About Me

fullsizeoutput_ecMy focus here is on larger issues in the college admission world. See my column about college admission directed at parents and students at Forbes.com.

I have over thirty years’ experience as a high school English and theater teacher, college counselor, and college admission officer (Amherst College). Since 2007 I have worked with underserved students and the teachers/counselors who serve them. In May 2011 I became Program Director at Chicago Scholars. In January 2014 I left to develop a community-based program providing free college information and counseling to low-income and first generation-college  students. I currently consult with different groups.

I conduct independent research about college admission, bringing my experience on both sides of the desk to bear when I write or provide counsel. My background in anthropology and theater helps me understand cultural differences and speak comfortably to many different audiences.

I’ve helped community groups and schools including Chicago Scholars, La Casa Norte, Casa Central, the Korean-American Resource and Cultural Center, Latinos Progresando, and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, understand the college admission process so they can help their students plan for college success.

I’ve written for NACAC‘s blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues’, here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times‘s blog, The Choice. I’ve been published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Journal of College Admission and other periodicals, and have been quoted in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. I contributed a chapter about writing the college application essay to NACAC’s 3rd edition of its college counseling textbook. You can follow me at Forbes.com, where I write a column about college admission. I’ve been a featured speaker or panelist at many conferences around the country.

Chicago is now my home but I’ve lived in New Orleans; Princeton, NJ; Pottstown, PA; Baton Rouge, and Amherst, MA. I received my BA from Amherst College and an MA from Princeton University in anthropology as well as an MA in theater from Northwestern University.

When I’m not immersed in the college admission process, I’m reading, exploring Chicago, at the movies or theater, or traveling. I tutor high school students from underserved communities. I am currently writing a book about college admission that will be out when I’ve finished it and found someone willing to edit and publish it.

I have a limited number of private clients, whom I see by referral only.

12 thoughts on “About Me

  1. In your article “Listen Up, Parents!” you mention an episode of “Leave it to Beaver.” I would like to show a clip of that in my senior/parent college night as I am having a section for parents. Can you please tell me which episode and season it’s from? Or, do you know the episode title? I have tried to find it on YouTube, but there are too many.

    Thank you for your help.


  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « College Counseling Culture

  3. Will,
    I work at a college in the Boston area. Do you know of financial sources like your list of scholarships for the Northeast?

    Do you know John Pendleton, Amherst ’58?
    Thank you


    • Hi Cindy– Thanks for your question; unfortunately I don’t have a list that’s specific to the Northeast. I can do a little digging and see if you like.

      The name John Pendleton sounds familiar but I don’t know one from ’58. I think there might have been a JP in or around my Class of 1977…


  4. Dear Will,
    I was a counselor for CPS, and lost my position due to recent budget cuts. I have been advised to pursue independent college counseling. I would tremendously appreciate the opportunuty to learn from you.
    Which book would be the ideal starting point to research the college admissions process?
    Thank you for your time and consideration,


  5. Hey Will… Bob Johnson. Remember me from way back when? You connected me with St. Alban’s in D.C. That lasted for three wonderful summers. And I have a story that I’d love to email you about an experience there…


  6. Hi Will, I am a new fan who discovered you on the NACAC list serve (I just completed courses for a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA Extension). I live in an Idaho, on the Washington border. I am part of a CBO called Palouse Pathways which provides college and career resources and inspiration to families (many rural and low income, all out of the college info loop). I would love to chat with you some time about the best relationships I can cultivate to help our Palouse students. You can find out more on our blog https://palousepathways.wordpress.com/ or our website palousepathways.org. I look forward to speaking with you if you’ve got the time!
    Peggy Jenkins


  7. Seems we had more in common than I realized when I met you in 1997 (I too spent many hours instructing West Philly teens in the intricacies of elite college financial aid, etc. while I was attending Penn). Thanks for letting me crash on your sofa due to the snow. That, and the evening I spent at Marsh with its fascinating inhabitants, were my first impressions of Amherst. (Oh, and the shitty weather.) Thanks as well for going out of your way to let me know why I was rejected the first time, and I guess you know that I did end up going to Amherst the following fall once I had another semester of credits under my belt to keep Mager from from gagging, but you seemed to have left by the time I arrived. But I would not have tried again if not for your efforts to let me know that my rejection was due to him rejecting my Paris credits and not due to an admissions committee decision. Let’s get back in touch, if you are so inclined. I am not offended if you don’t remember me. (My name is Caleb.)


    • Hi, Caleb– I’ve recently signed back on to my site and read your message. Thanks for getting in touch. I had forgotten about our meeting but I’m glad things turned out well for you. I did leave Amherst in 1998 to come to Chicago for what’s been kind of a roller coaster life–ups and downs but exciting all the way. If you’re so inclined, write back and fill me in on what you’ve been doing!


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