About Diane Connolly

diane-officeDiane has been working in college admissions and college counseling since 2007, when she left her long-time career as an award-winning professional writer and editor for “something that felt more rewarding.” “As corny as it may sound,” she says, “I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.”

College counseling became her second career – and her passion – and she’s been building her expertise ever since. Diane received her Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, graduating from that well-regarded program with distinction. She also worked as an outside evaluator for Vanderbilt University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, where she reviewed hundreds of applications from the “other side of the desk.” Prior to launching College Well Planned, she worked for seven years as the college counselor at St. Cecilia Academy, a private, all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee.

Diane has personally visited more than 150 college and university campuses – and the list keeps growing – with the goal of providing truly informed advice on campus settings, offerings, and social and academic climates. An ardent lifelong learner, Diane spends hours each week reading about the latest trends and developments in college admissions; she starts every morning with a thorough review of the latest news in higher education – information that she can then pass on to her clients. As a member of multiple professional organizations, she travels to national and regional conferences, attends counselor fly-in programs, and maintains professional contacts with admissions officers throughout the country.

Her credentials speak to her professional expertise, but they don’t tell you some of the most compelling reasons for working with Diane. She and her husband, Patrick (an AP English teacher), have gone through the college process five times themselves. Their children each found their own, very different, “best-fit” colleges: Eric (UNC-Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt University, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering); Meaghan (Loyola University Chicago, Public Relations/Advertising and Spanish); Brendan (Princeton University, American Politics and member of the Princeton basketball team); Evan (Washington University in St. Louis, Biology-Neuroscience, pre-med track), and Griffin (Boston College, History with a Concentration in Journalism).

“I completely understand what parents go through during this college process,” Diane says. “It can feel completely overwhelming, and emotions can change from anger and frustration to joy – even to real grief – in a matter of weeks, days or even hours.

“But I also know that this crazy, complicated college process can be a very special time for a family. It can be a really exciting time if done right. My goal is to take away the inherent stress, manage the details, and let parents and children actually enjoy this time together.”


A.B., Journalism, Indiana University (minors in Biology and Chemistry)
UCLA Certificate in College Counseling (With Distinction)
Independent Educational Consultants Association Summer Training Institute 2015, Claremont McKenna College
Additional coursework: “Financial Aid for Professionals” (taught by noted college financial aid expert Lynne O’Shaunessy)

Professional Memberships:

National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC)
Southern Association for College Admissions Counseling (SACAC)
Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), Associate Member