College Counseling: Who Will Counsel Us?

Dave Berry Dave Berry, Co-Director, College Karma

Dave is co-founder of College Karma, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. Thanks to College Karma's "distance counseling" approach, Dave's clients come from many different countries. While an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, and personality and temperament assessment, he is now specializes as an elder statesman in the area of application essays.

Dave is a College of Arts and Architecture graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, with a B.A in Music History and Literature. He has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns, and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the exacting discipline of college admissions (specifically in essays) and his role as a student advocate.

His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence, and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for Best New Page.

His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. Dave also won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge Q&A columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States.

Dave loves classical music, stereo equipment, Corvettes, and Miniature Dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon live in Central Pennsylvania and have a daughter, son, and four grandchildren.

For more information, view Dave Berry's testimonials.


Sally Rubenstone Sally Rubenstone, Co-Director College Karma

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: from the first time the "C" word comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm-room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges; and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People, and Seventeen.

Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds, and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills, and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens, and Tel Aviv.

As senior counselor and contributing writer for College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents through the college admissions quagmire. In 2008 she co-founded College Karma with Dave Berry and continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor.

Although Sally has been dispensing advice to anxious families for more than three decades, she only became a mom herself in 1997, at the ripe old age of 45. Now she is the senior-citizen mother of a college student, delighted that she won't have to navigate the admissions maze as a parent ever again!

For more information, view Sally's testimonials.


Ann PlayeAnn Playe, Senior Associate Counselor

Ann worked with Sally Rubenstone in admissions at Smith where she served as Associate Director of both Admission and Financial Aid. For more than a decade, she recruited students from public and private schools throughout the United States and evaluated admission files from applicants from all over the world. She contributed her financial aid expertise to Sally's book, Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions and has, herself, soothed many a panicked parent and student as they struggled with the college admissions and financial aid processes.

Ann served as Director of South Sales in the Sallie Mae Graduate and Professional Program. Her children both readily (and a bit surprisingly) accepted their mother's advice on applying to college, attending and completing their education at their first-choice colleges: Amherst College and St. Michael's College. Both are now gainfully and happily (!) employed.

Ann received a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College (her first-choice college) and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, which was not her first choice but would have been had she known what she now knows!

Ann is a fervent believer in seeking out the best possible student-school matches. Now entering her tenth year of employment with College Karma, Ann has found great satisfaction from working with College Karma's clients and, in particular, the younger siblings of former clients. There is no greater compliment than having a family seek college admission counseling advice again from the College Karma staff. We have worked with many sibling pairs and in one case, all three sons from one family.

For more information, view Ann's testimonials.


If you are considering investing in counseling, whether you need help finding the right school or in developing a winning strategy for the Ivies, you can be assured that College Karma's Dave Berry and his highly qualified staff will provide the highest quality advice.

A Commitment to Honesty. Did you ever see one of those art-school ads that invited readers to submit a sketch of theirs? Remarkably, just about everyone who responded was found to have great talent - talent that could be developed if the person enrolled in a costly art course! Some college counselors can pursue a similar strategy - provide an exaggerated picture of a student's chances in order to earn a fee. College Karma is committed to providing open, honest feedback at every step of the process. While selective school admissions are notoriously difficult to predict for applicants who meet the basic qualifications, we strive to do our utmost to help each student get into his first choice school without building false or misleading expectations.

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