We are your essential ally throughout the college admissions process.

We help students in every phase of their education. That is why we provide everything from SAT/ACT test prep to college application and essay coaching, academic tutoring, college advising, and College Night seminars. With college admissions more competitive than ever, students must excel in each of these realms in order to optimize their applications.

We work with clients on their terms: when they want to meet, how often they want to meet, and where they want to meet. In the Greater Philadelphia Area, our tutors can come to the comfort of your own home, or meet at a local bookstore or coffee shop. But we can work with a student anywhere in the world. Through FaceTime and Skype, we have worked with students nationwide and internationally—to date, in 36 states and 20 countries—on SAT/ACT test preparation and college application and essay coaching.

We build close, personal relationships with students and their families. By working with students throughout so many phases of their educational journeys, we understand their character, passions, and goals and how to best support them in achieving their dreams.

We foster strong community relationships, too. We offer educational support and enrichment services to private clients, groups, community organizations, and schools at an excellent value.

We empower students, preparing them for future success. It is not just about getting students the correct answer on one test or meeting the deadline for an application. We instill confidence in students, equipping them with the critical thinking, analytical, organizational, communication, and self-reflection skills needed to reach success in all future endeavors.

Our Process

Giving parents and students a roadmap to success.

Before families ever spend a penny on any Ivy Experience services, we want to make sure that parents and students have a roadmap to approaching various facets of the college prep process.

For families with 8th–10th grade students, we put on complimentary College Nights. Organize a group of parents for a live online seminar so everyone can attend from the comfort of their own homes, or invite other parents to your home, and we will provide a comprehensive overview of how to navigate high school and the college application process.

Before starting any SAT/ACT test prep tutoring, we send students diagnostic tests, which we grade and evaluate for FREE, ensuring that every student picks the best test for them before starting any prep work.

During junior year and the following summer, we start meeting with students and parents to brainstorm ideas for college essays and discuss packaging strategies for applications. The initial consultation is free.

Emphasizing the importance of giving back since 2010.

Over the years, Ivy Experience has forged numerous partnerships to promote equity and access in the college admissions process—from providing SAT/ACT prep to underserved students to sharing invaluable information through presentations at high schools and community organizations.

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Our Team

Ivy Experience is proud to have a team of outstanding educators who build strong relationships with students and families—and get results!

Leadership Team

Eric Karlan Co-Founder & Application/Essay Coach

Eric is one of the co-founders of Ivy Experience. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors in Journalism, History, and Culture; he was one of only two students in the Class of 2009 to design his own curriculum for an Individualized major. Since graduation, Eric has consulted thousands of high school and graduate school students on their college and graduate school application essays and resumes across the country and around the world.

Eric is an active writer and has been published in the Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Magazine, and The New York Daily News. He enjoys playing tennis, traveling, and rooting for Philadelphia sports teams from his home in San Diego.

Karan Shah Co-Founder & Application/Essay Coach

Karan is one of the co-founders of Ivy Experience. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors in Bioengineering and a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. Since graduation Karan has worked with hundreds of students on SAT, ACT, and SAT II Subject Test Prep. Karan also works with students on their college and graduate school application essays across the country and around the world.

When not working with students, Karan enjoys playing hockey, making divots on the golf course, and dealing with being a New York sports fan living in Philadelphia.

Jim Wismer Director

Jim is the Director of Ivy Experience. A Philadelphia area native, he attended The University of Pittsburgh on an Honors Full Tuition Scholarship, graduating summa cum laude in 2013. He went on to earn his M.A. in Classics from Notre Dame, where he also taught Latin, Ancient Greek, ancient history, and mythology. Jim’s tutoring career started in 8th grade, and he brings to the team a broad range of experience in secondary and higher education. Jim believes that any student can learn anything, if that student works smart and gets the right help.

In addition to his work with Ivy Experience, Jim works occasionally as a track meet official at Great Valley High School, where he was once a student. In his free time, he enjoys yoga, camping, playing with his Doberman, following the Eagles, and reading.

Cate McLaughlin College Admissions Director

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in 2010, Cate graduated summa cum laude with an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Cate has taught composition, literature, business writing, and creative writing at institutions such as Syracuse University, Colgate University, and the Wharton School of Communications.

Cate is a poet whose poems can be found in The Kenyon Review, The Common, and The Minnesota Review, among various other literary journals. She is currently at work on a full-length non-fiction manuscript.

When she has time, you can find Cate in the kitchen cooking a mean pot roast, running along the Schuylkill River trail, or traveling back to her home state of Massachusetts to spend time with her family (and the beach!) whenever she can.

Essay and Application Coaches

Alyssa Coltrain College Admissions Specialist

Alyssa earned her Bachelor of Arts in French and English (magna cum laude, honors in French) from Dickinson College in 2011. She then went on to earn her Master of Arts (2015) and Doctor of Philosophy (2019) in Literatures in English from Rutgers University. Her dissertation, Saintly Borrowings: The Hagiographic Impulse in Late Medieval Texts, focused on the way secular writers in the late Middle Ages used specific modes of thinking that originated in medieval hagiography, or the biographies of saints to resolve and interrogate pressing social and economic anxieties.

Alyssa has been interested in teaching and writing since college, from an internship with Milan Presse in Toulouse, France, and her work as a tutor in the Dickinson College Eberly Writing Center to the half-finished novel on her laptop. Her teaching experience includes English as a Second Language as a language assistant in France and as an instructor for FLS International as well as composition courses, literature surveys, and medieval literature for Rutgers University, Raritan Valley Community College, and Chestnut Hill College. She has worked one on one with students to assist them with the college admissions process as a tutor and mentor since 2017.

Caroline Cilio College Admissions Specialist

Caroline graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2015 with a Bachelor (of Arts or Science?) degree in Health & Societies and a minor in English. She later earned a Master’s Degree in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where she focused on human subjects research ethics and American health policy.

In 2017, Caroline moved to Washington DC to pursue her passion for bioethics and healthcare policy. She worked at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where she published research on topics such as the effects of isolation and loneliness in older adults and how to return genetic research results to patients. She then joined Roche/Genentech’s US Regulatory Policy Team, where she analyzed and communicated policy trends, analysis, and intelligence to internal and external stakeholders. Through these positions, Caroline has gained experience writing for a variety of lay, academic, legal, and professional audiences.

Caroline joined Ivy Experience as a Test Prep and Academic Tutor from 2015-2018, working with over eighty students and leading several ACT prep courses at high schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Prince George’s County, Maryland. She now lives in Philadelphia with her fiance and two adopted cats, Clove and Oreo. She loves attending indie rock concerts, reading books on psychology, and outdoor hiking and camping.

H Ulrich College Admissions Specialist

H earned graduated magna cum laude from Shippensburg University in 2007, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She later went on to West Chester University to attain her Master of Arts in English (Writing Concentration) in 2014. Serving as Assistant Director at the West Chester University Writing Center, H helped students navigate the requirements of academic writing while always striving to help them evoke and develop their individual voices. Her work included providing outreach to remote and nontraditional students, as well as exploring the peer tutoring process with students and faculty alike.

Outside of academia, H writes fiction and tabletop roleplaying games, and will happily talk your ear off about either. She enjoys being truly dreadful at a great number of video games and building miniature figures and robots.

Jordan Holmes College Admissions Specialist

Jordan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Enrollment Management and Policy from the University of Southern California. He has extensive experience working in admissions offices around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, American University, and most recently the University of Southern California.

His career in admissions began as a tour guide and student worker at his alma mater, eventually transitioning to a full-time staff member. He left admissions to pursue architecture but quickly returned for the long haul. After reading thousands of applications, Jordan looks forward to working directly with students and sharing insights on how they can highlight what already makes them stand out in the admission process.

When not working with students, you can find Jordan reading, riding his Peloton, or rooting for the Patriots.

Azure Leffeld Portfolio Consultant

Azure graduated summa cum laude from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production. While pursuing his BFA, Azure held a number of positions in admissions, including tour guide and administrative assistant, and currently works as a full-time admissions counselor. In addition, he has been reviewing college-level portfolios since 2020 and works with artists, makers, and thinkers from all creative modalities and mediums.

Azure has also worked as a professional freelancer in the film industry over the past four years. He has worked on-set for a number of high-profile clients including Levi's, Esquire, CR Fashionbook, and The Sunday Times - UK. He strives to maintain a strong and vital connection to the creative industry to ensure his advisees receive the most up-to-date and essential knowledge.

When he’s not on set or working with students, Azure enjoys tennis, hiking, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

Tutoring Team

David Pauls Client Management Coordinator

David graduated cum laude from The College of New Jersey in 2016 with a degree in physics. He realized during his time there that he thoroughly enjoyed tutoring his fellow TCNJ students, and hopes he can show just how fun physics and math can be.

David researched astrophysics during his time at TCNJ, and with the help of his colleagues had a paper accepted to The Astrophysical Journal. His true passion however is music, as he is always in a choir or a capella group, arranging, composing, or recording. David finds the mathematics behind music fascinating, especially relating to harmonics and tuning. He also likes to play Super Smash Brothers Melee competitively.

Torie Berke Coordinator of Tutoring

Torie graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a minor in Museum Studies. They began peer tutoring in STEM subjects as a high school sophomore and have not spent more than a month away from math and science tutoring since then. Torie is passionate about the intersection of STEM and artistic subjects and deconstructing the "math person" vs "English person" dichotomy. They specialize in tutoring students with learning differences.

When not teaching or tutoring, Torie can be found playing with their dog, baking pies, and weaving tapestries.

Evan Petrie Tutoring Specialist

Evan graduated magna cum laude from the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky in 2021, earning both a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics. As a college student, he was an active member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, served as chapter president of Eta Sigma Phi Classics Honor Society, helped the university’s Solar Car team achieve their first win at the Formula Sun Grand Prix, and worked with a local community Shakespeare troupe in his free time.

With over seven years of private, professional, and volunteer experience tutoring students of all ages, Evan recognizes that a student’s success is bolstered by their tutor’s active and enthusiastic support. By responding effectively and encouragingly to each student’s unique needs, he is confident that he can help any student achieve their academic goals.

In his free time, Evan enjoys learning digital art, practicing the banjo, and exploring his adoptive home of Philadelphia. He loves cooking, traveling, and expanding his horizons.

Kevin Riffitts Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Kevin graduated from Temple University with a degree in Advertising, and passions in film, economics, and journalism. He is an experienced tutor, who started peer tutoring after realizing he could turn "going to class" into an economic opportunity. He loves explaining new ideas and concepts to students and believes that, with a little know-how and effort, any student can improve their standardized test scores.

When not tutoring, Kevin can be found running, reading, and explaining why that Jeopardy! category is really too niche to be considered “general knowledge.”

Lucas Voit Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Lucas is currently an undergraduate at Haverford College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History and minoring in Economics and Environmental Science. At Haverford, Lucas is a research assistant in a laboratory investigating the impact of biofilms on microplastics, a volunteer firefighter, and a club athlete. Having tutored students and peers for several years, Lucas has a strong belief in motivating people to pursue their intellectual passions and questions.

In his free time, Lucas enjoys playing frisbee, rock climbing, and skiing.

Ariel Dineen Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Ariel graduated from Haverford College in 2017 with a B.Sc. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. While in school, she worked as a teaching assistant for the Biology Department and for English Language Learner (ELL) students in Philadelphia. After graduation, she worked for two years as an oncology researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Ariel has worked with students of all ages and across many disciplines—everything from the natural sciences, to art, to language. She is passionate about helping her students along their unique educational journeys!

Outside of work, Ariel loves travel, food, dance, and all things music.

Sofia Adams Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Sofia studied electrical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. For her first job out of college, she was tasked with learning how to code in assembly language and in C, something which was not part of an electrical engineering curriculum prior to the advent of the coding era.

After a career as a software engineer, Sofia raised two boys. During that time, she taught fitness classes, pursued her love of gardening, baked Greek desserts on-demand, was a super-volunteer at her kids’ small Quaker school, mentoring new families as they became part of the school community, and began assisting families with the college application process once her own kids achieved their college goals.

Sofia enjoys traveling, especially when in pursuit of warm climes and Caribbean carnivals, dancing, growing weri-weri peppers in her backyard, cooking, and above all, she loves the beach.

Dalton Versak Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Dalton graduated cum laude in 2018 from Drexel University with a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering. He also has a graduate certificate in engineering management. Since graduating, Dalton has started his own 3D printing business and co-founded a company that is developing strategic board games. Dalton has been tutoring for eight years, beginning with tutoring his peers in high school AP courses. He has successfully prepared students for the SAT/ ACT, as well as AP Physics C, AP Chemistry, AP European History, AP US Government, AP Calculus BC, AP US History, Precalculus, and various college-level math and engineering topics.

Dalton finds tutoring to be very rewarding and greatly enjoys helping students better understand and succeed with challenging academic subjects.

Hannah Bonaguidi Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Hannah graduated from Lehigh University in 2020 with a BS in Chemical Engineering. In her time as a student at Lehigh University, she was a Division I Cross Country and Track and Field athlete for the Mountain Hawks and spent her summers interning at pharmaceutical companies. She is pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Hannah started tutoring in middle school, helping her younger brothers’ friends out with math to make some extra spending money. This side gig continued throughout high school. Once in college, she was heavily involved in the athletic department’s leadership program. As a member of this program, she was available to other student athletes as an academic mentor. Hannah found that she was especially helpful when it came to calculus, chemistry, physics, and classes involving MATLAB.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys running, skiing, tubing down the Delaware River, and hiking. She loves to cook and read. If Hannah is not hanging out with her friends, you can find her with her husky, Tank.

Annie Maxwell Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Annie is a Philadelphia native who graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in the Science and Society Program, an interdisciplinary major that focuses on science, technology, and history. After graduating, Annie volunteered for a year as an AmeriCorps member working in public health and spent the following four years in clinical research at the University of Pennsylvania. More recently, she decided to pivot into the veterinary field and is currently pursuing the clinical hours required for admission.

Annie is passionate about academic mentorship and enjoys helping students recognize their strengths in order to build confidence. She was a resident advisor while attending college and taught and supervised rotating Drexel Co-operative students while working at UPenn.

John Thompson Test Prep and Academic Tutor

John is a lawyer, coach, and writer based in Philadelphia. He holds a BA in English Literature from Rutgers College and an MBA in Management and Leadership from Rutgers Business School. John spent the early part of his career in publishing and financial services, holding advisory and management positions at Ziff Davis, Merrill Lynch and Allstate. Upon obtaining his JD from New York Law School in 2000, John commenced legal practice as a defense attorney for a large firm and later opened his own practice in Princeton NJ. After practicing law for 14 years, he shifted gears and now dedicates his time to coaching, consulting, and tutoring. John has a passion for mentoring young people and helping them successfully navigate their academic and career pursuits. He does this with humor and a down-to-earth approach.

John is trained in ontological coaching, is active in the Rutgers Student Mentoring Program, and has served on non-profit boards and in volunteer roles dedicated to public justice issues. He periodically lectures at Montclair State University and is passionate about writing, hiking, photography, cooking, playing piano and hearing live music.

John Mulholland Test Prep and Academic Tutor

John Mulholland graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in chemical engineering. He also took a plethora of courses in history with a focus on the American Civil War. John was also a part of the university’s club rowing program. Additionally, while in college, he traveled abroad to Austria to take courses focused on glaciology and its environmental impact. Currently, John works for Radnor High School as a rowing coach. He previously worked for an industrial wastewater treatment company that made turnkey systems around the country, as well as working as a chemical operator for Dow Chemical. John utilizes his parents’ combined 50 years of teaching experience to exhaust every avenue in helping students reach their full potential and firmly believes hard work should produce results.

In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his dog, Lucy, reading, playing music, and staying physically active.

Chelsea Cylinder Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Chelsea is an actress, singer, teaching artist, tutor, and producer who has been teaching students ages 3-17 for twelve years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors. Her specialty subjects include SAT/ACT Prep, Spanish, Film, Theatre Arts, Writing, Public Speaking, Study Skills, and Math ("Cylinder" is a geometric shape, so she has to love math!)

Chelsea loves providing personalized learning for her students and really helping them get the support that they need. These subjects are hard to learn for the first time, and Chelsea understands that. Being one of the people responsible for helping students feel less stuck is one of her favorite parts of teaching. Chelsea always brings an abundance of enthusiasm, a warm personality, a love of teaching, and a focused and positive work ethic to all of her sessions. She is very excited to meet new students through Ivy Experience and looks forward to creating an educational, productive, nurturing, and also fun, learning environment.

Jacob Vaiden Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Jacob graduated in 2017 from the University of Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in English. A long-time tutor and teacher, Jacob cut his teeth working with youth as a camp counselor for the Ascanius Youth Classics Institute and as a Senior Patrol Leader in Boy Scouts. Even before transferring to the University of Virginia, his experiences working at the Warren Wilson College Writing Center ignited in him a passion for pedagogy and collaborative instruction. Most recently, he has worked in the School District of Philadelphia as a Building Substitute in Comegys Elementary, teaching any and all subjects while building relationships with his students.

In his free time, Jacob enjoys taking things apart to see how they work, as well as playing games of all sorts, be they card, video, board, or otherwise.

Francesca Ciocco Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Haverford College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Health Studies. She is currently pursuing a dual MD/MPH degree at Jefferson University. She discovered a love of tutoring at Haverford as a biology tutor and has continued teaching other students about anatomy in medical school. She also works as a clinic coordinator for complex care patients at Puentes de Salud and is a graduate assistant with the Department of Internal Medicine.

Tyler Birch Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Tyler recently graduated from Lehigh University's Integrated Business & Engineering honors program. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business and currently works as a project engineer at a medical device company, designing devices for the spine. He started teaching in high school, when he served as a teacher assistant in local elementary school classrooms for three years. His volunteer work eventually progressed to tutoring, and since 2018, he has been teaching test prep as well as a variety of subjects.

Tyler encourages students to take as many notes on strategies as possible so they can break it down to the most fundamental form needed to retain that information. His teaching style is very hands-on, and he prefers to start by introducing a general strategy and having the student employ that strategy. He then flips the roles and asks the student to teach back what they’ve learned. “I believe that if you can teach somebody else a concept, theory, or strategy, that's the best indication as to whether you have fully mastered it or not,” Tyler says.

Tyler played ice hockey and lacrosse through high school and continued to play ice hockey in college. He loves to spend time outdoors, whether it be on the golf course, going for a run, taking his dog for a walk, or going for a hike.

Steven Eble Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Steve graduated from The University of Scranton in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology. After college, Steve specialized in Analytical Chemistry and played an important role in helping analyze and quantify various chemicals and compounds using high-end analytical technology. During this time, he was a graduate research and teaching assistant and discovered a passion for helping others learn. He understands that everyone processes information in different ways and has a loving commitment to learning just as much as teaching!

Steve's special skills and favorite activities include building PCs, talking about chemistry and advanced analytical sciences, playing video games, gardening in or outside, and spending time at the beach.

Aamir Amanullah Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Aamir graduated summa cum laude from West Chester University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology. He is currently a third-year medical student at Temple University.

He first discovered his passion for teaching in high school by tutoring his peers in honors in several honors and AP subjects. He continued tutoring algebra, statistics, chemistry, and genetics in college while also acting as a peer mentor for freshmen. Additionally, Aamir has experience preparing pre-medical students for the MCAT and has successfully advised several students through the medical school application process.

Aamir has found teaching to be an extremely rewarding experience and is passionate about making difficult learning concepts fun and easier to understand depending on students’ learning styles and individual strengths. He strongly believes in the importance of giving students the tools to tackle difficult problems with logic and understanding, rather than purely relying on memorization and pattern recognition.

In his free time, Aamir is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and enjoys playing basketball, as well as going on walks with his wife.

Daniel Gordon Test Prep and Academic Tutor

Dan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, concentrating in Modern European History. Dan also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania's Carey School of Law, which he received in 2021.

Dan developed a passion for tutoring while volunteering at the Glen Mills Schools, an alternative juvenile detention facility. This experience made clear to him that all people can be inspired learners with the right guidance and motivation.

Prior to joining the Ivy Experience team, Dan worked as a corporate attorney in Philadelphia. His favorite activities are reading history tomes on the U.S.S.R., playing pickup soccer, and watching staggering amounts of NBA basketball.

We also offer complimentary webinars & seminars

Our seminars have been the ultimate introduction to the college prep process, even for families that have been through it before, with the college prep environment constantly changing.

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