CGA Staff: University Admissions Counselor Bob Fan

Meet Bob Fan! Mr Fan was born in China, though he grew up in Canada. Previously the Global Director of Strategy Consulting at Crimson Education, who has just recently moved to CGA to be our University Admissions Counselor.

This interview should be a quick guide to upcoming and current CGA students on university admissions in general, and to break the ice between them and our new counselor! Feel free to reach out to Mr Fan at to book a strategy meeting with him to discuss your future plans and get his valuable advice on it.

Ib: Let’s start with a quick introduction to who you are and how you ended up here!

Mr Fan: I was born in China, but I grew up in Canada! I moved to a very small town in Canada when I was around 1, and not a lot of students were going abroad or even outside the city for university. My parents actually worked in the US, and so they crossed the border everyday to go to work, and for a long time in high school they started encouraging me to think about going to school abroad. At the time, I didn’t really have anybody to help me, did a lot of research on my own using forums etc. I ended up applying to many US universities and I attended the University of Michigan studying Biology. After graduating, I didn’t really know my next steps; whether I should attend graduate school, or go into the workforce. At the time, my parents were actually in China for a work assignment, and so I decided to go visit them. That’s where I ended up with my first job, in admissions consulting! And I think I really enjoyed it. Being a mentor figure to all these students was super rewarding since when I was going through this process I didn’t really have anyone to help me. I worked in China for about 6 years for 2 different companies, but I wanted to go back to the US. Right about when I was studying for my GMAT, as I wanted to go to business school, a former colleague who was actually the president of the company I used to work at in China reached out to me about Crimson and how they’re hiring strategy consultants. She actually knew Jamie through some Harvard event! And that’s pretty much how I ended up at Crimson nearly 5 years ago.

Ib: Since you just moved to CGA a few weeks ago, how have you found your experience so far?

Mr Fan: It’s been awesome! I guess I’ll break it down into working with the academic team, and the students. First, the students! I haven’t met everyone, obviously, haha. But I have met a small number of students, some of them being students I’ve heard about from Crimson core too! All the students here are amazing, you know they’re all so passionate about CGA and this style of learning in general! That really gave me a good base of understanding to approach the position, and also helped me for when I met the academic staff as well. I heard so many good things about the teachings, and just how supportive the teachers were, and how passionate the students were about their classes. The academic staff have been amazing to work with, they’re all incredibly experienced!

Ib: That sounds awesome! My next question is what do you advise students that are just joining CGA?

Mr Fan: Great question! I would say 2 things; the atmosphere of an online school is going to be different, which comes without saying. But what that means is that there are certain things that maybe aren’t handed to you. And for these types of students, they have to go out there and capture some of these opportunities where they can meet other students, join extracurricular clubs, so really take these opportunities to meet and be connected with fellow students. As well as being really open with and free to meet and be connected with the CGA staff too! Unlike traditional schools, CGA is still quite small and not so hierarchical. Don’t be afraid to just send a slack message to the dean or even people like Jamie! CGA is very open. In terms of my position, I’d say just come to me and try to understand very early. What it is that you want and how we can work towards that. The beauty of CGA is that there are many students taking courses that are above their traditional year level, and that means that they probably have a lot of time! This means that we need to figure out what we can do with that time, to put it to good use in terms of university admissions.

Ib: I really agree with that, I think some people are reluctant to speak to, you know people like Jamie or other higher management, since coming from a traditional school myself where everything is so hierarchical it may seem very scary. But yeah, once you take that first step, opportunities just start to pop up!

Mr Fan: One hundred percent! And one more thing would be that developing these relationships with your school staff, and teachers is crucial in terms of university admissions! At the end of the day, these are the people who will be on your side, helping you, and also going to be the ones writing your reference letters.

Ib: Definitely. Which perfectly moves on to my next question; what do you advise CGA students that are applying to university right now?

Mr Fan: I think that for students that are writing their applications right now, my biggest advice would be to utilise your time! You know, it’s about to be summer, there’s a break going on, and so utilise that time to develop your writing, school lists, figuring out your essays, and of course nailing down who is going to be your reference. While deadlines may seem to be months away, you can never start too early. Time flies by and it’s better to be early than to be struggling at the last minute. My other tip would be, schedule a time to talk! This is what I’m here for, let’s nail down your list, figure out what you’re competitive for, and later on discuss things like personal essays as well.

Ib: Perfect. This brings me on to the next question smoothly! What do you think that most applicants spend too much time worrying about, when it’s not as important as other things?

Mr Fan: Ooh! That’s a really good question. I think it’s perhaps being too caught up in the numbers and their chances of attending different programs and not really thinking about where they would actually fit in, on a more philosophical level. I think people get too caught up in researching things like what are some of the minimum requirements, what are extracurricular activities that successful applicants have taken part in, standardised test scores, what did their essays look like, and things like that. They get too caught up in doing this research and comparing themselves to previous applicants, when the more important thing would be to try to look at what actually makes you suitable for this school. Why is this school the perfect fit for you! Of course, it’s crucial to understand what are some of the programs you’re competitive for, what are some of your reach, target, or safety school list.Ib: Amazing, that’s definitely some really valuable advice. Thank you so much for your time Mr Fan! Would love to speak again some time.