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June 1, 2024


Crafting a Winning College Application: Insights from Filippo Fonseca

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Navigating the college application process can be daunting, but success is achievable with the right strategy and mindset. Filippo Fonseca, a recent high school graduate who successfully gained admission to several prestigious universities, including Yale University, shares his experience and strategy that helped him during his college application journey.

Early Preparation and Strategic Planning

Filippo’s journey began with early preparation and strategic planning. Knowing the competitive nature of top U.S. colleges, he applied to 19 schools across the U.S., the UK, and the Netherlands, focusing on those where he felt he could succeed. His strategy was unique as he opted not to apply to safety schools in the U.S., having secured positions in less holistic European universities. Jump to YouTube section

Emphasizing Extracurriculars and Personal Passions

A cornerstone of Filippo’s application was his deep involvement in extracurricular activities aligned with his passions for engineering, entrepreneurship, and technology. From starting tech startups to engaging in international robotics competitions, Filippo demonstrated a keen ability to initiate and commit to projects that had tangible impacts. His entrepreneurial ventures showcased his leadership and innovation skills and his desire to make a positive difference in people's lives. Jump to YouTube section

Managing Applications and Maximizing Chances

Filippo approached his applications with a scientist’s precision, treating them like experiments where he could tinker and iterate until he found the formula for success. This methodical approach included managing his applications through a detailed Google Sheets tracker, which helped him stay organized and ensure no deadline or detail was missed. Jump to YouTube section

The Importance of Authenticity in Essays

Many of Filippo’s applications are successful because of his authentic and well-crafted essays. He focused on storytelling, ensuring his essays reflected his true self and academic and personal journey. His narrative showcased his achievements and illustrated his curiosity, learning process, and the impact of his initiatives. Jump to YouTube section

Leveraging Resources and Tools

Filippo utilized various tools throughout his application process to optimize his applications and manage his time effectively. This included using platforms like Good Goblin to streamline the application process and ensure he presented the strongest application possible. Jump to YouTube section

Advice for Future Applicants

Filippo’s advice to future applicants is multifaceted:

  • Start early: Prepare your applications well in advance to avoid last-minute pressures.
  • Focus on what you love: Engage deeply in activities that genuinely interest you rather than what you think might look good on an application.
  • Be strategic: Understand the strengths and unique aspects of each university you are applying to and tailor your applications to reflect how you would be a good fit.
  • Enjoy the process: While the application process is rigorous and demanding, finding joy in the journey can make it a rewarding experience.
  • Jump to YouTube section


Filippo Fonseca’s successful college application journey is a testament to the power of early preparation, strategic planning, genuine passion, and thoughtful storytelling. His experiences offer valuable insights for any high school student embarking on the college application process, highlighting the importance of authenticity and strategic thinking in crafting a winning application. Jump to YouTube section