Who We Are
Dr. Dean Skarlis
Dr. Skarlis is the President and founder of The College Advisor of New York. Dean has spent more than 25 years in the field of higher education, including 6 years as a Consultant at American College Testing (ACT) and 9 years as an administrator at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. A passionate student advocate, Dean has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has served as a Senior Lecturer at Tiffin University. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Allegheny College, an M.A. in Psychology from Duquesne University, and a Doctorate in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. Dean also earned a certificate from the Harvard University Institute on College Admissions. His research has focused on quality teaching and learning, retention, and program design at four-year colleges. He is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling and the Independent Educational Consultants Association.
Dr. Skarlis is widely considered an expert on college admissions, financial aid and scholarships. He has conducted presentations on college admissions for thousands of students, parents, faculty, and administrators at more than 250 colleges, universities, and high schools across the United States. He has also been a featured speaker and trainer for hundreds of families, financial planners and Certified Public Accountants on the intricacies of college financial aid and scholarships. Nationally, he has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal twice, and most recently. He has had an article published in The Washington Post entitled, “The Dirty Little Secrets of College Admissions,” and has also been quoted in the The New York Post, The Globe And Mail, The Associated Press, and TheStreet.Com. He has appeared on ABC World News and served as a contributor to The Portable Guidance Counselor, a book about the college admissions process published by The Princeton Review in 2010. Locally, he has been a featured guest and member of the “Answers Team” on CBS 6 WRGB TV, WTEN TV, Fox 23 News, and the Time Warner-Spectrum News – Channel 9 “Family Living” segment which is broadcast across upstate New York, The Times Union and Capital Region Living Magazine. Dean serves on the Board of Directors of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce and the East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League. In his spare time he coaches Little League Baseball in the community of East Greenbush, New York.
Marna, one of the college admissions coaches at The College Advisor of New York, brings more than 35 years of industry experience to add significant value to the team. She has built a reputation as a trusted advisor to both students and parents. Her knowledge and consultative approach is unsurpassed. As a subject matter expert, Marna co-authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting into Top Colleges, which was published in June 2009.
The majority of Marna’s career was spent as the Guidance Counselor at Albany High School, where for 30 years, she worked with thousands of students to help them navigate the college admissions process. This included career counseling, curriculum design and academic enrichment. She facilitated the process, including ensuring testing requirements were satisfied, researching and selecting appropriate target schools, managing deadlines, and assisting students in complying with all admissions requisites.
Upon retiring from Albany High School in 2008, Marna launched Atkin College Counseling, a private college counseling business. She created an executed a highly efficient and effective process, which built a robust portfolio of repeat clientele and referral-based business. By gathering data, listening to students and parents goals and expectations, Marna seamlessly selects appropriate target schools, resulting in countless acceptance letters. Her expertise is to help students and parents navigate their way through this complex, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Marna earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Boston University and her Master of Science in Education with a Concentration in Counseling from University of Massachusetts. She holds her New York State Department of Education Permanent Certification in School Counseling.
Geoff is a college admissions coach with the College Advisor of New York. Geoff has 9 years of college admissions experience spent as Associate Dean of Admissions at Union College in Schenectady, NY. In this capacity, Geoff read thousands of college applications and visited hundreds of high schools around the United States, Europe and Canada. He spoke extensively across the country on highly selective college admissions. He supervised the tour guides, senior interviewers, helped select the POSSE multi-cultural scholars, acted as the athletics liaison for all sports except for hockey and football and edited the Admissions page of the college website. Geoff’s experience gives him tremendous insight not only in what it takes to stand out in this process, but also in how to find the right fit. Geoff believes that the college application process, though at times stressful, can be a wonderful time for introspection, growth and fun!
Four years ago, he left the world of college admissions to become the Dean of Students at the Doane Stuart School and then the Director of Admission. In addition to his role as Director of Admission, Geoff teaches classes in history and religion and oversees communications. Now, four years and twin toddlers later, Geoff is excited to once again be back in college admissions – though on the other side of the desk – as an enthusiastic advocate for the students he works with. Geoff holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from Union College.
Kate is a college admissions coach with the College Advisor of New York. A certified School Counselor, Kate has 8 years of college preparatory experience counseling high school students and their families in the admissions process. Kate began her advising experience as an academic advisor for the Masters of Secondary Education program at the University at Albany. She believes that students benefit from self-exploration prior to and during the college search process so they are able to find the best fit for them as an individual. Throughout Kate’s tenure as a School Counselor, she has visited many colleges and meets with a number of college admission representatives throughout the year. A former Division I soccer player, Kate brings with her the knowledge of the athletic recruiting process from beginning to end. She is also well versed in the NCAA procedures and regulations. Kate holds a Master’s degree in Counseling
Erin Callahan Wheeler recently joined the College Advisor team as a College Admissions Coach. She brings 16 years of admissions experience to the team, having worked in undergraduate, transfer and graduate admissions. Erin is experienced with all aspects of college admissions – including the application process, campus visits, interviews, and financial aid/scholarship consideration. After six years of working with undergraduate and transfer admissions for a private college in New England, Erin returned to the Capital Region to work with graduate students. She has had the opportunity to visit more than 100 college campuses through her work. Erin holds a BA in Communications from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA (where she was also a campus tour guide and admissions intern!) and an MS in Human Resource Management from Rivier University. She is also an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. When not helping students, Erin enjoys spending time outside near the water. Her family enjoys boating, water skiing, jet skiing, paddle boarding and just being on the beach! In the winter, you can find them at the area ski mountain or outside in the snow. Erin’s family includes her husband Mike, toddler daughter Emma and elderly dog Baxter (a 15 year old toothless Maltese!). The college search process can be overwhelming, but when approached in a step-by-step, organized manner, students can find a school that’s a great fit, and Erin is committed to helping them do so!
Deb is a college admissions coach with the College Advisor of New York. She joined the staff after taking time off to raise her three daughters, two of whom are now in college. Deb has been with us for more than 7 years. Her background includes working in publishing and printing and as the Director of Publications for the Dana Hall School (MA). While at Dana Hall, she also served as the advisor to the student newspaper. In addition to student coaching, Deb plays an active role in many facets of our process, including writing blog posts for our website and producing College Advisor of New York newsletters. She especially enjoys working with students on their essays and applications. Originally from the Boston area, Deb holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and is a regular participant in the Gotham Writer’s Workshop in Manhattan.
Barbara comes to CANY with a wealth of experience in the non-profit world. She joined the staff after taking time off from her career to raise her three children. Barbara is excited to be working with the CANY parents and students; with a high school student of her own she fully understands the family dynamics of the college admissions process. Barbara has an undergraduate degree in Management from Boston College. She has been an active Boston College Undergraduate Admissions Volunteer for the past 15 years. She also holds an MBA from Babson College.
Jim is the VP of marketing and coaching at The College Advisor of New York. Jim brings with him more than 20 years of corporate Human Resources, Training, and Marketing experience that includes work at two Fortune 100 Companies. He plays an integral role in coordinating the admissions coaching process, developing new markets, and helping students and their families realize their college aspirations. Jim has a BA in Economics from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and is a member of several local non-profit organizations. He is also the parent of two college students which provides him real life perspective on the challenges and joys of transitioning young adults toward the college experience. Jim enjoys all things outdoors, reading, and sports.
Kathy Laberge joined The College Advisor of New York as an Admissions Coach in 2009. She has tutored hundreds of high school students in writing and has considerable experience leading student workshops. Her extensive project management background ensures a smooth and enjoyable application process for students and parents. Kathy believes the topics and writing styles utilized in the personal statement and supplemental essays are critical to showcasing each student’s unique characteristics and abilities. She loves guiding students through their transition from high school to college, assisting in college transfer applications, and helping students prepare their grad school applications, essays, and statements of purpose. Kathy is a lifelong Loudonville resident who graduated from Siena College in 1983 with a BA in History and a Classical Languages minor. She currently works in Administration at Hudson Valley Community College. Her two sons are recent college graduates so she has the empathy and knowledge necessary for guiding families through the college search and selection process.
Beth is a College Admissions Coach with the College Advisor of New York. She joined the team after receiving her certification as a College Admissions Consultant with Distinction through UCLA. She holds a BS in Economics and Communications from Cornell University. After a career in pharmaceutical sales and medical research, Beth took time off to raise her son and daughter. While guiding her own children through the college admissions process, she developed a passion for helping students navigate the complex, yet rewarding world of college admissions. Beth decided to turn her passion into a career by becoming a Certified College Consultant. She loves working with high school students to help them find their best fit college where they can learn, grow and realize their full potential. Since her son was a recruited Division I basketball player, Beth can also provide help and insight into the special challenges of athletic recruiting and life as a student athlete. Beth’s philosophy on college admissions can be summed up by her favorite quote; “College admissions is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.”
Annemarie is a College Admissions Coach with the College Advisor of New York. Her background is in College Admissions, College Student Services and Financial Aid. She has 19 years of experience in college admissions along with 6 years of experience in financial aid. Annemarie has interviewed thousands of students for college admissions, reviewed countless applications and counseled hundreds of families on the financial aid process. After working as an Associate Director of Admissions at Siena College, she served as the Director of Admissions at Albany Academy for Girls.
After having her two children, Annemarie took some time off before going back into Academia, but landed most recently as a college counselor at The Academy of the Holy Names. She is currently teaching a Junior and a Senior guidance class in addition to counseling students and their families on all aspects of the college admissions process. Annemarie has always enjoyed working with individual students, assisting them in finding colleges that are the best fit for them. Annemarie holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Le Moyne College and a Masters of Education with an emphasis on college student development from Alfred University.
Gregg joined The College Advisor of New York as a college admissions coach after having served as a Director of Guidance, Teacher, Athletic Coach, Principal and Superintendent of Schools for more than 3 decades. Through it all his passion has been assisting high school students as they work through career decisions and the college admissions process. Gregg graduated from St. Lawrence University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. He subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Education as well as a second Master’s Degree in Counseling from SUNY Oneonta. He also earned a Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Cortland in Educational Administration. An avid traveler and athletic enthusiast, Gregg also enjoys time with his three adult children.
Maggie Watson Skarlis
Maggie is a college admissions coach for The College Advisor of New York. Her specialties are essay critique and resume development. Maggie has worked in the field of higher education administration for 23 years, including two managing the recruiting and admissions processes for the Harvard University School of Public Health. In addition, she spent two years working in the field of corporate human resources from 2000-2002. Maggie currently works in student services at the Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Allegheny College.
Ryan is a certified school counselor who has 9 years of experience counseling students and families through the college search, application, and admissions process. He has served as the liaison for college admissions representatives who visit his school and he coordinates an annual junior night where students and families attend workshops on the college application process. He is the coordinator for all SAT and ACT testing and is versed on the nuances of these admissions exams. Ryan believes that engagement and energy on the student’s part are vital components to a successful college search. As a basketball coach, he understands the importance of being a motivating and inspiring figure for young people as they reach for their goals. Ryan holds a Master’s degree in School Counseling from the College of St. Rose and a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Communication Studies from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Faith is a college admissions coach with the College Advisor of New York, and has been with the company since 2007. Faith believes that the key to a successful college experience is finding a school that’s a great fit. Her experience in admissions and marketing gives her the ability to tackle a variety of areas in the college search and admissions process. Faith currently works as the Leadership Annual Giving Officer for Hartwick College in the Office of College Advancement. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Hartwick College, and an MBA with a certificate in Global Marketing from SUNY Empire State College.