Melanie Talesnick

Melanie has spent her professional career in a variety of settings. After graduating from the University of Delaware with a double major in Marketing and Management, she worked for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Despite the perks of travel and working with professional athletes, she felt unfulfilled, except when working with grassroots organizations to develop recreational programs for kids. This experience led Melanie to pursue a career in teaching and athletic coaching. She ultimately earned her Master’s degree in Student Personnel Services from Montclair State University and a Certificate in College Counseling with Distinction from UCLA.


As a high school counselor for over 10 years, Melanie was always drawn to the college process. At the same time, utilizing her entrepreneurial nature, she founded Admit U Consulting to focus solely on working with students and families outside of the high school setting. She quickly emerged as a leader in the counseling office and ended her career at Morristown High School as the College Counselor. In 2015, she left public education to manage Admit U full-time.


Melanie is a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and sits on the National Advisory Board for a private liberal arts university. Melanie is also a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), a distinction held by only a handful of consultants in the state of New Jersey. She frequently attends conferences, workshops, and visits colleges and universities domestically and abroad. Melanie is truly a student’s biggest fan and supporter. Her passion, skills, and overall knowledge have helped students find their “best-fit” at numerous colleges across the country. She has helped thousands of students achieve their post-secondary goals and believes that the relationships she forms with other professionals, admissions representatives, and university officials offer a unique perspective to the college admissions process. When not editing college essays, Melanie loves cheering for the NY Yankees, seeing Broadway shows, and going to the beach.


Melanie’s enthusiasm and passion for all things college is contagious!

Danielle Asher
College Counselor & Essay Coach

Danielle has worked with students on the college process in a variety of settings in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Danielle was drawn to the college process after going through it herself and informally served as a peer counselor and essay editor throughout her time at college. After graduating from Barnard College with a BA in Psychology, she pursued her MA in School Counseling from NYU. During that time, Danielle also earned her Certificate in College Counseling with Distinction from UCLA.


Danielle joined the Admit U team in 2016 as a college counselor and essay coach and has worked as a high school counselor since 2013. Professionally, Danielle is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admissions Counselors (NJACAC), the New Jersey School Counselor Association (NJSCA) and the Union County School Counselors Association (UCSCA). Danielle routinely visits colleges and universities and meets with admissions representatives to stay current in the ever-changing college admissions landscape.


Working with students who come from a variety of places and backgrounds has bolstered Danielle's ability to help kids find their "hook" and make it shine throughout their applications and essays. Danielle brings organization and positivity to what can sometimes be a confusing and stressful process, helping students show their best selves and gain admission to best-fit colleges across the country.  When she's not working with students, Danielle loves playing with her dog, Hudson, and watching the New York Giants. Fun fact: Danielle’s college process was featured as a fictionalized story in the best-selling book, Acceptance, by Dave Marcus.

Alison Grill
College Counselor & Essay Coach

Ali has been a College Counselor and Essay Coach with Admit U Consulting since 2011. She is also the current College Counselor at a highly-ranked Union County high school, a position she pioneered in 2013. Her career in education began as a School Counselor at Morristown High School after working for four years at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey conducting child psychology research.


Ali's humanistic approach to college counseling is honest, data-driven, and personalized. Her goal is to help students find schools where they can thrive, not just survive. She prides herself on building relationships with students and families and believes these connections are crucial to helping students find success in the process. Working in secondary education as well as an independent consultant, Ali routinely attends professional conferences and visits colleges and universities nationwide and abroad where she networks with admissions representatives to keep current on admissions procedures and trends.

Ali's educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Writing from Drew University, a Master's degree in School Counseling from Kean University, and a Certificate in College Counseling with Distinction from UCLA. Professionally, she is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), New Jersey Association for College Admissions Counseling (NJACAC), and Union County School Counselors Association (UCSCA). She also sits on a Counselor Advisory Board for a private liberal arts university. She played Division III softball, coached high school softball at The Pingry School, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Outside of the office, Ali is a huge fan of hot sauce, live music, and the Oxford comma.

Adam Lewis
College Counselor & Essay Coach

Adam is an education professional with nearly ten years of classroom and counseling experience. He attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he dual majored in Writing and History. While at school, he played ultimate frisbee, served as a writing tutor at the school’s student success center, and was a regular contributor to the school paper. During his final year of college, he volunteered as a camp counselor with the Valley Youth Network and felt an instant connection with the kids he was tasked with supervising. He was not only able to relate and empathize, but he also guided them as they sought to unlock their potential and discover their passions. This newfound ability would eventually shape his future career plans.


After graduation, his desire for sharing ideas and teaching took him abroad to Beijing, a place he called home for nearly seven years. While in China, he worked as an English teacher and college counselor for students studying abroad in the United States. In his spare time, he would study Mandarin and coach ultimate frisbee. At his school in Beijing, he held unique writing seminars for students of all levels looking to hone their craft. He also created and held culture seminars called, “Life Clubs.” These unique experiences would allow students to delve deeply into an area of American culture that they wished to know more about. Through discussion, activities, and even guest speakers, students could better prepare themselves for the challenges of acclimating to a new culture in the United States. 


As a college counselor, he led essay workshops, edited students’ work, guided individual activity plans, set quarterly academic goals, and constructed test schedules. One of his specialties as a counselor is helping students to develop signature projects. These projects are intended to accurately represent the students’ true selves and often go beyond the confines of a school club or organization.


Many of the families he has serviced over the years remain in touch with Adam because of his commitment to the students and his good-natured personality. He is very devoted to finding the best fit for each student, ensuring that they are situated for success.


In his personal time, he enjoys watching Pittsburgh sports, though he admits, that as a loyal Pirates fan, times are tough. He regularly returns to his native Pittsburgh to watch games and partake in family events. Although he considers himself a true “Yinzer,” he is more than happy to be working with fans and families from the local area.   

Jonathan Roman
College Counselor & Essay Coach

Jonathan entered college with the goal of eventually going to law school, but all of his time spent both attending and working at a summer camp ultimately changed his mind.  Working around kids with a seasoned group of educators that saw his natural ability to relate with children, he was ultimately persuaded to enter the field of education instead.  He graduated with a BA in Sociology (Honors Program) with a minor in Political Science from Muhlenberg College, where he was also a four-year varsity soccer player. He then gained an MA in Counseling (School Counseling Concentration) from Montclair State University.  During graduate school, he spent three summers as the Director of Camp White Meadow, and worked at Randolph Middle School while coaching boys soccer as the varsity assistant at Randolph High School.  Since getting his MA, he has continued his education and is certified by the state of New Jersey as a School Counselor, Student Assistance Coordinator (SAC), Supervisor, and Director of School Counseling Services.


Upon finishing graduate school, Jonathan spent two years as a counselor at Roxbury High School, and has now been a counselor at Morris Hills High School since 2011, where he is also an assistant boys soccer coach.  He is a member of the New Jersey School Counseling Association (NJSCA) and serves on the executive board as the co-treasurer of the Morris County Professional Counselor Association (MCPCA).  Jonathan joined the Admit U staff in 2019 as an outgrowth of his summers spent co-teaching a college essay writing course, but also because he loves college counseling and is able to spend more time diving deeper into it with each student than is possible in a school setting.  When he is not working, Jonathan enjoys sports and is an Orangetheory workout addict.

Joseph Verdon
Athletic Recruiting Consultant

Joseph has been working with Admit U as a tutor and athletic recruiting consultant since 2015. In addition to working with Admit U, he spends his time teaching English, coaching baseball and basketball, and filming high school football games. He has a passion for helping high school students succeed both in the classroom and on the field/court and takes great pride in helping student-athletes achieve their short- and long-term academic and athletic goals. Joe was a recruited athlete himself, and a successful student-athlete at a Division I school. He was on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll while at Lafayette College, and graduated summa cum laude. Joe understands the recruiting process and helps potential student-athletes navigate the process. As a teacher, coach, and recruiting expert, Joe has helped numerous athletes in various sports navigate the recruiting process and achieve their dreams of continuing their athletic careers in college.  The walls of Joe's classroom are lined with college pennants given to him by students and athletes he has taught and coached over the years.

Rachel Shapiro Cooper
Performing Artist Consultant

Rachel attended the High School of Performing Arts and Music and Art and then received her B.F.A. in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama which included study at the Moscow Art Theatre school (MXAT) in 2001. Commercially, Rachel has worked as an actress in theatre and television. She is a proud member of SAG, AEA, and AFTRA. As a casting associate, she worked on Broadway shows such as Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and City Center Encores. Through her graduate work at NYU, Rachel earned her M.A. in Educational Theatre. As an arts educator, Rachel has worked for the last eight years in Newark developing curriculum and facilitating instruction in networks including North Star Academy and KIPP:NJ where she was the Department Chair for the Arts and the founding teacher at their most recent campus: BOLD Academy.


Most recently, Rachel joined the faculty at Newark Academy in 2016 as the Director of Theatre. Rachel is thrilled to be able to assist talented and hard-working artists discover the college of their dreams. She has the experience to be able to help students select and execute the best performance pieces for auditions. She approaches this work with the precision required to identify and highlight students’ strengths coupled with the empathy to guide them through this dynamic experience. Rachel's goal is that students are prepared for their auditions/pre-screens and have a clear path to and through this process. When not coaching, Rachel can be found performing and directing on stages in NYC and NJ, hanging with her two daughters, and food prepping!

Nick Wierda
Tutoring Director
Lauren Gottlieb
Essay Coach

Nick founded First Choice Prep in 2010. With a focus on test prep and academic tutoring, he developed a curricula and pedagogy that have helped thousands of students improve their grades and test scores. He has spent more than a decade learning the SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, and a plethora of other admissions tests inside and out and continually improving First Choice Prep’s course materials. Nick has two main claims to fame – his frequent perfect scores on ACTs and SATs and his appearance on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He also has had a streak of excellent Halloween costumes.

Prior to founding First Choice Prep, Nick worked at a variety of tutoring companies in New Jersey and New York. His career in the field began as a sophomore at Rutgers University, when he began tutoring for a local company.  He majored in History and minored in Political Science, but opted to pursue his passion of teaching after college.

In his spare time, Nick enjoys watching sports, reading, traveling, playing guitar, and using fancy vocabulary words to impress his friends. Nick lives in Jersey City with his wife and two children.

Lauren is an accomplished high school English teacher with 17 years experience in the classroom. After receiving her B.A. in English from Boston University and a brief career working as a publicist in the music industry, she began teaching high school English in the New York City public school system as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. She earned an M.A. in English Education from Brooklyn College in 2004.

After relocating back home to New Jersey in 2009, Lauren has been teaching in the English Department at Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, NJ, where she teaches all grades and levels. Specific courses include 9th-grade College Prep, AP English Language and Composition, and 12th-grade Accelerated, plus a week-long college essay workshop that she designed and implements for incoming seniors. She has also been a frequent presenter and workshop leader at the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) convention. Lauren’s ability to connect with students and help them find their voice through their essays is truly something special. In her spare time, she enjoys pop culture trivia, throwing Oscar-themed parties, and spending time with her two children.

Jamie Kideckel
Office Manager/Marketing Director

Jamie is a marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in the print and digital media space.  Before joining Admit U Consulting, she worked as a Marketing Director at Time Inc. and helped drive both revenue and readership growth for Real Simple and Sports Illustrated across both their print and digital extensions. In addition to working alongside product development and social media teams, Jamie worked with various agencies to develop, implement, and manage media across multiple platforms. Prior to that, she worked at Conde Nast as a marketer for Gourmet Magazine and Teen Vogue, where she helped launch the highly successful Teen Vogue franchise.

After realizing her family needed her closer to home, Jamie brought her marketing and organizational expertise of large-scale businesses to Admit U. Jamie spends most of her free time with her husband and their two daughters. She is constantly a fan at the sidelines of their games and can be found cheering on her alma mater, University of Wisconsin, any chance she gets! Go Badgers!

Gold medal winners for 2017, 2018, and 2019 for Best of Essex Educational Center

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