Mentoring Young Leaders


4s and 3eq | emotional, social, and leadership intelligence

– Preamble
– Exceptional student outcomes
– Right now, you are probably a bit stuck
– Our personalized, 1-on-1 mentorship
– Further learning




For most driven high school students and their parents, getting into a great, best-fit college is typically a primary goal. After that, the goal is to thrive in amazing careers and live fulfilling lives. We at ThreeEQ would also say that building up your “personal operating system,” soft skills, and direction early on is just as important as getting into a good college.

Having guided holistically and successfully 1-on-1 hundreds of mainly high-achieving teens and young adults (his own two kids included) these past 14 years (in his 38 years in the education, technology, and investment industries since his Berkeley Engineering degree), ThreeEQ Founder and Chief Mentor Jason Ma and Team ThreeEQ celebrate all of the worthy outcomes coveted by many. That said, they are not easy to achieve without quality preparation.

These days, most young people feel angsty or lost, and high achievers are often stressed and anxiety-ridden. Given a plethora of digital distractions and the pressure to succeed, high schoolers are struggling to find their way in today’s highly competitive landscape. Why? The vast majority of college applications from driven students get denied by most elite colleges.


The Ma family (playfully called the “MAfia”) with two happy, compassionate Gen Z young adults. Sabrina is a rising Google senior software engineer. Lydia graduated Penn/Wharton summa cum laude and started work at Salesforce Slack in 2022. Both have tech leadership aspirations.


Testimonials from some (former) students of Mr. Ma and his teams



Exceptional Student Outcomes


We at ThreeEQ have a 100% success rate (defined by outcomes that our students and their parents are happy about) with coachable, committed, high-achieving students in Private Client families. Please enjoy:



The following are some of the great outcomes that our high school students and college applicants have achieved:

High School Students
College/University Students
Hundreds admitted to Ivy League universities, other elite private universities and colleges, and top public universities.

See list below.*

Rewarding internships, first jobs, and career pathways at Google, Apple, and various notable companies.

More optimized academic curriculum, school-year and summer activities, social lives, and well-being as competitive college students.

Happier lives in high school, without the high stress and anxiety that many competitive high school students and college applicants experience.

Deeper relationships with and appreciation for parents, teachers, peer leaders, counselors, employers, and other influencers

Happier lives in college and the real world, without the high stress and anxiety many students experience.

Deeper relationships with and appreciation for parents, professors, employers, significant others, peer leaders, mentors, and other influencers.

More positive, powerful mindsets, direction, strategies and execution, and soft skills More positive, powerful mindsets, direction, strategies and execution, and employable soft skills


* These schools include

    • Amherst
    • Barnard
    • Boston College
    • Boston U
    • Bowdoin
    • Brown
    • Caltech
    • Cambridge (UK)
    • Carleton
    • Carnegie Mellon
    • Claremont McKenna
    • Colgate
    • Columbia
    • Cornell
    • Dartmouth
    • Duke
    • Emory
    • George Washington
    • Georgetown
    • Georgia Tech
    • Harvard
    • Harvey Mudd
    • Haverford
    • Imperial (UK)
    • Johns Hopkins
    • MIT
    • NYU
    • Northwestern
    • Oberlin
    • Oxford (UK)
    • Pomona
    • Princeton
    • Purdue
    • Rice
    • Stanford
    • Swarthmore
    • Tufts
    • UC Berkeley (Engineering, etc.)
    • UC Davis
    • UC Irvine
    • UCLA
    • UC San Diego
    • UC Santa Barbara
    • UChicago
    • UFlorida
    • UMichigan, Ann Arbor
    • U North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • U Notre Dame
    • UPenn/Wharton
    • USC
    • UT Austin
    • UVirginia
    • UWashington
    • Vanderbilt
    • Vassar
    • Wake Forest
    • Washington U in St. Louis
    • Wellesley
    • Wesleyan
    • Williams
    • Yale

Ask yourself: “Do I want to achieve great results, unleash my full potential, be happy, and secure my bright future—starting now?”


We at ThreeEQ love seeing our students win, grow, and celebrate!



Right Now, You Are Probably a Bit Stuck


You want to get admitted to the best colleges possible, enroll at the right school, and hone strong EQ and soft skills, but don’t know how BEST to do so even if you already attend a private school or use an independent college counselor, and certainly if you are in a less-resourced public school.

During the past college admissions season (2021-22), the Ivy League schools and other elite colleges and universities have reported their lowest admit rates in history.

For example, Columbia University (in NYC)’s freshmen admit rate was a hyper-competitive 3.73%. Columbia is one of the 8 Ivy League universities [Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn (including Wharton), Princeton, and Yale]. The admit rates of the Ivies and other super elite universities, including Stanford, MIT, Berkeley Engineering, Caltech, Duke, UChicago, were in the single digits.

From an elite college’s perspective, booksmart high schoolers with lots of extracurricular activities are a dime a dozen (common). Unfortunately, the Ivies, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley Engineering, and other very elite schools can accept only a small fraction of their highly qualified applicants (e.g., Harvard’s latest freshmen admit rate: under 4%). We have uncomfortably seen some amazing kids—valedictorians with a perfect SAT or ACT score, a 4.0/4.0 unweighted GPA with strong curriculum rigor, lots of extracurricular activities, and many honors/ awards—get flatly rejected by a top Ivy or Stanford.


But those students who do get into a top college must be fine, right?

Actually, many students who attend Ivy League and other highly competitive colleges face high stress and anxiety—or even depression. (Read Penn ranked highest out of the Ivy League for mental health—with a D+. Also, view The myth of the Ivy League.)

Back in high school, these students and their parents shortsightedly worried about college admissions. However, they didn’t build strong emotional, social, and leadership intelligence (“3EQ”) with high-quality, third-party guidance. Many students and parents were obsessed with the college admissions hype. We call this “college admissions myopia.” Now these students face incessant competition and feel lingering “imposter syndrome.”

We believe that college ISN’T your destination but is PART of your journey. It is essential to think longer-term THROUGH college, NOT shortsightedly just AT college! College is a stepping stone to your greater career and personal success and growth for decades to come!


So, just what does it take to get admitted to top colleges, enjoy college life, and prepare for life and career success with well-being?

It’s about the QUALITY of your academic and personal story, character, and storytelling that match the target schools’ mission and goals. As mentioned above, gaining admission to fiercely competitive U.S. elite colleges is difficult. There are many booksmart students with strong grades, high test scores, and lots of activities who compete for the same outcome. Given this highly competitive landscape, what students need is trusted, third-party, high-quality guidance to unleash their full potential, actualize their best selves, and achieve the greatest outcomes.

With over 20,000 hours of successful coaching, mentoring, writing, speaking, and applied research experience, ThreeEQ Chief Mentor Mr. Ma advises that, besides academic and standardized testing performance, some of the high school success ingredients include the following:

1. Starting early with trusted, third-party, top- notch guidance

One of the worst and common mistakes by various families is to start LATE, believing that their kids’ academic and nonacademic performance and activities thus far and/or their attendance at private schools are sufficient.

They don’t realize that most school and independent counselors actually have LIMITED skills and sophistication in the world. These include both private school counselors and certainly often overloaded, even less-skilled public school counselors. And at that point (e.g., right before the high school senior year), their children’s pragmatic emotional, social, and leadership intelligence (“3EQ”) and other vital ingredients actually aren’t that strong, competitive, and differentiated.

Frankly speaking, once they awaken to this fact or realize that the elite college process and criteria are (far) more complex and demanding than expected, stress hits. These students and their parents then sense opportunity losses. Sadly, we can’t change a student’s history. Time and time again, we’ve seen these scenarios in families.

A critical success factor is for families to use a trusted, third-party, top-notch guide—early on.

2. Building good habits and a growth mindset

Truly successful, high-achieving students have built sound habits and a growth and contribution mindset. The humility to continuously learn and improve is key.

We value integrity, contribution, growth, connection, and a passion for excellence, and help instill these values in our students. They have developed not only time management skills and an ability to focus (despite online distractions), but also a few sustained, genuine interests (“passions”) pursued through the bulk of their high school years. They have built strong character traits and a skill set that would add value to and help inspire the community of peers, faculty, and other souls in high school, in college, and beyond.

Allow us to add that you can find a wealth of short stories and actionable insights on habits, mindset, soft skills, (school year and summer) activities, student leadership, the elite college planning and application process, and the transformation of various exemplary students in Mr. Ma’s Forbes and Impact Wealth articles on https://threeeq.com/media/articles. These include:

  •  Why to Start Preparing for College in Sixth Grade
  •  College Apps: Stanford, Anyone?
  •  What It Takes to Get Into UC Berkeley
  •  Advice on Applying to Top U.S. Colleges via Early Decision or Early Action
  •  When to Say No to Harvard
  •  How to Handle College Admissions Rejections

3. Finding an inner voice and expressing it powerfully

ThreeEQ’s successful students are coachable and committed, and we have helped them learn and improve on listening and expressing themselves effectively. This includes writing cogent college app essays, building good relationships with key people, and garnering outstanding third-party recommendation letters. Of utmost importance, essays and rec(ommendation) letters are key opportunities to communicate a student’s values, attitudes, and goals.

They give the applicant a personality and facilitate the admissions staff to choose the students they want. To produce authentic, high-quality writings that stand out from the crowd, a student must have life experiences upon which he/she has done deep reflection, emotional maturity, and lots of practice thinking critically and communicating orally and in writing with a helpful support cast.

These days, applying to ten or more colleges is common. High school seniors (and college transfer students) end up writing dozens of essays, as well as short takes and detailed college app forms, and engaging in some private school interviews during the college app season. “So stressful” are words we hear often from under-prepared college applicants (especially those who start building their stories and skills late)—while they also attack a heavy senior year course load, AP or IB exams, purposeful activities, and if still not done, the SAT or ACT.

Teen achievers must learn how to realize their authentic best self, while navigating the complex and often stressful college planning and application process. Our perspective is that college should be an integral part of a much longer journey. Once again, we encourage families to wisely think THROUGH college (with long-term gains), and NOT just AT college (short-sightedness). It is vital for you to understand both yourself and the world, express your individuality and passions both in writing and in speech, and develop your mindset and soft skills—early on.




Our Personalized, 1-on-1 Mentorship


“I got admitted to Columbia, Mr. Ma!! I am extremely happy. Couldn’t sleep all night. I am incredibly grateful for all your guidance and believing in me from the start! I’ll never forget that. Thousand thanks to you (and Team ThreeEQ)!!!?”

This is an excerpt of a dear student’s texts. With a successful CEO dad, she was accepted into Columbia with an imperfect transcript, no “hooks,” and no SAT/ACT scores. The latter was especially unusual for high achievers. Yet, Columbia saw in her a superbly strong fit.

How were we able to contribute to this and other types of success? You could say that we have hacked the secrets to mentoring and coaching teen and young adult achievers for notable success and well-being. We specifically focus to:

  • Hone your growth and contribution mindset, strategies, soft skills, and execution for GREATER, short- to long-term impact and benefits, even among your driven peers.
  • Help you build an attractive story, prepare authentic storytelling, and present highly competitive and compelling college applications that maximize your chances for admission to your dream schools, all the while minimizing stress, confusion, and anxiety.

“4S” and “3EQ” are ThreeEQ’s own personalized, 1-on-1 mentorship framework and techniques that we apply to achieve these outcomes.

  • 4S:
    • Visionary story (including character, which is the sum of all habits and choices)
    • Emotional and mental state of mind
    • Strategies (academic, non-academic, college process, etc.)
    • Soft skills (in addition to hard skills) and talent
    • Execution
  • 3EQ:
    • Pragmatic emotional, social, and leadership intelligence. This is more profound and powerful than just EQ.

Elevating your “4S” and “3EQ” will empower you to enjoy GREATER life-cycle impact, relationships, and peace of mind with parents, in high school, in college, in communities, and in companies and non-profit organizations (i.e. internships), while enabling you to mitigate risks of future (painful) opportunity losses in our turbulent, ever-changing world. Hard skills may become obsolete over time. Strong soft skills stay with you a long time. 

In our experience, personalized 1-on-1 coaching is by far more effective and profound than group coaching and “mass-market” webinar or product training. Our work also eases succession planning—with sound family values and without the usual stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation—for UHNW families.



Throughout your college planning, applications, and admissions process, ThreeEQ will wholeheartedly and meticulously mentor and guide you, 1-on-1, to STAND OUT and build inner and outer strength. We will help you:


  • Hone your interconnected “4S” and “3EQ” as defined above. It’s best to start this process early in high school, or even middle school—but better late than never!
  • Develop a strong college search/planning, applications, and admissions strategy.
  • Strategize and perform well on your term-to-term, year-to-year academic curriculum while sharpening your study skills. Your transcript is a key component of your college application!
  • Strategize the what, when, and how to best prepare for college admissions standardized tests—the SAT or the ACT. International students attending high schools in which English is not the main language of instruction must also take the TOEFL. Most effective test prep and academic tutoring specialists are outside of private college counseling places. We guide you in selecting the best ones based on your situation, as needed.
  • Strategize and do well on activities in school, in your community, and even at home. Imagine you are a movie star making your next film, to be released before your high school graduation. How will your school-year activities reflect your authentic story, talent, and character?
  • Strategize and do well in summer activities. Many achievers thought their summer plans were sound only to find that these plans were subpar parts of their stories. How will your summer activities reinforce your story or talent?
  • Build, enhance, and manage key relationships in your world.
  • Build a strong résumé (CV).
  • Research and visit colleges (in person and online) smartly.


  • Determine a manageable list of reach, probable, and solid schools. Ten or more are common these days.
  • Decide whether to apply Early Decision or (Restricted) Early Action.
  • Write up to DOZENS of authentic, powerful, personal essays, including personal statements, “why this school” essays, “why this major/field of study” essays, and other types of writing that represent the best of you. Often, high achievers (far) underestimate this complex, time-consuming application core component. We’ve provided profound, 1-on-1 guidance to hundreds of students in successfully writing thousands of great essays. We’ll help you brainstorm, comment on, and edit your repertoire of app essays until they represent your authentic best!
  • Secure powerful recommendation letters from teachers and your school counselor, as well as additional, influential third parties. There are wise, ethical ways to maximize the quality and effect of this key application component.
  • Complete strong college application forms. We’ve reviewed thousands of Common App forms, school supplement forms, and independent app forms from nearly 100 upper-tier colleges and universities. Our hawk eyes catch the mistakes that even most high achievers make!
  • Prepare appealing (visual or performing) arts supplements, if applicable.
  • Prepare for alumni and campus interviews.
  • Ensure that the application to each of your target schools looks great, maximizing your chances for admission!
  • Apply for merit-based scholarships, if appropriate.
  • Continue honing elements of your “4S” and “3EQ” that need improvement.


  • Provide compelling and timely updates.
  • Strategize your summer after high school graduation. Except for 2020, it may be your most fun one yet!
  • Respond compellingly to any application waitlists.
  • Choose the optimal school in which to enroll (matriculate)!
  • Continue honing elements of your “4S” and “3EQ” as necessary, through college and beyond!


IN SUM, building a positively strong character, story, and skill set takes years. It can’t be conjured up “just in time” during the high school senior year. Learning to think, speak, and write effectively is a slow-cooking process, not popcorn-quick microwaving. Wisely start early, reduce stress, achieve greater success, and live more happily. Consider working with ThreeEQ as the trusted, third-party, top-notch mentor by your side. And if you are a high school senior, it is better to start now than never. You and your parents can do this!





Ask yourself: “Do I want to achieve great results in college admissions, unleash my full potential, be happy, and secure my bright future—starting now?”

If the answer is yes, we can happily set aside 45-60 minutes for a complimentary strategy meeting with you and your parents. We will discuss your past, present, and hopeful future, and see how we can help you make your dreams a reality. This meeting will be super meaningful and practical in preparing for your future. We can discuss by phone or, preferably, in our online Zoom room, where we can all be in different locations worldwide.

To schedule a complimentary strategy meeting, please go to ThreeEQ.com/apply. There, you’ll see a calendar of available time slots. Please pick a time that works for BOTH you and your parents. Then, please fill out and submit the simple follow-on form for our understanding BEFORE the call.

Quality preparation is a critical success factor in anything significant and competitive. Aligned with this principle, to make our meeting most productive and time-efficient, we ask that BOTH you and your parents read some of Mr. Ma’s articles and watch 1-2 relevant videos below BEFORE we meet. We require that ALL decision-makers be TOGETHER in the meeting with Mr. Ma.



Further Learning


  • Watch ThreeEQ CEO and Chief Mentor and Young Leaders 3.0 acclaimed author Jason Ma’s inspiring keynote and Q&A “Preparing Your Children for High School, College Admissions, University Life, Career, and Personal Success” in front of a packed audience of high-achieving parents and some students. This private event, for which Mr. Ma was the sole speaker, was enthusiastically co-sponsored by elite university alumni clubs from:
    • Harvard Business School (HBS) (Organizer)
    • Harvard
    • Wharton
    • Stanford GSB
    • Berkeley Haas


  • Watch Mr. Ma’s inspirational, practical, virtual fireside chat on “Get Admitted to Ivy League & Elite Universities with Well-Being,” a special episode for Family Offices and UHNW Families hosted by Money Talk Viewpoint in October 2022. This wide-ranging talk also addresses habits, character, humility, college admissions myopia, mindset, strategies, soft skills, the real world, impact, stress and anxiety, relationships, peace of mind, storytelling, start early, and other sub-topics. (Correction: ThreeEQ is a family business, not a family office.)


  • Watch or listen to Jason Ma’s inspiring interview by Family Office Association CEO Angelo Robles titled “Chief Mentor of Next-Gen Leaders, Jason Ma: Foremost Mentor for College Admissions, Leadership, and Life Success” on the Angelo Robles Podcast on Apple PodcastsSticher, Spotify, or iHeartRadio.

  • Get Mr. Ma’s highly acclaimed book Young Leaders 3.0: Stories, Insights, and Tips for Next-Generation Achievers.



NOTE: ThreeEQ was a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) for years, but has found the membership would no longer be necessary because the standards of ThreeEQ have proven to be consistently higher than that of NACAC.