The following article features CollegeAdvisor.com’s Maria Jose Acosta Robayo. For more information about our programming and personal guidance about the college application process, head to CollegeAdvisor.com and sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.
For CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert Maria Jose "Majo" (Harvard '20), being a college advisor means guiding applicants to discover their goals, reflect on their experiences, and creatively communicate these experiences in their applications. By asking the right questions, Majo helps her students write essays that will stand out during the admissions process.
"I'm a big film enthusiast, and I love the idea of creating storyboards," the recent Harvard grad says. "Working with students on their essays, I get to build storyboards with them. I really enjoy helping my clients use their life experiences to develop narratives that showcase their passions, goals, and personalities."
For Majo, advising students is also about sharing what she wished she knew back when she was applying to college.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, the CollegeAdvisor.com mentor immigrated to Florida with her parents at 5 years old. As the first person in her family to apply to college, Majo did tons of research in order to understand the process. With the support of her parents and school counselor, she put together her own college list, took countless online tests in order to study for the SATs, and began drafting her personal essay the summer after junior year. Then, she applied to the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship.
In October of 2015, Majo discovered that she had been matched to Princeton University through Questbridge with a full, four-year scholarship. Then, in spring of 2016, she received an acceptance letter to Harvard University, where she ultimately enrolled.
At Harvard, Majo started off on the pre-med track, concentrating in Molecular & Cellular Biology. After taking courses in medical anthropology, ethics, and history, she discovered her passion for both the social and natural sciences. She graduated in 2020 with a degree in Sociology and a Secondary in Global Health and Health Policy.
At Harvard, Majo discovered that many of her fellow students had benefited from advising programs, individual tutoring, and other resources during the college application process. That's when she became interested in helping others achieve their college dreams.
For a year, she joined the Harvard Financial Aid Office. While there, Majo took part in an initiative to introduce students to the admissions process by teaching them about Harvard’s financial aid program. Then, she began tutoring students in courses ranging from anatomy & physiology and biochemistry to French and Spanish.
"When I graduated, I knew I wanted to help people have a smoother transition into college," Majo says. When a friend forwarded her a job posting from CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions), she knew it would be a great opportunity to pass on her experience.
"High school is hard, especially senior year," the CollegeAdvisor.com mentor says. "Having a college advisor — especially someone who's recently gone through the process — can be a great investment. It’s so helpful to have someone who understands what you're going through, and who can save you time by giving you strategies to focus your energy." She strongly encourages students to check out programs like CollegeAdvisor.com and Questbridge.
Majo now works for the research branch of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, where she studies medical inequities through cost-effective analysis of pediatric treatments. Her current research project deals with inequities in telehealth during the COVID pandemic.
This advisor spotlight was based on an interview with CollegeAdvisor.com’s Maria Jose Acosta Robayo (Harvard '20). If you want to get help on your personal essays from Majo or other CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.