ANDREA VAN NIEKERK, College Admission Counselor

Qualifications and Experience

  • Former Associate Director of Admission, Brown University
  • Former Residential Fellow, Stanford University
  • 17 years experience in college admissions and academic advising
  • Extensive admissions experience in the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Mid- East
  • Parent of three recent college graduates
  • Professional membership in NACAC, HECA and WACAC

I arrived from South Africa in 1987 with graduate degrees in African History and in Library and Information Science. I worked as an editor, translator, economic consultant and coordinator of a social outreach project, before joining the Admission Office at Brown University. As Associate Director of Admission, each season I evaluated and presented thousands of prospective students to the admission committee. I finally left Brown after a decade to join my husband in northern California where he is a professor of history and where I now live on a university campus. Instead of returning to a college admission office where one works primarily with paper rather than with people, I chose to work as a personal consultant with students involved in their higher education search and college application process.

As a Brown admission officer, I at different moments assumed responsibility for applications from almost every corner of the USA, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I traveled extensively to many of those places to talk with students, parents and educators. At the same time, I coordinated university recruitment travel; managed a program for older students resuming their educations; and directed an initiative to increase the presence of lower-income students on campus. I also served as an academic advisor to freshman and sophomore students, a task that cast an interesting perspective on the admission process.

Last, but certainly not least, I am the mother of a current MBA applicant (History, Rice ’11), an engineer (BS Structural Engineering, Rice ’13; MS ME, UT Austin ‘15), and an environmentalist (Geology and Geophysics, Yale ’15).

I therefore bring to private counseling years of experience in American higher education, an international perspective, and an unusual first-hand knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the college admission process. More importantly, my professional background is grounded by common sense, pragmatism, good humor, and empathy for both the stress of teenagers’ lives and the concerns of their parents. Even in the drama of high school life, the college search represents an exceptionally turbulent and exciting time. It should be intellectually challenging but also fun, adventuresome but also practical. My role is to guide and support my students to identify and develop personal goals for college and for their life beyond, and to help them achieve these goals.

Andrea, you set him up to have a successful college application process by making sure he was thoughtful in his approach to picking colleges that fit him, and saw to every detail.  The fact that he was accepted is just the culmination of all the hard work you inspired him to complete – thoroughly and thoughtfully.  Thank you for being his sounding board, his guide and his inspiration throughout the entire college application process.

- California, USA