PITTSTON — Marie Donnelly knows what the college admissions process is like.
A graduate of King’s College, she holds degrees in English, school counseling and professional counseling. She’s also been through the process with her own three children.
“My senior daughter (Vienna) is my worst client,” joked the West Pittston resident. “She doesn’t like to listen to what I say.”
Donnelly is putting that knowledge and experience to practice as the proprietor of Better Your Odds, a college admissions counseling service, which held a grand opening on Friday at its new location, 49 S. Main St. Suite 318.
Donnelly, 46, took over the business earlier this year, when it was located in Dickson City. The service offers planning for students starting in their junior year of high school in terms of choosing colleges, filling out applications, completing a high school resume, prepping for college interviews and more.
“I help high school kids get into the college of their choice,” she said. “There are a lot of parents dealing with their oldest child, the first one to go to college. I always say they don’t know what they don’t know.”
Donnelly, who is also an English teacher at Scranton Prep and taught at Seton Catholic, said the college admissions process has changed drastically since she was in high school — and so has the availability of high school guidance counselors to assist students.
“Guidance counselors are so overburdened today — what schools really need is a college counselor,” she said. “A lot of times counselors are dealing with social issues, and the ratio of students to guidance counselors is just a crazy amount.”
Donnelly said she starts the process with an evaluation that includes the student and his or her parents or guardians. After that, she meets with students by appointment for at least an hour and a half at a time until their college applications are complete and sent.
“Students have access to me 24-7,” she said.
While she does offer pricing packages for her clients, Donnelly said she’s never turned a student away for financial reasons.
“Kids need help, and I’m here to help them,” she said.
Donnelly, a graduate of Pittston Area, said she’s looking forward to being part of the downtown community. She said the owners of the building, Reilly and Associates, have been very accommodating.
She even sponsored the race staff T-shirts for the Miles for Michael/Tomato Festival 5K event on Aug. 20.
“They never had staff shirts before so I was happy to do it,” said Donnelly.
Donnelly and her husband, Edward, have three children: Christopher, 23, who graduated from Colgate University with a degree in forensic chemistry; Terrence, 22, who graduated from Loyola University with a degree in mechanical engineering; and Vienna, 17, a senior at Scranton Prep.