College Karma

Counseling Services

The help you need to make your college dreams a reality!

Whether you're looking at Harvard or Hampshire, MIT or Michigan State, Princeton or Pomona, Swarthmore or Skidmore ... or even if you aren't sure where you'd like to go, we can help. College Karma understands that the college entrance process is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for each student, and we offer a variety of services to meet most every need and budget.

Today's competitive college admissions climate, coupled with a reduction in guidance services in many schools and an overload of "helpful" information everywhere, can mean that students and their parents can become frazzled and confused as they navigate the admissions maze. College Karma promises expert advice and speedy turnaround time to make the process successful and perhaps even enjoyable (well, at least occasionally).

All College Karma counseling is handled by email, which is completely convenient for clients. Such "distance counseling" means that there is no need to schedule meetings or phone conferences. The written aspect of email is also ideal for documenting each step of the college entrance process. Students and parents don't have to worry about remembering what was said in a meeting or phone call. Everything is available for them anytime through College Karma's email documentation. (Please see our Services Warranty Disclaimer.)


Ivy Guaranteed Admissions Program - A college counseling breakthrough! College Karma offers counseling with a guarantee. We know how hard it is to choose a counselor, and this is our way of making it easier. IGAP is the ultimate in admissions help, from experts with years of success in elite-college and university admissions... Click for full IGAP details.

Note: Essay help for IGAP clients is limited to the main Common Application essay and any IGAP-related colleges' Common Application supplemental statements. Additional help required for statements beyond those, such as scholarship and honors programs essays, will be subject to our standard Essay Service fees (see below). Also, if an IGAP client is applying to combined Bachelors/MD programs as part of his or her IGAP 10-college group, then each BS/BA-MD program will count as two (2) colleges toward the IGAP 10-college limit.

Stats Eval: Can you get in? What are your chances at your target colleges and universities? College Karma helps you choose schools wisely by evaluating your stats (GPA, class rank, test scores, etc.), extracurricular accomplishments, and writing ability (remember: essays are a crucial part of competitive-college applications). Just fill out the simple Stats Evaluation form and paste in your writing sample. You will receive by return e-mail a fast, accurate, and professional estimate of your level of admissions competitiveness and suggestions on how to be more competitive, and the names of additional schools to consider. As part of your Stats Evaluation, you'll also receive a follow-up response to any questions you have. View a sample Stats Eval. All Stats Evals are performed by a College Karma counseling expert - NOT a computer!

Note: Once we receive your paid Stats Evaluation order, we will send you the Stats Eval form by email.

Investment: $150 (Credited in full toward all counseling packages)

Hourly Counseling: For students who need specialized help with just one part of the college search or admissions process, or who have other needs that aren't met by a standard College Karma package, a la carte advising is available on an hourly basis. Contact us by e-mail for an estimate of time required to meet your needs, and for discount pricing on pre-purchased blocks of 5, 10, and 20 hours.

Investment: $150 per hour

Senior Year Counseling Package: This is like having a personal college consultant "on call" nearly 24/7. Those nagging, stressful questions that keep you up at night will be answered almost as soon as you've finished your breakfast bagel! The College Karma senior package offers great value to the family who wants access to professional guidance throughout the college search and admissions process and is designed for students who have a relatively straightforward profile and realistic college goals. The full-year package includes a Stats Evaluation, search assistance and suggestions (including safety - ballpark - reach recommendations), essay and application reviews (up to two unique major essays), interview advice, and full-year availability of an expert advisor. As questions occur throughout the year, College Karma will answer them promptly. Up to twelve months of counseling through June 30 of the student's senior year. (See Payment Terms.)

Investment: $4,000 (6 - 12 months of counseling, ending June 30)


Super Senior Year Counseling Package: This program is for the applicant (and his or her family) with complex circumstances. It is designed for students with special needs (ADHD, dyslexia, or other disabilities), for those with erratic transcripts, for returning students, homeschoolers, international students, for candidates aiming for colleges that may be just out of reach, etc. The package includes all the services of our regular Senior Year Package (above) plus assistance with two additional unique major essays (for a total of four) and two one-hour phone consultations, for a real-time discussion of special circumstances, interview prep, or any associated needs. If these phone consultations aren't needed, they may be exchanged for help with one additional main essay. The Super Senior Package is our best single-counselor service.

(See Payment Terms.)

Investment: $6,500 (6 - 12 months of counseling, ending June 30)


College Karma's HYbrid Program is the result of popular demand. It provides comprehensive services that are identical to those offered by "IGAP," above, but at a lower cost and without the fee-refund guarantee.

The HYP Team. You will work exclusively with College Karma director Dave Berry and a second senior counselor, who will personally oversee all aspects of the college-selection and application process. Multiple viewpoints simulate real-world admissions-committee review. [Note: Students are free to apply to additional colleges and universities, but our HYP assistance covers only 10 schools.]

Unlimited Essay Advice. Applicants will get assistance on all application essays (up to those required by a maximum of 10 institutions) even when multiple, unique, major essays are required. Also included is assistance with those short, but important (and often annoying!), narrative responses ("What did you do this past summer?" etc.). "Elite" applications require extensive writing, and the applicant's task can be daunting. Essays can also be the tiebreaker that will send some applications to the "Accepted" pile while others, from equally qualified candidates, land in "Denied." HYP's comprehensive essay services can make a significant difference.

Note: Essay help for HYP clients is limited to the main Common Application essay and any HYP-related colleges' Common Application supplemental statements. Additional help required for statements beyond those, such as scholarship and honors programs essays, will be subject to our standard Essay Service fees (see below). Also, if an HYP client is applying to combined Bachelors/MD programs as part of his or her HYP 10-college group, then each BS/BA-MD program will count as two (2) colleges toward the HYP 10-college limit.

(See Payment Terms.)

Investment: $10,000 (6 - 24 months of counseling, ending June 30)

OTHER College Karma Counseling Services

Transfer Counseling Package: While many students will attend the same school for four years, there are times when a transfer makes sense. A change in majors can also dictate a different college, or strong academic performance in a student's first year or two may provide a realistic chance for admission to a more elite university. College Karma will help with the entire transfer application process: assessing the chances at individual schools, identifying other possibilities, developing a transfer strategy, essay and application reviews (up to two unique major essays), and full-year availability of experienced counseling. (See Payment Terms.)

Investment: $3,000 (6 - 12 months of counseling, ending June 30)

College Application Essay Help: When a college considers two similarly qualified candidates, the deciding factor can sometimes be the application essay. Admission committees seek essays that provide insight into candidates that may not be found elsewhere in the application. The College Karma counselors understand what makes a college application essay outstanding. CK helps applicants to identify appropriate and interesting essay topics and to develop essays that are well written and unique. Note that, while a student will probably complete multiple applications, a single, versatile essay can often be used with minor changes for many of them. College Karma does not write application essays for our essay-help clients. Ours is a comprehensive conceptual, developmental, and editing service that provides creative guidance for drafting, focusing, and polishing written statements.

Investment: Undergraduate - $250 (per each 500 word essay)

Investment: Graduate/Professional - $450 (per each 750 - 1000 word essay)


Deferral/Waitlist Action: Have you been deferred via Early Decision or Early Action or waitlisted at a top-choice college? If so, what can you do to turn that thin envelope into a fat envelope? If you do nothing, that's exactly what will happen: nothing. Our Deferral/Waitlist package includes our best-selling Stats Evaluation plus four hours of expert counseling. We'll guide you through the proper strategies and help you make your best-possible appeal.

Investment: $600

Financial Aid Counseling Services

Financial Aid Counseling Package: This package, incorporating up to 3 hours of counseling, is designed for families who will have some eligibility for need-based aid (generally those with annual gross income of $150,000 or less). An experienced former college financial aid officer will help you understand forms, terminology, presentation, and review of aid offers through the application and financial aid offer process senior year. Pre-screen yourself with the financial aid calculator on the College Board Web site to determine if you are likely to be eligible for any need-based aid at colleges you are considering. Our package also includes counseling on merit aid and parent financing options.

Investment: $299

Paying for College: Advice for Families Who Don't Qualify For Aid: This package, incorporating up to 2 hours of counseling, is designed for families who will likely not be eligible for any need-based aid (generally those with an annual gross income that exceeds $150,000). An experienced former college financial aid officer (and parent of two college graduates) will help you develop appropriate payment strategies through payment plans and higher education financing products during senior year. Our package also includes counseling on merit aid.

Investment: $199

Assessing, Comparing, and Reviewing Financial Aid Offers: This package, incorporating up to 2 hours of counseling, is designed to help families compare different financial aid offers and develop strategies for reviewing offers with college aid offices. Our package also includes advice on higher education financing products such as parent loans and payment plans, addressed by an experienced former college financial aid officer.

Investment: $199

Hourly advice: This service is for parents or students who don't require an entire package but who would like to have specific financial questions answered or general concerns addressed by an experienced former college financial aid officer via email.

Investment: $150 per hour

Test Prep Services from Shakespeare, Einstein and Co.

The SATs and the ACTs are a rite of passage for college-bound students. The very thought of having to take a standardized test is enough to make most students cringe, and with good reason. These tests are long and preparation is key - after all, who could run a marathon without extensive training? But we believe that getting ready for the SATs and the ACTs should not be a painful process.

Over the years we have meticulously analyzed dozens and dozens of actual tests and developed a strategy that will demystify the SATs and the ACTs for any student. Although initially these tests may seem daunting or overwhelming, there is a method to the madness. Since stress and anxiety can dramatically lower your score, it's vital to know exactly what to expect. We will help you get to know each test and understand its fundamental philosophy and internal logic. The tests consistently focus on the same topics and, luckily, the question types are repetitive and predictable; therefore, you don't need to know every grammar rule of English, nor every geometry theorem. We'll teach you exactly what you need to know. We make it easy!

Through practice, our students achieve a level of familiarity and comfort that enables them to focus on the test and achieve higher scores, often surpassing their goals.

Shakespeare, Einstein and Co. is proud to offer standardized test prep for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, and SSAT (GRE, GMAT, and LSAT prep is also available - just ask!), as well as general academic tutoring. Our lessons are conducted via Skype. We strongly recommend that each lesson be 1.5 hours.

We offer a FREE initial 30-minute Consultation Session. We request that both the student and the parent(s) be present. Please have all your score reports and other relevant materials on hand. Place your order here:

1 hour - $150

1.5 hours - $200

Note: Shakespeare, Einstein and Co. is an independent test preparation business with no formal affiliation to College Karma Consulting LLC. College Karma is not liable for any claims made against Shakespeare, Einstein and Co.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many lessons will my child need?

Since we design an individualized study plan for each of our students, there is no simple answer to this question. The student's baseline and target scores, dedication, and learning pace are just a few of the factors that affect the duration of tutoring. We cater to your child's specific needs.

Please be aware that we do not offer quick-fix courses - no tricks, no gimmicks. We believe in the value of knowledge and thorough understanding. The skills we teach help our students not only do better on standardized tests, but also improve in school and prepare for the challenges of college.

When and how many times should I take the SAT / ACT?

There is no one answer that applies to every student in every situation. Most of our students take the test three times. While some may achieve their target score on the second (or even the first) try, it's good to leave ample time in your schedule for three attempts. Because both the SATs and the ACTs offer "Score Choice," you can take the test as many times as you need. (Please be aware that some top-tier colleges request to see all of your scores. You should double-check with your advisor or on Web sites to see whether any of your prospective colleges fall in this category.)

Most guidance counselors suggest starting in May or June of your junior year. We disagree! Not only is this problematic for students who have AP tests during that time, it is also often an issue for varsity athletes. We believe that starting earlier - January, if not October, of your junior year - is significantly better. That way if there's an unexpected choir trip in March, a national robotics competition in May, or a major project due in June, you have leeway. There are eight test dates (including a Sunday option) for the SAT and six for the ACT every year. We will work with you to determine a testing plan that will work with your schedule.

You can, in fact, take either test as late as October or sometimes November of your senior year and have your scores ready in time for Early Action and Early Decision deadlines. If you're not applying early, you can take the SAT as late as January and the ACT as late as December. However, we strongly recommend that you plan to complete the majority of your testing as a junior and devote the fall of your senior year to writing college essays.

What is your guarantee?

Unlike many large test prep companies, we do not guarantee a specific numeric score improvement. In fact, you should beware of anyone who does! Read the fine print: no company will ever give you your money back. Generally, if the student doesn't improve, he or she can take the course again at no cost. But if the course didn't help the first time, why would it make a difference the second time?

Because there are so many factors involved in the prep process, we cannot guarantee that each and every student will improve "at least 300 points." Progress depends on the student's willingness, aptitude, enthusiasm, completion of homework, and much more. Furthermore, there is no way to guarantee optimal conditions on the test day itself. Poor sleep the night before, the sniffles, a recent break-up, or worry about Monday's math test can all play a role. We wish we could come to the testing center and hold each student's hand, but we can't.

What we do guarantee is that we will work very hard for our students: establish a personal relationship and provide individualized guidance, focusing on their specific needs. By the end, they will know as much as we do about the SAT and ACT - and we know a lot!

What is a good score?

This question is misleading. You should really ask "what is the right score for me?" The answer depends on a wide variety of factors. What colleges are you considering? What is your GPA? Are you a good "test taker"? It is nearly impossible to predict how much weight a particular college will give to your SAT/ACT score in any particular year. Your score is part of a bigger equation, which includes your GPA, extracurriculars, sports, volunteering, recommendations, work experience, difficulty of your classes, and of course, your college essay.

Each test is scored on a bell curve. Each test has its own Score Conversion Table: all the scores are adjusted based on how well everyone does who takes the test on the particular date. 500 is always the median score on the SAT and 20 on the ACT, meaning that 50% of the test takers score above and 50% below these numbers.

Why do straight-A students often have poor initial SAT/ACT scores?

The SATs and the ACTs are designed to eliminate curriculum-based differences between schools and level the field for all students. However standardized testing falls short of this lofty goal, often placing "good" students at a disadvantage. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) there is no direct correlation between grades and standardized test scores. Although tests like the SATs and the ACTs do test some knowledge acquired in school, they also test the ability to take the test - an incredibly long test which is unlike anything the student has encountered in high school! Even the questions themselves are often phrased in a way that's unfamiliar and confusing.

The good news is that the question types and the topics tested are consistent and predictable, so practice can make a world of difference!

Which Study Guide should I use?

This is the single most important question you should ask. Many large test prep companies publish their own study guides. But where do they get the questions? The answer is: They make them up! So how can they be sure that their questions are like those on the real test?

We strongly believe that the only way to prepare for a test is to use real questions that have appeared on previous tests. We only use authentic materials and study guides published by the test makers themselves. Even if you chose to study by yourself, we urge you to use the following materials:

SAT: The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd edition
ACT: The Real ACT (CD) 3rd Edition


Do colleges want me to take the ACT, the SAT or both?

All colleges now accept both the SAT and the ACT and do not have a preference for either test. We generally recommend starting with the SAT and then trying the ACT, because the ACT covers a wider range of topics than the SAT.

What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT? Which one is right for me?

There are some fundamental differences between these tests, which are advantageous to some students and unfavorable to others. The main differences between the two tests are the following:

  • The ACT does not penalize you for guessing; the SAT does (you lose .25 of a raw score point for each incorrect answer).
  • The ACT has a "science" section; the SAT does not. (Note that the science section does not require any actual scientific knowledge. Instead it tests applications of scientific concepts and methods.)
  • Though both are timed tests, the ACT is much more fast-paced than the SAT; thus, many students have trouble finishing on time.

You (and we) won't know which test is right for you until you try both! We have many sample tests for you to practice on. We will work with you to determine which test is better suited for your unique combination of skills, academic inclinations, and aptitudes.


What is the PSAT and is it important?

Many students, parents, and even guidance counselors mistakenly think that the PSAT is just a practice test - a Practice SAT (PSAT). In fact, the PSAT's true purpose is to identify potential candidates for the National Merit Scholarship Program (this is why the PSAT is also known as the NMSQT - National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test).

Though students take the PSAT in October of both their sophomore and junior years, only junior-year scores are considered for the scholarship. The qualifying score differs from state to state and even from year to year. Current state-specific information can be found here.

PSAT scores are NOT reported to colleges, so there is no reason not to attempt the PSAT. Even if you don't think you can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, the PSAT provides good practice in a real testing environment.

How does the PSAT relate to the SAT?

The PSAT is a good preview for the SAT. Although significantly shorter than the SAT (2 hours and 15 minutes, as opposed to 3 hours and 45 minutes), the PSAT tests mostly the same topics and has the same types of questions as the SAT (with the exception of a few Algebra II concepts that appear on the SAT and not the PSAT). The major difference is that there is NO essay on the PSAT!

The PSAT is scored similarly to the SAT, except that PSAT scores are reported on a 20-80 scale and the SAT on a 200-800 scale. So PSAT score of 56 on math, is roughly equivalent to 560 math score on the SAT.

However, PSAT scores are not necessarily an accurate predictor of SAT scores. Because the PSAT has fewer questions, each question is worth more, so there is a greater margin of error. Another major factor is the length of the test. Taking the SAT is like running a marathon - not all students can sustain a high level of concentration for 4 consecutive hours.

SAT Subject Tests

What are these?

SAT Subject Tests, previously known as SAT IIs are each one-hour-long and you can take up to three on the same test day. You have a choice of Language (Spanish, German, French, etc.), Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Math (Level 1 and 2), Literature, and History (World or US).

Should I take SAT Subject Tests?

Not all colleges require you to take SAT Subject Tests. You should double check whether your prospective colleges "require" or only "consider" SAT Subject Tests. To make things even more confusing, some colleges require you to take the Subject Tests if and only if you take the regular SAT. If you take the ACT Plus Writing, you don't have to take the SAT Subject Tests at all. However, if you can do well on the Subject Tests, there is no reason not to take them. They can often show off a strength that the SAT or ACT will not.

Who we are:

Cayte has been tutoring since the first grade. She has always had a penchant for teaching and a knack for explaining concepts in a clear and simple way. Cayte is an Ivy Leaguer (Yale '04), majoring in Humanities. After a brief stint teaching classes for Princeton Review, Cayte realized that she could be more effective one-on-one, as a private tutor. After spending countless hours poring over test questions, Cayte has developed her own unique approach to the SAT and the ACT. Having been the quintessential "math person" in high school, Cayte remembers her own frustrations with the Verbal part of the SATs, so she strives to be the kind of tutor she wished she had. Cayte has helped many students all over the world raise their English scores beyond their expectations.

Lynn is a certified teacher and a consummate math tutor, with nearly 40 years of experience. After completing her Master's in Math Education, she taught in the classroom for a decade. She has been tutoring math privately ever since. She has taught numerous SAT classes and created an SAT summer camp program as part of Project Grad and Gear Up, government-funded projects to help underprivileged inner-city students in Newark, NJ. She has also trained hundreds of teachers in various school systems across New Jersey, Texas, and Delaware. She developed numerous activities and games to help integrate SAT-type concepts into the academic curriculum. Lynn knows the Math portion of the SAT and the ACT inside and out. Yet even after 30 years of working with standardized tests, she still gets incredibly excited to see a new test come out. Lynn's deep understanding, enthusiasm, and contagious passion for math make her not only an incredibly effective, but also a fun tutor.

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