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Our Story

Since 1999...

Kevin McMullin founded Collegewise in Irvine, California, in 1999 using his last paycheck from his previous job. He worked with nine students that fall at their kitchen tables to help them find the right colleges and complete their applications.

A Different Kind of College Counseling

For too many families, the college admissions process was scary, stressful, and unsuccessful. Kevin wanted to give Collegewise families the opposite experience. It worked. One year later, over 100 families were enrolled in the Collegewise program, and Kevin was no longer the only counselor.

collegewise office

Growing Our Company One Customer at a Time

In the years that followed, we refined our Collegewise system and slowly grew our company with additional offices, driven by word of mouth from families who were thankful that we’d taken the stress out of the process and helped them achieve their goals. We hired counselors who kids liked and parents trusted. We turned our offices into a place where every family left feeling even better than they did when they arrived.

Collegewise Today

Almost 20 years after Kevin met with his first student at a kitchen table in Southern California, Collegewise has become the nation’s largest college counseling organization. With over 40 counselors banding together, we’re out to change the way that families approach the college admissions process. We think this should be an exciting time for students and parents, not a stressful, anxiety-ridden, cardiac arrest-inducing rite of passage. Whether you hire one of our counselors, read our book, or just browse our blog (where we give away free advice every day), we’re going to be there injecting sanity and perspective into the process.

Meet Our Leaders

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    Chelsea Block

    Managing Director

    After graduating from the University of Michigan, Chelsea got her master’s degree in education from USC and a certificate in college admissions counseling from UCLA. She also worked as a counseling intern at Beckman High School and Tarbut V’Torah Jewish Community Day School. At Collegewise, Chelsea oversees our essay team and is the Managing Director of our Orange County counselors.

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    Joel Block

    Managing Partner

    Joel studied finance and accounting at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He then enjoyed an almost decade-long career with global giant Credit Suisse and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Vice President of Fixed Income on their trading floor. While he may sound like a stereotypically numbers-focused CFO, Joel spends his free time rooting for his beloved Wolverines with his wife Chelsea and daughters Perry and Gillian.

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    Paul Kanarek

    Managing Partner

    Given Paul’s academic record in high school, his mother would be the first to tell you that there wasn’t the remotest chance of his launching a career in education. Paul proved her wrong when he co-founded the California branch of The Princeton Review in 1983. Now that Paul is all-Collegewise, all the time, he is practically giddy at the opportunity to help families genuinely enjoy finding a great college fit.

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    Allison Lopour

    Managing Director

    Since joining Collegewise in 2007, Allison has personally helped over 500 students find and apply to the right colleges. She is also a Managing Director at Collegewise, a Collegewise Master Counselor who trains new hires, and the Professional Development Chair on the WACAC Executive Board. A 2005 graduate of the University of Redlands, Allison spent two years as a Redlands admissions officer and personally reviewed over 1,000 college applications. Allison enjoys watching bad TV and spending time with her husband and their daughter.

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    Kevin McMullin

    Managing Partner

    Kevin founded Collegewise in 1999 and did all the counseling himself for the first 18 months. He is the author of If the U Fits: Expert Advice on Finding the Right College and Getting Accepted, and pens at least one entry every day on the Collegewise blog. A graduate of UC Irvine with majors in English and history where he answered, “What will you do with THOSE majors?” approximately 783 times, Kevin also has a college counseling certificate from UCLA.

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    Katie Konrad Moore

    Managing Director

    Katie owns and runs our Bellevue, Washington office, where she has helped more than 500 students get accepted to the right colleges. Katie is a graduate of Colgate University and a former collegiate softball pitcher. She also has a certificate in college admissions counseling from UCLA, is one of our Collegewise Master Counselors, and was awarded our first Collegewise Counselor of the Year.

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    Arun Ponnusamy

    Managing Partner

    Arun is regarded as one of America’s foremost admissions experts. He evaluated the files of over 7,500 seniors through nine application cycles for three highly selective colleges: the University of Chicago (his alma mater), Caltech, and UCLA. Since joining Collegewise, Arun has guided hundreds of students into their dream colleges. He also conducts professional development sessions and speaks at seminars attended by thousands of families annually.

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    Elizabeth Waite

    Chief Marketing Officer

    A graduate of Arizona State University, Elizabeth spent ten years working in marketing for two startup companies and The Princeton Review before founding her own marketing company, SwellSpeak. When she’s not tirelessly flexing her marketing muscles as Collegewise’s CMO, you can find Elizabeth training for triathlons and marathons and spending time with her nephew.