter elected to apply to Harvard early. Applauding such self-confidence, I supported him through each step of the process: essays, supplements, even interview tips. Imagine the sheer elation upon his receiving news of acceptance to Harvard last week! Surprised and yet not at the same time, I knew that Peter's admittance was a testament to his passionate purpose and unwavering dedication. He is proof that one's obstacles stand no chance in the face of applied ambitions, and within everyone lies the potential and power to achieve the greatest of dreams.


Jon Gentry is a Harvard grad and an instructor at Elite of Los Angeles, where he teaches SAT Critical Reading & Writing, AP English Language, and College Application Workshops. He's originally from Houston, loves basketball and green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."

Posted on January 6, 2015 .

Elite Spring SAT Prep at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School

Starting in January 2015, Elite will be offering an 8-week SAT prep program at the Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles. To sign up, please contact Maral Tarivitian, the School Site Director, at 323-668-2661 or Elite Site Directors Eunice Cho and Kyu Hong Min at Elite of Los Angeles.

If you are interested in having Elite programs offered at your school, please contact us at Thank you!

Posted on November 26, 2014 .

New Elite Branch in Burnaby, BC

Elite is proud to announce the opening of our newest branch in the City of Burnaby, British Columbia!

Located near the Metrotown shopping center, Elite's Burnaby campus offers a full range of programs including SAT & SAT Subject Test prep, ReadiPrep, AP& IB prep, Provincial Exam prep, Reading & Writing, Speech & Debate.

Do you live in the Burnaby, BC area, and are you ready to give your grades and test scores a serious boost? Contact Elite Burnaby to schedule your free diagnostic test and consultation!

Elite Burnaby Campus
#112 – 5021 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 4A5

(604) 559-1269

Visit Elite Canada's website at

Posted on November 26, 2014 .

Here's What Happened at the Elite Vision Expo 2014

This August, the Elite Vision Expo drew more than 3,000 Elite students and parents to Fullerton, California for the fourth consecutive year to be inspired and informed about college admissions, financial aid, college majors, and future careers!

This year's Expo events included a keynote address from Michael Franzese, college seminars, college and volunteer booths, an incredible student talent show and quiz bowl, and alumni workshops featuring graduates from Amherst College, Claremont McKenna, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Northwestern, Pomona College, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, USC, and Yale.

Elite's annual Vision Expo is open to enrolled Elite students and their parents. We would love to see you at next year's event, scheduled for August 2015!

Posted on October 13, 2014 .

What's Up With Early Action & Early Decision?


About Early Admission Programs

Many colleges offer early admission programs that let students apply earlier in the year than usual (usually in November or December) and get a decision from the college earlier as well (usually sometime in late December).

Early admission is beneficial for colleges because it gives them an earlier idea of what kind of students are applying. With that information, the colleges can admit and actively recruit the students they really want.

Early admission can be good for students because it allows them to express their sincere interest in a school. Colleges like it when they’re your first choice because then they don’t have to worry about you choosing another school later in the year and leaving them with an empty dorm room.

There are two types of Early Admission programs:

Early Action and Early Decision.


  • Early Action is nonbinding. This means that you can (in most cases) apply Early Action to more than one college and receive an early admission decision, but you do not have to accept an offer of admission any earlier than usual (May 1, in most cases).
  • Here’s why Early Action is helpful for students: If you don’t get into your Early Action schools, you can broaden your list of colleges to apply to via Regular Decision; if you do get in to your Early Action schools, you can narrow your choices down.
  • Really, the only potential negative aspect of applying Early Action is that the schools will have to judge you based on your grades and activities to date. If you’re working to improve your grades or beef up your list of extracurricular activities, you may want to give yourself the extra few weeks and apply Regular Decision.


  • Early Decision is binding, which means that you’re making a commitment to enroll at the college if you’re admitted. Once you are admitted after applying Early Decision, you must withdraw your other college applications or stop applying anywhere else.
  • So what happens if you decide not to go to a school you were accepted to via Early Decision? Well, you probably won’t be sued by the college or hauled there by the authorities against your will. However, the other schools you applied to may be contacted by the Early Decision school, and it’s possible that those schools will rescind their offers of admission. In short, it's a serious matter and you should not apply Early Decision unless you're very serious about attending a particular school.
  • Generally speaking, applying Early Decision is a good idea for the students who have researched colleges very thoroughly and have found the perfect school for them.

Will applying early help my chances for admission?

  • Applying early (especially Early Decision) can improve your chances of being accepted into a particular school since the college will know you’re a “sure thing.”
  • Don’t apply Early Decision unless you’re totally sure about making a commitment to that school. If you’re accepted Early Decision, you must enroll.
  • Each school has different policies regarding Early Action and Early Admission. Be sure to read them very carefully before submitting your application.
Posted on October 3, 2014 .

Elite Power Speech & Debate


Announcing our newest program: Elite Power Speech & Debate!

What is Elite Power Speech & Debate?

  • Elite’s Speech program focuses heavily on speech, critical thinking, and impromptu skills to help students learn the basic points of speaking in public. Students will learn basic speech skills such as gestures, posture, and eye contact.
  • Our Debate program is designed to teach students basic debate skills and the technical necessities for debating in Public Forum Debate. 

What is the difference between Speech & Debate?

Speech focuses on efficiency of content delivery and utilizes a developed skillset to present and persuade listeners. Students prepare and organize research to present speeches to an audience.

Debate is an argumentative competition that requires competing individuals or groups to convince judges of their respective viewpoints by employing eloquence and sound evidence.

What are the benefits of Speech & Debate?

  • Develops important team-building, critical thinking, and logical reasoning skills
  • Aligns with new Common Core state standards by improving students' ability to cite evidence and research
  • Advances reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills that are important to academic and future career success
  • Fosters self-confidence and leadership abilities

  • Provides opportunities to excel at a meaningful extracurricular activity, garner honors and awards, and stand out in the college admission process

Why Elite?

  • Every branch of Elite is a member of the National Forensics League (NFL) and National Junior Forensics League (NJFL), the National Speech and Debate Association's premier honor societies. This allows Elite to grant students points for Speech & Debate rounds which may be used to attain the coveted All American status.
  • All coaches at Elite have extensive training and experience in the field of Speech & Debate. With their knowledge and expertise, coaches offer every student the individual attention, confidence, and experience they need to succeed in any public forum.
  • Select Elite branches and their programs have been evaluated and approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) because of their outstanding learning environment and support offered to students. This means that Elite classes meet the same rigorous standards as high school classes.
  • Elite Educational Institute is proudly partnered with the Center for Future Global Leaders to jointly develop and administer the International Academic Competitions at their locations in Canada, China, South Korea, and the United States.

Elite Power Speech & Debate Classes are offered at select Elite branches. Contact your branch today to register or learn more!

Posted on September 25, 2014 .

Video from Teacher Convocation 2014

Elite Teacher Convocation: the time of year when we gather all our faculty and staff together to exchange ideas, celebrate our students, and kick off another exciting year of education! 

Check out the video below to meet this year's Elite Students of the Year, learn about how we prepare our teachers to be the best in the business, and find out just what it is that sets Elite apart.

Posted on September 10, 2014 .

Elite of Laguna Hills is Here!


Say hello to our newest branch in Laguna Hills, California!

Located in the new Courtyard at La Paz shopping center, Elite of Laguna Hills' fall offerings include SAT & SAT Subject Test prep, ACT prep, 3-2-1 Quad Tutoring, and ReadiPrep Math & English. 

Do you live in the Laguna Hills area, and are you ready to give your grades and test scores a serious boost? Contact Elite of Laguna Hills today to schedule your free diagnostic test and consultation.

Elite of Laguna Hills
25282 McIntyre St
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

(949) 916-0355

Posted on September 8, 2014 .