Seeking a College Admissions Consultant

Questions & Responses:
College counselor for young adult(0 responses)
College Admissions Consulting(4 responses)
Private College Counseling reviews?(4 responses)
College Counselor Gabrielle Glancy(11 responses)
College Counselor for A-/B+ Junior(1 response)
College/Technical School Counselor for a HS Junior(1 response)
Seeking College Counselor with Openings(7 responses)
College/Career Counselor Rec(1 response)
Archived Responses: 

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

College admissions process for art/design student

Dec 2015

My 16 year old goes to Berkeley Independent Study. I work full time and want
advice on how to get admissions info. for art schools that offer product design.
The Berkeley e tree drives me crazy as I don't gave time to wade through. My kid
is not a good student and may not end up with a 4 year degree , but I wish
someone could walk us through his options.

As a student at BIS, does your son not also have access to the counselors at BHS? 
Or does BIS offer college counseling?  

I thought that BIS was still a part of BHS and the students could still see
counselors at BHS if they need to...  sk8ma512

Even if you're not anxious, the college process can give you anxiety!
Lately there are a lot of changes with the new SAT and different kinds
of application choices.  With our daughter, we didn't hire anyone.  We
got too involved and we all had anxiety!  We didn't want that to happen
again.  So we decided to try to hire someone for our son.  We knew we
needed someone with whom our son could bond so we didn't have to prod
him to work on his test prep and college essays. Our friends, who have a
son and daughter at Berkeley High, had used Gabrielle Glancy.

  We then saw she came highly recommended on BPN and
decided to give her a call.  Our son was resistant, to say the least! 
He was afraid she would be ''inauthentic'' and ''pushy.''  Well that
couldn't have been further from the truth.  We told Gabby his fears, and
she basically said, if you can get him here, the rest will be history. 
He went kicking and screaming! But she was amazing with him.  By the end
of the first session, he felt comfortable and we never had to worry
after that.  He's very nearly done with his college applications now and
all I can say is we are so grateful for Gabby's help.  She saved our
family tons of anxiety and heart ache. He's already been accepted to one
school and we are hopeful he will be accepted at many more.  You have to
find the right match. That's the key. Gabby is one of a kind -- very
professional, gifted in her field, and really good with kids this age.
Our youngest is 6 and we're hoping Gabby doesn't retire before he's
ready to apply to college!
Grateful Parent

College counselor for anxious senior

 Nov 2015

My daughter is a senior and is very anxious about college. On one hand she feels she isn't ready, but on the other hand she doesn't want to not apply and find herself regretting that decision when her friends all go off to college. She has asked that I find her a college counselor that can work with her regularly. All the recommendations on BPN focus on the essay. I need to find someone who can work with my daughter in a wholistic way, with patience, understanding, guidance, and support, and not focus just on the essay. I really need someone who has experience working with a teen who has a lot of anxiety, and who can help my daughter with all aspects of the application process (e.g., she doesn't know how to pick a college, she feels she needs to know what she wants to major in before applying, etc.). I have tried to counsel her on all of this, but she really needs someone other than a parent to advise her. Any suggestions? Recommendations? Advice? Thanks in advance. Berkeleyparents

I hired Lora Lewis lora [at] for one session with my daughter when my daughter was getting anxious about college apps. The point of the meeting was to look at her list of colleges and tell her if it was realistic and suggest others (my daughter had As and Bs and not amazing extracurriculars). My daughter really liked her and felt better afterwards. But we didn't hire her on an ongoing basis (we didn't hire anyone on an ongoing basis!) so I can't speak to that. best wishes

I think your daughter needs help connecting with her own feelings, decision-making skills, and slowing things down so she can manage her anxiety. The best way to work on that would be with a therapist. If she hasn't started already, it would be a great age to start because many transitions are coming up for her, and anything she learns now she will put to great use. I would suggest trying a few therapists (maybe 3 to start?) to see who she connects with, and let your daughter take it from there.

One she starts to connect with her own feelings more, she'll be more confident about choosing what do in a gap year or choosing the right school for her.

There are many ways to find therapists, including your insurance company. Here are some places to start for low-fee therapy:

SF Counseling Center -- 415-440-0500 (excellent therapists with excellent supervisors)

Access Institute -- 415-861-5449 (also in SF)

Berkeley Psychotherapy Institute -- 510-548-2250

The Wright Institute -- 510- 548-9716 (Berkeley)

A great complement to the therapy work might be a college counselor.

Gabby Glancy is local and is amazing at connecting with teenagers. It's like she can zero in almost immediately and get to the heart of the student and the college application. I'm still impressed at how she kept a 17-year-old, male, largely passive applicant on schedule, and helped him produce an outstanding, touching essay. Gabby's a real ally for any applicant to have in the process. Here's Gabby's phone (415-637-1955).

Kristin White of Darien Academic Advisors is based in Connecticut, though does a lot of work over Skype. Kristin is calm, steady, thorough, and has deep knowledge of colleges and their expectations. Here's a link to her page:

I think some combination of options like these will help your daughter. Once she has more information about herself and her options, she'll be the best person to determine which school is the best fit for her academically and socially.

I don't have any experience with this, though I wonder if there is also someone who could provide interesting suggestions around gap year possibilities. If she feels she's not ready yet, maybe she needs to listen to that right now and take some time. Sarah

I recommend Sophie Silverstien ( She's an excellent counselor and can help with the anxiousness. She's also an experienced college counselor, and can lead your teen through the whole process. Anya M

June 2015

I would strongly recommend Raymond Barglow and Berkeley Tutors for any students serious about significantly improving their college prospects. Ray has a calmness of spirit combined with a rigorous approach that worked well for my college bound son. His style motivated my son to reach new heights. Not only did he vastly improve my son's ACT/SAT scores, but he provided insightful tutoring in several subjects; including Math and English. Ray and his team mentored and guided my son through the college application and selection process. It was an excellent experience!! Lee F.

May 2015

We would like to highly recommend Sarah Shankman as a college essay coach. In this ultracompetitive college admission process, great grades and competitive test scores do not predict which colleges your student will get into. The reality is that highly selective schools all have significantly more applicants than there is space in their freshman class. The only thing that can separate your student are the essays. Sarah worked well with our daughter who is a good writer, but was stuck starting the process. After going to her home in Berkeley and answering some questions, Sarah was able to jump start her essay topics. She is a professional writer and her systematic method results in excellent essays written entirely by the student. She kept our daughter on schedule and the entire process was successful. Our daughter was accepted to 9 out of 10 colleges many with generous merit scholarships and honors programs. We were thrilled and felt that Sarah played an important role in her success. Sarah Shankman can be reached at 510-528-8111 or or sarah [at] Happy Danville Parents

May 2015

As grandparents of a very talented young lady, we engaged Cynthia Robley, with College-Watch, in our granddaughter's sophomore year of High School. Cynthia was given one main task: Get her into the best school possible at the lowest net cost no matter where the school is located. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Even due to a unique set of personal circumstances and some difficulties our granddaughter endured, Cynthia performed well above expectations. Cynthia is very knowledgeable about the college admission and aid process and if a student listens to her and follows her advice, success will be had. I could not recommend anyone for a position in any field more than Cynthia. She takes her job very serious and realizes that this college process is the beginning of future success or failure of the student. Cynthia individualizes the search for the right college as not all students are the same. I would give her a 10+ on a 1 to 10 scale. Lois W

April 2015

We used Sarah Shankman ( to help our son with his college application essays and wanted to recommend her services.

Our son could write reasonably well to begin with, but on topics that are impersonal. When it came to college apps, where the essay prompts required introspection and narrating personal experiences his initial attempts did not touch the reader. Sarah started working with him and had a few sessions where she talked to him (and briefly to us) where they verbally mapped out story lines for each prompt. Then, she worked out a schedule with him and iterated on each essay till it was up to his (and her) satisfaction. The really good part we liked about this process was that she was keeping him on schedule and making sure the quality was good. She kept us in the loop on his progress and prodded him gently when he as falling behind. She was very prompt in providing feedback and my son and Sarah mostly communicated by email/skype. They met in person only a few times on the weekends and she was very easy to schedule.

In the end, she got stories and essays out of him that we could not! We are pretty sure these essays helped in getting into some very good colleges. Thanks Sarah! SouthBayDad

April 2015

My daughter lost her original college admissions counselor about two weeks before her first applications were due last fall. Cynthia Robey (College-Watch)graciously and enthusiastically stepped in and agreed to take my daughter on and shepherd us through the entire remaining admissions process (including interviews and choosing schools which we are still doing now). I cannot say enough good things about Cynthia! She did a fantastic job! My daughter got into her number one school plus these others, including Wellesley, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA, USC, Tulane, and with healthy scholarship money and/or financial aid. Cynthia knew what the schools wanted to see in the applications and she worked with my daughter to tailor her apps/essays to give her the best chance of being admitted to each school. Through regularly scheduled Skype sessions, she enthusiastically motivated my daughter to do her best work and enjoy doing it! Cynthia is super sharp, assertive, positive, easy to work with, and best of all, thoroughly steeped in all that it takes to create applications that have the highest potential to be accepted by the school your child is considering. She can be reached at 925-548-0002. We will never be able to thank her enough for picking us us off the ground and taking us through to a supremely successful application conclusion. Patricia

College Application Guidance and Tutor for student

Feb 2015

Could anyone recommend a coach/tutor for the college application process? I have several friends looking for someone who can help them manage the process from start to finish. Said I would seek guidance here! Thanks!' Interested mom

I highly recommend Cynthia Robey as a college admissions consultant. She has worked in college planning for over ten years with many credentials to her name (and has evaluated thousands of applications for UC Berkeley Freshman admissions) - her experience shows. We met Cynthia when my son was in 10th grade. She developed a close rapport with him and customized a plan so he maximized his high school experience and was ready to start the college process early. She was friendly and fun yet kept him on track with deadlines. She was tireless in her enthusiasm and generous with her time. She listened to his dream of becoming an engineer and helped him get into a very selective engineering camp junior year and made suggestions for colleges (since she has visited hundreds). When it came time to tackle the college applications, her help was critical. She showed him how to highlight his experiences (several of of which she had encouraged him to pursue) and to craft essays that were powerful and reflective. She is an outstanding mentor - she works not just on the essay but on developing the potential of each of her students. She’s incredibly insightful, caring and smart. As an engineering student the competition is fierce and she helped Jonathan create the strongest application possible. Jonathan has already been accepted into several universities with merit scholarships. Cynthia’s first consultation is free - what she will say is priceless. email: crobey60 [at] tel (925) 548-0002 Barbara

I gifted my niece the essay-writing assistance of Carla Castillo. I emailed my sister to get her view on Carla's help, and this is how she replied: 'Having Carla in the picture helped me do what was most important in this whole college application process, at least as far as the writing anyway, and that was to stay out of it unless asked for input. Carla was very helpful in keeping my daughter, a notorious procrastinator, on track by simply asking, 'when might you have a draft ready to discuss with me?' My daughter, who I think is a good writer to begin with, says, 'My final essay in its post-Carla form was about a gazillion times better than my first draft. Her suggestions were really useful, as she had a much better idea than I did of what colleges were looking for, but she always made sure to let me know that I had the final say. She was very easy to work with.' Here's Carla's contact info: ph 510-847-3789 barbwille

My daughter is a senior and currently working with Nicole Hosemann in Berkeley. We are more than satisfied and would highly recommend her! My daughter was really comfortable with Nicole from the beginning and the support has kept her super motivated and organized throughout the application process. She ended up applying to 10 colleges and has already been accepted to 4 of them - whoo hoo! Nicole helps with applications and essays, and also financial aid applications (which are far more complicated than we ever imagined!) We didn't think we'd actually qualify for anything, but Nicole directed us to sources of financial aid we didn't even know existed. We actually didn't think we wanted to pay for a private college counselor, but Nicole's rates are so reasonable we decided to go for it - best decision we could have made! Her website is or her email is nicole [at] She's amazing, I highly recommend her! Andrea-

Our current senior at Albany High School has been working with Carla Castillo for the past several months. She was extremely helpful through the college application process, in particular on the essay writing. Not only does she, of course, provide corrections for grammatical issues, but she thinks big picture and in many ways nudged the essay into providing more insight into who are son is, adding structure to his story, and punch to his strengths, all without affecting his genuine voice and tone. From our perspective, his essays were significantly improved with each round of reading and revising. She was also gracious in providing a quick turn-around even when our son put her into the corner with essays due 'tomorrow'. She was easy to work with, via email (actually through Google Docs) as well as in person. You can check her out at or call her at 510-847-3789. Kym S

Dec 2014

Ariel Mazel-Gee did such a great job helping my daughter with her college essay that I need to share my appreciation of her with the BPN community. My daughter had written her essay but felt that it needed some help. After searching on BPN, we came upon Ariel, and boy are we glad we did. We emailed Ariel the essay, and within a short time got a list of comments and suggestions back that sent my daughter back to the drawing board. What came out from several rounds of interacting with Ariel was nothing short of amazing. The improved essay not only told my daughter's story so much better, but it completely retained my daughter's voice. And it just flows beautifully. Ariel's experience of reading thousands of college applications when she was working for the Stanford Admissions Office really shows. And she is such a pleasant and kind person that my daughter loved working with her. Ariel seems to have a real knack relating to young people. Had we known, we would have reached out to Ariel a lot sooner. You can reach Ariel at A Thankful Mom.

Seeking top-notch college essay tutor/advisor!

Sept 2014

Seeking recommendation for a college essay tutor/advisor/consultant who can guide my high schooler through the writing process. Please share any guidance and recommendations. Thanks so very much! Anon

Ariel Mazel-Gee is a top-notch college essay tutor! We can't thank her enough for her amazing help with our daughter. She has read thousands of college applications when she was working for the Stanford Admissions Office. That experience really shows in the way she guided my daughter to vastly improve her essay! We are so thankful to have found her. You can find her on the website. Good Luck!!

Gabrielle Glancy (gabglance [at] is who we used for both our sons. She's skilled in all aspects of the college process, but is really expert at helping students write their college essays. In fact, she wrote THE book on it (The Art of the College Essay) which I read alongside my youngest son heading into this application season. She's also very lively and funny and wise and gets along great with kids that age. I can't imagine anyone better. Andrea

My daughter has been meeting with Gabby Glancy (gabglance [at] to help with her college essays and advise on the college application process, and it has been a great experience for her. The essay part is a bit like taking a writing class -- I think the skills she's learning are not only helpful for her college essays, but will come in very handy in college and beyond. Gabby really pushes my daughter to think hard about her writing, to revise and revise and revise, to get comfortable with free writes to spur ideas, and to continually re-shape and refine. She also gives my daughter deadlines which means she's continually moving forward (and saves me from having to be the one pushing my daughter to write). My daughter really appreciates Gabby's combination of honesty, constructive feedback, and support. Despite all of the hard work, in many ways, this has been a really interesting and wonderful journey for my daughter as she thinks hard about who she is, what matters to her, and why, and Gabby has been enormously helpful in making that process a positive one. Rachel

Excellent advisor needed

June 2014

My daughter is entering 11th grade next fall and is basically a solid student. However, we as parents feel the need for an advisor to help us navigate the whole crazy process of high school and college applications. Can anyone recommend a good tutor or advisor who might be able to help? Concerned Mom

I recommend you check out Lesley Quinn for help on the college essay. Lesley worked with two of my teens, and for both of them the experience could not have been better. She is patient and caring, but also holds the bar high and knows how to draw forth their best and most interesting selves ... in writing! My daughter liked to write, but my son did not and even so he really enjoyed working with Lesley, learned a great deal in the process and wrote an impressive essay. Both kids were accepted at their first choice schools. You can find out more about Lesley's services at Best of luck to your daughter for the year ahead! parent of 3 high school graduates

April 2014

My daughter didn't use a college coach when she went through the application process this year, and it worked out well. But when one Ivy League school put her on a waitlist, she wasn't sure how best to handle it or what to expect. I found two names of highly recommended college coaches on BPN and contacted them via email. One of them replied that it was a very complicated situation, and suggested we hire her for $300/hr. to help navigate the process. I realize that this is absolutely to be expected. But the other coach, Wendy Morrison (, wrote back immediately with great advice, good wishes, and an offer to answer any further questions! I was so impressed and grateful, that I just had to post here about the experience. Empty nester-to-be

Feb 2014

I would HIGHLY recommend Sean Brennan (wordguild [at] for help on the college application process. He helped my daughter extensively through multiple drafts (including additional ones beyond the three full exchanges guaranteed in his price) of her application essays and supplements. She was struggling with topics and the initial essay did not showcase her well, and we were paying thousands to another college counselor who did not provide enough detailed feedback and guidance. By contrast, Sean is quick, affordable, in-depth, easy to work with, and made a very positive impact on my daughter's application process. The finished essay communicated who my daughter was in a way that reflected her own voice. She had a time-crunch for one of her essays and Sean worked through four drafts with her in just 5 days - he is very efficient in his editing of the essays, the draft revisions were thorough and well thought out, they preserved all of her original content while focusing her ideas and drawing out the more important parts. She will be attending Harvard University next fall because of Sean's advice and essay editing work. He is also available to help with the rest of the application process, and provides and unique and valuable service! Jessie L

Feb 2014

I'd like to recommend Jamie Keller very highly as a writing coach for college application essays. Her email is: jamiekeller1 [at] She worked with our daughter to produce multiple essays. Jamie has been doing this for a long time and truly understands how to advise without overwhelming the students own voice. Jamie's guidance is kind but honest, so that our daughter actually enjoyed the process! Margaret C

Jan 2014

I highly recommend Gabrielle Glancy as a college counselor. We went through the process without a counselor for our oldest, and decided, given the personality of our second, that it would be a good idea to enlist some outside help. Gabby worked with our daughter for 8 months (from spring of junior year through applications submission on 12/30), and, thanks to her, most of the stress at home around college apps was eliminated. This meant that our home was not a battlefield but rather a calm place--very different from two years ago when our oldest was at the same stage. Sophie stayed focused and on track both with the apps and with working to get her grades up (part of our agreement with her and with Gabby). She heard from her first school last week--she was accepted into their honors program with a scholarship that will cover 50% of all expenses. Gabby is worth every penny! Deirdre

Jan 2014

I am writing to recommend my daughter's College Admissions Essay Coach, Sarah Shankman. Sarah was recommended to me by a friend who had been through the admissions process with her two children.

From the beginning, my daughter felt strongly that her essays should reflect her thoughts, goals and accomplishments as faithfully as possible. She also felt overwhelmed by the thought of writing several essays in a relatively short period of time. She emerged from her first meeting with Sarah with a strong sense of direction and focus. Most importantly, she knew she could count on Sarah to be there, providing thoughtful recommendations and guiding her work as needed. This was key in allowing my daughter to manage what can be a very stressful process.

In addition to her talent as an essay coach, we found Sarah to be very responsive and professional. My daughter recently completed her final application and we realize how incredibly fortunate she has been to have had Sarah by her side.

Sarah's website can be found at Her email address is: sarah [at] Nadine

Jan 2014

Who knew that the high school application process could be so nerve-wracking? We were totally overwhelmed as we attended tours, open houses, scheduled shadows and got advice from our neighbors and friends. Luckily, we connected with Kerryn Pincus who has recently started advising families on high school and college admissions. She had a great sense of our daughter as a student and was able to clearly narrow the field for us. It was a relief to get straight-forward advice from an insider (she is former Dean at Julia Morgan School for Girls) with intimate knowledge of each high school's strengths and weaknesses. I highly recommend her. RelievedMom

Nov 2013

I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus! We did our college process from start to finish with Gabrielle Glancy (gabglance [at] and everything that is said about her is true. Our daughter had done previous preparation for the SAT's, but eight sessions with Gabby was worth all of the rest of it put together. She has some techniques that seemed to unlock previously locked doors for Sophia. And then she helped her find her voice and write the most beautiful essays. She got into all of the schools she applied to including USC, UCLA, CAL, NYU, the list goes on. We honestly could not have been happier. Gabby's really a pro. She's tuned in to the process and to the students in a way that's hard to express. She's also a very intelligent, wise and upbeat person. The only advice I would give is start with her early. That can make all the difference! S C

Lamorinda Area College Counselor

Oct 2013

Hi. I'm currently looking for a college counselor. Although my daughter's high school is great in many ways I'm wanting more information earlier than the school thinks is necessary. Also, there seems to be an assumption that kids want to strive for acceptance into the UC system. UCs are great but there is so much more out there! My daughter is a sophomore and wants to start exploring her options now. I don't want her to get anxious about admissions; I'm thinking that having concrete images and info will be motivating. Do you have any recommendations?

We worked with Joanne Fraser-LeGates in the Oakland Hills. She was wonderful. We have one teen enjoying freshman year at his first choice school and three more who will work with her. Good luck! Nina

College Counselor - Arts Programs

Feb 2013

We are looking for an advisor to help our high school junior figure out his post-high school plans, and none of the recommendations in the archives seem to fit the bill. We are not (at this point) looking for someone to help him write his application essays. We are looking for someone who can help him figure out the best way to move toward independence after high school. He is very smart and a talented artist but has never liked school (with the grades to show it). I think he would do best in a program that is very hands on and allows him to start doing what he loves (digital arts) right away, without a lot of prerequisites. Obviously, we are also concerned that he end up with a marketable degree.

We'd also like some short term advice on how to best focus his time in the limited time remaining before he applies to colleges. Given that his grades are pretty bad (C average), is it worth it to expend a lot of energy studying for the SATs? PSAT scores were not promising. Or is it better for him to focus on building his portfolio? He would definitely enjoy the latter more, but I think he would need some structure/advice on what the portfolio should contain, and we (his parents) have no idea. And if it's better to focus on the SAT, are there any programs that work for kids who hate studying??? I can just imagine him completely zoning out at Kaplan sessions and would hate to throw away money like that. Please advise if you know any college advisors who have successfully advised students like our son. Thank you.

Don't know for sure if he would fit the bill, but you might talk with Casey McCarroll. He's not a college counselor per se, but he created the Transition Counseling program at Holden High School, helping juniors and seniors envision and plan for their lives after high school. Some of the students are interested in 2-year or 4-year colleges, but many are interested in something more hands on or practial. Casey has a private practice doing the same kind of work with teens and young adults, specializes in working with young men. My 16-year-old son, who is following a very non-traditional educational path, really likes him. Terry

My son has Learning Disabilities and had the exact same GPA in high school. I can't remember who we used but, Contact Bay hill High School in Oakland and ask them for some possibilities. Bay Hill is a High School for kids with Learning Disabilities.

Lots of schools have good Services now. I was really, really impressed with Southern Oregon State U in Ashland, Oregon. They had lots of great help. Don't let anyone suggest Evergreen College in Washington. It's an interesting college but not if you learning disabilities. Tracy

April 2013

Re: College prep help
I just had to post this. My husband and I searched high and low for the perfect college counselor. We interviewed three people and finally settled on one who was reasonably priced and seemed like a good match. Our son, who is a very strong student at Berkeley High, did not end up getting in where he had hoped. He got deferred and wait-listed at several of his top choices. A friend who had used Gabrielle Glancy (she goes by Gabby) recommended we call her to see if she could help. Gabby was amazing! She is really a pro. Our son ended up getting into one of his top choice schools after she helped us prepare a supplementary package that highlighted aspects of his personality and academic career that were missing in his original application. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Our only regret is that we didn't use her in the first place! Her phone number is 415-637-1955 Email: gabglance [at] She has a great web site too if you want to check it out first. Much Relieved Parent

March 2013

I read your post in Parents of Teens Issue and I can definitely say that having a college consultant is the best thing I've ever invested in for my son who is now a high school senior. He began with Cynthia Robey, MBA at College Consultants his sophomore year.

My son's weighted GPA was 3.6 with average ACT and SAT scores when he submitted his college applications. Because of Cynthia's extensive knowledge of what colleges look for when accepting students, she has guided my son in completing and submitting his college applications. So far, he has been accepted to 11 of 15 colleges and universities.

Today, he was accepted to UC Davis, his number one choice. My son chose schools based on the best fit for his profile. We could not have completed these great accomplishments without her.

I highly recommend Cynthia. She can be contacted at 925-548-0002 or R

Looking for Great Tutor/College Admissions Go-To

Feb 2013

For amazing help with college essays and the admissions process or any kind of excellent tutoring, Gabrielle Glancy is outstanding! We came to her on the late side and she bent over backwards to help our daughter with an early decision application and with her college essays. A former admissions director herself and a widely published writer, her insights were invaluable. She really helped our daughter focus, hone and polish some really beautiful essays. She's calm, kind, quick and effective and also has a great sense of humor. Our daughter really enjoyed working with her. She gets an A+ in our book! c. lum

I have three sons and I have never met someone who has as much expertise and rapport with kids as Gabby (Gabrielle Glancy - gabglance [at] does. She's truly an expert in her field. As a former Admissions director, she knows from the inside out what students need to get into college. Working with Gabby is really one-stop shopping. She does everything from test prep (SAT & ACT) to helping students figure out where to apply to working deeply with them on developing awesome college essays. I'm so glad she was referred to me. I can only say: She's the best in the business! Illana

Feb 2013

For the College Admissions Consultants section of BPN.

For the single and married parents who want the ''Best AND Most'' for their child, Cynthia will get you top Results. She has a special gift of connecting well with her students and is very knowledgeable when it comes to preparing each child for acceptance into the college of their choice. Every student may not have the highest GPA or SAT/ACT score, but Cynthia knows how to be creative and think out-of-the box to help your child develop and implement ideas that will definitely strengthen his/her profile, increasing their likelihood of being accepted. If you want to help alleviate the worry and stress that comes with writing essays for college applications, choosing top colleges and universities most appropriate for your child's interests, while making sure you receive all possible scholarships available, connect with Cynthia. You'll be extremely pleased. I am!

My son's weighted GPA was 3.6 with average ACT and SAT scores when he submitted his college applications. Because of Cynthia's extensive knowledge of what colleges look will for when accepting students, she has guided my son in completing and submitting his college applications. So far, he's been accepted to 8 of 15 colleges and universities; as of yet, he has not been denied. He has been accepted to Sacramento State, San Francisco State, University of Nevada, La Sierra University, St. Mary's UOP, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly. We are still waiting to hear from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, USC. My son chose schools based on the best fit for his profile.

Even if he doesn't get accepted to another college, he has great options. With Cynthia's help, he developed excellent personal essays and became involved in a variety of extracurricular and community service activities. I could not have accomplished this great task without her. Cynthia's college consulting service has been one of my best investments yet and I highly recommend that all parents reserve an appointment with her just to hear what she has to offer. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Cynthia can be contacted at 925-548-0002 or Rosalind

June 2012

I want to recommend 3 Moms who just started their business together in the Bay Area. Their business is called San Francisco Admissions Advisors and their website is - I have already learned quite a bit from them. All 3 are certified college admissions advisors who have been doing this type of work for years. They also have experience working with International students, High School admissions, graduate school admissions and students with learning differences. Check them out - great women who know their stuff! Debbie L.

May 2012

My son, husband, and I recommend Barry wholeheartedly as both a college counselor and a portfolio preparation adviser. Barry is smart, experienced, and great with teens. He offered superb advice, encouragement, and support to our son, who needed to create an art portfolio for undergraduate architecture programs. A wonderful artist himself, Barry's guidance was thoughtful, insightful, and professional. Barry had a lovely, compassionate approach with our son, who was not a confident artist, but Barry also knew how to nudge tactfully and firmly when deadlines loomed and our son got cold feet. The result of their process together was successful: our son was offered spots in three top-ranked US architecture programs that require an art portfolio. If the opportunity arose, we would work with Barry again. Deborah

College Advisor for A+ student in East Bay

March 2012

I am looking for a recommendation involving a college advisor that could guide my child towards her journey to a suitable college. We have some reservations about ''College Quest''. Any input would be really appreciate it. thanks

We have worked with Sue Kim in Pleasant Hill. She knows her colleges and is great with the financial aid. She sometimes takes a while to respond to emails or phone calls when she is busy.

We had a horrible experience with College Quest. Not only were they outrageously expensive, but my kid came home from every session in tears because of the putdowns. The same essays that my kid wrote (that Austin said were horrible) got favorable reviews from every other essay reader and subsequent college adviser. She also kept suggesting schools my kid had zero interest in. Fortunately, several people lifted my kid's self esteem back after this unfortunate experience at College Quest. Parent of happy college sophomore

Our daughter was a top student and test taker. Wendy Morrison of Kensington (sorry don't have her number handy, but I thinks she's been recommended by other parents; look at old posts for her number) was fabulous. Our daughter got into ''elite'' colleges such as Harvard, Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Pomona, etc. Good luck to your daughter, and get ready for a wild and thrilling ride! anonymous

I run a private SAT/ACT tutoring company in Berkeley, and often get requests for a college counselor. I would highly recommend Wendy Morrison. She has worked with many of my students, and has got nothing but rave reviews. My students love working with her. She can be reached at wendy [at]

College prep resources for deserving low income student

March 2012

Hi. My nanny has three amazing school-age kids, destined for college. One of them will be turning 16 soon so her college preparation needs are quite imminent. She wants to be a doctor. The situation is this. The girl's parents are immigrants and not savvy to the college admissions/preparation process. She has a very good GPA at a local charter school. The school seems great, but I'm not sure they have the resources to offer comprehensive college preparation counseling. I've asked, and I don't see they are working closely with her. Because the parents are low-income, it would really be best for this child to attend a school with a large endowment for scholarships, ie. a very good school like Stanford. I think this child could possibly get her GPA in range, but needs a lot of advice regarding extracurricular activities, and needing someone to check that she is taking the right kind of courses to attend a top-tier school. She will also need assistance with her application, getting letters of recommendation, personal statement etc. I really wish we could afford to hire a college counselor for her but our resources are truly stretched. Does anyone know of any affordable or possibly free resources out there to help deserving students like this get the kinds of college prep assistance that kids in the private schools get? berkeley mom

10,000 Degrees (formerly the Marin Education Fund) provides exactly this service in San Rafael. I'm not sure whether East Bay kids are eligible but it's worth a call to find out. JM

Hello, I suggest that you look into two nonprofits that help young people become first generation college students.

1) College Track, which has a program in Oakland. Check them out on line at

2) First Graduate, based in San Francisco but might be able to recommend resources in East Bay. Rachel

Aspire Education Project is a nonprofit ''dedicated to providing the best academic support to all K-12 students.'' From their web site, ''Students whose families can not afford market rates receive reduced price tutoring and Aspire Education Project collaborates with partner organizations to provide test preparation classes to groups of promising students from struggling schools.'' They may have suggestions as well on overall college prep for a student without financial means. Aspire Admirer

free SAT prep

Haas summer program


main UCB pipeline site:

college counselors may be willing to give an hour or so pro bono--try contacting some

depending on your time, you can do a lot w/o any special skills--remind her to take the PSAT/SAT and apply to the UC's on time (deadline is super early), offer to read her essay, etc. best wishes

There is an organization in Oakland called College Track - - and I think there are other similar organizations that help teens of families who will be the first in their family to go to college or teens in other similarly disadvantaged situations. Mary

College Counselor to Help with Sorting Options?

Feb 2012

My son is a junior in high school. The only family I know that used a college counselor engaged her services during the student's freshman year to work with him all through high school. We were thinking it would be helpful to hire someone on a short-term basis, or even just for a few consultations, to help my son go over what colleges could be a good fit for him, maybe go over his essays, and so on. Our main problem is that my husband and I just went to the UC closest to home (Berkeley) and didn't apply to too many other schools. I know there must be plenty of great colleges out there I don't know about, and I'd like my son to have broader horizons in that area than I did.

We have the two Loren Pope books (''Colleges that Change Lives'' and ''Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College that's Right for You''), but I feel my son would benefit from talking one-on-one with someone.

Can anyone suggest a counselor who works on this kind of short-term consultation basis? Any idea what such a service might cost? Thanks a ton! Mary

I highly recommend Barbara Manierre in Berkeley. She helped our son on a short-term basis with college choices and the application process. She is organized, extremely knowledgeable, and kept our son focused and on task. Working with her, he was able to identify the colleges that would be a good fit for him, submit his applications early and ultimately had seven college acceptances to choose from. He is happily completing his Freshman year at the college that was his first choice. Barbara's contact information is: Barbara Manierre barbara [at] (510)655-9065 College Mom

You should contact Amy Loebl, College Admission Advisor. Amy worked with my daughter and was very helpful in coming up with a great mix of schools that would be a good fit, some that we did not know about. My daughter enjoyed working with Amy and found the experience extremely valuable. In addition to being knowledgeable about the College Admission process, Amy is a delightful person. Contact her at: amy.loebl [at] BHS mom

You will undoubtedly receive a host of names of experienced, competent private college counselors. Before spending the money on a session with one of them, I would highly recommend that you speak with the college counselor at your son's high school. Your son can make the appointment and you can go with him. My son and I were in the same position as you are and paid for one session with a highly respected private counselor. Her advice turned out to be much less valuable and accurate than the advice that my son received from his college advisor at BHS.

The college center at BHS has up-to-the-minute information about colleges, has worked with students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles, has relationships with admissions officers across the country and really has the knack for fitting the right student with the right school, whether it is an Ivy League school, a community college, a public university, etc.

As an aside, the private counselor told my son that he had no chance of getting into an Ivy League school. Not so his BHS college counselor who encouraged him to pursue his dream and helped him work through the steps he needed to take to get there. Ivy League Mom

My son and I sat down with David Elliot and he was INCREDIBLY informative on what different colleges and universities have to offer. Many of these ''counselors'' charge a ridiculous sum, because they know its a wealthy families choice, but in our case, we just needed to see what was a good fit. HE was wonderful and reasonable. (He also looks like Harrison Ford, which makes the experience quite delightful) Reenie

2010 - 2011 Reviews

Dec 2011

I feel I absolutely must let the world (or the East Bay) know about Rebecca Field, a most amazing college counsellor who works out of an office near Lake Merritt, Oakland. She guided my son through the process of applying to colleges and actually made it fun and enriching! She connected with my son immediately. She took the time to get to know him and she was with him every step of the way. She helped him organize, set his tasks and introduced him to try a few schools that she thought would be good for him. My son wanted to go to a small college back east. We thought this would be a challenge, but Rebecca was familiar with the full spectrum of public and private schools nationally. She was able to suggest a few additional schools that were not in Forty Colleges but just as good. Jake submitted the last of his applications yesterday and ahead of the deadlines despite a somewhat late start. He feels great about his choices, is excited about college and was able to really think through what he wanted to get out of school. I can say with absolute certainty that Rebecca made all the difference. While some of the choices might have been the same, the quality of the applications, essays and the confidence were entirely due to Rebecca. Debra

College advisor in Fremont/Pleasanton area

Dec 2011

I am looking for a recommendation for a good advisor, preferably in the Fremont/Pleasanton area, who can help my 16 year old daughter narrow her college choices. She is not sure what she would like to study, but does want to go to school outside of California. There are lots of firms out there, but would appreciate advice from parents who have already been through this. May also want help on preparing college essays, but I don't want to get locked into any long-term contract. Ruth

I think that you ought to talk to Elizabeth LaScala who is a very thoughtful and successful college adviser covering the locations and needs you've stated. Dr. LaScala works with students on college and graduate school applications and writes a number of newspaper articles for the general public. She can provide an alternative to a ''package'' arrangement and she can be reached by phone at (925) 891-4491 or by email at elizabeth [at] Best of luck. A reputable reference

The college advisor our son worked with four years ago isn't in the Fremont area, but we just had an excellent experience with an essay coach who helped him with his personal statements for medical school. Her office is in San Francisco but because she can work remotely by phone and e-mail (and the wonders of Skype!) they were able to get everything done with him at school on the east coast. She's pricey but gets great results. Leslie Quinn: (415) 341-1110 or Good luck to you! Margaret S.

Oct 2011

Sean Brennan helped my daughter immensely with her college application essays. She is applying to a number of very competitive universities this fall, and between her class load and other activities, she had little time to spare. Sean was able to work with her essays via e-mail and very quickly provided extremely detailed and insightful feedback and instruction for an exceptionaly reasonable price. He also has a blog with detailed discussion of the major prompts this year. You can reach him at wordguild [at] I strongly recommend his services. c.c

College advisor for gifted teen in tri-valley area

Aug 2011

I need to find an advisor for my high school junior ASAP. She eventually wants to get into a school like UCSD and I'm concerned she has a Fall semester class schedule that isn't right for her. Her high school counselor just let her pick her own courses. (Unfortunately that's a problem with the summer AP work.) I would appreciate recommendations for college advisors who work well with gifted teens who have lost confidence in their academic abilities. We live in Pleasanton, so prefer someone in the Tri-valley/680corridor region. Stymied parent

I highly recommend Elizabeth LaScala. She is an outstanding college advisor with an excellent track record and she is located in your area. You can reach Dr. LaScala at 925-330-8801. A reputable reference

Sounds like you're putting the cart before the horse. If your teen has no confidence in her academic abilities, she's not going to get the help she needs from a college advisor. What she really needs is an ed psych. Once the problem has been taken care of, then she should see the college advisor. Now if the ed psych works in tandem with a college advisor, then she can see both. Anon

June 2011

Marilynn Aiches is an incredible college councilor and tutor. She's great with all kinds of students. She worked with my son and daughter and saved us all kinds of angst. Her expertise, insight and support was invaluable every step of the way from curriculum choices, extracurricular suggestions, to college choices. Plus, nobody can get a student to write an essay like she can. She's passionate about what she does and gets amazing results. I recommended her to 8 other friends and all of our children have been accepted to their top colleges, including the most selective ones. An added advantage is the fact that Marilynn, in addition to her private practice, works for UC Berkeley admissions. This gives her insight into what makes a great college application. I'd call soon because she gets booked up. Believe me, you won't regret it---and better yet, your student will thank you. Mine did. Marilynn Aiches 510.559.8815 collegeadmitpro [at] Kathy

College Admission Advisors

May 2011

We are looking for a college admissions advisor for our sophomore son at Acalanes. Have any of you used Karen Maas, Jan Hale, Lynda Phelps, or Shelly O'Neill? We would love to hear your thoughts. Anybody else in Lamorinda that you would recommend? Thanks

Hi, I would like to recommend a knowledgable college advisor. Michelle Myers from Walnut Creek guided our son and us through his college choice and application process. She helped him discover what major would fit his interests. She researched colleges that would cater to his major all while taking into consideration his location preferences. She guided him as he completed his UC applications, state and private college applications too. We were pleased at the number of colleges he was accepted to. We believe Michelle's guidance played a part in this. If you need advice for your high school junior to be sure they are prepared for college as well as help with applications and recommendations for scholarships contact Michelle Myers at 925 788-6953 or michellemyers [at] Kristen

College counselor to advise about art college programs

May 2011

My son is a junior in high school and wants to major in visual arts with a BFA. Does anyone know what are the best California state colleges, (not the UC's as they are too big), or a small private colleges locally in California they can recommend with a strong fine arts program.? Also can you recommend a college counselor/coach who is familiar with strong art programs in college? SB

I recommend Susan Martin, Seize the Year Educational Consultant. Although many of her clients are working with her to put together a meaningful Gap Year (a year taken off either before or during one's college pursuits), she has 25 years in the field of education (most recently, undergraduate academic advising at a local arts college), and is also an exhibiting artist. I find her well-grounded and insightful, creative and focused. Best wishes for an exciting time for you and your son. Amy,Oakland

Hi, I am a Professor of Art (Painting) at San Jose State University. We have a first rate program with a BA in General Studio Practice (120 units) and a BFA (132 units) concentration (portfolio review required). Unfortunately, I do not know of any college counselors at the high school level with whom to speak. Other CSU alternatives (that offer the BFA) are Long Beach. Other than UC, there are several great accredited private art colleges to recommend (but if tuition is factor, note that they are very costly). The San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts. There are many good state schools that offer the BA in Visual Arts (SFSU, Humbolt, Sac State, Fresno, San Diego State, to name a few..) Hope this helps. Gale

College advisor to support daughter through the decision-making process

Feb 2011

Hi -- I'm searching for a college adviser who can give my daughter some support through the college decision-making process. She's a junior, with great grades and the right temperament for college, but she seems paralyzed in terms of starting the process. She's expressed concerns that she feels she has to know what she's doing (going to be/study) before she can even think about/look at schools, and that she's afraid of making a ''mistake''. As parents, we've tried to express our views that going to college is when you discover these things about yourself but she's unconvinced.

I'm really looking for someone creative and open who can help her to think imaginatively,and maybe help free her from this need to judge herself overly harshly and over-analyze. She's like this in other things, too. She responds better to adults who are more sharp-witted/edgy rather than the sensitive (= motherly) type. Thanks! Mom whose teen needs to look before she leaps

Wendy Morrison is the best. She is very knowledgeable, very engaging, very responsive, and did an amazing job helping my son to navigate through his applications. She had great ideas about schools that he might be interested in, and schools that would be interested in him as well. Her contact information is Wendy E. Morrison, Educational Consulting, 225 Cambridge Avenue, Kensington, California 94708 Phone: (510) 384-5962, wendymorrison [at] Teresa

We had a great experience with Barbara Manierre. Our son worked with her (we as parents were hands-off) through the entire college admission process - initial exploration of college choices, guidance for HS classes, applications and essays, and weighing the pros and cons in the final decision on college to attend. Our son found that when working with Barbara, he felt organized, ''on-task'', focused, and in control. Working with her removed much of the stress of the college admissions process and we had a most satisfactory outcome. Our son is now off to the college that was his first choice and is very happy. Barbara's office is in Berkeley. barbara [at] 510-655-9065. College Mom

I've written in on this topic before, but your daughter sounds exactly like mine, two years ago. She was stuck in terms of thinking about how to even approach the college process, and I think feeling very insecure, and I was totally ineffective in dragging anything out of her.

We interviewed several college counselors and ended up working with Ethan Ris, who made house calls and was definitely different from the rest of the pack. Instead of just going through a standard spiel (i.e the same thing we could get from the high school counselor ...) he took the time to really get to know our daughter personally and then helped her formulate a strong list of colleges and a game plan for the college process. (He's also much younger than most counselors, around 30 I think, which seems appropriate for connecting with teens). She saw the possibilities and got excited about going off to school for the first time. She is now a very happy freshman at a great school back East!

Ethan has a website at Good luck!! There is a light at the end of the tunnel ... Erica

I felt a little 'stuck' with our Junior last Fall as well. I think the hard part is on 'where to start'. We ended up working with . It has been most helpful. His counselor spend some time getting to know him, 'sorting' through his interests and grade history, and now they are working on a college short list together. He has his personal counselor, and then there are other consultants who specialize in financial aid and essay writing. The fees are about $100 per month for a once a week consultation, but they have different program options. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. Sonja

Nov 2010

I would like to recommend an outstanding college admissions consultant in Berkeley. Edith Zinn has over 20 years of experience and is a former University of Michigan Admissions Officer. She worked with my daughter two years ago and with my son last year. Edith typically begins working with students in the winter to spring of their junior year, and assists them with planning senior year coursework, when to take tests, and recommending prep work/materials/tutors, if needed. She spends time getting to know each student, drawing out individual strengths and qualities to highlight in the college application resumes and essays, and helps the student to develop a list of colleges that are a good match. She helped both of my children craft really remarkable essays, and ultimately present themselves in a way that gained them admissions to their first choice universities. With Edith's assistance, my son was one of 600 admits (out of 10,000 applicants) to the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UCLA last spring where he now attends. Edith works on either a flat fee or hourly basis depending upon your need/preference. She is a true professional and I recommend calling her as soon as possible. Edith can be reached at 510-528-0503. Chris

Need references for college advisers and fee info

Sept 2010

I would like to get references for college advisers in the Bay area (Contra Costa/Alameda counties preferred) as well as fees etc--I have heard those professionals are great but I don't know much about how they work, fees etc. I have a 15 yr old son and feel we need to get all the help we can before deciding on which school is the best for him. Thanks in advance! Patty

Wendy Morrison is an absolutely incredible college counselor. She is kind, knowledgeable, energetic, efficient, and relates well to all different kinds of students. She helps students and their families through every stage of the college search and application process, and assists them in finding public and/or private schools that would be a good fit. My husband is a former BHS teacher who has written college recommendations for countless students in his career. We were both extremely impressed with Wendy from our very first meeting, and our son, who had been ambivalent about the entire college search process, couldn't wait to go back to talk with her again. It's hard to describe, but from the very first meeting, Wendy made all of us feel positive and optimistic about what can be a very daunting process. She reinforced our belief that the college search process really needed to be a search for the best fit for our son, based upon his talents and interests. We found Wendy on the recommendation of some friends (she is also recommended in the BPN archives), and we couldn't be happier. We, in turn, have referred another friend whose daughter was so thrilled after their first meeting, they are driving all the way from Cupertino to utilize her services! They say they couldn't imagine how stressful the process would be without Wendy. My son is now happily settled in a college that is a great fit for him. I recommend you email or call Wendy to find out more about her and her services. Wendy's contact information: wendymorrison [at] 510-384-5962 Happy mother of a college freshman

I recommend Lesley Quinn ( as an extraordinary college essay coach. When my daughter was looking for help with the college application process, I found that the college advisors often didn't make very good essay editors, even though they offered essay assistance as one of their services. My daughter worked with Lesley on her essay over a period of about 3 months, and both the process and the result were outstanding (Emma was accepted at all but one of the schools she applied to). Lesley is patient and kind but also has very high standards and is able to get the very best out of her students. Emma learned so much from working with her, and enjoyed the process as well. I think Lesley is the very best essay advisor/editor around. Heidi

Aug 25 2010

Barbara Austin, PhD (English), inspired my son to work hard at grades, SATs, leadership and community service. She was able to help him clarify his essay ideas and figure out to which schools he wanted to apply to. She meticulously prepares students for the SAT/ACT and hires a very skilled math instructor for the math section of the test, and coaches the English herself.

In 2009 my son got into Brown University with her excellent guidance. He was also accepted at Swarthmore, Amherst, UCLA,UCB College of Creative Studies, Washington U St. Louis, UC Davis, and several other schools. I have nothing but the highest praise for Ms. Austin's college counseling. Thanks. Dorothea D

May 2010

Re: Timeline & strategy for high schoolers
for our BHS senior we used a college councelor who I highly reccomend- he does the SAT/ACT prep, essay prep, college selection guidance, checks the applications and even help with deferring for a GAP year. Fees are mostly 1X set fees and I thought he was amazing: Terry MacClure 510-898-8040 terrence_macclure [at] We started at the end of 10th grade. mm

College Advisor for Junior at BHS

Jan 2010

Does anyone know of a college advisor they can recommend? Our son is a Junior at BHS in Academic Choice, overall a B+ student, and we are looking for some guidance on college choices/opportunities and planning. We find the website very helpful, but want to take a more targeted and personal approach. Thank you. Mom

We are happy with our college counselor - Dorothy Sivazlain - phone is 510-304-3690. She's in Orinda - picks my daughter up at bart (might also come to your house) and is helping my daughter, a B student at BHS with a learning disability, find appropriate colleges for her interests and needs. Anon

I highly recommend Dr Paul R Wrubel as a college counselor and college fianancial counselor. With out his help and guidence I do not think that I could have gotten through the experience of one son finishing at UCSD and one son a Sophmore at The College of Wooster in Ohio. David

I can recommend coach Damian Nash, he's wonderful. I don't know if he has a website but his phone # is 435-259-7886. Kristen

Wendy Morrison is an absolutely incredible college counselor. She is kind, knowledgeable, energetic, efficient, and relates well to all different kinds of students. She helps students and their families through every stage of the college search and application process, and assists them in finding public and/or private schools that would be a good fit. My husband is a former BHS (AC) teacher who has written college recommendations for countless students in his career. We were both extremely impressed with Wendy from our very first meeting, and our son, who had been ambivalent about the entire college search process, couldn't wait to go back to talk with her again. It's hard to describe, but from the very first meeting, Wendy made all of us feel positive and optimistic about what can be a very daunting process. She reinforced our belief that the college search process really needed to be a search for the best fit for our son, based upon his talents and interests.

We found Wendy on the recommendation of some friends (she is also recommended in the BPN archives), and we couldn't be happier. We, in turn, have referred another friend. whose daughter was so thrilled after their first meeting, they have decided to drive all the way from Cupertino to utilize her services! My son, now a senior, has begun receiving his college acceptances, and says he would tell any of his friends who are now juniors that they would be lucky to work with Wendy! I recommend you email or call Wendy to find out more about her and her services.

Wendy's contact information: wendymorrison [at] 510-384-5962 Happy mom of a senior

Please call Wendy Morrison. She helped us so much this past year while we went through the whole college application process. She's lively, positive, smart, reasonable and incredibly resourceful. She is terrific with teens. She helped my daughter choose the best colleges for HER, listening carefully to what was important to her. She was also totally supportive to me as a parent. This process can be hard, stressful and overwhelming. Wendy has been our brightest angel this year. She is passionate about what she does and it shows. Wendy Morrison: 510-384-5962. Helen

Wendy Morrison in Kensington is experienced and enthusiastic. She has a strong track record. Here's her number: (510) 526-1545. Good luck! Lesley

I would highly recommend Martha Black, a college counselor in the Berkeley/Kensington area. She is very kind, easy to talk to, and respectful of who your child is. She really focuses on what the student wants to get out of the counseling. In my daughter's case, Martha was able to draw her out and get her talking about her interests and what she wanted out of college and in the process helped her come up with a list of schools she felt really good about. My daughter felt very comfortable with Martha and enjoyed the process. Martha's contact info is 510-847-1205 or mbcollegeadvising [at] Sylvia

We'd like to highly recommend the college counselor our high school senior daughter has been working with, Dianne Ruyffelaere. Dianne has met with our daughter since junior year and helped with all aspects of the college selection and application process. We've all been impressed with her knowledge, warmth, and ability to help the students figure out what schools would work best for them as individuals. She's made the whole process much more positive, organized, and less stressful for everyone. Dianne's in Berkeley; email is druyffelaere [at] and phone number is 510-525-1619. Sandy

2008 - 2009 Reviews

Need College Advice for CSUs and Financial Aid

Dec 2009

My daughter is a junior in high school and now is the time to start looking at colleges. I don't know where to start! She won't qualify for a UC but could get into a CSU. However-I imagine there are plenty of great private colleges that would work for her too. I just don't know where to start---and also wonder how we can find out if it is worth it for her to apply to private schools knowing we will need tuition assistance. Please help.... wondering and starting to worry

For anyone looking for help with the financial aid applications for college, consider College Counselor Sue Kim of ECC in Pleasant Hill. We initially heard her give a talk at Berkeley High School last year. She has been in the business for 18 years and is smart and funny. She guides you through filling out the FAFSA and CSS forms, and can give you helpful advice about individual schools. She helped my daughter set up the Common Application and gave her instructions on how and when to submit them. Without her help, I would be stumbling through this crazy process. She is very reasonable priced. I highly recommend her. Her email is: suekim [at] Satisfied parent

A word of caution to those considering working with Barbara Austin of College Quest: She meets with your child first before she lets you know what she will charge, then locks you into a contract that costs several thousand dollars. Within a few weeks, my child became very unhappy with the counseling she was receiving. My daughter was frustrated when she showed up for her appointment and Ms. Austin had double booked and expected her to wait without even an apology. Whenever my child had her own opinion of how she wanted her essays to progress, Ms. Austin would just say how she had X years of experience and we needed to listen to her. She continued to recommend colleges that were of no interest whatsoever to my child.

Fortunately, my daughter has now found help on the application process where she is being encouraged and valued for her skills and her writing. She is back to feeling positive and excited about applying to college. I am sorry we wasted our time and money with Ms. Austin. Learned the hard way

Advice needed about non-traditional colleges

Nov 2009

My daughter (a junior) is interested in exploring colleges that provide an alternative path to education. She is doing her share of research on-line and with books, but we are looking for a college counselor/consultant to help direct her with her search of non-traditional colleges. We would also appreciate any feedback from parents and students who have attended any alternative colleges. Thanks! Melissa

My son, who is now a freshman in college, worked with Wendy Morrison, who is fabulous. Our family walked out of the first meeting with Wendy full of energy and optimism. We were all so happy that we had found such a good person who totally understood and appreciated our son's quirks, strengths, learning disabilities, passions and interests. Her depth of knowledge about a wide range of colleges, and respect for all of us was amazing. We know many people who have been equally happy with her.

Her email address is wendymorrison [at] and her phone number is 510-384-5962. She is located in Kensington. I live in Central Contra Costa County and found it worth the drive - but a lot of the work she does with students is by email. I'd contact her right away if I were you. She fills up fast. Good luck! sunhopes

College counselor in Lamorinda area

April 2009

I am looking for a good college counselor in the Lamorinda area, who can provide assistance to an average student. If anyone has any recommendations, I'd be very grateful. Thanks for your help. Allison

My son worked quite successfully with Shelly O'Neill in Lafayette. She is extremely knowledgeable, energetic, has a terrific rapport with students, and really tunes in to individual needs. (Including LD students). Shelly assisted (him) in creating a focus to narrow the list and even added a few suggestions based on the criteria my son required. She set reasonable task lists with specific deadlines to keep the process on track. Shelly does not assist with the essay nor test prep however has wonderful suggestions and resources. I do not know if she is accepting (more) students for the 2009/10 college application process. Try to reach her @ sgo1986 [at] My son was offered admission to four out of six colleges including his top two choices! Good luck! Marcie

I would strongly recommend the college counselor I am working with for my daughter, Ethan Ris. He makes house visits and has been great working with my daughter who is very intelligent but not a top student. He has a website, Ethan's hourly rate was also very reasonable. Erica

College counselor to help sort through the options

Oct 2008

I am looking for a college prep counselor for my daughter who is a junior at Albany High. She asked me to help her find someone who can do some aptitude/interest testing for eventual college/career choices and to help her sort through the options for her college education so she can become more clear about what might be right for her. Any ideas or recommendations? --Diane

I can highly recommend Diane Ruyffelaere. I've been working with her for several years on the BHS College Application Handbook and she really knows both what the colleges are looking for in students (and on applications), and how to help students define what they are looking for in choosing a college. She can work with your daughter on finding several colleges that are good fits for her, on preparing for the SAT and/or ACT tests, and/or on getting that college essay written--before the start of Senior year! She knows her stuff and is super friendly and helpful. She's working with my son right now, and it's making the whole process of just finding a college a lot less stressful now than it was looking a few months ago. She can be reached at druyffelaere [at] Good luck! Nancy

Ellen Lerner is great-- Intelligent, experienced, kind, and resourceful. She is on the North Oakland/Berkeley border, and her phone number is 510-652-7222. --Stephanie, parent of BHS senior

Need smart, sensitive, straight- talking private college admissions counselor

April 2008

I need a recommendation for a smart, sensitive, straight- talking private college admissions counselor who is reasonably priced, for my high school junior child. We know the basics and can research schools. We need someone to help our child with writing essays, staying on task and meeting deadlines, so that Mom isn't always the bad guy. Advice on where to apply (what is a ''safety'', what is a ''reach'') will be helpful as well. We live in Walnut Creek/Lafayette area. I have read previous posts to this list, but would really appreciate up-to-date recommendations. I have heard from too many friends who have been unhappy with the counselor they used. THANKS!! Junior Mom

There is a wonderful private college admissions counselor in Orinda. Her name is Kit Prager and you can reach her at (925) 254-1309. Kit worked with my daughter 4 years ago and she was successful in getting into many schools. Kit was especially good at helping my daughter choose schools to apply to, editing essays and keeping to timelines. She's not inexpensive, but we found her guidence invaluable. sharon

College coach to identify schools to apply to

Jan 2008

Can anyone recommend a college coach to help a junior in high school start to figure out what type/size of schools they should look at. My daughter is an average student with lots of extracurricular activities who has no idea what she wants to study or where to begin the process. She'll be taking the SAT and ACT next month for the first time but we don't know what the next steps are beyond that. She is very busy with sports and her other activities and has asked if we could find someone to help us get organized, focused, and begin to navigate this process. Any recommendations? Thanks!

We are working with a wonderful college coach named Elisabeth Sandberg 510.295.5115. She has worked as a counselor at several schools, most recently at Berkeley High, and has been through the process with her own sons. My daughter has responded really well to her and Elisabeth put a lot of my anxiety about the process to rest. Jill

We worked with a woman in Berkeley named Tami Uecker. She is knowledgeable about many schools around the country, was patient and calm and answered all our questions. She was able to get our son on a schedule with her, so we didn't have to always be nagging. I still edited his essays quite a bit, but she really helped with selecting schools that were a good match for him and where he would be likely to get in (as well as 'safety' and 'reach' schools). I recommend her; you can reach her at tami[at] mom of a high school senior

2006 - 2007 Reviews

Sept 2006

My daughter left for college recently and I'm reminded how enormously helpful her private college counselor, Annissa Hambouz, was in helping her to find a good fit. Annissa has been a private school teacher here and in NYC, relates well to teens, is well organized, creative in her advice and selection of schools and really sees each student as an individual. She has students around the Bay Area, including Marin and the East Bay. annissa[at] (website 415-516-8998

August 2006

I wanted to pass on the name of a fantastic college admissions consultant. Edith Zinn in Berkeley is a former University of Michigan Admissions Officer who worked with our son. She helped him develop a strategy, find a list of schools that were right for him, and then present himself in a way that colleges found attractive. Importantly, Edith is not one of those admissions counselors who works via fancy marketing or a one size fits all formula. She helped our son craft his own strategy. With Edith's help he was admitted at Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, the University of North Carolina, Carleton, and other top tier schools. Edith has been active in the field for at least 20 years and gets her clients via word of mouth. Her phone number is 510 528 0503. She usually books up early for the college admissions season, so it is worth contacting her soon.

Oct 2005

I would recommend Mrs. Judi Flannery who use to work at Holy Names High School. You can reach her at Jpflann99 AT
Former Parent from HNHS

Oct 2005

My daughter is having a very positive college counseling experience with Annissa Hambouz. Ms. Hambouz was a social studies teacher and college counselor at a private school in Marin until this year and is now full time in her own practice. She relates well to teenagers, is well organized, creative in her advice and really sees each student as an individual. She works in Marin and the East Bay. website 415-516-8998

Dec 2005

My daughter is a junior at BHS. We are thinking it would be a good idea to consult an independent college counselor for assistance. I have searched the archives, but found only one or two listings. Does anyone have current advice for me along these lines?

Regarding seeking college counselor: Try Wendy Morrison, 384-5962. Excellent reputation and vivacious, teen loving personality.

We used Sharon Rudnick, at 848-9350, in N. Berkeley, as a college counselor for our son. She was a pleasure to work with, and our son got into every college he applied to. (And got several very good merit scholarships.) She was very good at helping him with his essays. And, most importantly, he enjoyed working with her.

She seems to know her stuff, and she gives the kids lots of information, but also makes them research certain things independently (like she'll come up with a long list of colleges that might meet your child's needs, but then expects your child to send for the initial materials to narrow the list.)

Her hourly fee was reasonable, and ultimately, it didn't cost us that much-. And the hassle we saved in not having to be the ones to edit his work (it's amazing how much easier it is for teens to accept feedback from adults who are not their parents....)made it all worthwhile. Anyway, good luck! barbara

My son and our family have had a very good experience with an excellent college counselor, Wendy Morrison. She was warm, friendly, thorough, very knowledgeable, and very concerned. She can be contacted at wendymorrison AT or 510-384-5962.

Earlier Reviews

College counselor experienced working with homeschoolers

April 2003

I'm looking for recommendations for a college counselor who has specific experience working with homeschoolers and kids who have nontraditional high school experience. I've seen some of the posts on college counselors here, but I'm hoping someone knows of one that works with our particular situation - I have a 16 year old daughter who completed two years of public high school before taking the CHSPE exam and thereby ''testing out'' of high school. This year she is not enrolled in school, but is continuing to pursue academic work through other programs. She is a very high achieving student with great grades and test scores, but we need more information about what she'll need to do to apply to college without a traditional high school background.

homeschool parent

I am a community college counselor. In my discussion with my colleagues we all agree that your daughter would have to follow the Freshman Admission Requirements for UC Applicants if she desires to apply to any UC Campus. Please go to Go to the QUICK SEARCH DROP DOWN MENU and select Freshman Requirements. At this link you can gather all the information as it applies to admission to a UC Campus. Of interest is the Subject Requirements. this information has to do with the (a-f) subject requirements for high school students if they desire to apply to a UC campus ( the yellow box) Also please check out the Eligibility by Examination Only. this may also give her another opportunity for admission to the campus of choice. As you scroll down to the bottom of the Freshman Requirements page, click on the Selection Criteria link and you will be able to gather information regarding the UC applicant profile. As you do have a non traditional situation, please contact the campus of choice throught the office of admission or the Outreach Programs and see if there is a contact person who may have more experience in dealing with non traditional high school graduates. Hope this has given you a start and good luck

Have you checked the website (California Homeschool Assn)? There's a teen section, and in it you should find a link and info re Wes Beach. He's worked with many, many kids who've done alternative things for high school and gone on to college. As the mom of a homeschooler who did go to high school, and is now in the final days of college selection(!), I would suggest visiting as many college campuses as you can, esp. when school is in session. Don't just take the tours, even skip it if you're short on time, but have your daughter sit in on classes and talk to as many kids as possible while she's there. I've embarrassed my kid, but I stop everyone we see and ask all kinds of questions. It's been invaluable. (and she really doesn't mind.) The other thing to do is to meet the dean of admissions - face time is also invaluable. you/she can then describe your situation and ask for advice and recommendations. my daughter was accepted at 11 schools (some very competitive), most of which we were advised she could not get into. I think homeschooling set her somewhat apart (in a positive way), as did the fact that they had a face to go along with the application. try ''small colleges that change lives'' by loren pope. good luck and feel free to email me. and if your daughter is not quite ready to do tthe touring thing, call admissions yourself and ask for help. most (except uc's) will be happy to help you. peggy


To the parent(s) looking for a college counselor: If you can't find a local counselor who is available, as a back-up you might check out the college(s) that you attended. My alma mater has a free college-counseling service for alumni who are parents of college applicants. The service is available regardless of where the student wants to apply for college, and it can be given by e-mail, phone, or in person. I have gotten some useful information and advice from the counselor who administers that service. Juliann

If you want to discuss college, I suggest the newgroup. The posts tend to be about the more selective colleges. Achieva offered us a free introductory meeting during which they tried to make us as nervous as possible about getting into college.

From Tim
Two well-regarded private counselors in Berkeley are Trish Hawthorne and Dan Dean. I don't have direct experience with either of them myself, but both are friends and very good people. Dan is a retired BHS counselor. I believe they are both in the phone book (white pages).

Sept 2000

I highly recommend Barbara Manierre (464-1056). She brings enthusiasm and good humor to the college application process plus a wealth of first hand knowledge about schools, a high level of organization, and great editing skills. By setting up writing deadlines, she was able to get my 'leave it to the last minute' son to work on multiple drafts of his essays and reduce the overall anxiety of the process considerably.

I sent my daughter to a private college counselor . The college application process can be so overwhelming and she benefited by their counsel and they took their time and they were extremely helpful. Name: Walker and Walker and they live in Kensington. Their phone number is in the phone book. Good luck!

Two years ago we had an excellent experience helping our niece with a college counselor - Edth Zinn in Berkeley. Our niece is now a sophmore at Bard College in New York- her first choice. She was raisied by a terrific single dad (my brother) and needed help with applications, essays, and choice of colleges to visit - as well as interview coaching. Mrs. Zinn was very wise, expereinced in contacting admissions offices for infromation and scheduling and supportive. We plan you use her again when our son is ready in a few years. She also has a partner who i hear is vey good as well.

From Cassandra
Wonderful, thoughtful, knowledgeble, many years experience, specializes in educational advice including finding & choosing a college - Ms. Carol Goodell, Ph. D. (650) 345-7814 fax 650-570-5904

Sept 2000

Our experience with Jim and Dot Walker was unbelievable. Jim was head counsellor and principal at Albany High for many years, and organizes the college fair at St. Mary's every year - with hundreds of colleges from across the nation. They offer group classes for parents as well as individual counseling and even college tours. They know all the admissions officers and campuses and they understand the individuality of each kid - where they're coming from, where they want to go. They are incredibly supportive all along the way, and were a huge help with the tensions, insecurities, and overwhelming anxiety of the whole process. In the end, they were able to gently steer us toward some schools we might not otherwise have considered - and my daughter got in everywhere she applied. Call Walker, Walker & Assoc. :510-527-1930. Sally (9/00)