Taking you to success
Sunia Bukhari – University of Pennsylvania Class of 2019: Walking into the counsellor’s office back in September, I didn’t have high expectations. JT Girls being a relatively new school, didn’t have a very successful counselling department, and although I’d heard we now had a new counsellor, I didn’t expect the calibre of the department to change significantly. Clearly, I was in for a huge surprise.
Sir Jamal singlehandedly transformed the counselling department at JT Girls. What was once an office so unvisited its existence was barely noticeable, was now jam-packed with students waiting on the staircase outside. And of course, this transformation wasn’t a fluke. The credit goes to Sir Jamal whose insight when it comes to college applications was integral to JT Girls’ university admissions this year. From his invaluable advice while taking mock interviews and helping us pen college essays, to his patience bearing with us females who thought a single B grade would prove to be apocalyptic, Sir Jamal is undoubtedly the secret behind his students’ success and deserves all the credit he can get.
Uzair Navid – Stanford University Class of 2019: At the beginning of my senior year, I found myself entering the world of college admissions. I started writing my essay, thinking naively that I would be done with it in a week at most. As soon as I finished writing my first draft, I realised that I could not have been farther away from the truth. I knew my essay needed more work – a lot more – but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I got in touch with Sir Jamal and Taaha, a senior I had known through debates, and they told me they would be more than happy to help. Over the course of the next year, through their piercing analyses, comments and thoughtful suggestions, Taaha and Sir Jamal helped me hone my college application to make it the best that it could be. Above all, they served as a source of inspiration, and helped me believe in myself at times when the admissions process seemed insurmountable to me. I truly cannot recommend them highly enough.
Ali Mahad – Macalester College Class of 2018: With their astute judgement and dedication, Sir Jamal and Asadullah have facilitated me throughout the otherwise daunting process of college application.
Much due to their guidance, I truly realised my strengths as a student, and found ways to channel them most effectively. As a result, not only did I actualise my dream to attend Macalester, I also saw significant improvements in myself as a student and a writer.
Saim Ejaz – Cornell University Class of 2017: Sir Jamal never turned me down when I came to him for help with my application. The personalised attention, along with the genuine professional and personal commitment, that he gave to my application brought me to where I am today.
Ushna Usman- NYU AD Class of 2019: I too wanted to pursue my career interests outside Pakistan. Though I was not completely naïve about the effort required to reach there, I still needed guidance from an expert. I met Sir Jamal Hussain in the second year of my A levels as my guidance counsellor. With the little time that I had with him – two months to apply – I shared my goals and aspirations with him so he could know all about me. With that done, we were able converse about the possibilities of places I could apply to. He understood my personality and suggested universities that were best suited to my temperament and character. He played a major role in motivating me to use my utmost potential – especially in writing my essay – in order to gain what I had set ahead of me. There had been times when I was discouraged and was ready to give up but he was there to listen, smile and start all over again. It was maybe due to his in depth knowledge of the system itself that he directed me through it in such a short time. Sir Jamal did not just highlight the weaknesses in my application but instead he worked with me to remove any such gaps. He is a brilliant counsellor who is not only adept at guiding but aiding the person to accomplish the set goals. He helped me begin a new phase of my life which will, hopefully, bring many rewards in the future. In this journey, I had found an honest friend to whom I can certainly look up to.
University of Cambridge Student: The depth of knowledge on the fingertips of Sir Jamal for both the US and the UK application systems is astonishing. I was very lucky in finding someone who could give me the kind of detailed and critical feedback on my applications to universities in both countries.
Adil Ahsan – Dartmouth College Class of 2019: As a student who was under the guidance of Sir Jamal during the critical college app development period, I can speak from experience when I say that Sir Jamal’s help was what pushed my app over the edge to the “ivy category”. I had the stats, but also an unfailing tendency to write the darkest of writing pieces. In between mutual appreciation for 90s rap and general conversations about what made me tick, Sir Jamal bore with me patiently, even during my days of intense dejection and frustration, to get me to come up with an essay that was dark, to maintain a touch of my own authenticity, but not overwhelmingly so. The fact that Sir Jamal was aware of the importance of such an approach, and the fact that such an approach ultimately resulted in my own acceptance, speaks volumes about him as a counsellor. Less officially, two seniors, Taaha and Altamash, also guided me. Taaha, like Sir Jamal, is always unerring with his essay critiques, often being brutally honest to prevent anyone from settling for an essay that’s beneath who he/she is as a writer, and Altamash, as all who have visited his ubiquitously-known ask page know, is not only the nicest person you could talk to, but also immensely knowledgeable when it comes to general university info. Sir Jamal’s unfailing dedication, Taaha’s brutal essay critiques and Altamash’s university know-how mean that the three make for an exceedingly effective team. Bear in mind that Taaha and Altamash started only a year ago (yes, it surprises the hell out of me too) and will only grow in their capacities as college counsellors. As an individual who conversed, and maybe even argued, with all three during the months leading up to my admission, I can say with absolute surety that they’ll be terrific guides to those who, like me at one point, are failing to see the light at the end of the college admissions tunnel. Just one meeting with them will convince you that all hope is not yet lost.
Waseh Ahmad – Lafayette College Class of 2018: It’s my pleasure to say that Sir Jamal’s work ethic, enthusiastic nature and sheer will to see no potential wasted, is what got me to where I am today.
Stanford University Student: As a first generation college student whose family’s idea of the ultimate college was King Edward medical college, Sir Jamal was invaluable throughout the application process. From simple Common-app questions and SAT advice to brainstorming essay topics and college lists, Sir Jamal knew how admissions went down, and helped me get into one of the best universities in America while keeping the process as stress free as possible. The English language can’t do justice to his ability; his track record does all of the talking.
Usama Amir – Carleton College Class of 2019: Taaha and Sir Jamal were instrumental in helping me navigate the seemingly bewildering and intricate college admissions process. I have known Taaha for a long time, having first hand witnessed what he is capable of during my forays with him into debates, and I have no hesitation recommending him as a college counsellor. He is sincere, knowledgeable and possesses the critical skills coupled with the brutal honesty required to help someone actualise their college potential. Sir Jamal’s ability to make you believe in yourself is second to none. Taaha and I myself owe him a great deal. You will not find a safer pair of hands.
Sikandar Hanif – Duke University Class of 2019: On the verge of freshman year, as one chapter of my life ends, if there is one person I can credit with bringing me to this new chapter that is college, it is Sir Jamal. It says something about his capabilities and insights into the admissions process when I say that he was the only soul who ever got a look at my college essays and supplements, and almost single-handedly helped me get into university on a full scholarship, with Altamash Rafiq being the only other source of help with his reviews of my scholarship essays and his guidance on what to do during my interviews. Sir Jamal’s honest opinions on my application’s shortcomings never felt discouraging, instead they drove me to rewrite my essays multiple times after changing topics twice. His honesty, integrity, friendliness and devotion to work have earned Sir Jamal my highest respect and gratitude.
Amina Shahzad – Admitted to University of Surrey, Manchester and Cardiff Class of 2018: Sir Jamal has been a great counsellor throughout. From guiding me about the UK universities to the Pakistani universities, he’s been tremendous. He took care of each and every thing regarding my applications, from the major documents to even the minor details like reading my personal statement and spotting grammatical errors and correcting them. I don’t think any other counsellor would have put in as much effort and time as he did. Today, if I have acceptances from the four biggest universities of the UK, it’s because of him. I can’t thank him enough for his effort, his patience, and his guidance throughout this time. Even today, when I am done with my A-levels, if I ask him about anything regarding university admissions, he is always there to help. I don’t think I could have got a better counsellor than him.
Ahsan Azim – Dartmouth College Class of 2018: The college application process can be messy and confusing at the best of times. As a starry eyed applicant desperate for advice, I was in a position identical to that of many others my age. I listened to famed counselors and amazingly successful applicants of the past, hanging at their every word – hoping that they’d give away that secret recipe for ‘success.’ After several months of doing so, it became apparent that while each person tried to give away what he felt would ‘do the trick’, their advice was often far-fetched and confusing – either far too vague or overly specific, sometimes openly contradictory. A few had clear biases, while others appeared balanced, yet only as a cover to hide a lack of knowledge.
In this milieu of blatantly harmful information entered Sir Jamal’s appeals to commons sense. Going through the application process with him is an intense, yet simultaneously stress-free experience. He’ll most certainly make you work hard and think critically, yet not at the cost of engendering confusion. While in the past, people would have elaborately strange (and charlatan-esque) approaches to analysing essays, Sir Jamal helped me focus on the most universal standard of judgement – ‘how does it make you feel?’ His advice was similarly true when it came to choosing where to apply, and which school to finally attend – ‘find a place you’ll be happy at’. For someone who’s approach to the application process was marred by constantly over-thinking things, it was only through Sir Jamal’s advice that a degree of clarity was achieved.
At the risk of making him sound like a calm and collected zen master, I’d like to make clear that he matched calming advice with sheer and precise information. Leave it to Sir Jamal to know anyone who’s someone in the application process – interviewers, college representatives, alumni – the whole lot. I’d often come to him with things I read on so and so school’s web page, and he’d respond with the words of a specific person high up in the process, either confirming or denying my opinion. Be it his golf-buddies that happened to be college interviewers, or former classmates that now worked high-up in the admissions chain, Sir Jamal did not lack sources for knowledge. Rest assured, all this information came in mightily handy – while other students would be shooting in the dark, restricting themselves to rumours and online information, we could listen to what Sir Jamal said, sure in the knowledge that his words would prove more accurate than those of everyone else.
The most basic thing I can say to anyone who’s reading this is that Sir Jamal is a damn good counselor, and I can say for a fact that my application process (and the results it led to) would have been very different if it weren’t for his help.
If you want success in the application process, then you’d be stupid not to try and look to him for advice.
Mohammad Ahmad Aleem – NYUNYC Class of 2019:When I first walked into the counselors’ office at JT, I was as bewildered as a kid on his first day at elementary school. With SATs to retake and send-ups to study for, college applications and essays seemed like huge liabilities that I was too worried to shoulder. However, Sir Jamal guided me through all the steps with attentive concern. He put up with me for hours at length going through all my essay drafts and eventually turning what sounded like an excerpt from a personal diary into a mature college essay. However, before taking each draft to Sir Jamal, I would run it by Altamash who would give his honest opinion and let me know if changes needed to be made. Nonetheless, I ought to remind you that you will only benefit from their commendable expertise as long as you are willing to co-operate on your end. Rest assured, you are in capable hands and there is no one in town I would rather recommend.Best of luck!
Rida Noor – University of Denver Class of 2019: Working with Sir Jamal was a great experience. He’s very friendly, straight forward and inspiring. I never once felt like I needed someone else’s help; he was very accessible and always willing to help at any time, even during the holidays. Also, whenever I would try to sneak in a lower ranked university, he would simply say no and encourage me to aim higher.
Kamran Afzal Cheema – Purdue University Class of 2018: In the midst of all the stress and anxiety that comes with the college application process, it was great to have people like Altamash and Sir Jamal who always helped sincerely and selflessly. Altamash, being a really close friend, helped me a lot with my essays and was with me throughout the journey. However, when things got tough for both of us, we always turned to Sir Jamal for his well informed guidance that helped us make the right decisions. If it were not for those two, I would probably not be living my dream today at Purdue. I can’t thank them enough.
Ahmed Sarfaraz – London School of Economics Class of 2016: Sir Jamal was my counselor for my A ‘levels. He is a competent person who has a strong grasp over what he practices. I spent almost a month editing my personal statement with Sir Jamal. It was he who inspired me to apply, encouraged me to believe in myself and go for LSE. My admission in LSE would not have been possible without him. He is an excellent counselor and I would strongly encourage anyone seeking to apply to UK to seek help from him.
Suhiba Fariha Firuz (Bangladeshi student) – Duke University Class of 2019: Have you ever been a few hours away from an interview that could possibly decide how your entire life is going to be, but have no idea of how to prepare for it? It’s in the middle of the night and your only helping hand, Google, comes up with a tiny description that’s basically of no help. If you haven’t, great. But make sure you talk to Altamash if ever such a scenario presents itself. I was in that very position for my scholarship interview and Altamash’s ask.fm was my saviour. I really wish I had known about it earlier! There are some things about universities that only a current student can tell you about. As a current Duke student, who goes out of his ways to help the ones that are applying or just got accepted (yes, he spent 3 hours + a day helping me decide between Dartmouth and Duke, just before his finals!), Altamash can not only help you with Duke, but also many other universities in the US because, more likely than not, he has a friend in each of the universities you are thinking about right now. And he knows how they accomplished what they did.
P.S. you’ll rarely find a better college app essay grader than Altamash. So make sure you get your essays checked by him.
Harvard University Student: Before I met Sir Jamal, I was applying to mid-tier colleges but after looking over my app, Sir Jamal counseled me to aim higher. It was only due to his expert advice that I even considered applying to ivy-league caliber institutions. I certainly recommend Sir Jamal, not only for his experience or his uber-talented team, but because of the carefully personalized attention I’ve come to associate with his counseling.