Local college counselor sets students on the right educational path

Jennifer MacLure, founder of My Pathway to College
(My Pathway to College)

Encinitas native will host My Pathway Conference for students at USD this summer


As an independent college counselor, Jennifer MacLure understands more than most that each student has their own unique pathway when it comes to taking the next step in their education.

With her company, My Pathway to College, she aims to take the stress out of applying to colleges, help students find their best-fit school and put together an application that will stand out. Based in Solana Beach, MacClure founded My Pathway 10 years ago and has helped more than 500 students navigate the right route to college in what can be a very overwhelming process.

“I love it, I don’t feel like it’s a job. I love getting texts from students when they get into their schools, when they didn’t think it could happen or college was not on their radar,” MacLure said. “I love being able to help kids and de-stress the process and to be a positive mentor and an advocate—to let them know that they can do it, that is really important.”

For the first time ever, MacLure is hosting her own college conference this summer.

“With all the changes and uncertainty we have seen an increase in people reaching out,” MacLure said. “The company has been growing and we can only take on a small number of students a year…We wanted to find other ways to support students.”

From July 29-Aug. 2, she will put on the “My Pathway Conference: The Pre-College Experience” at the University of San Diego. The event will give students a taste of living on campus while equipping them with essay writing support and college application support, as well as a community service project.

The conference will be held just in time for the opening of The Common App on Aug. 1.

MacLure is an Encinitas native and a graduate of La Costa Canyon High School. She attended Cal Poly for undergrad and received her masters in counseling from the University of San Diego and her college counseling certificate from UC San Diego.

Before starting her own business, MacLure was a school counselor at Carlsbad’s Army and Navy Academy and ran their college counseling program for eight years.

“After working at the school I saw a need for providing individual support and started my own education consulting services.,” she said.

“I really enjoy helping to identify colleges that are a good fit,” she said. Some students maybe focused on the name brands or mom and dad’s alma maters but she said there is so much more possible out there and she wants to help put students on the right path.

MacClure remembers when applying to Cal Poly required a floppy disk, which she thought was way ahead of its time.

Times are different, especially post-pandemic.

This fall, more than 80% of colleges won’t require standardized tests, which has created a more holistic approach to the application process.

MacClure said going test-optional is a positive for underserved students who might not have access to test prep or for students who simply don’t test well. The drawback is that the process has become very competitive and more students are applying to more colleges—some schools like Northeastern University saw a 50% increase in applications and last year over-enrolled because they admitted too many students.

MacClure said she has noticed a trend toward early acceptances. Last year at Tulane University, only 2% of students were regular decision—98% of students were admitted early to give the college a better idea of who is coming in to prevent over-enrolling.

The wait list is another strategy that many colleges are using. Schools in the UC system have taken a conservative approach to acceptances to help gauge enrollment, she said, resulting in many students being wait-listed.

With tests optional, letters of recommendations carry a heavier weight, as do essays: “College essays are going to be very important because a student can explain more about who they are,” she said.

Whenever a school provides an optional essay or interview as part of the application process, MacLure strongly recommends students take advantage of that.

To stay up to date on the latest college offerings and help students find their best fit, MacLure visits approximately 20 colleges a year. She just returned from North Carolina and in May will head out to Seattle and Vancouver.

Her team starts working with students as early as ninth grade. They discuss academic interests, perform career assessments to explore majors, and recommend summer programs for students to try. She had one student who was dead-set on going to art school but after participating in a summer program, she decided she wanted a more traditional four-year college experience, where everyone was on their own unique tracks. MacLure said it’s not uncommon that students’ college lists shift with time, feedback and advice.

By junior year, students work with the My Pathway team to narrow down college lists, and the summer prior to senior year students work on applications and essays, trying to get as much done as they can over summer because senior year gets so busy: “If you can get a lot done over summer it will make the process more manageable and much less stressful,” MacLure said.

According to student testimonials, they valued how My Pathway helped understand everything about the application process, sharpened their essays and helped ensure they stayed on top of the deadlines.

“I have loved working with My Pathway to College this past year,” wrote one student in the class of 2021, now attending Stanford University. “Not only did they help me get into my dream college, but they spent countless hours working with me and truly helped me discover my voice.”

Parent testimonials have praised MacClure’s enthusiasm, encouragement and great advice.

“They are kind, patient, and my kids enjoyed working with them,” wrote one Encinitas parent who has used My Pathway for all three of their children, one a Cal graduate, one a senior at Cal Poly and one starting applications as a member of the class of 2024. “Take the stress off of yourself as the parent, and let them help! It will be the best decision.”

Learn more about My Pathway to College services and upcoming conference at