Independent Education Consultant

Your Perfect-Fit College & Career Awaits

Connecting the unique person to the unique college for a dream career and future.

It’s no secret that formulating a college list, crafting a compelling application, and choosing a major are complex processes.

As competition for college admissions increases, it’s not enough to just be a student with great grades and test scores

You want to support your teen to the best of your ability. Instead, you’re overwhelmed by…

Trying to avoid arguments with your teen.
Navigating a complex and ever-changing admission process.
Advising them on a list of colleges where they have the best chance of admission.
Making sense of each college’s unique programs and the support they can provide your child.
Coaching your child on essay writing…forget it.
Independent educational consultant Next Step college advising Consultant

Thoughtful college advising is not only about maximizing a student’s chance of getting in, it’s also about uncovering which college will facilitate an environment of growth and support.

Preparing to head off on the college adventure should be fun and exciting.

Together we can encourage students’ self-discovery without letting this time be overshadowed by… 

The pressure of choosing the right college and major.
Confusion about what colleges are looking for in an applicant.
The complexities of the application process.
Identifying and naming unique strengths, interests, values, and goals.
The uncertainty of crafting a compelling admissions resume and application essays.


Discover & Stand Out at Your Dream College

Comprehensive Plan

Looking for guidance throughout the admission process? This plan is everything you need to make college applications a breeze.

By utilizing personality assessments and analyzing your individual circumstances, we’ll identify the top colleges that will support your student’s success.

Feel supported from start to finish, beginning with an initial exploration of colleges and majors to extracurricular advice, financial fit guidance, and essay and application support. 

Your student will walk away with a deep understanding of who they are so they can match their unique personality, skills, interests, and values to a perfect-fit college where they will thrive.

Next Step Independent Education Consultant for College Admissions, Santa Cruz, CA
Next Step Independent College Advising Services, Santa Cruz, CA, Independent education consultant

Career and Major Intensive

Just need help finding the best career and major? This intensive is for you.

Through a variety of highly-regarded personality assessments and reports, we’ll clarify areas you’ll be excited to explore further.

It can be intimidating trying to decide on a major or career path. This package will help your teen hone in on a major or future career. 

With an initial and follow-up 1:1 meeting, each student will come away with concrete suggestions for majors and careers that match their sense of purpose and direction.

Accelerator Blocks

Don’t need the comprehensive package but still have a few questions? Let’s jump on a call and discuss your immediate needs at hand.

The accelerator blocks are great for targeting specifics like assessing and reviewing your college list, essay writing assistance, or clarifying aspects of the college admission process.

Blocks can be bought by the hour, or in 5 and 10-hour packages.

Not sure how much time you will need? I’m happy to jump on a brief call and give you an estimate for the required time.

Next Step Independent Education Consultant for College Admissions, Santa Cruz

Hi, I’m Karen, Your Independent Education Consultant

In 2015, when my eldest daughter started the college application process, I was fortunate to have the time to invest in understanding how it worked and what colleges are looking for in applicants. It was fascinating learning about the differences between colleges and that getting accepted into a dream college required so much more than having a good GPA.

I discovered that every college is unique, and when we match the unique qualities of the college to the uniqueness and goals of the student, it creates an atmosphere where a student can thrive academically and socially. I also learned that what might be a perfect-fit school that supports and encourages growth for one student isn’t always the right choice for another.

>>> But finding a perfect-fit school starts with first knowing yourself.

And, that’s where I come in.

I work with students to deepen their understanding of who they are: their personality, values, goals, and interests. This allows us to formulate a list of best-fit schools and a highly-competitive application.

It’s my goal to uncover the college that holds and supports your teen while creating the roots for them to grow into a strong adult with a career they love.

Karen saved us tens of thousands of dollars through the scholarships our children received

“Karen is incredibly knowledgeable about schools and financial aid both in the U.S. and abroad. Most importantly, Karen really gets to know the students, which is essential to helping them find the right fit. We both work in education and, at first, we thought we didn’t need help with the college application process.

Little did we know how much things have changed since we attended college. In the end, Karen saved us tens of thousands of dollars through the scholarships our children received. I can’t recommend her enough – and have to many friends!”

~ Teresa McCaffrey

Karen’s extensive knowledge about the culture and personalities of each college is impressive and invaluable.

“Karen helped us put together a realistic list of ” safety, target, and reach” schools which could provide financial aid so the costs would be similar to going to a UC. She helped make my daughter’s dream of going out of state a reality… Karen really listens to your child and wants them to be happy in their next phase of life.

Your child is truly at the center of this process… It’s not just about “getting into the best college,” but rather what the best college is for your child. Her extensive knowledge about the culture and personalities of each college is impressive and invaluable.”

~ Heajin Kamalani

Certified Professional

Give your teen the gift of self-awareness and help them set the foundation for a fulfilling and successful future