Andrea van Niekerk
College Admission Counselor


  • Former Associate Director of Admission, Brown University
  • Former Residential Fellow, Stanford University
  • More than two decades of experience in college admissions and academic advising 
  • Extensive international admissions experience 
  • Professional membership in NACAC, HECA and WACAC

After arriving from South Africa in 1987 with graduate degrees in African History and Library and Information Science, I worked as an editor, translator, economic consultant and coordinator of a social outreach project. Given my interest in access to education, I joined the Admission Office at Brown University. As Associate Director of Admission, I evaluated and presented thousands of prospective students to the admission committee from almost every corner of the USA, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, often traveling to many of those places to talk with students, parents and educators. I also coordinated university recruitment travel; managed an admission program for non-traditional students; and directed an initiative to increase the number 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! 

It was especially interesting working in an admission office as my own three kids navigated college admission! They chose different schools and areas of interest, though in the end they all embodied the power of a liberal arts education to foster new journeys and intellectual change: the history major turned into a business consultant, the oil engineer now works on solar and wind energy, and the geophysicist became a science writer. 

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 I worked more with applicants than with people, I chose to work as a personal consultant with students involved in their higher education search and college application process.  

I bring to private counseling extensive experience in American higher education, an international perspective, and 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 amidst 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. I work remotely with all my students, regardless of where they live. My role is to guide and support them as they identify and develop personal goals for college and for their life beyond, and to help them achieve these goals.

“In retrospect, I think the value of your contributions wasn’t limited to the narrow (but critical) objective of getting them into college. Your approach to the admissions process, which centered around making them start to think coherently about their authentic stories, and to begin to shape their lives around intentional narratives, was an exercise in life-coaching as much as admissions-advising.” 

Parent, California


“I appreciate how honest you were with me, and that resulted in applications I was proud to submit to all my colleges regardless of the outcome.”
Student, UAE 


“Of course we are all thrilled with his outcome, but more important is the fact that his process with you was so thoughtful, organized, logical, and supportive.  He saw you as a real ally and source of knowledge and experience throughout his process.”
Parent, California

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