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 and San Diego areas, 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.
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.Learn More
Ivy Experience is proud to have a team of outstanding educators who build strong relationships with students and families—and get results!
- 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, 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 with her dog 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.
- David Pauls Director of Curriculum Development
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.
- Gwyn Knauer Educational Consultant & Application/Essay Coach
Gwyn Knauer has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University in New York, where she completed a thesis on ecopoetics. She has collaborated on writing and editing more than 100 academic textbooks, personal memoirs, and biographies—including the biography of her aunt, The Moon Sees Me—and assisted in translating a Japanese memoir into English. It means a lot to her to be let into other people’s lives and entrusted with helping them share their most meaningful stories.
In her free time, she has served as a writing mentor for The Prison Arts Coalition and participated in events through The National Association for Poetry Therapy, and she has volunteered in Peru, Guatemala, Thailand, and Morocco. As a college admissions counselor, she has coached low-income and first-generation American students from all over the world through the application process, and she’s proud to have supported students through earning acceptances to universities such as Yale, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and many more.
- Elena Venable
Elena graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 2015 with a degree in applied mathematics-biology and is currently attending San Diego State University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. One of Elena’s passions has always been teaching and working with others. During undergraduate career, Elena worked as a math tutor and a teaching assistant for Introductory Biology. She also volunteered as an English as Second Language teacher and served as a peer advisor for incoming freshman. After graduating, she spent a year in Madrid as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Most recently, Elena worked as a middle and high school substitute teacher in Santa Cruz, CA.
In addition to teaching, Elena has experience as a research assistant in statistical genetics and tropical ecology and a data analyst in the consulting sector. Outside of the classroom, she is an avid runner and loves traveling, learning languages, and cooking.
- Greg Hall
Greg obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. As a Ph.D. student, he was awarded the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students based on student nominations and Penn faculty endorsement. Greg also graduated magna cum laude from Penn Law. As an attorney, he served as a law clerk at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and now actively practices law as a member of the bars in both PA and NJ.
At the same time, Greg’s true passion is education. While pursuing his degrees and building a law practice, Greg has taught and tutored hundreds of students in a variety of subjects including standardized test preparation.
Humor and friendliness are a couple of Greg’s secrets to successful tutoring. He is a down-to-earth, jovial do-it-yourselfer as he fixes his own car and enjoys renovating his house. Board and card games, dancing, and exotic food are the simple joys in his life.
- Elizabeth Cirigliano
Elizabeth graduated from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Early Childhood Education and went on to earn a Master of Education in Middle Level Mathematics with a focus in English as a Second Language (ESL). Throughout her career she has worked with a variety of students to help them achieve their individual academic goals. She is currently the head of the English Language Department (ESL) at Esperanza Academy Middle School and continues to use her five Pennsylvania teaching certifications to help students of all ages and abilities strive for and achieve success.
She welcomes the opportunity to tutor because it allows her to focus on a student’s specific needs as they seek to master academic content. She encourages students to use their resources (i.e. test taking skills, logical thinking, and reasoning skills) to become problem solvers ready to take on the next challenge.
- Eden Barnett
Eden is currently working toward her MS in Counseling at Villanova University. A graduate of Swarthmore College's Honors program with a BA in Philosophy and Economics, she served for a year with Americorps as a Junior Coach in a Title 1 school. There, she helped students in an under-served community prepare for the SAT and the college admissions process. Eden is deeply passionate about ensuring that all students have access to the resources they need in order to achieve their long-term goals.
In her free time, Eden enjoys baking, doing crossword puzzles, and mustering up the courage to ask strangers if she can pet their dogs.
- Kevin Riffitts
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.”
- William Chung
Born and raised in Southern California, William graduated from Swarthmore College in 2017 with a degree in economics. He was a four year member of the varsity tennis team during his time at Swarthmore, while also actively volunteering during his spare time. Not only did he create a community tennis program dedicated to teaching local youth, but he also directed an SAT tutoring and college mentoring club, managing over 60 high school students. Since graduating, William has lived in Philadelphia and worked as a project manager for a healthcare company with the intent to begin medical school in 2020.
William has a passion for teaching and helping others, and has guided all of his students in reaching their academic and personal goals. When not working, William still enjoys playing and watching tennis and volunteering around his local community.
- Alex Silver
Alex graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in business from Drexel University in Philadelphia. While in college, he began volunteering with Lindy Scholars, a tutoring program for middle school students in the Philadelphia School District, which kindled his passion for teaching. After working in the business world as a sales tax accountant for a few years, Alex attended graduate school at West Chester University and is now a certified teacher in secondary English and Social Studies. He has had long-term teaching assignments in Unionville and Springfield School Districts, where he also volunteered with the school theater productions. He is passionate about engaging the personal interests of all students and helping them discover the universality of stories.
Alex was president of the Tae Kwon Do Club in college, and holds two black belts. He is also a self-professed nerd, and spends his free time writing and reading sci-fi and fantasy stories, playing tabletop games, and watching kung fu movies on Netflix.
- Sofia Russo
Sofia graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Italian Language. She is especially interested in the connections between the body, mind, and environment and how those connections affect general health. She is currently working as a medical assistant and clinical research associate prior to applying to medical school.
Throughout her undergraduate career and since, Sofia has tutored several students in biology, chemistry, and Italian. She believes in using a personalized approach to teaching, taking the time to get to know her students and their interests to make subject material more appropriate.
In her free time, Sofia likes to practice yoga, read, and cook dinner for friends and family.
- Alex Pappas
Alex graduated from the University of Maryland in 2017 with a B.S. in cellular biology and is currently pursuing a medical degree at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. While a student at Maryland, Alex dedicated his free time to research projects at the NIH and the University of Pennsylvania. Despite the focus on medicine, Alex has always had a passion for teaching, working as a physics learning assistant throughout his career at UMD. After graduation, Alex took both of these focuses with him to Peru, where he spent a month working in a rural community clinic focused on preventative.
Prior to starting medical school, Alex enjoyed volunteering at a local healthcare clinic in Phoenixville PA, cooking, reading, and weightlifting.
- Adel Boyarsky
Adel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with a major in Networked and Social Systems Engineering, a mix of computer science and economics. Outside of tutoring, Adel has experience as a teaching assistant, research assistant, and as an analyst in the financial sector. She has been involved with the Society of Women Engineers, Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Theta Tau Engineering Fraternity, and Eta Kappa Nu honors society at Penn.
In her spare time, Adel enjoys playing tennis and visiting the beach.
- Logan Chipkin
Logan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in physics. Following some time working at the bank UBS, he attended the University of Houston and earned a master's degree in biology in 2019. His broad professional goal is to disseminate knowledge to anyone who is curious. In this vein, he enjoys tutoring a variety of subjects and writing articles about science, philosophy, economics, and history for different outlets.
- Caitlin Hunt
Caitlin graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education and teaching certificates in both English and Communications. Hailing from the Harrisburg area, she taught AP and Honors English in the Middletown Area School District from 2013 to 2019, and, while there, attained her Master of Arts degree in Humanities from The Pennsylvania State University in 2017. Caitlin currently teaches high school English in the Norristown Area School District.
Besides working with students, Caitlin’s other passions include politics, cooking, travel, reading, and music.
- Lucas Voit
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.
- Benjamin Cattau
Ben graduated from Haverford College in 2017, as a Biology major and Philosophy minor. As a former homeschooler (Grades K-8), he was a self-directed student that managed his own accelerated curricula. As a result, he has a deep appreciation for learning, and helping others engage with their studies. Ben tutored Math and Physics in high school, and continued in undergrad, with Cellular Biology and Biology “Super” Lab.
After graduating, Ben worked as a lab manager and research specialist for two years in an immunology-genetics lab at UPenn, and helped his research group publish papers in Immunity and PNAS. He also continued tutoring, and expanded into the college application process.
Besides tutoring and working in the lab, Ben can be found in the gym, or down a hill on a longboard. He also enjoys cooking, exploring new music, and a good book.
- Ariel Dineen
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.
- Torie Berke
Torie graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr College, having studied Chemistry, History of
Art, and Museum Studies. While in college, Torie tutored dozens of fellow students in
Chemistry, Math, GRE and MCAT prep, as well as mentoring several high school students in
a Bioinorganic Chemistry research lab. They plan to attend graduate school for curriculum
design and pursue a career in Museum Education. Throughout their undergraduate career,
Torie was also the president of the Street Outreach program at Haverford College, which
provided twice weekly hot and cold meals to food insecure individuals in Philadelphia. Torie
has also served for two years with City Year as an Americorps Member, first working full
time as a tutor, mentor, and role model for middle school students in Los Angeles, followed
by a year as a muralist and logistics coordinator within the organization in Philadelphia.
When not tutoring, Torie can be found weaving tapestries, perfecting their pie crust recipe,
watching hockey, and going on walks around West Philadelphia.
- Sofia Adams
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.
- Robyn Bursch
Robyn graduated cum laude from the University of California, San Diego in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science and a minor in biology, and is currently attaining her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at San Diego State University. During her undergraduate career, Robyn worked as a general tutor for local high schoolers and a teaching assistant for Neurobiology. As a graduate student, she used her strong background in statistics and writing to develop and present research at local and national conferences, ultimately having her work published in Military Medicine.
Robyn's favorite moments in tutoring occur when the students not only recognize their own potential, but also exceed their own expectations. Outside of tutoring and clinical rotations, you can find Robyn running, cooking, listening to audiobooks, or spending quality time with her niece and nephew.
- John Thompson
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.
- Anuj Kavi
Anuj graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, San Diego in 2019 with a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience and a minor in Finance. With over 7 years of experience working with students, Anuj has always had a passion for teaching and education. He has helped many students reach their goals on the SAT, ACT, MCAT, and AP exams. In his local community, Anuj worked with high schools to develop SAT tutoring and mentorship programs and also worked as a teaching assistant and test prep tutor during his years in college. During his undergraduate years, Anuj also focused on domestic and international education having traveled to Memphis, TN to develop programs for STEM education and to Costa Rica to rebuild a schoolhouse and teach English.
In addition to teaching, Anuj has experience conducting glaucoma research in a molecular biology lab and previously worked as a medical assistant at a family medicine practice. In his free time, Anuj enjoys working out, learning new languages, and listening to podcasts.
- Allen Ding
Allen is studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, with a focus in Computer Engineering. He participates in hackathons, game design, and other coding projects in addition to his studies. Allen has been tutoring since high school, and loves the feeling of helping others succeed.
Allen is an avid sports fan, and loves playing and watching basketball especially.
- Richie Ngo
Richie studies film and media at Columbia University. Born and raised in San Diego, he attended the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High, a pioneering project-based learning high school.
His interests include outdoor activities (he's an enthusiastic Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program leader!), student theater (he's also a proud producer in the King's Crown Shakespeare troupe), and visual art (David Hockney is his favorite contemporary artist). Previously, he worked over the summer at the Media Arts Center of San Diego, a nonprofit that did documentary work for the Little Saigon Mobile Museum project aiming to increase awareness about gentrification in an immigrant community in San Diego. He plans to pursue a career in film and television.
- Jennifer Talarico
Jennifer graduated from the University of Miami with Bachelor's Degrees in English and Psychology. She earned a Master's in Education from the University of Pennsylvania during her service as a Teach For America Corps Member. After teaching for three years in Camden, NJ, Jennifer moved to San Diego, where she currently teaches 6th grade English. In addition to 5 years classroom teaching experience, Jennifer has been tutoring for over ten years. She is a passionate educator who believes in every student's ability to succeed.
When she is not teaching or tutoring, Jennifer enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
- Ryan Oliver
Ryan is a student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences this fall, majoring in Computer Engineering. He graduated as the valedictorian of Radnor High School. His academic interests stretch across many different disciplines, including physics, math, engineering, and music. In the past, he has tutored students and helped peers in various subjects, and loves the process of helping another person become more confident with material or more ready for a test. Ryan likes to break large tasks and problems into their smaller components to make them more manageable, and stresses having a conceptual understanding of the material as opposed to simply memorizing information or tricks.
At Penn, he is a member of the Penn Glee Club and the Hardware subteam of Penn Electric Racing. In his free time, Ryan enjoys being involved in music-related activities. He sings and plays the piano and trumpet, and is interested in genres of music ranging from classical to jazz to barbershop.
- Laney Myers
Elena graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 2020, with a BA in History and political science. As a tutor in the Bryn Mawr Writing Center, she discovered a passion for peer tutoring, always seeking to help the learner realize how brilliant they already are. In college she interned at the Smithsonian, worked as editor-in-chief for the student news journal, and archivist for student government specializing in oral history.
Elena's favorite activities are FaceTiming her mom and buying new houseplants. She is happy to share pictures of her kitten Peony.
- Julia Simkus
Julia is studying at Princeton University, where she is majoring in Psychology. At Princeton, she is a Peer Health Advisor and a research assistant in the Psychology Department. Her current research and writing focus on the increase in substance abuse and food addictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In high school, Julia captained the varsity soccer team, and her club soccer team was the 2016 National Champion.
Julia enjoys traveling. Between high school and college, she took a gap year where she did community service work in Ecuador and Peru and then worked for Havas Media, a global entertainment company in Sydney, Australia.
When she is not tutoring, Julia is an avid runner and crossword puzzle enthusiast.
- Natasha Gonzalez
Natasha graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2020 with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Economics. She plans to go to medical school in 2022. While at Harvard, Natasha worked as a Peer Advising Fellow, mentoring groups of incoming first years on the transition to college. She also captained the Harvard Women’s Tennis team and volunteered in Boston. She was awarded the Fulbright to work as an English Teaching Assistant in Spain. Natasha is excited about working with high school students and helping them reach their full potential.
Outside of tutoring, Natasha enjoys playing tennis, going to the beach, and learning how to cook.
- Kayla Kirk
Kayla Kirk graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts & Performance Studies and a B.A. in Modern Culture & Media. She spent much of her time in college acting/writing/directing plays and films, in addition to her time spent performing stand-up, sketch, and improv comedy. At Brown, Kayla completed several Education courses and field placements in local schools. She is proud to have taught a high school English class on To Kill a Mockingbird by incorporating a textual analysis of Beyoncé song lyrics. In 2019, Kayla was honored to receive the T. Carpenter Award for Elocution.
Before college, Kayla gained teaching experience as a high school tutor and teacher/director of school theatre programs. She has led a variety of educational theatre workshops for students K-12 and overseen several youth productions.
In her spare time, you can find Kayla rollerblading, listening to podcasts, or watching a stand-up comedy special.
- Steven Yi
Steven Yi graduated magna cum laude from Temple University with a BS in Biochemistry and minor in Spanish. He was awarded the Undergraduate Service Award from the Chemistry Department at Temple for peer tutoring. He is excited to meet each new student he works with and support them in achieving their goals.
We also offer complimentary College Night seminars.
College Night 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.Learn More