Success Story – John

No club to join? Start your own! How John shaped his future through grit and determination.

We always say that starting a club that reflects your passion can really make your college application shine. There is nothing more prestigious than the word ‘founder.’ John’s story is a perfect example.

John had aspirations of majoring in business and eventually attending a business graduate program, but his high school was lacking in opportunities for future business students. He came across the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) through his Mentor, and set out to bring this great national club to his school. He knew that people would join in a heartbeat if he could just get the club off the ground.

He went to his school’s administration to pitch the idea. He learned that his school had never had a chapter of the club before, so he would have to start from scratch. His principal was a little skeptical that he would be able to get enough interest for a business club, but John was determined. The principal gave the green light and the club was set up with the help of his faculty advisor.

Everything looked good. John posted flyers and spread the word by making presentations in class. He created the hype and set up an information session which was attended by 50 excited students. The club was a huge hit and the group registered their chapter with the FBLA. John installed a treasurer to help organize the fees and other officers to run the club. His initiative had created an enormous buzz around the school.

Shaping a future in business

John wanted to use his success to shine on his application but something was lacking. In terms of scholarship activities, he didn’t have any research paper experience or competitions successes. John and his IvyZen Mentor brainstormed ideas about what could go well with his Business Theme. Academic research didn’t fit with his goal of being a future business leader, so we decided instead to create a mobile app.

It was clear that John was active in terms of volunteer work and giving back to his community. This is all very good but it doesn’t help students stand out because everyone does it. It needed an extra dimension.

Then the Mentor hit on something. John was planning a walkathon with one of his after school clubs, and they were trying to raise money for a variety causes. Together they realised they could use this as an opportunity to create a mobile app that would take the information given by each donor and then calculate, using GPS, how far someone had walked and how much money they would pledge. We helped John to learn enough programming knowledge to develop the app. After several months of programming and testing, it was ready in time for the big event.

The app was a huge success. In the end, John’s group was able to raise almost $50,000 to donate to a variety of causes in the local community.

Although John had some academic challenges – his club and app showed he had the drive to succeed, something that big business rates more highly than tests. Through sheer determination, John was shaping his own future. By the time he graduated, he had a GPA of 3.6 (which is certainly good, but not outstanding compared to some students applying to college), but his passion for business and his leadership experience really made set him apart in the application process.

John got into The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is well on his way to a future career in business. His story shows that recognising a gap and working hard to fill it will take you all the way.

John’s Business Theme



  • GPA: 3.6
  • Took the SAT Subject Test Math IIC
  • Challenged himself by taking difficult courses related to his theme: AP Micro/Macroeconomics


Extracurriculars – Leadership

  • Founder/President – FBLA Club

Extracurriculars – Scholarship

  • Created a walkathon mobile app to help fundraise for his community service activities

Competitions and Achievements

  • Raised almost $50,000 for charity during a walkathon event.

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