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Greetings, and welcome to Sempervirens College Counseling! My name is Peter Baxter.

I’ve worked in higher education for nine years, eight of which have been spent advising high school students and their families on all aspects of the college application process. I began my admissions career at the University of Notre Dame, where I both read and evaluated applications as an admissions counselor. After Notre Dame, I worked first in Shanghai, China helping high-achieving high school students apply to U.S. universities, and then served in similar college counseling roles at independent schools in Florida and here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love this work!

Including my time in Shanghai, I’ve spent the last eight years working with over 700 individual college applicants and their families. Each year, I’m consistently inspired by the uniqueness, creativity, insight, wisdom, strength, bravery, intellectual power, and humor of every student I work with. I get to listen, learn, and laugh a whole lot every day in this profession, and for that I’m very grateful.

I am thrilled, humbled, and honored to continue the college counseling work that I love here with Sempervirens College Counseling, a firm I founded in February 2023. Every student is different; here are the areas in which I’ve helped students and families in the past:

  • helping students cultivate strategic, ambitious, practical, balanced college lists,

  • editing and revising application essays in real time through live conversations with students (in my experience, this is where the best essay content comes from!),

  • answering, or finding answers to, as many questions as students and families encounter over the course of our work together, whether over email, phone, Zoom, or in person,

  • conducting intensive mock admissions interviews and helping students build mental reference models to convey their narratives most effectively,

  • helping students think through activities lists at all stages of a student’s high school career (spoiler: there is no “right” or “best” activity!),

  • project management for college apps: organizing, structuring, planning timelines for, and executing students’ many moving pieces of application work so that everything is completed far ahead of deadlines,

  • talking through financial aid considerations,

  • weighing academic course selection decisions for each year of high school, and

  • serving as a sounding board for eventual college choice discernment conversations.

I intentionally maintain a very limited caseload; this is to ensure that each student and family can receive my full attention in all of the above ways. I have plenty of time for you, and I am fiercely committed to keeping it that way.

If you’d like to reach out at any point with questions, ideas, feedback, or just to say hello, please email or call me and I will respond within one business day (usually sooner). 

If you are a student, please know that whether we work together or not during the college app process, you already have everything it takes to be successful in this process. You can do it!

If you're a parent or guardian, know that your child will find success, and that they will be just fine, no matter where things are starting from. All will be well--go ahead and take a deep breath. Like, actually take one now. You don't have to tell anyone why, or even that you did.

Best wishes for a calm college app process for you and your family! Good luck, and take care.

- Peter


Founder & CEO

Writing letters of recommendation as a college counselor based in high schools was one of my greatest honors each year. Now, though, no rec letters means more time to meet with students and families, and more weekends to hike among the Sequoia sempervirens. Find me at the vista point on the trail, in the kitchen, reading futurism articles, or at


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