College Counselors

If you need help navigating the complex process of applying to colleges, the following college counselors in the local Santa Barbara area can be of tremendous assistance.

Kimani Williams

Mrs. Laurie Cortez, MA

College Coaching Services

Founder / Independent College Consultant

Laurie Cortez, founder of College Coaching Services and a Certified Educational Consultant, has successfully guided hundreds of high school, college transfer and graduate students through the college admission process.  Laurie’s experience as a former teacher and vice principal, combined with her proven track record as a Certified Independent College Counselor, provides valuable insight into the higher education landscape, with specific expertise to ensure students and parents are prepared and successful throughout the complicated college application process. She is a frequent media commentator and author, and has presented workshops for parents and students at high schools, junior high schools and educational centers across the country.

Laurie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, a Master of Arts in Organizational Management, a California Teaching Credential, and advanced credentials in College Counseling. She is an active member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

Kimani Williams

Eileen Swoboda

ThinkYes | College Admissions Consulting

Managing Director / IBS Purdue University, MBA UCLA, College Counseling Certificate UCLA (online) with honors

Eileen founded ThinkYes | College Admissions Consulting after moving to Santa Barbara, California from the Washington DC area where she was a management consultant. Her motivation as an Independent Educational Consultant is to encourage students to “Think Yes” — to expand their expectations of themselves and to trust that they are capable of achieving them. The process is invigorating for Eileen and for the families she serves. The essence of ThinkYes revolves around three unique but interrelated facets—encouraging students to develop and demonstrate excellence academically and in their chosen interests; guiding students through the application itself; and being, herself, a student of colleges.



  • Assisted ~100 students one-on-one from across the US, Europe and China with ~1,000 applications and conducted workshops for and given presentations to both students and parents
  • Visited and met with admissions offices at over sixty-five colleges nationwide in order to provide the best advice possible to students.
  • In 2016, presented Advising International Students at the Independent Educational Consultants’ Association’s Summer Training Institute
  • As of April 2019, among US News’ National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, 27% of acceptances were to schools ranked as top 25; 63% top 50; 72% top 75
Kimani Williams

Alisa Gregory

Mokler and Gregory Educational Consulting

UCLA B.A. / UCLA (Extension) Certificate Program in College Counseling

Alisa has worked as an independent educational consultant since 2010. In addition to developing college lists and evaluating college applications, Alisa specializes in offering guidance and editing for college essays and supplemental writing. Alisa has also completed four cycles as an Admissions Reader for the University of California, Santa Barbara. And more recently she became employed as a College Counselor for a small independent school located in Santa Barbara.



  • Western Association of College Admissions Counseling (WACAC)
  • Admission Reader, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Teaching English as Foreign Language Certificate, Santa Barbara City College
Kimani Williams

Wendy Mokler

Mokler and Gregory Educational Consulting

UCSB B.A. / California Lutheran University M.S., Psychology, emphasis in Guidance Counseling

Wendy Mokler has been a professional educator for more than 40 years. Her vast experience comes from having worked as a high school counselor, a classroom teacher, a home hospital teacher, and an administrator of two special education programs for the Santa Barbara School District. She has an excellent knowledge of secondary curriculum as well as college and university entrance requirements after having helped countless students of different ethnicities and economic backgrounds prepare for and get accepted to college.



  • Western Association of College Admissions Counseling (WACAC)
  • Former Board of Trustees Member: Santa Barbara Middle School
  • Lifetime Credentials: Pupil Personnel Credential
  • Standard Secondary and Elementary Credentials
Kimani Williams

Cassie (Nichols) Lancaster

College Specific / Mission Scholars

A native of Santa Barbara, Cassie has provided college admissions guidance to students and their families for over 15 years. She is the Owner & Director of College Specific, LLC, which provides private college admissions guidance to families nationwide. She is also the Executive Director of Mission Scholars, a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara that works with high-achieving, low-income students on their path to college.

Cassie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Princeton University and a Master of Arts degree in Education from UCSB. She conducted educational research at Yale University, taught the college essay at Choate Rosemary Hall, and authored the book, The College Essay Trap, which helps students avoid the most common pitfalls of the college application essay.

Kimani Williams

Lynn Hamilton, MA

Lynn Hamilton/Hamilton & Assoc.

Founding Member of Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) / The only qualified Flex-Test administrator on the Central Coast for the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) / Western Association of College Admission Counselors (WACAC) / National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) / Gap Year Association (GYA) / National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)

Lynn Hamilton, M.A. is the area’s most experienced college and secondary school consultant. Lynn is the only counselor in the Santa Barbara area who is a Certified Educational Planner (CEP). For more than 35 years she has been dedicated to understanding and helping students find the right fit for their academic and future success. Lynn has worked with more than 2500 students in preparing for, and achieving, school and college placement as well as gap year planning and learning differences assessment. Lynn travels extensively throughout the US and abroad to gain in-depth firsthand knowledge of colleges, universities, secondary schools and therapeutic programs. She works closely with students and families throughout the selection and admissions process, and stays in touch to follow and support the student’s college experience, and continued ventures and careers.

Kimani Williams

David Reynaldo

College Zoom

Since its founding in 2009, 98.7% of the students who fully completed College Zoom’s college application packages have been admitted to one or more of their top 3 choice colleges, even if their grades and tests scores were barely higher than the bottom 25% of their admitted competition. The remaining 1.3% were still admitted to a top 20 ranked college for their desired major. Officially ranked the #1 Best College Counselor in Los Angeles (Yelp), College Zoom works with Santa Barbara students face-to-face through Skype.

Kimani Williams

Kira Fay

WisePath College Consulting

UCLA B.A. / Certified Public Accountant, Price Waterhouse / Former instructor at University of California, Santa Barbara/Santa Barbara City College

After earning a degree in Communications Studies with a Business Emphasis at UCLA, Kira had a successful career as a CPA for Price Waterhouse in L.A. Later, she became a lecturer in both the UCSB Economics Department and the Santa Barbara City College Accounting Department. Moreover, Kira has served on the Direct Relief Women’s Board for the past seven years, which has furthered her passion for working with high school students.

By working with youth and community service groups, Kira discovered her love for helping kids figure out their next step after high school. She added to her specialized experience by volunteering in college application workshops at SBHS. In observing that students deserve comprehensive guidance throughout their high school years, Kira founded WisePath College Counseling to do just that. She has had great success with hundreds of college acceptances through her one-on-one efforts to help kids realize their college acceptance potential. Her expertise in education, extracurricular activities, and vast knowledge about colleges throughout the country give her the ability to make a wise college plan.

With every client, Kira’s guiding principle is attention-to-detail. She spends extensive time with students and their families–crafting impressive resumés and strategizing testing, grades, coursework, and extracurricular activities. Due to her hands-on approach, Kira helps students tailor their application to specific universities, rather than generalize their essays and identity. More than that, Kira encourages her students to freely explore their futures to find their “best fit” college. It is her natural analytical skills and personalized technique that earn Kira the gratitude from her clients.

Kimani Williams

Rya Carpenter

Balanced College Plan

Owner Operator / Counseling and Guidance

Balanced College Planning is owned and operated by Rya Carpenter. She holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and Guidance, in addition to a Counseling Credential from the State of California, which has allowed her to serve as a school based counselor for the past 20 years.

Rya has the unique experience of working with students both in the public and private school setting, giving her a broad perspective of student experiences and what colleges are looking for in an applicant. Her talent is adjusting to the needs of the student in front of her; creating college plans that are personalized and targeted for success. She is known for her responsiveness, creative problem-solving and high level of competency in the field of college counseling.

Rya is a member of the National Association of College Admission Counselors. She travels to colleges throughout the country and regularly connects with college admission representatives.