My name is Mark Clevenger. For the past 33 years, I have counseled students and parents on both sides of the admission desk—13 years as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, 15 years as Director of College Counseling at Menlo School in Atherton, California, and four years running Clear Path. At Santa Clara I read thousands of applications, interviewed hundreds of applicants, and made admission decisions on more files than I can count. At Menlo School I guided many hundreds of families through their college search, including advising students about which courses to tackle, which tests to take, and how to represent themselves honestly and memorably in their college essays. Though my office is in downtown Menlo Park, CA, all of my meetings have been on zoom during the pandemic. I will return to my office in May, 2021.
Helping students with their essays is an organic activity for me. I was an adjunct professor in Santa Clara University’s English department, and at Menlo I taught literature and writing to seniors for my entire tenure. I have published articles and stories in Notre Dame Magazine, St. Mary’s Magazine, Santa Clara Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, Independent School Magazine, The San Jose Business Journal, The San Francisco Business Times, and Sequoia, Stanford University’s literary magazine, where I eventually became editor.
In addition to essay coaching, I love introducing families to colleges and universities they hadn’t considered before. As part of my work at Menlo School I visited over 100 campuses in the U.S. and Canada, paying close attention to hidden gems like Rhodes College in Tennessee, Elon University in North Carolina, and St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Of course I have visited most of the household name colleges and universities, but I’m always thrilled when one of my students lights up about what I discovered at a campus just about to make it onto the national radar screen.
What matters most to me is truly getting to know students as individuals, including their personalities, activities, sense of humor, even their anxieties, so I can help them find the right
college fit to match their talents and interests.
I am a graduate of Santa Clara University, Stanford University, and Bennington College in Vermont. I live in San Jose, CA, with my wife, a school district administrator, my son, who will be a Tulane freshman in the fall, and my extremely cute but ridiculously needy dog, PJ. My daughter is a sophomore in the joint BA/MA program in government and politics at St. John's University in New York.