About Irena Smith

Irena Smith

Irena Smith is a college admissions counselor, former Stanford admissions officer, writer, and mother of three extraordinary children. She emigrated from the former Soviet Union with her parents when she was nine years old, and in spite of her fierce insistence that she would never, not ever, learn English, she went on to earn a PhD in Comparative Literature and taught literature and composition at UCLA and Stanford before transitioning to college admissions and writing. Her recently published memoir, The Golden Ticket: A Life in College Admissions Essays, explores the duality between the ambitions of the tightly-wound students she counsels and her efforts to help her own children as they struggle with developmental delays, depression, and anxiety.

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