Julie Kim Interview (Part 1)

May 24, 2021 | podcast

On today’s episode, Dr. Legatt interviews Julie Kim, founder of Julie Kim Consulting, and they discuss mindsets, growth, and working with their students.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. I am Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and elite admissions expert at Ivy Insights and author of “Get Real and Get In”. Today, we are speaking with Julie Kim. Immigrating from Korea in her youth, Julie Kim is a graduate of USC and Harvard Ed. She founded Julie Kim Consulting after years of working in larger consulting firms, hoping to establish a new way of approaching college admissions. Julie offers a unique perspective as a first in her family to navigate the American College admissions process and works with students of similar backgrounds to develop their own standout factor among thousands of other applicants. So welcome, Julie! 

JK: Thank you so much for having me. 

AL: Yeah, it’s great to reconnect. I love speaking with you on your podcast as well. So just as kind of an introductory question I would love to hear a little bit about how you got into the work you’re doing and why you got into the work you’re doing. 

JK: As you mentioned, I immigrated to the United States when I was in second grade, and my parents, they don’t speak any English. And so when it came time for me to navigate the college admission process, I was on my own, and I was really committed to getting accepted into a good college. So I started following what everyone else is doing, which was to get involved and to be busy and to do as many extracurriculars as possible. And there was a point in my high school career where I burned down and I couldn’t go to school to take my finals because I overworked myself. And at that point, I had to make a decision. Am I going to just continue to do what I’ve been doing, or am I going to be a little bit more honest with myself and do what really excites me? And so that was kind of like my high school career. And from that point on, I created a pass from a project back then when I was in high school, of course, I didn’t call it that. But basically I started volunteering at a local Elementary school. And there I created my own initiative helping fifth and sixth graders with literacy and math instruction there. So that was kind of like a product that I created. I shared that with USC and then even later on, when I applied to Harvard Grad School, I mentioned a product that I created. And I feel like that’s what really got me accepted because I just did what I was really passionate about. And I think to the college admissions officer, it just seemed very authentic versus, like, “I volunteer 500 hours” and just kind of showing the numbers. And so I have loved education since then. So I went to Harvard for education, and I started working at college consulting companies, like really big ones in the United States and South Korea as well. And I felt like there was one piece that was really missing, which was about addressing students mindset and helping students see their potential and especially allowing an enabling high school students to work from a place of their genuine interest and passion versus “I want to get into Harvard because it sounds really great”, or “I want to go to UPenn because it’s, like, ranked number one in the business list”. And so that’s why I started my business, and I’ve helped hundreds of students get accepted into their dorm colleges using passion projects. And so here I am! (Laughs). 

AL: Very cool, Julie. So there’s definitely aspects of your story that reminds me of mine. I was also left to navigate the process on my own. And it’s quite the transformative journey that sounds like we both had in this college process that stuck with us. And I really appreciate and admire as well your emphasis on mindset, because I think that people often get lost in the metrics, the numbers, the brand names, and they fail to think about the broader picture about what they want for their lives and who they are. So I’d love to hear a little bit about mindset, your thoughts on that and how that relates to college acceptance and college results. 

JK: Yeah. So I actually started to dive into the world of mindset because I was miserable when I was attending Harvard. It was like a dream come true for me, but I wasn’t diagnosed with depression, but I think I was pretty down and sad. And that’s because I feel like I relied on external things to make me happy because I got into Harvard, and because I’m standing there, I should be happy. But that was absolutely not true. And so I started to stress a lot, really gain a lot of weight. And I used to define myself again in that process. And so I started diving into self help books. And I also realized that these patterns were also happening with the students that I work with later on. So, for example, students would come into our session and say, “My parents don’t believe in me” or “I don’t think I’m good enough”. “I’m always comparing myself to other people”. “I don’t think I have what it takes to get accepted into my dream colleges”. And I thought, you know, I feel like it’s the mindset that really controls students’ actions. And if you just work on it and you realize how much potential you have and how much gift you have, there’s so much that you can do in this college admissions process. And stop comparing yourself to other people and friends. And I know that’s inevitable sometimes. But if you learn how to trust yourself and love yourself and appreciate yourself, I feel like it could bring so much more success, especially with college admissions. And so with everything that I do with my students, they talk about. And that’s really what I feel like the root of the problem sometimes.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.