Snap Academics | Mary Finn

Community Subscriber
SF Bay Area
Operated By: 
Mary Finn
15 participants
maryelizabethfinn [at]

 I offer college application and essay coaching. I believe that college application coaching should be affordable and individualized. I've been working with students one-on-one for over fifteen years. I currently manage college and career programs for the San Francisco Unified School District. I oversaw college counseling as Dean of Studies at Lick-Wilmerding High School. I've worked with students from public and private schools, including many students from Berkeley High School. I am able to work with students in any Bay Area location. Learn more my coaching philosophy at

Parent Reviews

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We had a great experience working with Mary and can't recommend her highly enough. She worked with our daughter to create her school list, develop her essays, and calmly answered the many, many questions we had -- all while working remotely during COVID. Our daughter was really nervous to start the college process, but Mary calmed her fears, gave her confidence, and kept her on-track to get her applications, interviews, and online college tours done. Honestly, I'm not sure how we would have gotten through this stressful process without her!

We loved working with Mary! She developed a strong rapport with my son and held him accountable for the work, but kept me informed and checked in with me all the way through. Mary helped us navigate the entire college application process start to finish, (even calmly and cooly responding to my panicking texts!) and helped my son select a set of schools that he fell in love with. The best news, he has already gotten accepted to two of them. She was spot on in her recommendations and advice. I cannot recommend Mary highly enough.- Berkeley mom

Mary did a great job helping my son get organized for his college application process. The two of them picked schools, she helped him with his essays, and kept in touch with regular skype meetings all along. She does not do a lot of financial aid advising for parents, but she did help me out by recommending a great book by the princeton press. The college counselor at my sons (public) high school is great, but she has the entire senior class as clients. Mary was accessable and knowledgable for my teen boy to deal with. I let him do this process with mary himself.

I Highly recommend Mary Finn. She helped my daughter with college essays. She was efficient, knowledgeable, professional and knew how to guide my daughter through confusion and stress. My daughter produced strong essays and was happy and confident with the results thanks to Mary´s gentle guidance. We enjoyed the process, the way it is organized and the method she uses to help a student to find his/her voice. I know this is a skill my daughter will use in the future. I also appreciate that she was flexible with time and the meetings were via Skype.

I selected Mary after interviewing more than 10 counselors in the Bay Area. We are so happy we found her!

I highly recommend Mary Finn as a a counselor for the college selection and application process. Our daughter started working with Mary late in her junior year in 2016 and has just finished now that she's been accepted to her school of first choice. Mary is great to talk to and works well with both parents and teens. She is very skilled at defusing the anxiety that all parties can bring to this process. I really appreciated being able to hand off all of the application and essay writing process to her. 

Mary came up with a detailed and achievable step-by-step schedule of the process and deadlines that greatly helped our daughter keep track of where she was in the process and meet her deadlines. Mary is also very skilled in helping a student identify colleges to apply to. She spends time at the outset getting to know the student, her/his interests and preferences and academic and life experiences, and then suggests colleges well suited to that student. 

Above and beyond all of this, Mary offered a very calm and reassuring perspective and, very importantly, is far more affordable than many other counselors.

I found Mary Finn through BPN in the summer before my son's junior year at Berkeley High. Sometime early winter she came to interview him and I could see that they clicked. She has a very easy payment plan which was a plus for me as a single mom. She somehow got him to apply and write essays for all the schools he picked. There were about 15. She created a very helpful spreadsheet showing each college and its good points, his chances of getting accepted, and why it would or would not be a good school for him with his particular interests. I highly recommend Mary. She works by teleconference directly with the students which made me skeptical at first but the kids are completely used to that. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2016

I would like to recommend Mary Finn as a college counselor. I found Mary through BPN in the spring of my daughter's junior year in high school. My daughter *says* she wants to go to college, but she was extremely unmotivated when it came to actually doing the work necessary to apply. I knew that if I were trying to manage her the result would be power struggles and unpleasantness. Mary was friendly, upbeat, and unfailingly supportive. She helped my daughter refine the college list I'd put together for her, and she completely organized the process, regularly checking in with my daughter over Skype after an initial in-person meeting. She was also available to give advice and to edit my daughter's essays, and she always kept me in the loop. Thanks to Mary's low-key, courteous persistence, my daughter will apply to an appropriate set of colleges for her, will get her applications in on time, and has produced well-written, thoughtful entrance essays. Satisfied mom of unmotivated college applicant

July 2015

RE: Seeking excellent college application essay coach

We want to recommend Mary Finn – whom I found on BPN – as a spectacular college tutor/advisor. My high-school twins worked with Mary last year and are headed this fall to colleges they are enormously excited about. Mary began by creating a system for identifying and evaluating schools that interested them or that she thought they should consider. She then explained the details of the application process and guided them through each part. She oversaw all the deadlines for submissions as well as managing a comprehensive checklist of other necessary tasks. She made the entire experience fun and rewarding rather than intimidating or onerous. She knows the technical pitfalls of online applications inside out (and how to fix seemingly intractable problems with forms and formats). Best of all, Mary is a very warm, empathic, perceptive and genuine mentor and coach who challenges students to challenge themselves and encourages them every step of the way. We feel so lucky to have worked with her. Mary has an extensive background in education with a specialty in college prep (see her LinkedIn bio). She can be reached at maryelizabethfinn [at] Katrina H