Our story

IvyZen is a boutique admissions consulting firm based in San Francisco, CA and Seoul, Korea. Founded in 2003 by U Chicago graduate, Mark Lee, IvyZen focuses on helping top students get into Ivy League schools.

Our approach is different. Instead of packaging applications on a conveyor belt, we proactively develop a student’s profile and help her capitalize on her strengths with proven strategies, high expectations and effective mentoring that gets results.


Mark’s (Founder/Executive Director) story:

I was top of my class at a large public high school. In my junior year, the school district threatened to do away with all AP classes because they were “elitist.” Even prior to that, I often felt out of place. There was always this sense that the entire system cared more about helping “bad” students than it ever did about me. Even then I thought about ways to help ambitious students do even better and help find their unique voice. I stumbled my way to U Chicago, which currently has a 7.9% acceptance rate and is among the hardest colleges to get into.

I learned a lot along the way and used my experience to help my younger sister get into Yale. My sister and I were the first in our school to get into top colleges. It was quite the sensation. Word spread and parents were asking me to help their kids get into the Ivies. This gig brought in enough money to pay for my college education. As soon as I graduated in 1996, I started consulting professionally by launching The Princeton Review in Seoul, Korea.

Since then I’ve helped over 300 students get into the top Ivies (Harvard) and over a 1,000 in to the lower-tier Ivies (Cornell). IvyZen (established in 2003) is the formal expression of what I’ve been doing for over 20 years. What’s unique about us is that we ONLY focus on the top students. From the moment I first started consulting, I felt most empathetic to hardworking, ambitious students. We balance compassion with a results-oriented, highly personalized 1on1 mentoring approach to develop unique and compelling themes for students and also help them to realize their true potential.

Please browse through our many articles and content. If they’re helpful, sign up for our pdf booklets and white papers or feel free to contact us at info@ivyzen.net to see if we can help.

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