Kevin McMullin

Founder & President

Kevin started Collegewise in 1999 and did all the counseling himself for the first 18 months (he also feels awkward penning this bio about himself in the third person but will just forge ahead). Today, Kevin trains our new counselors, preaches the Collegewise way of doing things, and writes at least one entry every day on the Collegewise blog. He is also the author of If the U Fits: Expert Advice on Finding the Right College and Getting Accepted, and pens pedantic company guidelines that have reportedly been read by several people. A graduate of UC Irvine with majors in English and history where he answered, “What are you going to do with THOSE majors?“ approximately 783 times, Kevin also has a college counseling certification from UCLA. Those collective educational credentials mean that Kevin has successfully managed to avoid doing a single math problem since 1989. When he’s not speaking, writing, and steadfastly avoiding numbers, Kevin enjoys running half-marathons, using half-marathon running as an excuse to enjoy beer and pizza, and spending time with his wife, Rosie, and young son, Ryan.

Paul Kanarek


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. While the family matriarch was entirely correct about that whole running with sharp objects thing, Paul proved her wrong about the learnin’ and teachin’ stuff when he co-founded the California branch of The Princeton Review in 1983. These multiple decades later, Paul—who clearly enjoys referring to himself in the 3rd person objective voice—still believes that his work is a glorious amalgam of relevance, challenge, joy and purpose. 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. When not using words like “amalgam“ in normal converse, you will find Paul reading science fiction claptrap, writing for ESPN’s soccer website, and challenging conventional notions of appropriate fashion choices.

Arun Ponnusamy

Vice President & Head Counselor

Arun is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable college counselors and admissions experts in the United States. As an admissions officer, he evaluated the files of over 7,500 high school seniors and read approximately 20,000 college essays. Here’s how it worked: he was an assistant director of admissions for five years at the University of Chicago (his alma mater). Arun then held the same post for two years at Caltech and spent another two reading for UCLA. That’s nine application cycles for three highly selective colleges—experiences that have given Arun a level of deep expertise matched by few in the world. Since joining Collegewise, Arun has guided hundreds of students into their dream colleges through thoughtful one-on-one work. He also conducts professional development for high school teachers and counselors in addition to speaking at seminars that are attended by thousands of students and parents annually. In recent years, Arun has also presented at the National Association of College Admission Counseling Conference and the College Board’s Forum, as well as at events throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. His love of frequent flyer miles is matched only by his love of Ohio State football, astronomy, and an invigorating hike to the top of a mountain.

Joel Block

CFO & Head of International Business

Joel studied finance and accounting at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business while minoring in statistics. He then enjoyed an almost decade-long career with global giant Credit Suisse in New York City and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Vice President of Fixed Income on their trading floor. Joel specialized in interest rate derivatives, U.S. Treasuries, repo, and mortgage-backed securities (his business partners on this same webpage don’t understand a single syllable of that, by the way). In addition to his success in the finance world, Joel has served as a consultant to a number of businesses throughout the United States, assisting with financial analysis, sales, and negotiations along with consulting on a number of real estate projects. While he may sound like a stereotypically numbers-focused CFO, Joel can tell you where every NBA player went to college, and he knows the vast majority of college mascots. That last tidbit is not surprising considering that Joel was both smart and lucky enough to marry his Michigan Wolverine college sweetheart, Chelsea Block, a Collegewise counselor in our Irvine, California, office. When Joel isn’t rooting for his beloved Wolverines, you can find him and Chelsea spending time with their daughters, Perry and Gillian.