Darnell, Parent of Class of 2019 student
When my son started 10th grade, we met Tony. I am a single mom who works a lot and wanted my son to take the reins on the whole college process. I did not want either of us to miss deadlines or not understand the differences between the SAT and the ACT or what score my son needed for the colleges that he wanted. We needed an unbiased understanding of what schools my son could get into with his talent, grades and scores. We needed someone who could look at my son as the whole athlete, student and person and give him ideas about schools that would make him happy and where he could flourish. We needed someone who knew what type of players the colleges were looking for and what positions.
And most importantly, I needed someone who would care about my son and put in the work to understand him so he could guide him into what would inspire and fit the man that my son was becoming. All that is a tough order.
So, I decided to research Tony myself and see what people thought of him. I did. I read everything. And people LOVE him. They said he treated their child as if they were his own. They said he was loving, caring and got the best results. So, we signed up with Tony. And I didn’t have to think about a thing, as a matter of fact, Tony made my son “own” the process. Tony taught my son how to stop being shy and reach out to coaches with great letters and emails. He didn’t do the work for Antonio but showed him how to do it himself. He reminded Antonio of deadlines, got him to draft emails, looked them over, gave him advice and when my son got offers, we didn’t feel like we were going through this alone.
Tony told us how much time my son had to make a decision and helped him consider if it was better to let the first offer go and whether or not to wait. We knew that we were with somebody who had been through this hundreds of times. So, we felt very secure. Tony helped my son grow up, call coaches, make appointments for visits, EVERYTHING! All the schools were very impressed with how independent he was. Tony made that happen.
And when I paid him, he refunded part of my money because he said that Antonio’s process was shorter because he got committed so quickly. I didn’t have to ask for any refund. I didn’t notice. He did that on his own. And then, after we were done and after Tony was paid, when we were having difficulty communicating with my son’s father about his finances (which the college needed), Tony made the international phone calls to my son’s father and not only helped him to understand what was needed and why but even helped him with the paper work.
That is how much Tony cared. I can’t say enough about him. He made this process fun and easy and more importantly a learning experience for my son and helped to get my son into a college that he’s so excited to attend.
My son will be attending Colgate next year and we couldn’t be happier.
Tony is amazing.
Roberta, Parent of Class of 2019 twins
Tony-First of all I just want to thank you and Tim for your help getting Michael & Robert to where they are today. We are grateful for all your help, guidance, feedback and assistance over the past 18 months. It has been quite a journey with many steps along the way, but it has been worth it as both boys will be attending their first choice of schools. I have seen Michael & Robert grow through this experience and we are all excited to have them start the next chapter of their lives.
Adriana, Parent of Class of 2018 student
We hired Coastal College Counseling to guide our son, at the time a junior attending a strong public school in New Jersey. The process was so much better with Tony’s involvement, from providing a clear perspective on the colleges that would be a good fit to preparing my son’s resume to giving advice on the curriculum for the last two years of high school - it all added tremendous value. Perhaps the most surprising to me was the time Tony spent trying to understand my son’s personality and goals. From that understanding, he provided valuable ideas and suggestions. When it was time to make a decision, our son was ready and confident to make his choice and he is now a freshman at Lehigh University. We are very thankful to Tony and his team at Coastal, we feel lucky that they were involved and would highly recommend them for anyone who believes they need guidance with the college process.
Jake S., University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Class of 2021
Tony and Tim are the greatest college advisors you can find - they are always around to help the student whenever he/she needs, and they really care about the college process for each and every student they serve.
Randy, Parent of Class of 2016 and 2018 students
We have had the opportunity to work with Tony for both our daughter and son. Tony nailed my daughter's school in the first meeting, and she did end up there. My son was more challenging, but Tony worked with us the entire way through to the end, and my son is happy with his final selection. Tony is very accommodating for working parents and with traveling to meetings and his knowledge of this process and schools around the country is second to none.
Claire, Parent of Class of 2018 twins
Thank you so much for all that you did during the stressful (for me, lol) college application process. I should have sent this long ago. Also, please thank Tim as he was excellent with the essay's. You two are a great team. Thanks for all your patience with me as I was a very nervous mom! We are so excited for the girls to begin at UPenn and Cornell next year.
Stacy and Steve, Parents of Class of 2015 and 2017 students
Tony is our “secret weapon,” and we couldn’t endorse or recommend him any more. He worked with both of our kids starting in their sophomore year of high school. They are now at Swarthmore College, and starting at Duke University this fall. What’s most important is Tony empowers and motivates each of his students in a tailored way, inspiring them to dream and think about the schools that are the best *fit* for them. Tony is a true expert, but he’s so successful by asking questions, listening to each student, and immediately building trust and an instant rapport. Tony isn’t a “college counselor,” he’s a mentor, coach, confidante, and friend. For the parents, “TC” must stand for “totally composed” as he will simplify what could otherwise be a stressful process. We consider ourselves lucky to have been introduced to Tony.
Steve and Shari, Parents of Class of 2016 and 2017 students
We hope you are well and getting to enjoy the summer down at the shore. As Sam gets ready to head off to IU and Kelley more specifically (!) it struck me and Shari that we never did properly thank you. So, THANK YOU for all of your great work with her! As her parents, we think she’s pretty perfect! That said, this process would have been a bear without you! Thanks for helping her through it, keeping her calm, keeping Shari calm, and sharing all of your knowledge, thoughts and suggestions with her and us. We think she landed in exactly the right spot based on her interests and of course have even greater comfort knowing that she will be at IU with Tyler. And in the event you hadn’t heard, I should say will be in Kelley with Tyler! He managed all B’s and above in all classes – including the four Kelley classes – and they will both be inducted into Kelley on the same day in September. Shari and I will be in the audience that day for sure!
So thanks again for your great work and we wish you, your business, and your family all the best in the future.
Tom, Former Colleague & Parent of Class of 2016 student
I have known Tony Carnahan for 20 years and I worked alongside him as a college counselor for at least ten of those. I hope I can give you the measure of a man that I am proud to call a friend, colleague and model for helping young people achieve their dreams. I once wrote a letter of recommendation for Tony in 2006 (ironic, I know, that a college counselor has a recommendation letter for himself), but I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you. In my mind, these comments, which are lightly edited for our purpose here, are closer to the time when Tony and I worked side-by-side at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey.
"For lack of a better image, Tony Carnahan is the 'Gentle Giant' of St. Benedict’s Prep School. Tough but caring, Tony has counseled, coached and taught a generation of young men that view him as a man worthy of emulation. Likewise, his colleagues trust and respect him as a doer in our community, one who can always be relied on to lead or just put his head down and get something important done. His contributions to our community, whether in the classroom, counseling office, or ball field, are staggering.
I have insight into Tony’s abilities due in large part to the fact that he not only succeeded me as Director of College Placement, he surpassed me in every aspect of an important, but often thankless and frustrating job. I witnessed him at work during his first years here as we shared an office and developed a great relationship. We often talked about the volume of work expected of the counselor as he is responsible for guiding each and every student in a school of nearly 600 on his path toward college. Tony knows the whole landscape, not just the ivy-covered mountaintop.
Tony has been so effective in this role by virtue of his patience, work ethic and organizational abilities. As soon as Tony arrived from a D.C.-area prep school he streamlined the college application and financial aid processes. First, he authored a College Planning Guide that became a must-read-and-heed piece of literature for students and their families. He also fast-tracked the application process as most students now had their applications ready and filed by Christmas. After the holidays, he began advising families on the labyrinthine financial aid process, literally helping families fill out vital documents through group sessions and one-on-one meetings. He also trained himself and other faculty members in the Kaplan SAT tutoring method and staged at least two prep courses per academic year. Aside from these systemic changes, Tony’s day followed the ebb and flow of students asking endless questions and seeking a whole range of help. It is hard to describe the breadth and width of Tony’s college counseling abilities as he does everything, from A to Z, literally from helping file applications to teaching vocabulary words like zephyr.
Tony is also an accomplished soccer coach. His knowledge of the game is first rate, but his true abilities are in shaping a team and getting young men to play for him and each other. I recently attended a soccer-coaching course with him and after he demonstrated a lesson plan to the other coaches, the instructor simply said: “I would entrust my child to Tony.” I agree and that comment speaks volumes about him as a coach, teacher and counselor.
I wrote those words in 2006 before Tony embarked on new chapters in his professional career, in particular starting his own private counseling business. When my son, only 8 when I wrote the above letter, started the college process I turned to Tony for advice and guidance. My son Tommy, chose to attend Notre Dame as a student-athlete, Tony was an instrumental sounding board throughout this decision making process. Naturally, I too trusted my child to him. I will do the same with my daughter when her time comes. He is our touchstone in the often harried and hugely pressured world of college admissions.
Melanie, Parent of Class of 2015 & 2017 students
When it was time for my son to navigate the college selection process, I knew that it was going to be completely different from my own experience 35 years ago. I was starting with very little understanding of how to position a motivated student to look most attractive to the schools of his choice. With the abundance of schools to choose from, how would I even begin to narrow down the list of target schools without help?
I knew we could not waste time and resources applying to schools that were ill suited to his strengths, and were not likely to give merit aid. One thing I learned pretty quickly is that the Internet does not tell you what you need to know about a school; their statistics are misleading. Tony visits so many schools each year and speaks with their Admissions departments to evaluate their programs.
Our first meeting with Tony proved one thing----when it comes to applying to college, no matter how many times a parent tells their child something, they don't believe it until they hear it from an independent, unbiased source. Tony was objective, honest, and most importantly, he asked the right questions of our son while building his trust. Tony led our son through a self-assessment which provided the motivation to make our son take ownership of the process and gain control of his future. We became a team, each of us with different roles in a collaborative approach to finding the right school. With Tony's help, our son found the right school, received generous merit aid, and has not looked back.
Our experience with Tony was so successful that our second son is working with him now.
Abby, Swarthmore College Class of 2019
I truly do not know where I would be without Tony's help, but it probably would not be Swarthmore College. As the oldest child in a world wildly different from the one in which my parents grew up, I was overwhelmed and confused by the college process. I began this process with a lot of anxiety and very few ideas of where I wanted to go. Nothing could have been more helpful or necessary than Tony's calming presence and expertise. I couldn't be happier at school and am forever grateful to Tony for helping me get here. Thank you!
Griffin, Lehigh University (IBE Honors Program) Class of 2019
Tony could not have been more essential to my college admissions process. I came to him my junior year with absolutely no idea of where I wanted to go or what was the right fit, and by simply talking and taking the time to learn as much about me as he could, Tony helped me find the perfect school and program for my interests. While many of my friends going through the college admissions process were constantly stressed out and overwhelmed, Tony made sure that everything went as smoothly as possible and made the process more enjoyable than painful. He is extremely knowledgeable regarding colleges and programs all over the country and has connections throughout the admissions world, which is why he is so good at helping students find out where they want to go. I'm not sure I would have found the IBE Program at Lehigh University without Tony, and I can't imagine being anywhere else now. Above all, I still view Tony as a friend and reach out to him because I value his opinion, which I believe is the true sign of a great college counselor.
Shane Topping, Former Director of Admissions, Stevens Institute of Technology
I have had the pleasure of knowing Tony for 12+ years, specifically in the higher education recruitment landscape. I immediately noticed Tony stood out within my College Counseling network due to his passion to put his student’s dreams and desires at the top of his priorities. Tony has taken his craft seriously throughout the years with heavily investing in becoming familiar with a wide spectrum of college and universities, which is a huge benefit to his students. I find Tony places an emphasis on demystifying the college search process with his families and places a premium on the right fit rather than the simple metric of best ranked school. One great example of Tony’s commitment to his students is whenever he stepped foot on our campus, he would make a point to connect and meet with the previous students he counseled. This allowed him to close the loop and determine if it was the right fit and bring that knowledge back for future counseling. Tony is among the best College Counselors I have encountered. I highly recommend his expertise.
Tim O’Donohue; Head Coach, United States Naval Academy Men’s Soccer
I have worked with Tony for the last 15 years, and in that time I can honestly say that he is one of the top counselors I have ever met. The care with which he works with and for his students is unrivaled. His deep knowledge of college academic and social environments across the country as well as his thorough knowledge of the recruiting process makes him the premier guide for students and student-athletes alike. If your goal is to find the right fit university and/or if you are considering competing at the university-level, take the time to seek out Tony’s expert advice.
Ira, Parent of Class of 2018 student
If you are parents that have done well in life and believe they can easily help their graduating student choose a college today just like they did themselves 40 years ago you are sadly mistaken.
The world has changed dramatically, especially when it comes to the criteria for choosing a school and the significance that choice will play in the success or failure of your son or daughter gaining employment in a job market where Harvard graduates have difficulty finding jobs.
So why choose Coastal and spend money on a counselor if jobs are so hard to come by and schools are so selective? You just answered your own question. You need to look at this as an investment, not an expense. You need to look at this as selective insight and salient information that isn’t available to the general public. Tony isn’t a high school counselor who also coaches varsity softball, edits the school newspaper and teaches physics and art history. Tony is a professional counselor that has relationships with admissions officers, teachers and deans at colleges around the country so he knows, like a legal inside trader, the very pulse of colleges and universities around the country. Do you think you can purchase a 220 page book that weighs more than a side of beef, use the statistical information that the universities provide, which is NOT VERIFIED BY ANY OBJECTIVE THIRD PARTY, and believe that the list of colleges you come up with is the bible your child should use to follow the yellow brick road and choose from to dictate their future?
The best thing you can do if you love your child is to ensure they choose the best university for all the right reasons. The only way you can do this is by investing in a professional who has been doing this successfully for years and is in business due to his success. You will spend money, but you will be investing it wisely.
I was the father that thought he could do it on his own. I couldn’t, Tony did and our daughter with Tony’s guidance and innate ability to put her at ease, speak on her level and point her in the right direction enabled her to be accepted into a top 20 school, but more importantly, the school that was best suited for her. Without Tony, this would not have happened.
Kim, Parent of Class of 2016 & 2018 students
As student-athletes, my two children went to school in two different states for a portion of each school year. They transitioned back-and-forth from a traditional large, competitive school district to a small private sports-academy. Tony’s experience with student-athletes was instrumental in completing the college applications to reflect the advantages and challenges of this uncommon educational approach.
Conveying these unique educational differences on the Common Application and in essays would not have been possible without Tony’s expertise and guidance during two very different college application processes. While living out of state, Tony made the challenge of scheduling counseling sessions easy. He was always willing to connect with us and review essays using a variety of electronic means; making our long distance counselor easy to “meet” and work with.
Ultimately, every parent wants their child to attend the right school for them, but when the preparation and selection process stretches for almost two years, having the guidance of Tony is important to keep both parents and the student on track and focused toward the best outcome. Each of our children has enrolled in the right school for them, one in the Ivy League, one in the Patriot League; thank you Tony!
Jaime G, Emory University Class of 2018
I honestly don't think I would've gotten through the college process in one piece without Tony. He wasn't just an advisor, but a friend. Always on top of everything, he never failed to give me answers to my questions even when I would call him at 8pm on a Sunday night full of anxiety. We worked together as a team-- making the college list, narrowing it down, writing my essays. In October and November, while my friends were scurrying around anxiously trying to finish their applications by their deadlines, I sat back and smiled, thanking Tony for helping me finish my applications by early September. Now I'm headed off to Emory University in the fall, and I couldn't be more excited. Thank you, Tony, for everything you've done for me. I couldn't have done it without you!
Kathleen, Parent of Class of 2019 student
We cannot thank you enough for helping Jack and us through this process, for guiding us to Wake, for helping craft the application and actually getting it in! Jack felt so connected to you, trusts you and we couldn't have asked for a better experience for him (and of course the best outcome of all).
Elizabeth, Parent of Class of 2017 student
Tony, thank you so much for everything. There are few people so in need of relief and help as loving moms of teenage daughters and you were terrific. You have made all the difference in both our lives. I think Reed is a great school for Kats. She would not be there without you.
Keiran L, Davidson College Class of 2015
I have known Tony since my freshman year of high school and I can say with unwavering confidence that he is well connected and experienced in the world of college counseling. He genuinely cares about the students he works with and it shows in how well he is able to match students with environments where they will thrive and reach their full potential. I didn't give Davidson College a chance until Tony insisted for weeks that it would be a great fit for me. Thanks to him, I found and was admitted into the college with the perfect culture for my development as a student, a leader and as a person. I wholeheartedly recommend his counseling services to anyone who values the student-college fit. More than just a counselor, Tony is a trusted friend and a mentor and if his track record means anything, I have no doubt that he will continue to do great work in the college counseling realm.
Jesse O., McGill University Class of 2017
There isn’t a step in the college process that Tony isn’t there to help with. I started working with Tony at the beginning of my junior year, and I had no idea what I wanted. Tony helped me narrow down my list of school based on my major, wants, and needs. He not only helped plan college visits, but discussed my visits upon my return in order to narrow down schools moving forward. He served as a specialist to assist in essay brainstorming, writing, and countless rounds of editing. Tony consistently balanced the easy-going personality that I needed with just enough rigidness to make sure I didn’t miss the advanced deadlines that we set. He truly cares about each of his students and makes sure they have the best chance to end up where they want to be. Even 2 years after the process, I have returned to Tony for assistance with my transfer application, which he didn’t hesitate to assist me with in his off time. Tony helped me get to the top school on my list, and I could not have been happier.
Louis L, Swarthmore College Class of 2016
Tony Carnahan played such an instrumental role when it came time for me to really decide where I wanted to pursue a higher education. I had my eyes set on Columbia, and Tony supported my decision. What really showed me that Tony really cared about my education was the way he still fought for me after I received my first denial letter from Columbia. What I liked was the fact that he didn't beg that school to reconsider their denial, rather he simply told them that they made a huge mistake. He made me feel like I mattered.
After getting denied, Tony reminded me that life goes on. Tony was consistently calling, emailing and meeting with admissions officers from various schools. Tony pushed me to consider Swarthmore, a school I had not given much thought prior to our meetings together, but one that fits me perfectly. Tony believed in me and my ability to thrive at the right school. He once told me, "I'll get you in that interview room, because Swarthmore needs to know who you are". He knew me and he knew what I could offer, for that I'll always be grateful.
Tony is more than just a college counselor, he is a mentor, a supporter and someone who will really put his all for anyone with a goal and who is willing to work hard for it. Tony gets results. I am living proof of that.