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Meet The Academic Match Team

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Paula Friedman

Founder & President

Paula Friedman founded The Academic Match in 2011 and serves as the practice's managing director and principal college and career advisor. She is the co-creator of BIG Essay Ideas Cards, a unique tool that provides inspiration for thoughtful personal statements and essays for college, graduate school, internships and scholarships.

Paula earned her UCLA Extension College Counseling Certificate With Distinction, attended the IECA Summer Training Institute, and interned in the Newbury Park High School College & Career Center. Paula was the official Substitute College & Career Guidance Specialist at Newbury Park High School in 2017-2018 & at Thousand Oaks High School in 2018-2019. She served as the College & Career Center Technician at Oak Park High School from 2019-2021.


Paula enjoys conducting college essay and application workshops and has been a guest speaker at Conejo Valley Unified School District College Information Nights and at College Knowledge Nights at Synergy Academics in West Hills.

Paula is an active member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC), Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA), and CWICC (Consortium of Women in College Counseling).

Paula is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Duke University, where she double-majored in Psychology and French. While at Duke, Paula worked in the Duke University Admissions Office for all four years, reviewing student applications and portfolios. She received her MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross Graduate School of Business, where she concentrated in Marketing and worked in the Career Placement Office for two years. Paula was a Duke Alumni Admissions Interviewer for over 20 years and conducts mock interviews with her students.

Prior to becoming a college and career advisor in 2011, Paula’s professional experience was focused on marketing research and consumer insights. She worked on numerous internationally recognized brands for a wide range of consumer product companies, including Gatorade at The Quaker Oats Company (PepsiCo), Capri Sun, Crystal Light, and Kool-Aid at Kraft, Nesquik at Nestle, as well as most products in the portfolios for Newman’s Own and for Dole Foods.

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Laura Gallop

Writing Assistant

Laura Gallop has worked with Paula Friedman and The Academic Match for the past several years as a writing advisor to high school students, assisting them with their college application essays. She enjoys the process of helping students transform a rough draft essay into a final version that showcases the student's unique strengths, passions, qualities, and character. Laura is particularly skilled at making sure the student's personal statement is reflective of his or her experiences, is grammatically correct, and is clearly written with the student's own voice.

Laura earned her Bachelor's Degree in Social Science from the University of California-Berkeley and her Master's Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. In addition to helping high school students with their college essays/personal statements, Laura has also edited memoirs and small business marketing materials. She was a Senior Analyst for the City of San Jose where she wrote several successful grants and was the department editor for a multitude of written materials. She focused on youth programming, oversaw a city-wide afterschool homework center program, and worked with the Gang Prevention Unit.

Laura also worked for the Cal Alumni Association, where her responsibilities included coordinating information sessions for newly admitted students and supervising the Alumni Scholarship interview process in Southern California. During her free time, Laura is a volunteer Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages for the County of Los Angeles and enjoys performing civil weddings in the San Fernando Valley. She served on the Every 15 Minutes Committee at Agoura High School, a biennial program that realistically portrays the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence or distracted driving.

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