I watched this inspiring trailer video today about students from Stockton, California, who are learning to tell their stories using both poetry and investigative journalism (digging up facts.)

Since the economic downfall starting in 2008, their city turned into a virtual ghost town, leaving most teens with few resources and little hope. But with the help of some poets and investigative journalists, they found a lot to say and we all need to hear it.

I wish all students had talented teachers to help them learn to express themselves through writing. College application essays are just one format (the personal essay) where students can share their experiences, thoughts, values and dreams. And it’s unfair that only a small percentage have access to professional help and resources.

If it helps, I’m offering my three essay writing guides for free to teachers or college counselors who work with underprivileged students.  I believe my guides can help students learn powerful writing techniques that help them mine their lives for meaningful stories and learn to express them in ways that will make others want to read them.

If you would like any or all of my guides, send me an email to EssayHell@Gmail.com. Please include your name, role, school or organization, and which book(s) you would like. It might take me a few days to get them to you, but I will send ebook versions that you can download. (You can help spread the word about this offer by sharing this post via Social Media!)

Here are my books:

Escape Essay Hell: This is my short guide that spells out ten steps to write a college application essay.


Heavenly Essays is my collection of 50 sample college app essays written by real students.


Essay Hell’s 2014-15 Prompts Primer is my collection of strategies on how to answer the most common college app essay prompts.