Stretch your mind back to when you were 21 years old.
Most probably you were either studying at university, travelling the world, or studying part-time and working part-time to save money to travel the world.
Unless you were Jamie Beaton.
After graduating from King’s College in Auckland in 2012 — with an equivalent score of a 99.95 ATAR — Beaton was accepted into Harvard University to study Applied Mathematics-Economics and gain a Masters in Applied Math.
He was also accepted into Stanford, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, Columbia and Duke, but he turned them down.
This month he is set to graduate from Harvard two years ahead of schedule. Typically, an undergraduate qualification alone takes four.
He is also set to become the youngest student to gain admission to study at Stanford Business School this year.
Somewhere in between all that hard work and studying, Beaton also founded his own business.
And in just three short years Crimson Consulting, which mentors students to help them get into the university of their choice, has attracted backing from a number of leading US and Chinese-based hedge funds and angel investors, and reached a valuation of $82 million.
So far about 7000 students, mainly in New Zealand and Australia, have used its services.
A record 45 admission offers were made to Crimson students in Australia and New Zealand to attend Ivy League universities this year. Within Australia alone, every student who received Crimson support gained admission to at least one Ivy League school.
To continue this growth trajectory the business is expected to expand on its current offices in Auckland and Sydney, with more in Australia, the UK and China due to open this year.
Business Insider reached out to Beaton to find out how he approached the application process, and garnered such success.
“Every single university in the US is very idiosyncratic. I spent a great deal of time carefully cultivating my essays over a period of about a year,” he said.
“It is fundamental to research your target universities intimately, visiting them if possible and being able to shed a layer of differentiation and perspective on them above and beyond the majority of candidates to really stand out.
“Basically only my central common application was sent to multiple schools. Even this essay had three different versions which I sent to different types of schools to best reflect my story and journey to them.”
Now using his own success to help others, Beaton said there are certain tips you should know when applying to Ivy League schools.
“Throughout high school, I was consistently told I was doing too many things; I had to avoid getting ‘burned out’ and was encouraged to slow down,” he said.
“Do what you truly enjoy and chase those passions with a fervent intensity. Remember, you are competing against similarly intense and focused students all around the world. Being complacent is a recipe for mediocrity.
“Understand that the world is full of totally incorrect information and biases. These biases exist all around us. My mum, who is such a great supporter, was quite interested in medicine as a potential field for me, unaware about some of the opportunities I am now pursuing on Wall Street.
“You need to be actively soliciting the best possible and accurate information globally. This is why so many students across the world are seeking Crimson to access our global network of mentors and first-class knowledge.
“Be competitive; not necessarily about everything and/or with other people but internally strive to be the best you can be.”
He also says starting to think about university earlier rather than later is a big advantage.
“I started actively thinking about universities when I was 15. My advice is pretty simple – the earlier you start, the better your strategy will be and the more information and guidance you acquire, the better positioned you will be to make a positive greater impact.”
But more than anything, he says to “enjoy the journey”.
“Relish every minute of the academic learning experiences of high school, the social experience, the dating, the stress, the tension, the adrenaline.”
Here’s the essay he used to apply to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford.
The apron drooped to my knees. I was emblazoned with the ʻHi, My Name is Jamieʼ sticker, coupled with a scarlet employee-in-training hat. The ʻFresh not Frozen, Grilled not Friedʼ motto resonated in my mind. It was July 2011. I had taken the plunge and secured my very first part time job. I was flipping burgers, and I was excited.
I was accustomed to academia, to the sports field, to the stage, but this was an entirely fresh paradigm. Anuj, the staff trainer and joyously friendly employee tasked with the rather unfortunate challenge of having to teach me hamburgerological cuisine greeted me with a firm handshake. This guy meant business.
The familiar fast-food funk wafted through the tiny store like cologne in an airport duty-free store – overpowering, faintly nauseous and all-encompassing. The filing cabinets in my mind usually reserved for physics formulas, economics jargon and debating cases were tipped out and crammed with permutations and combinations of burgers – Otropo, Chicken Wrappa, Bondi. Exceptions to French conjugations were momentarily replaced with extra topping combos. The till became my new graphical calculator.
With surgeon-like precision Anuj modeled how to wrap a burger in four swift motions – place burger in the dead centre, pull wrap from left to right, then right to left, then roll the corners. He gestured towards his demonstration model and motioned for me to take to the stage. It was show time! Unfortunately, my burger ended up looking like the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. Anuj patted me on the back, said ʻyouʼll learn fastʼ – and smirked.
Suddenly the barricades were overrun and an influx of jandal-wearing, sun-glass toting beach-goers charged into the store. The orders came flying faster than budget cuts at a Tea Party convention. I heard the petrifying three words ʻchicken tenderloin comboʼ. This was it, the Everest of my culinary career. It involved delving into the bossʼs prized stock of ʻsucculent tenderloinsʼ as he had described, ʻthe highest quality meat we sell, expensive to buy and delicate to cook, we canʼt afford any mistakesʼ. I was handling meaty gold. As the first tenderloin slapped onto the grill with a satisfying sizzle, I could imagine the bossʼs scorching eyes scrutinizing my every action from behind the prying lens of the staff security camera. Sun-glass toter number two, the tenderloin culprit, then muttered ʻExcuse me! Sorry mate, my fault, I meant the chicken nuggets.ʼ
Silently, I screamed. I grimaced, pirouetted and pleaded with the security camera.
Anuj saw my face, contorted in anguish, and took to the rescue with business-like efficiency. He rolled his eyeballs. In one graceful movement he scooped the tenderloins and flicked them into the cooler with one hand, and in perfect synchrony, removed the emergency chicken nuggets with the other. His eyes glistened with intensity. With consummate mastery his arms flicked from grill to cooker to table to bread to wrap. In less than ninety seconds, the order was complete. The bossʼs eyeballs returned to their sockets. The day was saved.
I worship the Anujs of this world. Certain jobs may look simple but that simplicity masks years of expertise. My skills in the rococo art of burger flipping paled into insignificance beside the master. I learnt more than burger flipping that day. I learnt humility, respect and the value of a good chicken tenderloin.
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