Letter of Many Thanks (Arigato)

June 17, 2015
Hi Tommy,
It was so nice to catch up w you on Monday. I really appreciate you for taking the time and having an open-heart conversation. It was such a wonderful feeling!
I can totally understand the bond among you, My Son, and those 3 other boys. And I also feel the same way that we all should appreciate each other for what we had been through, even we didn’t realize at that time this would be such a meaningful experience for all of us.
Ever since My Son was in elementary school, I taught him math myself for some years, but the result always turned out disastrously that we ended up arguing and screaming at each other. When he was in 8th grade, he tried a tutoring center in Cerritos, but it was testing all the time, and the teaching style was extremely intense which My Son struggled all the way. He always cried before going to the classes and begged me not to send him there; the learning experience really dragged our relationship down to the drain – it simply broke my heart, and I was so desperate to seek for help in any other ways, until one day Linda Lin recommended you to us. I was and still am very grateful that My Son found you at the right time – just like I said, I was extremely happy and felt so relieved that My Son was not only willingly to go and learn from you, but he was quite enjoying going as a part of Edvanced family.
I always feel that I never show my appreciation to you like I should, because I can’t imagine what My Son would have turned out to be if he didn’t meet you as a mentor. Due to the struggle and tension between My Son and me, I probably would had been like one of those nagging moms scolding and being negative to My Son, and he wouldn’t turn out to be such a confident and positive young man like today. So, thank you, Tommy!

This email has been reproduced with permission from the parent, replacing the name of the student with “My Son.” Some of us post pictures of our meals, some of us post selfies, some of us post pictures of our children. I post emails from my clients/friends. These emails remind me that I am someone, my work matters, and I’m lucky to have a job that specializes in changing young, talented, beautiful kids’ lives. I love my Kids and the parents who love them.

Life. Is. Amazing.


Go Blue!

TUE 8:39 PM

Facebook Messenger (*Ding!)

Hi Tommy! I’m currently in Michigan right now, in the middle of one of the orientation days! I just wanted to shoot you a message and thank you and the others soooo much for helping me through SATs and stuff. I love it here so much and I feel so blessed to be here. I probably won’t be here without you guys and I don’t really know why I thought of you all of a sudden but haha just thought I’d show my appreciation! Sorry if this is really weird hahah

This is my student Maxine, who I met summer of 2013. She is quirky, funny, determined, kind, confident, and smart. She has all the traits I lack, but always wanted. Yet, she thanks me. I’m rarely religious on a public forum, but you’ll have to excuse me this time because it is the only explanation that comes to mind. This is how I know God is amazing, powerful, and deserves my entire devotion. There is no logic behind the fact that someone who is unable (me) can help someone who is able (Maxine). This is how I know that God works through those who have the least so that he can truly show His divine strength.

Thank you Maxine (I don’t think you’ll ever see this) for your randomness. It may have been a spontaneous text of gratitude but for this old man, it is the most perfect gift at the most opportune time. Go Blue!

Late night visitor

The days before we begin our Summer SAT/ACT/Enrichment courses, which were set to launch on 6/22, I get very worked up, stressed, and anxious about a variety of different things that can go wrong. Examples such as:

  1. The copy machine/printer stops working. My Darlin’ and I have a very complex relationship that goes far back (circa 2008, that’s longer than any romantic relationship I have ever endured). I have talked to this machine many, many times while caressing it with genuine love.
  2. Half of the students do not show up and the desks are littered with untouched test packets I’ve put out the night before (this reminds of the early days of my business when I “assumed” each student would bring 3 new friends each time). It creates an awkward, lonely feeling among the students in the room.
  3. The scantron software produces an error message like “Error lead-time 4,” which I can understand as well as when sometime opens his/her smoky car hood and states “I think it’s the radiator!” BTW: does anyone even know what a car radiator looks like or what it does? I. Do. Not.
  4. The proctor oversleeps and there is a line of students outside the office, a situation exacerbated by the angry parents calling me on my phone asking for a refund, an apologize, and my unborn child.

So instead of being worked up, stressed, and anxious, I prepare late into the night at my office. On this particular night (we’ll say 6/21 for arguments sake because it was a Sunday night), I was preparing material at my Cypress location. I had lost track of time and before I knew it, it was midnight. As I continued to work, I heard the door to my upstairs office building open and footsteps approaching my office door. I thought, “what sort of a sick individual is coming by his/her office at this hour?” (this has made me wonder about the many things that are wrong with me). As my door opened, I ran to see my past student, Matt (Cypress HS, 2014). I told Matt that he’d given me quite a fright and he laughed in the way he always had during my time with him. Yet, it was different. Instead of a young boy, a child, he was now grown-up.

The next hour flew by as Matt recapped me on his first year at the University of Washington. Friends, homesickness, fashion, girlfriend, food, etc. I was so thankful, both to Matt and to my Lord and Savior for giving me the respite I needed from my midnight anxiety attack. He was so candid about his loneliness the first weeks of college and about how much he really loved his girlfriend. He also shared with me his love for mathematics and we reminisced, not only about his summer SAT experience, but also about all the other students who touched both our lives that summer. Sensing some uneasiness, I asked how things were going between him and his girlfriend and he professed that they’d had an argument, tonight, and that he needed to blow off some steam. I understood. There were times during my college years at UCI when I would argue with my girlfriend (my first love) and would find comfort in Brian McKnight, cheap cigarettes, and sounds of the ocean at CDM. I realized Matt had come to my office as a display of instinctive behavior in seeking out a place of comfort in times of distress. I’d become that place for him. Whether entirely true or not, it meant the world to me that my place could be a haven of comfort for any of my past students. This is what I am most proud of. Most people know that when I talk about my “Kids,” it’s a love, joy, and pride that I cannot contain. They will leave to become the most amazing people in society and like Matt, they’ll make time to boomerang back and give me their time. I’ve won the Lotto.

As of late, there is doubt as to how much longer I will want to do this job. In one year, I will be an MBA graduate from my childhood, dream school. I know my next job may be more professional, more accepted by society/peers, and more sophisticated, but I am 100% sure that it will not come close to the gratification Matt gave me with his visit that night. Thank you, Matt. Along with everyone else, you are and always will be a part of my Family.

Lowest Score Possible

So in October 2011, I challenged myself to see what is the lowest possible score I could possibly achieve on the SAT Exam. In order to accomplish such a feat, one would have to have a thorough understanding of the concepts related to each section on the test to insure that no answer would be given and no positive point would be earned.

I showed up on testing day, not only looking different from all the nervous, “I’m trying to be cool and look like I don’t care, but my mom will seriously beat me for shaming the family name if I don’t at least score above 2000” Korean males, but also with an entirely opposite objective. Miss the first question, then the 2nd, then the 3rd, then… I wrote an essay on why the SAT is not an ideal proxy for determining college level success (off topic = zero).

In the past, I’d always tried to get a perfect score of 2400. This was different. I felt more challenged than before. Excited. Determined (I have no idea why I felt so much more determined to perfectly fail than to perfect succeed at something). As the weeks went by, I became increasingly curious. What score would I get?

Let me set the premise: It’s common knowledge that you earn a baseline score of 200 per subject (200 reading, 200 math, 200 writing) for simply “writing your name.” What I was attempting to prove was, “Could you get a zero?” Since there is a penalty for each question a student gets wrong, could your negative points eat into the positive? For example

Writing: 49 questions wrong = 49*(-0.25) = -12.25 points
Math: 44 questions wrong (free response questions do not have a penalty) = 44*(-0.25) = -11 points
Critical Reading: 67 questions wrong = 67*(-0.25) = -16.75

Grand Total = Raw score of -40 points. This must do it. These negative 40 points must somehow eat away at my 600 baseline score. I wanted negative, at least zero. I wanted to frame it and put it up in my office. After all, many people have received a 2400 on their SAT, but who has received a zero? Me, badass mother-beep.

As I logged onto Collegeboard.com, I became giddy. Excitement rapidly turned to rage.


No!!!!!!! Not only did I receive the baseline 600 points, it stated that I got 2 questions correct. I am convinced that the College Board saw what I was up to and gave me 2 illegitimate points.

A very important fact. You can be the lowest 1 percentile and the CollegeBoard will still give you 600 points. It doesn’t get more American than that.

2nd Semester

2nd Semester means several things for my students.

Seniors: Time to do absolutely nothing without legitimately putting applications in dangers by getting a D or F.  Pretend you are going to study for AP exams by scheduling group study sessions without actually doing anything, then trying to resell those AP prep books on Facebook with the caption “brand new!”
Juniors: Marking off the days until Junior year is finally over and prancing in false celebration not knowing that first semester of Senior year is even more stressful than Junior year once you factor in College Apps.  
Sophomores: Unsuspecting, innocent bystanders who don’t realize the freight train that is about to pummel them: aka Junior Year.  However, very happy and proud that although this year is much much harder than last year, I am handling it like a mature adult.  
Freshman: 🙂 
For most of you guys 2nd semester means redemption.  It is a challenge that requires a great deal of determination.  A definition of the word “Determination” states “deciding it is worth it to finish what you have started.”  Some of you have started the process of redemption from 1st semester, now have the determination to finish what you have started.

Summer 2012

Every summer here at Edvanced Learning, our goal is to motivate students to achieve their very best.  Our summer SAT program is designed to maximize each student’s score through effective lectures, motivational, experienced instructors, and well-organized and executed lesson plans.

What makes us different from the other summer SAT programs

  • Our instructors are the VERY BEST.  Between myself, Roi, Sara, and Chris, we boast a combined 25+ years of experience teaching the SAT.  Each instructor can achieve a perfect score on their respective section at any time.
  • We LOVE our students and parents.  We consider every student and parent here at Edvanced a close friend.  We make sure that you are happy and that we exceed your expectations.
  • Individual attention. Our teacher to student ratio is 1 to 8.  Our instructors know each student on a personal level and correct both technical and behavioral shortcomings immediately.
  • Proven Results.  Over the course of 3 years and over 100 students, we have an average increase of 332 points, and a majority of our students score above the 2000 barrier and well into the 2300s.  Many of our students go onto the very best schools (Yale, Stanford, UPenn/Wharton, Columbia, UC Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, LMU, Occidental, etc ).  These students chose to trust us with their talents, and that means a great deal to us.  Thank you.

Class Offerings, Schedules, and Tuition Rates

SAT Morning Class
Schedule: M/Tu/W/Th (8am-12pm)

SAT Afternoon Class
Schedule: M/Tu/W/Th (1230-430pm)

Description: (M) Full-length proctored diagnostic exam, with an instructor inside each room to monitor students during the exam. (Tu) A thorough review of Monday’s exam including writing, reading, math, and the essay. (W) Lecture on key principles for each subject, homework assigned for each topic discussed. (Th) Review of homework from Wednesdays lecture and classwork to solidify students’ understanding of key topics.  Each day (M/Tu/W/Th) there will be a 15 minute vocabulary exam and 15 minute review test.

Cost: $1750 (early registration by May 15th), $2000 (after May 15th)

College Counseling
Schedule: F/Sa, (by appointment only)
Description: Experienced counselors will help select list of colleges based on interest and strength of applicant, brainstorm essay topics, outline each essay/short answer question, monitor each student’s deadline, assist in filling out the UC/Cal State/Common Application, fix grammatical errors, fine tune essays/short answer questions, and answer any and all questions regarding the college application process.

Cost: $500 for all UC applications, $500 for up to 3 private school applications ($150 per additional private school applications), $250 for FAFSA and CSS Profile.

We are also excited to announce our second location @ 7002 Moody Street, Suite 216  La Palma, CA 90623 (McDonald’s Plaza)

We also offer preview courses for the upcoming academic school year including Geometry, Algebra2/Trig, Pre-Calculus, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, and AP Chemistry.  Class times are yet to be set at this time so please call or email us for up to date information.  All math courses are taught by Tommy Shin/James Pak and AP Chemistry is taught by Alex Horowitz who will be leaving us for medical school at the end of the summer.  Classes are held Monday-Friday