Hi! My name is Marisa Gonzales Silverstein (she/her). I am a former teacher, counselor, after school program leader, and artist who has enjoyed a varied career with many pivots and detours. With a BA in Art History from Yale and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, I appreciate traditional and non-traditional career paths and the need to find the right fit. My understanding of the admissions world began when I read applications as part of the Admissions Committee at Northwestern's Kellogg School. I began volunteering about 7 years ago with Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), coaching teenagers on essay-writing and navigating the college process. My work with YPIE made me realize that my lifelong passion is helping teenagers find the right college for them while reducing the stress that their families experience during the process. I have completed the Summer Training Institute with the Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA), and I completed the IEC certificate program at the University of California-Irvine in September 2021. Meanwhile, I have successfully helped my own daughters navigate the college admissions process (Washington University in St. Louis '23 and Carleton College '26). I fully understand the sense of overwhelm, stress, and excitement that families experience during this process.
I believe that teenagers should take ownership of the college process and do the work to understand who they are and what they are looking for in a college. Done well, students will feel great pride in completing applications and essays for colleges that they see are an excellent match. As an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) and a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), I uphold only the highest ethical standards. As a WOW Certified Essay Coach, I guide teenagers in finding their voice and completing college essays and applications. I will never write essays or personal statements for students.
In 2023, I became certified in the Strong Interest Inventory, which helps students identify their interests in possible majors and careers. The Strong is now part of my comprehensive packages with juniors.
"When I came to you, I was completely clueless about how to even think about applying to college, but you quickly helped me better understand the process. You gave me a good timeline for finishing everything, and you clearly explained what college admissions people want and are looking for. You were very helpful, kind, and patient through the whole process, and you made it all pretty fun."
"I loved being able to talk in depth with you about the college process. I immediately felt more comfortable and confident, and it all felt less scary. You really helped me stay organized, which allowed me to finish things earlier in the process, have more time to enjoy senior year, and be less stressed out! And I can't wait to head to college. I'm headed someplace that fits what I was looking for perfectly! Yay!"
"You were so helpful in breaking the process down into smaller tasks and making it all feel more manageable and less stressful. Your essay process helped me pinpoint the purpose of the college essay and understand how to write an essay that would be able to convey my personality to admissions officers, and you had awesome suggestions on how to improve my essay once I had a draft."
"Your approach turned an otherwise awful, onerous experience into something that felt like a valuable learning experience - regardless of the actual college part. This made it feel like I was paying for an important course for my child (rather than feeling like I was paying into the college industrial complex). Your sensitivity and understanding of adolescent development was a critical part of the process - and I think this is a unique and sophisticated attribute. You created a list of schools for my child that included places I feel are incredibly well suited to him, and places I had not known about. I sleep better at night because of working with you."
JS, Parent of a senior
"I would absolutely recommend your services, and suggest that a parent get in touch with you early on in the process. I genuinely appreciated your individual support to our daughter, for flagging the potential ADHD issue (for which she is now getting treatment). You have a very calming energy. Without you, I don't know how we would have gotten through this."
JM, parent of a senior
"I'm very lucky to have YOU as we go through this process!"
KD, parent of a senior
"After just a couple sessions with you, our son suddenly had a sense of direction and ownership for the process of selecting and applying to colleges. It was an amazing transformation! I was so relieved to find a counselor whose values we could trust and rely on to guide our son. Your interest in getting to know our son and helping him consider what environments might be a better fit for him made all the difference. I don't think I would have trusted any other college counselor to critique our son's personal essays or help him define what he valued in his search for colleges. Our son was very grateful to have you helping him prioritize so many consuming tasks of college applications. Before working with you, he felt overwhelmed and unmotivated. I can't imagine how he would have found inspiration for all that work without your guidance!"
MS, parent of a senior
"Marisa had great rapport with my son. She brought up interesting options that we had not heard of and would not have considered. Her in-depth, soul searching questions allowed him to delve deeply into what he wants from his college experience and answer why he was considering each school. Thanks to this, he'll be happy at any of the schools on his list."
RP, parent of a senior
"Marisa is extremely thorough, knowledgeable, and supportive in her approach to help guide parents and their kids through the college application process. We found her insight into the emotional aspect an added layer of support, and we highly recommend her services."
RM, parent of a senior
"I cannot recommend Marisa of MGS Educational Consulting enough. She takes the panic and frenzy out of the college search and replaces it with sound, comforting advice and a roadmap to finding a just-right-fit college. Marisa has a wealth of knowledge but does not overwhelm parents as she lays things out clearly and succinctly. It feels like you have a partner in the college process."