Josef Durand

Admissions Counselor
Harvard University

Josef Durand is a graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology who offers over a decade of experience as an admissions coach. He specializes in hyper-competitive applications, including those to Ivy League institutions, BS/MD programs (for aspiring doctors), Stanford, MIT, and others. His deep, multi-perspective involvement in higher education admissions over the years has allowed him to craft and review hundreds of applications on behalf of the multifarious firms with which he has worked and partnered (including Quad Education, Elite Educational Institute, IvyMax, FLEX College Prep, Bridge Education Foundation, Zenith Prep Academy, and others) as well as stay current with the latest industry trends and changes. One of Josef's key insights is distinguishing between an on-the-fence application and one that secures acceptance: demonstrating true passion without explicitly saying "passion" (sagacious advice from a former Stanford admissions officer with whom Josef connected at a conference).

Josef's coaching journey began in middle school, where he started tutoring his younger sister and mentoring other students, both older and younger. Over time, he integrated coaching techniques from his state- and nationally-recognized football coaches, many of whom have advanced to the collegiate (NCAA) and professional (NFL) levels. Josef's competitive nature, honed by 12 years of playing football and competing for a national championship in his senior year of high school, drives his commitment to helping students gain admission to the best and most fitting programs and schools, aligning with their aspirations to make a positive impact on the world.

Josef's dedication to coaching is evident in his commitment to bringing his best self to every session. Likewise, he motivates students to present their best selves in their applications and essays. He excels at helping students identify the intersection of their passions and talents, such as their hobbies and extracurriculars. His judgment-free modus operandi often uncovers his students’ most compelling narratives within their favorite hobbies and experiences, which helps showcase their unique differentiators, intellectual vitality, personal qualities, and points of excellence in the competitive Ivy League and BS/MD admissions processes.

Josef has been featured in several news headlines such as Forbes, The Hill, and influencer interviews where he discusses standardized testing and what it takes to get admitted to top-tier institutions. He emphasizes that, with many schools’ holistic admissions approach, applicants must consider the whole picture they present to admissions officers beyond test scores and GPA.

Josef's recent coaching successes include students gaining acceptance to prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Stanford University, and MIT. Throughout his career in the education, entrepreneurial, entertainment, and finance sectors, Josef has held various roles including:

  • Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer/National Tour Manager at Spayce, Inc.
    • Raised $2.5 million in VC angel funding and coordinated a national launch tour
  • Hedge Fund Co-Manager & Executive Board Member at Black Diamond Capital Investors, LLC (beat the market by 2.5x with roughly $250,000 AUM)
  • Manager at Harvard Student Agencies (HSA)
    • Founded HSA Talent (a student-run talent agency) and merged with HSA Video to form Mt. Auburn Productions (a student-run production company)
  • Regional Director at Happy Day Microfunds (think “Shark Tank” with Mark Cuban, but for high school student-entrepreneurs)
    • Speaking of Mark Cuban, his former mentor/manager at HSA got a deal with Mark Cuban on the actual “Shark Tank” show for a product called Chirp’s Chips
  • Business Development/Product Manager at Lango, Inc.
    • Virtually managed development team headquartered in Pakistan to build the app
    • Raised $250,000 in VC funding from YC Combinator for app launch
  • Project Manager at Nasdaq OMX (on Wall Street)
  • Production Intern at Endeavor (when they were still “WME”)
  • Production Assistant at Twentieth Century Fox (for Showtime’s “Homeland”)
  • Production "Wintern" at Night & Day Pictures

Beyond his coaching endeavors, Josef enjoys writing plays, screenplays, and TV pilot scripts, making music, singing karaoke, and maintaining an active exercise routine. Josef's pro tip is that those who excel in their endeavors are driven by a pure passion for doing whatever it takes to be their best. Finding the balance between talent and passion is thus mission-critical for achieving an optimal quality of life in college and beyond.