Online Resources For Applying to College and Writing College Essays

Advice Admissions Officers Give Their Own Kids –  From the New York Times Blog

College Scholarship Guide to Download from Scholarship America – Download here

Essay Tips –  from the College Board, which operates the ACT/SATs

College Data Set – Shows which colleges take the Commonapp and which require additional essays.

“Business Plan” Scholarship For Students With Disabilities–Deadlines April 1, Nov. 1 (see more scholarships here)

850+ Schools that Don’t Require the SAT/ACT–Free, and unlike other websites on scholarships, requires no personal information to use.–General source for scholarships

U.S. Government’s College Scorecard – Find a college based on cost, and average salary of graduates

U.S. Government’s College Navigator – Find the right college for you.

U.S. Government’s College Affordability and Transparency Center – Find colleges with the lowest tuition

Financial Aide Guidebook from Affordable Colleges Online

New College Graduates at Work –   Includes information about relationship between major and income.

Net Price for College

Public High School Graduation Rates

Financial Aide to Success–A Guide for College Success created by the White House and aimed at the Hispanic Community.

Tips and tools from the the Education Department–includes:

  • College Scorecard: Includes information about a particular college’s cost, its graduation rates and the average amount its students borrow. It is designed to help you compare colleges and choose one that is well-suited to your individual needs.
  • College Affordability and Transparency Center: ED has compiled lists of institutions based on the tuition and fees and net prices (the price of attendance after considering all grant and scholarship aid) charged to students.
  • Federal Student Aid: There are thousands of scholarships, from all kinds of organizations; Federal Student Aid provides tips and resources to help you find scholarships for which you may be eligible.

2015-6 Common Application There are now over 500 Common Application members. This is the first place to go when planning a college application and the college application essays.

Grand Valley State 2013-2014 Accountability Report – Looking at a Michigan Public University?  Use this incredible set of statistics to compare apples and apples in areas such as tuition, average number of students per professor and graduation rate.

FAQ on applying to the University of Michigan Written for alumni, but accessible to everyone to read.

How College Application Essays Can Reduce the Achievement Gap–A novel solution to a difficult problem.  Bill and Melinda Gates Educational Foundation:  please take notice!

The Choice Blog by Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times–Demystifying College Admissions and Aid

Essay Coaching Publications–A Great Way to Get Started

College Admissions: From Chaos to Control. A Guide for Students and Families for Solving the College Admissions Puzzle, by Debbie Merion, John Boshoven, and Geri Markel is a friendly, valuable, stress-reducing resource for students and parents. Fill-in-the-blank exercises give students a quick start with choosing their essay topic.

What a wonderful book! I only wish I’d had it a few years earlier. –Lisa Pasbjerg. LMSW, DCSW, President and CEO of Focused Coaching

Read these excerpts from the book:


  1. What Parents Can Do To Help
  2. Finding Your Voice in Your College Application Essay

Read Debbie Merion’s revealing story about how U-M admits undergraduates: “Paper Cut – The U-M Picks Its Freshman Class

Powerpoint Presentations from Essay Coaching Events

“Seven Secrets for Writing Standout College Application Essays.” Oct 16, 2014 at St. Clair County RESA.

“Breakthroughs in Training:  Improving Essay Writing for College Applications and ACT/SAT Essay Writing Sections

“Partnering with Parents to Support Academic Preparedness in St. Clair County, Michigan”

“Finish Your Writing Project, Class 3 Lecture:  How to Publish”

Recommended Colleagues and Programs

Alternative U, LLC – Gap year advice professional

Managing Your Mind – Dr. Geri Markel, educational psychologist and performance coach for testing

Listen to Media Presentations

Debbie’s essay writing tips aired the week of Sept. 22, 2008 on Dateline: Schools Radio WPHM-1380 AM. Listen.

Debbie at the Ann Arbor District Library 2007 College Night

Helpful College Sites

Google University Search

Common Application

College Board

US News College rankings

How Important is Your Essay When Applying to Michigan Colleges?

Scholarship and Essay Competition Information


Conquering the GMAT

Anatomy of a College Application

College Students Success Pyramid

Additional Informative Books

About Writing in General

Elbow, Peter (1998) Writing With Power, New York, Oxford University Press

Goldberg, Natalie (1990) Wild Mind, New York, Bantam Books

Goldberg, Natalie, (2007) Old Friend from Far Away, New York, Free Press

Lamott, Anne (1995) Bird by Bird, New York, Anchor Books

Lunsford, Andrea (1999) EasyWriter, Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s

Murry, Donald M. Shoptalk, Portsmouth, Boynton/Cook Publishers

Murry, Donald M. (2002) Write to Learn, Boston, Thomson Learning

Rodale, J. I. (1986) The Synonym Finder, New York, Warner Books

Strunk, Jr., William (2000) The Elements of Style, Boston, Allyn and Bacon

Zinsser, William (1998) On Writing Well, New York, Harper Collins

About College Essays Or Applying To College

Bauld, Harry, (1987) On Writing the College Application Essay, New York, Quill

Curry, Boykin (2003) Essays that Worked, New York, Ballantine

Fiske, Edward (2006) Real College Essays that Work, Naperville, Sourcebooks

Greene, Howard R. Making It Into a Top College, New York, Harper Collins

Harvard Independent (2002) , 100 Successful College Application Essays, New York, New American Library

Hernandez, Michele (2002) Acing the College Application, New York, Ballantine

Mason, Michael James (2000) How to Write a Winning College Application Essay, New York, Three Rivers Press


Princeton Review (2006) College Essays That Made a Difference, New York, Princeton Review

Wissner-Gross, Elizabeth (2006) What Colleges Don’t Tell You, New York, Penguin