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Why The college coaches
Because this is one game you've got to win!
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Our Philosophy

“Each youngster is different. As a coach, you get to know what they need.”

– Coach K

How We Work

Jennifer KardianJennifer Kardian
16:31 14 Oct 22
Kathleen is the "College Whisperer". We were so fortunate to have her guide our daughter through the college search and application process. She has such a knack for relating to your student and keeping this very stressful time lighter. She is a fantastic resource with solid advice on narrowing potential colleges down and finding the best match for the student. We were impressed by how much she knows about schools all over the country. Kathleen is also an ace at helping with college essays. Her guidance and feedback lets the student's voice shine. If we had another child to send to college, we would definitely team up with Kathleen and The College Coaches again but, since we don't, we'll have to settle for happily and wholeheartedly recommending their services.
Devra CornellDevra Cornell
14:29 29 Aug 22
Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow and The College Coaches are top notch! Navigating the daunting college search process is no easy task for parents and students. Kathleen helped us narrow down the search to a manageable sized list and provided exceptional advice to ensure we were identifying colleges that were well-suited for our son. Her feedback and guidance with the essay writing was also incredibly helpful. A five star rating doesn't do justice to the professional and personalized service we received!
Calla ONeilCalla ONeil
01:30 12 Aug 22
The College Coaches heavily influenced my college process in the most positive way. As the oldest sibling in my family, I was the first one to apply to college, so we didn’t know a lot about the college process and it seemed very overwhelming. Mrs. Byers and Ms. Glynn Sparrow worked tirelessly with me to lay out a manageable timeline to complete the application process, and always made themselves available to answer any questions or talk through any concerns I had along the way. In addition, Mr. Schneider was amazing as I wrote my college essays, giving specific and crucial feedback both asynchronously and when we would meet live. It was so great to have someone giving feedback on my writing who not only supported me directionally and helped me pick topics to write about that would aid my application the most, but also who is so detail-oriented and could assist with grammar and word choice. I can happily say that this Fall I will be attending the perfect school for me, and I don’t think I would be here without the three of them!
JiaJia FuJiaJia Fu
21:15 11 Aug 22
The college coaches were all supportive, connected with schools, and efficient throughout the process. Ms Byers and Mr Schneider were both very helpful and experienced in tweaking the logistics of applications and essays respectively. Thank you for helping me!
Stacy GraebnerStacy Graebner
19:47 15 Jul 22
Working with Kathleen was such a pleasure! She draws from a wealth of knowledge and experience and provides excellent guidance to help students target schools where they will thrive academically and socially. Her positive energy, humor and encouragement made the application process less daunting for our son. Highly recommend!
Sue GoldbergSue Goldberg
11:32 11 Jul 22
We worked with Kathleen to help us navigate the college process for two of our children. She was exceptional in helping both of them to identify schools that were a good fit, helping with their essays and supporting us through the application process. We could not be happier with her and where our kids ended up! Highly recommend The College Coaches!
Jim GersteinJim Gerstein
19:16 08 Jul 22
Kathleen has made our son's college search process a major success. She quickly connected with him and helped him navigate all stages of this exciting and challenging process. We especially appreciate her making this important (and potentially stressful) experience fun for our son and entire family. We could not be happier with Kathleen and strongly recommend working with her!
Kim DanielsKim Daniels
19:15 08 Jul 22
Kathleen is excellent: thoughtful, engaging, and great with kids (and parents!) She has terrific experience and knows so much about the college application process, and really helped our family navigate through it. We couldn't have done it without her. We loved working with Kathleen and recommend her highly.
Chesney LynchChesney Lynch
18:20 30 May 22
Four years ago, Ms. Sparrow assisted me in my college application process. I have just graduated from the University of Georgia and I must attribute my college acceptances to her nonstop support during those months leading up to the deadlines. She sat with me for hours drafting my essays and teaching me how to apply to these colleges in an effective way. I was so lucky to have her in the process and I truly believe without her it would have been a difficult journey. I was always told the applications were the most brutal part of junior and senior year of high school, but she changed that for me. It was a smooth process and I was excited for every meeting with her! Thank you again Ms. Sparrow for everything!
Patty LynchPatty Lynch
19:12 28 May 22
Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow was just what we needed for my son! She has great energy, was engaging, and gave us valuable tips. Thanks so much. Will applied to 5 appropriate schools for his abilities and was accepted to 4 and wait-listed at 1. He received scholarships at 3 schools. Will's final choice was Providence College, a perfect fit for him. Thanks Kathleen.
Margarita HeningerMargarita Heninger
16:58 28 May 22
Kathleen helped our daughter through many phases of application process. All sessions were done virtually, and our daughter instantly felt comfortable with her. We always overheard laughter during their productive sessions. We highly recommend Kathleen. She is genuine, professional and clearly knowledgeable. Thanks again!
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Services

Game Plan

Our family meetings result in big picture understanding and is the best way to start.

College Essays

Brainstorm unique ideas and draw out details in your voice ensure the essay is a winner!

College Lists

Matching personalities, skills, and lifestyle traits to the right school.

Common Application

Bring your activities to life with concise action verbs and ensure app is error-free.

Supplemental Essays

Often overlooked and uninspiring. Frequently the most important! Get help!

College Visits

Optimize your visits with a balanced list, ask relevant questions, document details.

Activities and Course Selection

Methods for finding your passion! Productive summers and academic advising.

Financial and Merit Aid Advising

Explain and review FAFSA and CSS Profile. Advise on aid and merit opportunities.

Interview Practice & Tips

Get prepared with practice and inside tips for success.

Head Coaches

Click on any Coach to learn more.

Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow

Founder and General Manager
Expert In
Reducing Stress
Creating Game Plans
College Lists
Neurodiverse Students
Experience
25 Years
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Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow

Founder and General Manager

Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow has spent over 25 years in school leadership positions and counseling families about the college process. 

Kathleen works with families at the start of the process to develop a game plan tailored to the student.  She advises students on developing a balanced college list (she has visited nearly 200 campuses).  She has established a professional rapport with a host of college representatives over the years and remains current by attending college admission events and webinars. 

“Kathleen has made our son’s college search process a major success. She quickly connected with him and helped him navigate all stages of this exciting and challenging process. We especially appreciate her making this important (and potentially stressful) experience fun for our son and entire family. We could not be happier with Kathleen and strongly recommend working with her!” 

-Jim Gerstein

Two highlights of Kathleen’s career include a publication for which she received a grant and a presentation at a national conference. She is the co-author of Sex, Drugs, and the S.A.T., Getting out of High School and Getting in to College (available on Amazon.com), and presented at the National Association of Independent Schools Conference on “Stressed-out Students are the New Normal: How Educators Can Alleviate Anxiety.”  Kathleen accepted invitations to serve on two advisory boards: Quinnipiac University and Widener University. 

Kathleen also has firsthand knowledge of the local high schools. She has worked with most public and private high schools in the DC/MD/VA area. Her daughter, Maddie graduated from Stone Ridge and most recently graduated from Duke University (Class of 2021). Her son Aidan graduated from The McLean School of Potomac and is attending the University of Miami as a sophomore. Her husband George is a technology consultant and manages all internal functions for The College Coaches as our COO. Her dog Stella doesn’t do much. 😉  Schedule a meeting with Kathleen.

Experience

  • The College Coaches (23 yrs)
  • Dir. College Counseling, McLean School 
  • Assoc. Dir. College Counseling and Head of English Dept, Stone Ridge
  • Dir. College Counseling, St. Andrew’s Episcopal
  • Taught neurodiverse students at The Ben Franklin Academy

Education

  • B.A. English/French, Duke University
  • M.Ed. Teaching HS English, Emory University
  • Harvard Admissions Institute

Becky Bowlby

Head Coach
Expert In
Financial Aid
Creating Game Plans
Essay Coaching
International Schools
Experience
45 Years
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Becky Bowlby

Head Coach

Becky Bowlby has thirty years of college admission and fifteen years of college counseling experience.

Becky loves to work with students and families about all things relating to college, from creating a college list, to brainstorming essays ideas, to strategies surrounding financial aid and especially exploration of international admission. Because of her extensive background in both admissions and counseling, Becky has formed a national and international network of colleagues from both sides of the desk. Her straightforward manner and sense of humor help to make students and families feel at ease.

“<My daughter> gets off her zooms with you and tells me how much she loves you. I’m so glad we had you to help us pull it all together (without her getting upset with me.)”  L.M.

Becky served in a variety of leadership roles in the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC) including President, Conference Planning Chair 6 times, Treasurer, Chair of Admission Practices Committee, Chair of College Fairs Committee, Dean of the Summer Institute to name a few! Becky won the highest award given by PACAC, the Delwin K. Gustafson Award for Excellent Service to PACAC. Becky presents annually at the PACAC Conference and served as the mentor for the Conference Planning Chairs in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Becky created and launched the first Women’s Empowerment Workshop on Zoom in 2021 and the first in-person two- day workshop was held prior to the PACAC Annual Conference in 2022. At the 2022 conference, Becky was awarded Emeritus Membership status for her service to the organization.

In addition, Becky has been very active in the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) serving in several leadership roles there as well. Becky was the Co-Director of the Admission Middle Management Institute, Co-Director of the Leadership Development Institute, and member of the Finance and Budget Committee. She was also the Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the annual conference held in Pittsburgh a few years ago. She frequently presents at the annual NACAC conferences. At the 2021 conference, Becky was awarded the Rising Star Award from NACAC for her participation as a panelist in the PACAC lunchtimes series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Becky lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and is the mother of two daughters, Lauren and Marissa, who live nearby, as well as the Mimi of Wyatt, age 11 and Blake,2. She loves most sports but especially college basketball is a diehard Villanova fan! Go Cats!  Schedule a meeting with Becky

Experience

  • Dir. College Counseling, Lower Merion School District
  • College Counselor, Cheltenham High School
  • Director of Admission at Immaculata University
  • Senior Assoc. Dir. Admission, Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University, and  Montgomery County (PA) Community College

Education

  • B.A. Sociology and Religion, Wagner College
  • M.S. Higher Education Counseling, West Chester University
  • Secondary Certification in Counseling, West Chester University

Barbara K. Hancock

Head Coach
Expert In
Creating Game Plans
Essay Coaching
Transfer Students
Experience
15 Years
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Barbara K. Hancock

Head Coach

Barbara Hancock is known for her warm and forthright manner, strategic advice, attention to detail, and strong advocacy for her students. 

Barbara has helped hundreds of students tell their stories in their college applications and interviews.  At Marks Education, she led the firm’s transfer admission practice. During her tenure as the Director of College Counseling at Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, she transitioned the school to digital submission of transcripts and recommendation letters, wrote the college counseling handbook, oversaw the yearbook staff, and served on the administrative team. At The Potomac School, Barbara was instrumental in developing new informational programs to help demystify the college admission process for students and parents; she also served as an academic advisor, admissions interviewer, and member of the Cultural Competence Leadership Team.

“Working with Barbara Hancock was a privilege and a delight. Barbara demystified the college application process for our family and helped make it an exciting time of self-discovery for our student. She helped our child put together a balanced list of schools, suggested colleges we had not previously considered, and helped us understand the complex application process. Barbara’s unparalleled editing skills helped with content, clarity, word counts, and grammar, while ensuring college essays remained in our child’s authentic voice. The fantastic rapport she built with our son resulted in a student who felt confident and empowered during his path to college. We would highly recommend Barbara for anyone seeking expert guidance on the college process coupled with a healthy, positive, and insightful approach.”

-Parents from The Potomac School

Barbara keeps current with the ever-changing college admissions landscape and has a penchant for research and data. Active in several professional associations, she was twice chair of the Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling’s (PCACAC) Summer Institute and has presented at conferences and workshops on topics ranging from recommendation writing to athletic recruiting to secrets of highly selective admissions. Over the course of her career, she has forged strong relationships with colleagues on both the counseling and admissions sides of the desk. Barbara and Kathleen met through the Washington Area Independent Schools (WAIS) college counselor group and have attended local counselor events and campus visits together over the years.

A graduate of National Cathedral School, Barbara is raising her two daughters near a network of family in the McLean area. She and her husband met at the University of Virginia and are avid sports fans, particularly when it comes to cheering for the ‘Hoos. In her free time, Barbara enjoys playing tennis and reading.  

Favorite customer quote (from a Potomac School parent in 2022):

Schedule a meeting with Barbara.

Experience

  • Assoc. Dir. College Counseling, The Potomac School
  • Dir. College Counseling, Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy
  • College Counselor, Marks Education
  • Admissions reader,  Swarthmore College and American University

Education

  • B.A. English, University of Virginia
  • M.A. English & American Literature, Georgetown University (Graduate fellow in writing center)

Greg Schneider

Head Coach, Essay Writing
Expert In
Essay Coaching
Supplemental Essays
Common Application
Writing
Experience
20 Years
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Greg Schneider

Head Coach, Essay Writing

Greg Schneider  was recently the Department Chair of the English and Literature Department at The McLean School of Maryland and now works as a Head Coach for our College Essay service.  

Some of Greg’s favorite students’ college admissions essays have been about ducks, hair, juvenile delinquency, party franks, and broken crockery. All were memorable, funny, and unique. And successful. Greg knows that crafting the perfect college admissions essay is about the process of distilling a student’s ideas and presenting a cogent and compelling narrative about that student’s abilities, accomplishments, ambitions, and aspirations. Greg enjoys shepherding students through the writing process and showing them that writing is the foundation of communication, a means of creative expression, and a powerful tool for success. 

“Greg, Thank you so much for your help and guidance today, looking forward to when we next meet! You were such an awesome help.”  K.M.

Greg has worked for many years with upper school students in the humanities. He is also an executive function coach and a writing tutor. Greg works extensively with students guiding them in crafting their college admissions essays and has written a blog titled “Writing the Perfect College Admissions Essay” for The McLean School website. 

Greg has worked in education and the arts all of his life. He has written and published for art journals and newspapers on modern and contemporary art, film, theatre, and books, as well as interviewing and writing about internationally renowned artists, curators, and museum directors.  Schedule a meeting with Greg.

Experience

  • Department Chair, English and Literature, McLean School 
  •  Administrator and teacher, Cirque du Soleil
  • Director, actor, and stage manager for professional and community theatre

Education

  • B.F.A. Theatre Arts, University of Montana
  • M.A. Art History, University of Oregon
  • M.S. Education, Nova Southeastern University. 

Caroline Sanders Byers

Head Coach
Expert In
Common Application
High School Apps
Creating Game Plans
Experience
16 Years
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Caroline Sanders Byers

Head Coach

Caroline Sanders Byers most recently served as a College Counselor at The McLean School of Maryland. She seamlessly worked with seniors to complete their application process and helped launch the juniors into the beginning of their process. At Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in PA, Caroline spent time in both the admission and college counseling offices. As Associate Director of College Counseling, she worked with seniors and created a comprehensive program for 9th through 11th grade students before they formally entered the college process. The program encouraged younger students to be more proactive in their decision-making about opportunities in high school.

a month ago
 
I applied to universities in the United States (as a Questbridge scholarship recipient), England, the Netherlands, and South Korea for the 2022-2023 school year. Mrs. Caroline Byers was immensely helpful during my application process, especially as a first-generation college student. I’m very grateful for her seamless communication between me and the schools I applied to, both in the US and internationally. Mrs. Byers and The College Coaches team were present every step of the way.

Caroline also served as the Director of College Counseling at Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac, MD where she was able to visit over 25 colleges in a two-year period. Having first-hand experience in seeing so many colleges allowed her to be a better adviser to the girls of Holy Child. She also taught chemistry, earth science and conceptual physics at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, MD. 

Caroline lives in Carlisle, PA, with her husband, two boys and one rescue pup.  In her spare time, she likes to tend to her garden, walk her dog while listening to podcasts and create delicious desserts in the kitchen with her kids.  

Schedule a meeting with Caroline

Experience

  • College Counselor, The McLean School
  • Assoc. Dir. College Counseling and Admissions, Mercersburg Academy (PA)
  • Director of College Counseling, Holy Child 
  • Science Teacher, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

Education

  • B.A, Geology and French, Bucknell University
  • M. Ed., Administration, Planning and Social Policy Harvard University

Mike Oligmueller 

Head Coach
Expert In
Creating Game Plans
College Lists
Essay Coaching
Experience
40 Years
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Mike Oligmueller 

Head Coach

Mike Oligmueller has been advising students and families about college admissions and financial aid for almost 40 years as both a college admission officer and a high school college counselor.

His responsibilities on college campuses have provided him with practiced insight about what admission officers are looking for on applications and in essays as well as ways for students to make positive impressions at college fairs, during college admission officer visits at high schools, and in interviews. Because he developed marketing plans, promotional materials, and recruitment strategies for college admission offices, Mike can astutely decode communications students receive from colleges, explain financial aid and scholarship offers, and give advice about the worthiness of athletic recruiting services, honorary societies, and summer programs and forums. His experience on college campuses includes assisting international students with admission and immigration procedures, coaching speech teams, and advising fraternities.

He has been involved in professional associations throughout his career, serving as a committee chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and President of the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC); a member of the Naviance Advisory Board; and a Chief Delegate, Finance Committee Member, and 25-time-Conference-Attender for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. In 2018, PCACAC honored Mike with its highest honor, the Apperson Award in recognition of his “extraordinary service to students, to PCACAC, and to the college counseling profession.”

Motivated by his long fascination with colleges, Mike has visited more than 400 colleges in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia, and he starts each of his mornings by reading online newsletters and blogs about higher education. Through his long career, he has built a professional network of hundreds of college admission experts and continues to strengthen those ties through regular conference attendance and campus visits. His students appreciate his wit, honesty, and wisdom about college admissions. Mike enjoys all aspects of the college search process but especially relishes helping students build appropriate college lists, construct compelling applications, and discern the best college choice for them.

Kathleen and Mike have known each other for more than twenty years and have visited colleges together, provided each other with advice and counsel, and built a relationship based on mutual respect and humor.  Schedule a meeting with Mike.

Experience

  • Dir. College Counseling (25 yrs) at: NSU University School (FL), The Potomac School, Holy Child, and Charlotte Latin School (NC)
  • Admissions (15 yrs) at: Wabash College (IN), Lake Superior State University (MI), and Purdue University (IN).  Dir. Admissions at:  Earlham College (IN), and University of Southern Indiana.   

Education

  • B.S. University of South Dakota 
  • M.A. Purdue University
  • Member of Phi Beta Kappa

Maddie Sparrow

Head Coach
Expert In
Essay Coaching
Supplemental Editing
Experience
6 Years

Maddie Sparrow

Head Coach

Maddie Sparrow is an English major and Education minor from Duke University.  She is teaching English at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC and taught previously at Jordan High School in Durham, NC. 

Maddie works with clients on both essays and Common Applications, and she serves as the liaison for Spanish-speaking clients.  For the summer class, Maddie shares tips from her own college process with the students and uses her expert editing skills to tighten students’ essays and to strategize on the phrasing and order of the Common App Activities Section. Maddie primarily supports our summer classes and serves as one of the co-teachers.  Maddie works with a few students a year, you may email her at MaddieSparrow1@gmail.com to check her availability.

Experience

  • The College Coaches (6 yrs)
  • English Teacher, Ravenscroft School
  • English Teacher, Jordan High School, NC

Education

  • B.A. English and Education, Duke University

Line of five stars hand drawn on a blackboardUnlike some other independent counselors, our team never pressures anyone to meet again and again or to commit to a package. If you need just one hour of help, that is just fine! While students vary, estimates for typical costs by service.

Our scheduling page allows you to choose by service or read more about our head coaches.

If you’d like to learn more about how we work, Schedule Free 15 Minute Introduction.