Kristen Elizabeth Karovic (she/her) is a first-generation college graduate, Fulbright recipient, former professor, and independent educational college consultant.
A U.S expat who has worked in international education the last 15 years in Spain, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Italy, Kristen has successfully supported high-achieving, low-income, and/or first-generation students in their exploration and acceptances to their top-choice universities in over a dozen countries.
Given Kristen's unique background and current location in Italy, Kristen strives to network and create awareness about educational opportunities in Europe and other supportive and affordable options abroad.
One of my most memorable meetings with one of my students from Panama in Venice, Italy!
Education, simplicity, transparency, sustainability, plant-based foods.
Global awareness, healthy boundaries, mindfulness, adaptability, positivity.
Connecting with farmers in southern Sicily, happily researching universities, volunteering at a forest school, enjoying all things eco-friendly, breathing in nature.
Kristen is a first-generation college student, daughter of divorced Slovakian and Irish immigrants, and values immensely the opportunities her own college education has brought her. She had never been outside of the U.S.—with only limited travel outside of the Northeast—until she attended college. With the connections her U.S. universities had to volunteer and study overseas, Kristen began to realize the importance of exposure in cross-cultural dialogue and international exchange. Today, you can contact Kristen in Spanish and Italian.
Kristen financed part of her education by working both in the Financial Aid Office and Dean’s Office at College of the Holy Cross, giving her a behind-the-scenes peek at the college admissions process. Simultaneously, Kristen began to volunteer as an ESL teacher for a non-profit in the Worcester community. These experiences formed a central basis for her academic studies, leading to several publications and presentations. Leaving a legacy at her alma mater, she reformed the barebones nighttime ESL program to form strong volunteer relations from local universities and initiated the process of outside grant funding. She continued working with high schoolers during her Master’s degree in Madrid, Spain, focusing on strengthening their academic and ESL skills in standardized exams such as the SAT.
As a result, Kristen was invited through the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program in 2011 to supplement the English Department at A Universidade Federal de Pelotas, a public university in Southern Brazil. As the only native English speaker in the area, Kristen was invited to lecture at another private university and local academies. She had exposure to over 2000 students and teachers from local schools, and promoted U.S. culture through designing and leading hundreds of hours of cultural and English-language seminars.
During her Fulbright, Kristen listened to the needs of her community, and funnelled her energy into public presentations about how to study, work, and volunteer abroad. Her influence on current high schoolers, college students, and fellow teachers inspired many attendees to pursue opportunities outside of Brazil.
On a personal level, Kristen was responsible for identifying opportunities for her younger brother’s higher education. In between her Fulbright and coursework abroad, she took her brother on tours and interviews to area colleges in the Northeast—often mistaken as an applicant herself by college students and admission officers. Ultimately, she came up with a creative solution to have him take college courses in Panama while receiving credit for a U.S. degree. Tuition was only a fraction of the cost of a U.S. degree and he was able to receive the emotional support he needed by having family nearby. This experience further motivated Kristen to continue to find cost-friendly alternatives for how students can continue and complete their higher education.
Two puppies and a cat who drift in and out, happy plants, a diffuser, yoga ball as a chair, glasses of water, wall-sized dry erase board, books and more books (no e-books for me).
I'm an ethical vegan who lives a simple and balanced life. I lead by example, having made my home educationally and professionally in several countries, right alongside my students.
I have created my own dream job: I network and research every day in order to connect students with affordable and supportive opportunities in higher education outside of their home countries.
My ultimate goal is to see you bloom in your experiences and choices; together, we help bridge global access and awareness in higher education.
Kristen opened up her own successful college counseling practice in Panama City, Panama in 2012. By demand, she focused on the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, TOEFL, and IELTS, and continues preparing students for these exams remotely. While some of her students have scored in the top percentile on the SAT and ACT, 95% of her students achieve above-average score gains from their initial practice tests—more than 100 points on the SAT and 4 additional points on their composite score on the ACT. Kristen also challenges students to surpass the minimum requirements on the TOEFL and IELTS. The result has led many of her students to be accepted as transfer students and first-time freshmen in their top choices for college and programs.
Simultaneously, Kristen has always taken a naturally holistic approach as a respected mentor and intermediary for families, above and beyond what is expected from a native English speaker and test prep teacher. Parents and students would regularly ask for recommendations for programs to strengthen English-language skills, consult about college lists, inquire about opportunities to make college more affordable, and ask for revisions on college essays, among other requests.
In 2016, she became determined to provide mentorship, awareness, and support to students in remote regions of Panama, especially given their little to no in-school support about options in higher education outside of their home countries, and shifted her services online to become more effective with time.
This shift not only allowed Kristen to travel to universities and attend professional conferences in person, but also expanded her network to students in Nicaragua, Venezuela, India, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ukraine, and China.
This growing experience with her students’ multiple citizenships and/or bi/tricultural backgrounds—combined with the realities of diverse opportunities offered by high schools outside of the U.S.—has led Kristen to concentrate on the best academic and internationally student supportive opportunities available in higher education.
A cornerstone of Kristen's practice is her focus on creating awareness about affordable and supportive options in higher education, not only for families but also for fellow educators.
She works with a small caseload of students every year to create customized plans abroad for their higher education.
high school jobs:
countries lived in:
babysitter ($3/hour and loved that job), secretary for an interior designer (loathed that job), GED tutor (that was awesome)
B.A. from College of the Holy Cross (USA) with coursework in Universidad de Navarra & Universidad de León (Spain), M.A. from Middlebury College with coursework in USA, Spain, & Mexico; Certificate from University of California – Irvine
B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish with a Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies Concentration; M.A. in Linguistics; Certificate in Independent Educational Consulting
USA, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Italy
My Resume: Fun Facts
other roles over the years:
Worked on the accreditation of a secondary school in Panama, translated with the Rotary Club, blogged for the largest travel company in Panama, and recruited host families for Education First.
noteworthy jobs i've turned down:
Assistant director for a university study abroad program, professorships at four different universities, co-founder & CEdO of a successful online school for worldschoolers and unschoolers (moral of the story: I'm flattered, but I love what I do)
Kristen is a member of HECA (Higher Education Consultants Association), International ACAC (Association for College Admission Counseling), and an Associate Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association)—the “Honor Societies” of the college admissions field. These organizations promote professional standards for ethical and social responsibility.
Kristen was accepted based on a combination of her experience as a proven mentor, college degrees, annual visits to college campuses, recommendations from experienced educational counseling professionals and college admissions officers, and completion of a practicum based college counseling program with the UC Irvine Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program. She takes advantage of the opportunity to network with thousands of experienced university admissions.
Kristen currently contributes to Ethan Sawyer's International Student Hub as a trusted overseer and writer, and presented in the 2021 Americas & European SRT Fair Conferences about education in Panama and the ethical question about the use of agents in higher education.
Every year, I mentor a handful of HALI (high-achieving, low-income) students around the world. I have always been successful for top students to gain admission at universities that will financially support them as much as possible, but the road to get there is not easy. While I am proactive in working with universities and organizations to receive fee waivers for applications and entrance exams, I want to take advantage of this community and ask for your help, as waivers are not always possible.
Additionally, as I continue my relationship with students after admission, I have learned that even a "full ride" doesn't cut it: once admitted, I have students who need financial assistance to purchase winter clothing instead of depending on free college swag, transportation to their university, a functional computer, and other basics.
Any contribution—and I mean any—you can make is greatly appreciated. I am happy to provide you with details once we connect, and I know the student receiving your gift would love to talk to you.
I have an amazing team of HALI student interns who have given back and worked to make this website possible—my personal source of inspiration. I invite you to support them.
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