Nina Marks - Marks Education Founder

Having been an independent school teacher and administrator for 30 years, Nina Marks left the National Cathedral School in June 2004 to open Marks Education. In October 2005, she founded Collegiate Directions, Inc. a non-profit organization. After spending many years as an English teacher, Nina became NCS’s Director of College Guidance in 1992. She wrote the National Cathedral School College Handbook, which was copyrighted and sold. During her tenure, she created and directed a nationally recognized college guidance program. In 2002, she assumed additional responsibilities as Assistant Head.

Before becoming NCS’s Director of College Guidance, Nina served for 10 years as a member of Harvard University’s Schools and Scholarships Committee. In addition, she participated in Brown University’s Alumni College Advising Program. Nina was educated in India, the United Kingdom, and at Harvard, where she graduated magna cum laude in English.

On the College Admissions Process

In her work with high school students and families over the past 40 years, Nina has seen stress levels over the college admissions process skyrocket.

“When things get challenging, people become reactive,” Nina said in a 2012 Washingtonian article “Too many people feel that if you’re aspiring to a selective post-secondary opportunity, you have to take what you are given—that it’s so random and so selective that there’s nothing you can do.”

The approach Marks takes is the opposite—the antidote to panic. It’s proactive, rooted in long-term planning. It’s strategic and intentional. And her clients say it works.

Nina is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and for several years served as co-director of NACAC’s program on Counseling for Selective College Admission, an annual workshop to facilitate communication between experienced high school counselors and college deans and directors of admission. She is also a member of the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling.

Collegiate Directions, Inc. A Non-Profit for Low-Income Students

As founder of Collegiate Directions, Inc. Nina dedicates significant time to raising awareness of college access, financial aid, and college readiness for low-income students. She has also spoken on issues relating to U.S. and international college admissions at national conferences, including NACAC, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the National Association of Independent Schools. Nina also has participated in regional and local events sponsored by such organizations as the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, and the Parents Council of Washington.

Nina in the News

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We were introduced to Nina Marks by a mutual friend and, by virtue of our being so far apart geographically, communicated only by long distance. Geography is no problem for Nina—her commitment extended to responding to voicemail while on a holiday in India. We thought the guidance counselor at our son’s private school was helpful, but Nina’s professional guidance raised the bar to levels we never imagined. Her probing questions, her coaching and her positioning our son for application completion, school tours, interviews and follow-up were brilliant. Every parent should consult with Nina before sending their child to college.

— Gilbert & Suzanne Matthews, San Antonio, Texas

As if the college admission process were insufficiently confusing and stressful, there is an additional burden on the secondary school athlete. In the interest of equality and to avoid discrimination, the NCAA must treat coveted, revenue-sport stars who can add millions of dollars to the income of an athletic department the same as bench warmers in sports that attract only the interest of scattered friends and family. Of necessity, the rules are complex and the penalties for non-compliance are draconian. Just imagine the conversation with your child if a well-intentioned effort causes either loss of eligibility or the end of a coach’s interest — particularly given a coach’s power in the admission decision.

In 2000, we worked with Nina to navigate these shoals with our daughter who was being recruited in three sports. In addition to the confusing requirements of the NCAA, the management of expectations of the various coaches was important to avoid loss of flexibility until the final decision was made.

Nina’s guidance was invaluable and helped our daughter’s admission to Harvard where she earned eight letters in field hockey and ice hockey and participated in five NCAA tournaments.

— Haven & Simmy Pell, Washington DC

Guiding our three, very different daughters through the college admissions process was not easy, but Nina mastered the challenge with exceptional skill, dedication and grace. She got to know each child well. Nina then skillfully helped (and at times guided) each of our daughters to consider schools that were right for her, and coached them through the process. In so doing, Nina drew on her encyclopedic knowledge of colleges throughout the U.S. and Europe, including not only the strengths and weaknesses of each school, but also the priorities and goals of each admissions office. Nina knows hundreds of admissions officers personally, and has invaluable insight into how they make their decisions.

Nina also worked tirelessly with us as parents — which is yet another challenge. She was always available to answer our questions, to consider alternatives and to soothe our anxieties. Throughout three very stressful admissions processes, Nina was a wise and steadfast friend and counselor. And in the end, each of our daughters was accepted at her first choice school.

— Mark & Fern Mazo, Chevy Chase, Maryland