Below are just a few of the comments received by the College Karma counseling staff.
About these testimonials:
These come from actual client messages. For matters of privacy, we have removed names. Therefore, you’ll see “our daughter” or “our son” instead of an actual name.
Hi, Dave. As you may recall, you helped my son with his essays for the University of Pennsylvania's Huntsman program. I just wanted to let you know that he was accepted into the program last month. To say he is ecstatic is an understatement. While he and I believe that he had met all of the necessary requirements and had lots of volunteer activities we also think his essays really helped him to tell his story (and may have been the extra oomph that he needed). Needless to say your feedback was invaluable. Thank you again for all of your help! [Ivy Mom]
Dave Berry and College Karma worked with our son in his efforts to transfer from one university to another in a way that represented the best of advising and mentoring a young adult in transition. From his initial conversations, through the application processes, to a highly successful closure, Dave's capacity for rapport, knowledge, assessment skills, and timely communications were stellar. Knowing that a successful college experience is about finding the right match between goals, capabilities, self-image, and accomplishments, he worked our son through a patient selection that resulted in a range of applications to schools that were 'safe' yet met our son's criteria to attractive but perhaps a 'reach.' He helped our son to bring out the best in himself, hold realistic expectations, and envision a future of his choosing. And our son was accepted at his number one choice. Dave did it the way it should be done, and we're appreciative beyond any of our initial expectations. [Illinois Mom]
Hi Sally. We've been so pleased with the guidance and support you've been giving our son (and us!). He is, too, and he seems very comfortable working with you, which is so critical. Thank you! [Connecticut Mom]
[Responses from former IGAP-client father to reference inquiry]:
Do you mind giving us some feedback on your experience working with Dave?
Specifically, how did he help you to pave the way into the school your were aiming for?
Do you think he has played an important role in helping you to achieve your goal?
Do you think it makes a difference for you with and without the consulting service?
How do you evaluate his knowledge in college planning and admission?
Did you always get your questions/issues answered/resolved by Dave in a timely fashion?
Did your son get into school of your choice?
On a scale from one to ten, how would you rate the service provided by College Karma?
The whole point of this message was to thank you for your advice; you were not only dead on in your advice, but amazingly friendly and helpful. I think that the state of college admissions is a little troubling right now, but I'm very grateful to have had you in my corner! Thanks again. [California senior]
Hey Dave. I'M IN AT WAKE!!! Thanks a lot for your help! It feels so great to be an admit at a college. Thanks a lot! Your service was definitely worth every penny! [New Jersey senior]
Ann--Every school [son's name] applied to accepted him and all offered scholarship money as well ...
This message is for Dave Berry, who wrote the response to a stats eval last spring for my daughter. We found your advice and your book on elite school admissions very helpful. She earned 1600 SAT's on her second try in November (without a review course), had 7 AP's with 5's on most, ranked 4 out of app. 500 students in her HS class, won a paid internship ($2000) from the IL chapter of the American Cancer Society to do cancer research in a lab at U of Illinois at Chicago the summer before her senior year, and joined her school's Acadec team. Her team won the state finals in Mar. and she was high scorer for the team. I cannot remember if she used the essay that you responded to. Her main essay described her love of the pit orchestra, where she has played viola for all 4 years. In any case, she applied Early Action single choice to Yale, was deferred, and then finally admitted to Yale, Columbia, Amherst, Pomona, U of Illinois, Oberlin, and BU with a full tuition scholarship. So thank you for the advice and the generally positive and constructive tone of your suggestions. [Illinois Mom]
I just wanted to write to say a HUMUNGOUS thank you to the people at College Karma, especially Dave! I emailed only a few days ago and within a day, I had received professional and considerate support for my college search. This is quite amazing, considering the time and educational differences between the USA and Australia! Thank you for the speedy email replies and brief suggestions, Dave. It really is quite rare to get personal responses about college searches! [Australian senior]
Sally, thank you again. What would I do without you? [New York Dad]
Sally...yeah...thanks for your advice. I called Washington and Lee and spoke with an admissions counselor there and explained my son's dilemma (if you recall, he was waitlisted at three schools and accepted to none, despite his academic credentials) The admissions rep said "we are looking at the wait list now, you need to email the Dean right away, letting him know your situation will help...it can't hurt." Well I emailed the Dean and he got off the wait list...he is thrilled. Thank heavens for mothers!!! He also got accepted to Baylor as a back up and was offered a $27K scholarship. Thanks again for your encouragement and advice!!! [Texas Mom]
Hi - Dave! I also wanted to add parental thanks for your intelligent and sensitive guidance. It's not only that you're better at it than anyone, it was also such a relief valve to keep the essay and app process from becoming a family flash point. I'll certainly tell any and all that I find in need of such help.
Hi Sally....well, I got back yesterday from Washington DC. We visited GW and I LOVED it! My mind has been made up, and I've already sent in the declaration of intent and deposit. So that's that...and I feel remarkably less stressed out than I was last week (hahaha).Anyway, I know we'll still be in touch, but I have this huge urge to say: THANK YOU!!!!! for all your help, advice, and encouragement over this whole crazy process. [George Washington University Honors Program student]
Sally, I want to thank you SO SO SO SO much... I'm so thrilled right now... I'll keep you updated!! [New York student admitted to top choices: BC and NYU]
Sally, I just wanted to say thanks for all the help and advice you have given me, as well as the timely e-mail responses. Your efforts in these areas have not gone unnoticed. I wish to send you a holiday card, but I don't have your home address. All I can say is Thank God that I was able to find someone like you. A genuine, sincere, and honest individual. You are a lady and a true scholar. [Non-traditional student seeking college after military service]
Hey Dave. You reviewed my stats a few months ago, and once again, thanks for all your guidance. This fall, I received my rank, retook my SAT 2s, and filed early decision to NYU. First, I was ranked in the top 11% in my high school class. Second, I took my Math II, Literature, and Chemistry SATs and received scores of 750, 690, and 710. Finally, I applied ED to NYU-College of Arts and Sciences and was accepted. I really took your advice into consideration: I marketed my ECs and I think that is really what sold me to the admissions staff. Thanks so much for your guidance. [Delaware senior]
Hi, Sally. Thank you so much for your advice! This is a tough process, much worse than when I was a kid, and it's nice to get some help. [Iowa Mom]
Dave, Great news! Our daughter received her acceptance to Harvard this morning. We are all thrilled here in our household. I want to thank you again for your caring and support during the essay development process. I know the end result (her essay) was a positive element of her total 'profile.' So, again, many thanks. [Massachusetts Dad]
Thank you, Sally, for your suggestions. I have found them to be very helpful. I had come up against a wall and didn't know where to go next. Through your response, I have been able to find new resources and advice that are helping me to find schools that match my interests and goals. I am sorry for replying so late. Thank you for your help once again. [International student/transfer applicant]
Dave -- you are a true mensch -- thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to respond to a desperate and worried mother! I will keep you posted! [Vermont Mom]
Performing Arts-related testimonials:
We are deeply grateful to you for all your guidance, advice, and encouragement during this important process. The whole application process was made so much easier for her (and for us!) because of your involvement. It allowed out daughter to work independently of us, but with an experienced guide to help her get her thoughts and her paperwork in order. She will officially rescind her applications to the schools she's already applied to, and is very happy to succumb to a full-blown case of much deserved senior-itis for the rest of the year. Thank you so much for all that you've done!
Susan- I just want to take a moment to thank you so much for all of your hard work and wonderful guidance in helping our daughter and us through both the summer program and college admission process. We could not be happier or more satisfied. You were wonderful throughout. You were always prompt and diligent and I always thought your comments and suggestions were right on the money. You are very good at what you do. I am only sorry that we have never had the chance to meet. Maybe someday.
I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for all of the time and effort you spent with my daughter on her college applications. We surely could not have done it without you! Actually, it was you who pushed us to look at Marymount Manhattan! My daughter and I are both so excited about their program. I am thrilled that it is a BA program and therefore she will have to take liberal arts classes and I also love the fact that she will be getting professional dance training. We have not heard from any other school as of today. However, I have sent the deposit into Marymount because she has decided that she really wants to go there....... Anyway, you were really a god-send to us! ...Thank you again.
You know I think you were incredible and I know how hard you worked with my daughter! I have only wonderful things to say about you!
You are worth every penny - regardless of what schools our daughter does or doesn't get accepted to. You really help make this process pleasant and not stressful. It's so hard to know what to do and what not to do. It's just so great to have someone to bounce all the concerns off...
I can't express how wonderful we think you are! You are a gem. I have spoken to my friends who used college counselors for their kids and they don't give anywhere near the feedback and wonderful, personal advice. Great job!
[After many acceptances and scholarships]: All in all, this has been an unbelievable result in this intensely competitive year. I do believe we have you to thank for helping us pick schools with a good "fit" - I think this was very important - and you're incredible advice to daughter about how she should tailor each application to show how she "fit" the school. I think this, together with all your other wonderful advice, really helped her achieve these amazing results...
So, all in all, daughter has done amazingly well in this most competitive year. We are so proud of her. We are also deeply grateful for all her wonderful help and advice. Thank you again for everything!...
My daughter is sooo happy. I cannot thank you enough for all your wonderful advice. She had tremendous results with her schools. I really look forward to working with you again in a few years with my younger daughter. Even younger daughter says that she wants to work with Susan! She sees how much you helped her older sister....
We always speak of our daughter's wonderful results - and are sure that your guidance was a major factor in that. As for email counseling - well, we are big proponents of that. Frankly, it was the best sort of counseling for us. We were both busy and scheduled up to our eyeballs, so being able to respond to you via email at any time of the day or night was extremely helpful to both of us. As you know, our daughter many times responded to you in the early hours of the morning - way after we all thought she was asleep! If it wasn't for that flexibility, I think she may have felt even more pressured and Lord knows, she was under tremendous pressure with all the music admit requirements.
Your report is terrific! It is extremely helpful in figuring out the range of schools that my daughter fits into for reach, match and safety. I've put together a list of about 15 schools (3 reach, about 7 match to reach/match and 5 safety/match) from the schools in your report. You've definitely turned us on to a few we hadn't thought about and helped confirm that some we were thinking about really don't fit her at all...My daughter said to me this afternoon, that after reading your report, she is very motivated to try and get all A's this year to get her grades up. She said she agreed with you that colleges want to see an upward trend......Again, thank you for a great job!
Today's mail had an acceptance from Trinity, which we didn't think was gonna be a sure thing. The Dean of Admissions wrote my son a personal note including such things as my son had definitely made his mark on (name of high school), that he was impressed with his athletic and musical achievements, etc. etc. Good thing you told us how to do an activities resume huh? ..... ANYHOW, I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT WE ARE DONE! YAY! IT'S UP TO MY SON TO FIGURE OUT WHERE HE'S GOING. THANKS TO YOU, I HAVE SURVIVED THIS MILESTONE. YOU ALL ARE GOD SENDS.
[Reference statement from client parent]:
Dave Berry has been a great resource and has a lot of authority with our son, who respects his judgement and is so pleased he (our son) doesn't have to listen to his ignorant parents ... The fact that we may have said what Dave said in another way never quite dawns on him - the third-party role is very useful.
Our oldest child was in a small private school where the college placement staff was deeply involved with the kids for a year and half, helping them evaluate options and then market themselves to their chosen college. When our mid-size public school demonstrated how impersonal their process would be (probably necessarily), we scrambled for an alternative. You don't say where you are located; even though we live near DC - only one local professional was highly recommended by teachers or parents - and she was booked and hideously expensive.
This rather odd on-line service idea has proven an excellent, in fact, preferable, substitute; the kids are so used to opening up on line that they do communicate a lot more to this adult than they otherwise might. Dave really does respond nearly immediately all the time - nights, weekends and so forth. His command of teen-speak is absolute, as well.
He is clearly teaching our son how to think about his own strengths and wishes and to fit the college choices to that; Dave is quite clear that he specializes in knowing how the kids should tell their story to get the key things about them "marketed" - and as far as I can see, he's moved our son a long way in the discovery process. Our son trusts him and likes their exchanges.
There is no way we could have found a counselor in "the flesh" who could be available for short consults at every step of the way and at the time our son was available to pay attention (nights, random moments in mid-homework, etc).
Dave is, as you can tell from his Web site and book, an encyclopedia about process, test scores, dates, timing etc - and even course selection in high school. He's also calming to parents when needed and has helped me keep my sense of humor - so far, anyhow.
Good luck with all the choices ahead! [Virginia Mom]
Your evaluation of his chances was "right on the money." He has been waitlisted at Princeton (we feel he might have been accepted had he applied ED), accepted at Rice, MIT (after deferral from EA), and Caltech. We were frankly pretty shocked about MIT and Caltech, given what we had read recently, but I suppose they must have seen something in him. . . We've been especially surprised at his acceptance to both, which seems to be rather unusual. This has helped us all, though, to feel that he could really do the work at a school of this caliber. Both seem to feel he is capable.
As I said, your advice was invaluable in "presenting" him to all these colleges. Your suggestion of including a writing sample was wonderful. He wrote a great piece about the Greeks and the artificial separations we've created between the disciplines. "Whatever Happened to the Philosophers" takes exception to the premise of a course (which he actually found in a Rice catalogue) called "Physics for Poets." Where it wasn't appropriate to send additional material with the application, we sent it at "midyear report" time. We used many of your suggestions: separate lists of accomplishments, writing sample, cover letter, etc.
Now we have to begin the really hard part - letting him go. But it will be so much easier knowing he will be at a place that will nurture him as well as challenge and stretch him. We will heartily recommend your services to some selected friends. Most people would not want to do everything we've done in this process; it has been a pleasure, but also terribly time-consuming. Thanks again for your assistance. [Texas Mom]
Just a quick note to let you know how useful your stats evaluation service was. My son decided not to go the early decision route at Cornell after we visited Berkeley, and actually never finished part 2 of the Cornell admission once he decided that he really wanted an urban environment.
Your projections were dead right, and he was admitted to Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, USC, and BU, with early notification at NYU as a Draper scholar and a half tuition honors/merit scholarship offer at BU. As you predicted, he made the Washington U wait list, after visiting for a weekend, but never getting very excited about the school.
Now he's got a tough choice between NYU and Berkeley. We went to an admitted students program at NYU which we both loved, and we're driving up for Cal Day later this month. Don't know how this will turn out, but he is delighted with both his top choices.
In any case, thanks once again. I thought you would appreciate the feedback. [California Mom]
Hi Dave and Sally!
Several months ago, you helped me with my college essays. One essay was about my involvement in a local campaign to protect the endangered habitat of gnatcatchers. My second essay described my thoughts and feelings about my mother becoming an American citizen. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you. These past few months of waiting have been tough, but I'm very pleased with the results:
University of Chicago: accepted
Johns Hopkins: accepted
In fact, I was only rejected by one school - Harvard. But my disappointment quickly faded as the mailman delivered fat envelope after fat envelope to my house. Thanks for your great advice! Now my only problem is deciding where to go in the fall! (I think I'm leaning towards Princeton though). Thanks again!! [California senior]
Thanks so much for showing your genuine interest in my questions. Not only did I not expect such a quick response to my question posted on your board, your e-mail response really astounded me! Many thanks! [Discussion board visitor]
Just wanted to let you know it looks like I'm headed for Stanford University in the Fall... hooray! Thanks for your words that assuaged my college admissions fears so long ago... [California senior]
I am happy to say I was accepted by both Harvard and Stanford (the only two schools to which I applied), and I will be attending Harvard in the fall. I love Stanford's environment, but H has always been my first choice, and they gave me great finaid . . . Thank you very much for your help!! You are a very good person for devoting your time to help teenagers through the tough process of college admissions.
I just wanted to thank you again for all of your help and support through the whole admissions process. You've really been an invaluable source of information regarding what lies ahead of me at Princeton, and you should really be proud of what you've been able to do with so many. I've been keeping an eye on your site, and it seems to be expanding nicely . . . I can tell from your replies [on your discussion board], as well as from my experiences with you that you are a genuinly caring person who really knows what he's talking about, and I wish you all the best. [Wisconsin Princeton Tiger (Class of '03)]
Wow! I'm very impressed at the quickness of your response! I wonder if you will be able to sustain this pace once you are discovered enmass by the Princeton Review parents and students!? In any event, my husband and I are most impressed by the insightfulness of your remarks; not just those regarding [our son], but those which are posted on your site which are full of wisdom, brevity, and pragmatism. What an incredible find you are!
[Our son] is coming home this weekend . . . and [my husband] and I are going to show him your site, and your comments to the stats evaluation. I think it would be wonderful for him to work with you on the essays and I also like your concept of "profile marketing." I think he would welcome a 3rd party with the quality of input that you are providing. Again, thanks so much for your time. We are most grateful for your perspective. [Colorado parent]
Well, you asked me (months ago) to tell you where I'll end up at school, so I'm writing to tell you that I am a proud Columbia Lion. I was accepted at Columbia, Wharton, U of Chicago (with an $8000/yr merit scholarship that I didn't apply for -- the "University Scholars Program"), NYU's Gallatin School (with a $7500/yr merit scholarship that I didn't apply for - the "Gallatin Scholars Program") and U of Michigan--Ann Arbor. . . Well, thanks for your help and advice. I can honestly say that you quelled my stress at a time when I needed someone to do that for me. Again, thank you. [New Jersey Columbia Lion (Class of '03)]
Thank you so much for your valuable information. The service you're conducting is phenominal. I can't tell you how much of a service your advice and entire website has been for me in my own college quest and probably for the many others who have come across your site. The advice you have given me has not only boosted by confidence in applying to the elite schools on my list and in aspiring to become a doctor, but has also showed me that there are actually some remaining legit websites out there where condused, needy, or just plain ignorant students on the subject of where to begin their college search and how to go about getting in can "get a clue" on the subject and be guided in the right direction. I do thank you for having the initiative to invest in such a postive and helpful site and I wish you much success on whatever path you take to improve it. [Taiwan junior]
I really appreciate the amount of care you put into my college candidate stats. I have been looking so long for a service that could give me up-front answers as to which colleges I might get into. The service which you offer is a very valuable one and I will definately tell my friends about it. Thank You so much for easing my anxieties. I feel alot better know that you have a few colleges which I should likely be able to get in to. Thank You so Much. [Oklahoma junior]
I showed your service to my mother and she was so impressed that she called her friend and told her to tell her son about it as well. [Pennsylvania senior]
Thank you so much for the wonderful info you provided me! :-] In that one e-mail alone, you have been more helpful than anything else. This is such a wonderful thing you are doing! College hunting is the most challenging thing I have encountered, and the personal help you gave me is the most helpful thing I have seen. My counseling office is right down the hall and the counselors don't help me this much! [Florida junior]
[Regarding Harvard, Cornell, UPenn, and Berkeley acceptances:] I cannot thank you enough for working with me on my essays. Neither can I express how excited and honored I am with the opportunity I have been blessed with. Once again thanks.
I checked my email, and the last thing I expected was such a quick personal response to my questionere on the web. [Maine junior]
Thank you very much for reviewing my stats. I am very grateful to have an opinion on my stats from someone who looks at them objectively. [Canada junior]
Thanks so much for all your assistance and support along the way. I couldn't have been so successful up to this point without people such as yourself sort of nudging me in the right direction. [Illinois senior]
To be honest with you, i thought that at first college counselors were just grown men taking advantage of a teen's fears or just writing essays and doing applications FOR the student. After seeing you help me with my and my friend's essays, I know that's not true. It's just a lot of really strong constructive criticism and praise. [California senior]
Dave, I am deeply thankful for all your support, help and patience. Thanks! I think I have a little more confidence in the essay. Thanks for all your help and time on it! [Louisiana senior]
You're already outstanding on helping with essays. [Washington senior]
Thanks for all the criticism. I don't think you are too hard on me. Hey, its better to notice all the error now, then when the admission officer gets a hold of it right? Secondly, the web site looks great! The text information is not too dense. If the people who are interested in college admissions or college financing look at the page, I don't think you'll have a problem keeping their attention. I love the picture of the student! Dave, if publicized right, I think your web site will be a great success! I will certainly tell all my friends (junior and sophomores) about you. You definitely have my vote of approval! [California senior]
Essays are a critical part of most any college application. For some of the more competitive schools, they can either make or break your chances for being admitted. Writing is not my strong suit, and I am very glad that I had the opportunity to submit my essays to be read and critiqued by you, Dave. Your suggestions and ideas were invaluable and helped me to change my rather boring essays to dynamic ones. These essays, I hope, will help me get accepted to Stanford, Princeton, and Northwestern. I'll highly recommend you to serious students who would like to significantly improve their chances of getting into the college of their choice! Thanks for all your continued support and encouragement... [Colorado senior]
It was good talking with you tonight. I appreciate all your advice. Keep up the excellent work - you are a godsend for many many lost seniors and juniors out there. [Illinois senior]
Many thanks for your rapid and candid evaluation. It was refreshing to be so encouraged after reading countless posts that were - demoralising at best. I did get a reality check this weekend though, and realise how unpredictable the admissions staff may be. Anyhow it's great that you give of yourself and your time to do this for us wannabes - thanks again. [Great Britain senior]
Thanks for your insight into my situation. I was impressed by how quickly you responded. [Georgia senior]
I received a package today from Stanford! Not only did I get accepted but I'm one of the 220 President's Scholars!!! I will receive $3,000 to do a research project of my choosing. It's called a $3,000 Intellectual Exploration Grant. Supposedly I'll also get in on some special advising sessions as a freshman and sophomore there, fall dinner with the President of Stanford, luncheons with prominent faculty who will discuss their research with 15 or 20 of the Scholars, a peer mentor, etc. This is so cool. I can hardly believe it. Thanks again for your help...I am not so sure I would have gotten in and presented myself well enough to be chosen as a President's Scholar without your great assistance with my essays. Thank you!! I know your help made the difference for me. Will be glad to keep in touch! [Colorado senior]
Thank you for your evaluation!! It was very encouraging (and flattering). Thanks for spending some of your time to evaluate the chances of students applying to colleges. I'm sure it is very helpful. Also, thank you for offering to be of further help [Puerto Rico senior]
First of all, let me thank you wholeheartedly for your insightful, speedy, and copious evaluation of my stats. I would love to have you as a college counselor. [Kentucky junior]