Meet Michelle MCANANEY FOUNDER AND CEO OF the college Spy. Michelle is an expert college coach and educational consultant. let her help you find your right fit college.


Certificate in Educational Consulting
University of California Irvine, 2018

Ed.M. in School Counseling
University at Buffalo, 1997

B.S. in Human Development
Binghamton University, 1996

MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner


Guidance Counselor
•    16 years experience in suburban New York and Maine
•    Twice the Director of a High School Guidance Dept.

Professor of Psychology, Central Maine Community College

Learning Mentor, London, England

GED Instructor

Professional Memberships

Independent Educational Consultants Association (Learning Disabilities Designation)

Higher Education Consultants Association

National Association for College Admission Counseling

American Counseling Association

Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues in Counseling

Association for Child & Adolescent Counseling

Why I founded The College Spy.

I am Michelle McAnaney, founder of The College Spy. This is my college admissions story . . .

. . . starts in the winter of 1992. I am a junior sitting in my high school's auditorium with 400 fellow students. 

The guidance counselors take turns telling us what we need to do to apply to college. I'm a "good kid." I get good grades, play sports, participate in clubs. As instructed, I make an appointment with my guidance counselor who I have never met before. We talk for a few minutes and he gives me a list of schools. I sign up for the SAT. Twice.

My older brother goes to a state college. I tell my parents that my grades are better than his so they should take me to visit private schools. My parents worry that I will have to take out loans if I go to a private college, so I begin to limit my aspirations. We meet with my guidance counselor once. The conversation is about money, not me.

As a senior, I take college accounting to see if I want to major in accounting. ( I don’t.) But I skip out on AP Literature. I apply to eight schools, all of them very large. I handwrite my applications because the typewriter at home does not work well. (It's okay because my handwriting is very neat.) My best friend helps me edit my essay. My mom reads it, adds a comma, and declares it good. Because I am a little shy, I ask my two friendliest teachers for letters of recommendation. I attend one alumni interview, in jeans, without practicing for it. I receive six acceptance letters. 

My college admissions story ends in the fall of 1993. I tried and the people around me meant well, but I find myself at a college that was selected based on a series of disconnected and essentially random decisions.

My experience is typical. My parents wanted me to succeed and be happy, but they did not know how to research colleges. My guidance counselor was welcoming, but had a large caseload. I carefully completed my applications, but relied on the kids I ate lunch with for advice and information.  This is why I founded The College Spy  to fill the gaps in knowledge, expertise and time so that students apply to the right schools for them and get in.

I help students stretch boundaries and redefine their comfort zone.

I have changed a lot since high school. I am no longer a shy teenager and I generally do not wear jeans to important meetings. I have a creative and active mind that drives me to pursue activities outside my comfort zone: I am learning to play the banjo despite being tone deaf. I appeared on stage in my first acting role just last summer. I learned to surf at age 40. I was a DJ at a local radio station. I taught college psychology courses, lived in England for three years and completed a few triathlons (slowly.) I took a motorcycle riders course (definitely not for me.) I completed my first painting two years ago (a tribute to my dog.) I gave up my Camry for a Jeep and never looked back! 

I share these successful (sometimes) experiences because I want you to know that I encourage my students to explore new courses and activities, get involved, stretch their boundaries and expand their comfort zones. I also encourage seemingly insignificant things like making a phone call to the admissions office when Mom usually makes those kinds of calls, attending interviews even if they are optional, thinking about themselves in new ways, digging deep to write revealing and strong essays, and asking the right people for letters of recommendation. My encouragement is always supportive and understanding. I want students to achieve in the admissions process. That is, of course, why my clients hire me. But I also know that these growth experiences will help students develop as young adults about to embark on one of the most important phases of their lives.

My experiences and why they matter to you.

The college years:

I worked in the admissions office, academic advising center, career center, and student activities office. I was an orientation advisor, tour guide, peer academic advisor and career center intern. I was trained to assist prospective freshman and current students to access and utilize university resources. These experiences have become invaluable as I advise students. 

The guidance years:

As a guidance counselor for 16 years and Director of Guidance at two high schools, I have extensive experience working with administrators and teachers. I must have been on every possible educational committee! I know how master schedules get developed. I know when administrators make exceptions to rules and how to ask for them. In short, I know how schools function and I will teach your student how to take full advantage of all the resources offered at your high school.

College visits:

I spend many days each year “on the road” visiting colleges. I tell my students that the best way to get to know a college is to visit and I hold myself to the same standard. I visit approximately 40 colleges each year. I attend information sessions, take tours and meet with admissions officers. I chat with students. I eat in the dining hall. I know the colleges and universities that your student will be considering.  Click on the button below for my list of recently visited colleges and universities.

What clients are saying about working with The College Spy: