December News for Friends and Family

Slo2 College Tours

The Irvine counseling quartet of Jennifer, Margot, Allison and Kyle recently returned from a tour of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Santa Barbara and UWT (the University of Wine Tasting, which was their favorite of the three, by the way).

UCSB alumn Kyle proved to be an adept tour guide for her alma mater, as the counselors are now able to point out the best chili dog stand, the most ideal spot for beach tanning, and of course, the best field for weekend mud football. 

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November News for Friends and Family

Suite_240_3 The New-and-Improved Collegewise Los Angeles is Open for Business

In spite of a lack of significant photographic evidence to substantiate this claim, we really do have a new office space in Los Angeles. It’s big and beautiful with windows and offices and we can’t wait to show it off on our blog and in person.


We’re still working on more photographs.  Arun has spent quite a bit of time agonizing over where to hang each individual college pennant and poster, if they should be arranged by color or college conference, and whether or not posters should be framed (and if so, with or without backing?–so many decisions!). In the interim, he didn’t want us taking pictures until those decorations are hung in the office with care.

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October News for Friends and Family

Parke Back from NACAC

Kevin, Arun and Alex enjoyed our stay at the annual NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling Conference).  Some people get excited about seeing Angelina Jolie or Leonardo DiCaprio on the street, but NACAC lets us meet and learn from people like Parke Muth (at left), an admissions officer from University of Virginia and the inventor of the McEssay analogy we’ve cited hundreds of times in our Collegewise essay seminars.  His session for counselors about writing letters of recommendation was standing room only.  We caught up with Lloyd Thacker from the Education Conservancy (at right) whom we’ve really come to like and admire for his organization’s efforts to remove Lloyd_5 commercial interference in college admissions.  And most importantly, we were able to spend time with admissions officers and counselors who over the years have become friends as well as colleagues.


The best part about NACAC is that we’re annually reminded just how many smart, good people there are  working in the world of college admissions, and how sincerely they all want to do the right thing for kids.

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September News for Friends and Family

Erikscake20032 Happy Birthday to Us

Collegewise celebrated our 8th birthday on August 16, as it was exactly eight years ago that Kevin officially submitted the "Doing Business As" paperwork to County Clerk’s office in Orange County.  Since that day back in 1999, we’ve helped over 2,000 kids apply to college, and Collegewise students have attended over 500 colleges in nearly 40 states.      

We celebrated with a dinner out together and were joined by Arun and Jessica from the LA office.  We know that might seem like a fairly reserved celebration, but the birthday event took place on a Thursday night.  And when you work with high school kids, Thursdsay nights are school nights, no matter how old we get. 

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News for Friends and Family…

New faces in the Collegewise crowd

There was a time not that long ago when we used to imagine what it would be like to have admissions officers leave their posts and come to work with us.  Then Arun joined us in 2004 from Caltech and Christina from the SUNY system in 2005.  And this week, we were lucky enough to add the most recent additions to our Southern California offices–college counselors Allison Cummings from the University of Redlands and Jessica Schattgen from Whittier College.

Allison will join Collegewise – Irvine while Jessica will work with Arun in our Los Angeles office.   

And Collegewise – NY’s Alex Weiner has added a few more desks to his offices to accommodate his most recent additions–college counselors Carly Amodio and Breda Malfesi.

They’re all smart, funny, and frankly, quite pleasant to be around.  We’re really excited to have them with us.

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August News for Friends and Family…

Img_0210 Happy Graduation
Collegewise counselors Jessica Schattgen (Los Angeles) and Allison Cummings (Irvine) recently completed our five-week college counselor training that culminates in a two-day final exam, an exam on which they both earned the highest scores ever recorded since we began our training program in nearly five years ago.   

To celebrate, the Irvine crew traveled north to Los Angeles for a congratulatory dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing them put their admissions experience (and their curve setting final performance) to work helping kids get into college.

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Standing Room(s) Only

Img_0189_2We’re in day #2 of our visit to the annual WACAC (Western Association for College Admissions Counseling) conference being held at the University of San Diego this year.  As of the penning of this blog, Arun and Kevin have finished their presentations ("College Admissions 101 for New High School Counselors" and "Solutions for the College Counseling Workplace") and did so to standing room only crowds.  Whether or not those standing room only crowds enjoyed the sessions remains to be seen for sure until the conference evaluations are submitted, but Kevin and Arun are telling themselves that they were funny, charming, and even informative.  Arun actually had an admissions officer from USC tell him after his session that his information was "right on point," so that was a nice piece of feedback.   

This picture at the left is Arun commanding the room during his session.  Kevin will be asking the rest of the Collegewisers why nobody bothered to photograph him and will reveal their answer in a blog entry to come.   

June News for Friends and Family…

Elisabeth_awardOur new little “Collegewise News for Friends and Family” section of
our blog is for those readers who really want to know what we’ve been up to around our offices. Yes, the section could probably be more aptly named, “For our Mothers” as they’re likely the only ones who will read it regularly. But as we all want to make our mothers proud, we thank the rest of our readers in advance for allowing us to update our moms here.

150 kids and counting

Collegewise essay specialist Elisabeth Abbott is beginning her fourth senior season with us this year. And we figured that anyone who’s helped over 150 kids with college essays, and done it so amazing well, deserves a little extra appreciation.  So we declared May 19, 2007 “Elisabeth Appreciation Night” and enjoyed a great meal together in Los Angeles.

The plaque Elisabeth is holding in the photo has the names of the more than 150 kids with whom she’s worked, kids who are now enrolled in over 70 different colleges across the country.

New Essay Specialists

Speaking of appreciating essay specialists, we’re very appreciative of the three new ones who will be joining us in the Orange County Office this summer. We thought we’d let them introduce themselves by sharing snippets from their (brilliant) cover letters they submitted to us. Needless to say, as a company of writers and grammar snobs, we know they’re going to fit right in and help a lot of kids get into college this fall.

Amy Lovin

While I read many “great” books as an undergrad (in terms of philosophy as well as sheer volume), my most beloved remains the small, short, almost pamphlet-like Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Their easy-to-follow, yet quick-witted, guide to all things grammatical should be required reading, especially for all of those truck drivers carting around “flammable” cargo. Editor’s note: Go here for Strunk and & White’s explanation of flammable vs. inflammable.College_essay_specialists

Drew Wood
I will change the face of the college essay. I will play the
game. I will adapt. I will laugh. I will cry. I will show those
admissions people. I will be selfless. I will remain selfish. I will be available when you need me. I will be nice. I will be ruthless. I will not steal paper clips. I will not waste Wite-Out. I will be the thorn in your side. I will be the light of your life. I will make my mom proud. I will shame my family. I will be the best essay-man that Collegewise has ever seen. I will be modest. I will be humble. I will be better than this. I will be waiting. 

Mamie Cosentino
I’m the girl who shields young children’s eyes as they pass the shop around the corner, not because the items displayed in the window case are overpriced or inappropriate, but because the sign above the door reads “Jean’s Gift’s.” (Yes, it really does.) 

Off to San Diego

And finally, we’re headed to the annual WACAC (Western Association for College Admissions Counseling) conference in San Diego this week and we have to admit that we’re pretty excited about it. We always enjoy chatting with admissions officers and learning as much as we can. And for the third consecutive year, Kevin and Arun are each presenting workshops at the conference.  For our Collegewise cohorts, attendance at their sessions is mandatory and heckling is prohibited (at least until after the sessions are finished).

Until next month…