I truly cannot express enough my gratitude for all Daniel, the owner of Optimum Education Solutions, has done for my educational career. Looking back from where I was when I came to Daniel to now, as I pack to move into my UCLA dorm, it’s been a dramatic change.
At the beginning of the summer prior to my senior year at Deer Valley High School, I felt my chances of getting into one of my dream schools were dismal. I was a smart kid no doubt, but I had fallen short in a few classes and had no idea how to go about the process of standardized testing, preparing personal statements, and completing applications. Looking at my statistics compared with the national averages of the top universities I dreamed of, I vaguely knew I had a lot of work to be done in an excruciatingly short amount of time. I didn’t realize until we met how bleak the situation looked for my target colleges since my school never bothered to spell it out as clearly as Daniel did.
I realized that year UCLA’s average GPA of an incoming freshman was a 4.19; I had barely managed to pull a 3.7. I had an SAT score of 1960 and had minimal knowledge of what the ACT even was, nor had I prepped for or taken the SAT II Subject Tests, which I thought were irrelevant. At that point, my realistic options for college were UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, UC Riverside, and a handful of California State Universities; getting into one of the top University of California schools I had always imagined myself attending no longer seemed plausible.
After our first meeting in June, my summer was filled with a jolt of intensive test prep. For the first time, I had someone truly explain to me the ins and outs of college admissions — the information beyond what my high school counselor told me. Daniel assigned me hours of SAT, ACT, and SAT II practice tests, followed by an in-depth explanation of every single problem I missed and the underlying strategies. I was rapidly learning the mechanics of a standardized test — the format, types of questions asked, and most importantly, the concepts and formulas behind answering each question correctly. Daniel taught me how to break down questions I once saw as painfully difficult into simple puzzles that just required a little creativity, strategy, and brain power to solve.
In the Fall I scored a 34 on ACT practice tests — putting me in the nation’s ninety-ninth percentile. I was also scoring near perfect scores of 760 and 780, respectively, on my Math II and English Literature SAT II Subject tests.
In addition, in high school I had earned 3 ‘C’ letter grades in one semester of Algebra II, one semester of Pre-Calculus, and two semesters of Chemistry Honors. I felt the C’s stood out like sore thumbs on my college applications. I was more than shocked when Daniel told me I actually had the option to re-take and get credit for these courses online through a system called BYU Independent Study; this was something no high school counselor had ever brought to my attention. As a project we worked on for an entire summer and succeeding fall, I was able to replace my 4 C’s with 4 A’s, raising my overall high school GPA from a 3.7 to a 4.15.
When it came time to write my two personal statements for the UC application, I remember saying to Daniel I felt I had nothing worthy to write about, and having procrastinated, I was feeling stressed; I couldn’t think of anything about myself that made me truly unique, and the weight given to the essay made me feel stuck. Knowing I had come from a multicultural background, he had asked me to speak freely of anything that came to mind regarding my heritage while he diligently typed my thoughts. It turns out I did have something interesting to say, because from there we constructed a beautifully insightful essay delving into the significance and contrasts of my cultures. We followed the same process when it came to writing my second statement about my 12-year piano career. Daniel taught me how to organize my words and ideas in a coherent manner and evoke an emotional tie with the application reader. It is safe to say I have never been more satisfied with any two pieces of my writing than with my two personal statements. I feel like he helped me to write my personal story. My parents loved them, and were impressed at how I was able to express who I am and my own deep and complex connection with music.
Even though my new academic statistics became aligned with my top schools, I believe my statements are what really helped me stand out and win the admissions officers over.
With my new and improved SAT, ACT and SAT II scores, personal statements and coursework grades, my options of possible universities greatly expanded. I was now looking to apply to all of the University of California schools and prestigious private schools. In the end I applied to 8 universities total, and received acceptance letters from UCLA, UCSD, UCSB, UC Irvine, UC Davis, UCSC, and Cal Poly. I even got accepted into Honors Programs at top UCs, which I hadn’t even applied for.
I look back at receiving my UCLA acceptance letter as one of the happiest and most proud moments of my life, and it was all an accomplishment that I could not have earned without Daniel’s help; it’s amazing how just a few months worth of work equated to me getting into my dream school. As I pack for my move to LA, I could not be more happy or grateful. I really thank Daniel for everything he contributed to my admission and transition to UCLA.
This transition to college is a big one for my family and me, and we appreciate Daniel’s ongoing support. I’m looking forward to additional coaching and mentoring through my Freshman year, and possibly beyond. I appreciate his help with career exploration, and major selection. My parents just had no clue and I feel he helped me find the path that is right for me. Now I have a flexible but doable 6-8 year plan. I feel academically prepared, focused, and excited about the next year of my life.
aNatasha Hammond | UCLA Class of 2015BA, Political Science
If someone would have asked me how I felt about math before I started seeing Daniel, I would have promptly answered, “I hate it.” Numbers, equations, theorems, and graphs had always seemed to me a different and unattainable language. I dreaded taking the SAT because I was convinced I would get hopelessly lost in the math sections. When I voiced this concern to my math teacher, she have me Daniel’s name an number. I am really glad I made that call. Not only did Daniel raise my math score 100 points, but he changed the way that I saw my math abilities. What I had counted on being a stressful process, turned out to be just the opposite. Instead of simply correcting my mistakes, Daniel took the time to understand why I made the mistakes I made. It was when I understood why I made these errors, that I really could correct them. I found in Daniel the quiet, un-ending patience, sincerity, and humor that marks a wonderful teacher. After being tutored by Daniel, I found myself hesitating before I proclaimed “I hate math.” Somewhere inside that mysterious language of numbers, he let me find what I needed the most: Confidence in myself.
Liz Meriwether 11th Grade, Ann Arbor MI
Of all the people outside of school who have helped me prepare for college, Daniel Herzberg has helped me the most by enabling me to raise my SAT scores a grand total of 330 points. In my sophomore year I took the PSATs and got a score of 1120. In the beginning of junior year I met Mr. Herzberg in an SAT prep class he held. That class raised my scores roughly 200 points since my PSATs. After those classes I took the SATs twice and scored a 1320 (720 Math, 600 Verbal) and a 1310 (690 Math, 620 Verbal). When I got private tutoring from Mr. Herzberg, we were able to tackle my own weaknesses and work with them. After only about six hours of tutoring I retook the SATs and got a 1450 (780 in Math, 670 in Verbal), and must say, this was made possible by Mr. Herzberg’s persistence and his genuine desire to help me succeed.
Mr. Herzberg is such an excellent tutor because he knows his material inside and out. In the first day of my private tutoring he mapped out the perfect strategies for each of the sections in the SATs. While I was taking the SATs I almost felt as though I was cheating when I used his strategies because there were so good and at times literally gave me the answer.
Not only does Mr. Herzberg teach material, he is also a great confidence builder. While I was getting tutored, he constantly told me, “You got that problem wrong because you made that little mistake. If you slow down you could get a perfect score; you know this stuff.” The confidence that Mr. Herzberg gave me made the SATs so much easier to take when they came around.
I cannot stress it enough, Mr. Herzberg is one of the best tutors I have ever known, and if you ever need to get tutored, please get tutored by him. You really won’t regret it. I didn’t.
Carl AndersonClass of 2005
The first test I took in math was once that placed me where I should be. On that test I didn’t do so well. So my teacher decided to send me to a lower math class. So I pleaded with my teacher to let me stay in algebra and we agreed on getting me a tutor so I could stay in the class. I was 13 when we started and was in 8th grade. Now I am going to be a freshman in high school. We usually meet every Monday at 5:00 to 6:00. I was tutored in Algebra I math.
You helped me enormously in algebra. I was only tutored in math. Our sessions didn’t much help me in other classes besides math. You always showed me how certain math subjects applied to the real world. You always explained concepts so that it was easier to explain when the book confused me. Most of the ways you showed me on figuring out problems were easier to understand and most always got the right answer. Most of the time my teacher would use huge amounts of numbers to explain a simple problem and then you showed me a quick and simple way to find the answer.
Since tutoring began my grades would be good at one point when I really got the material, but then would drop when it confused me. More often than not I would get a good grade on my homework assignments. When I was by myself my homework rarely got turned in because it wasn’t completed. On tests I felt better after I finished it. I was now able and willing to answer the questions and not use stupid excuses on why I didn’t have the homework. I don’t know about enjoying it, but it wasn’t as much of a hassle since we started working together. I feel much more confident about being able to get and understand the right answer. I noticed that my tests were easier and shorter to do. And most of the time the outcome was an excellent grade.
Most of the ways you would get me to do the problems were both fun and very rare among my classmates. You definitely made homework much easier and faster to do. In class I had to memorize the Quadratic Equation and we worked on using it so much that I learned it in no time. Most of the time I went to class for homework and came home and used you as my math teacher.
Most of the time I understood the math and it made me want to learn as much of it as possible. You taught me many skills that would help me with both homework and schoolwork. I have been very thankful for those skills as they have helped me majorly. Lots of the shortcuts and little timesaving ideas helped me enormously in understanding my work.
Yes it did improve my relationship with my parents. Since I understood it I was less likely to argue about the math.
Most of the time I didn’t need your help at school. You were always available for tutoring sessions. I learned more stuff in a tutoring session than I did in a whole week at school. You always were able to make changes to your schedule for a better time for me.
I mostly like that you had a sense of humor and made math fun for me and at the same time I learned tons of stuff. I got to a good grade in math that me and my teacher didn’t believe I could do. I have recommended you to many people.
Dan Herman9th Grade Student
Optimum Educational Solutions
25A Crescent Drive #141,