College Counseling: Who Will Counsel Us?

Dave Berry Dave Berry, Senior Counselor, 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 [link to] (Random House), and has over 20 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. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessment, and Web-based admissions counseling.

Dave is a College of Arts and Architecture graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns, and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions 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 the 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 question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States.

Dave loves classical music, computers, visiting colleges, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon live in Central Pennsylvania and they have a daughter, son, and (as of this writing) one grandson.

For more information, view Dave Berry's testimonials.


Sally Rubenstone Sally Rubenstone Senior Counselor, 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 Weekend, 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 navigate the college-admissions maze. 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 two decades, she only became a first-time mom herself 12 years ago, at the ripe old age of 45. Now, as her son heads off to middle school, she hopes that she can give the same guidance and comfort to others that she will soon need herself

For more information, view Sally's testimonials.


Ann PlayeAnn Playe, Associate Counselor, worked with Sally Rubenstone in admission 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 admission and financial aid processes. Until recently, Ann served as Director of South Sales in the Sallie Mae Graduate and Professional Program. Her children, 28 and 25, 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 is a fervent believer in seeking out the best possible student-school matches. 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!).

Shanti Menon, Associate Counselor, has a graduate degree in education and nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of teaching, evaluation, and research. She came to understand the complexities of the admission process while working on a research project focused on the retention of minority students at elite colleges. She is a certified College Confidential adjunct counselor and has advised many students who have been accepted at their first-choice colleges. Her clients have included international students, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, and Asian students in America. Having gone through the process with her daughter, an Ivy League student, Shanti helps high schoolers and their families keep their sense of humor while going through the stressful college admissions process.


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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