Guarantee that your child stands out and has an unparalleled resume.
You’ve heard stories about high schoolers with 4.0+ GPAs and perfect SATs being rejected from Harvard or Stanford. Some of these students also have long resumes filled with extra-curricular activities and club memberships. If they can’t get in, what kind of students are these colleges looking for?
To get into selective colleges, it’s not good enough to just get good grades and score high on the SATs. Anyone can study for a test and complete the work they’re assigned. Anyone can attend club meetings or show up for practice. These things don’t stand out any more.
At Merit, the College Advisor guides students through the process of innovating their own project—the kind that will build character and dazzle admissions committees.
By creating original projects that involve research and solutions, students find their passions. Students meet with their College Advisor once per week (in person or online) to discuss the project and to learn how to implement and organize the next step. Not only do the students become independent thinkers and receive public recognition for their projects, they also learn leadership skills and build confidence that will last for a lifetime.
When students become the CEO, founder, and patent holder of their projects, their college applications will stand out, and they’ll get in!
To learn how to ensure that your child gets in!
Students become dynamic, independent thinkers and develop lifelong leadership skills
We guide students through the entire process of doing a project -- but they claim full credit!
When your child is the CEO, founder, and/or patent holder, their application will make the cut!
Request a FREE consultation to learn how to ensure that your child gets in!
Learn how to do a project with this easy-to-read book!
This book guides the student through the entire process of doing a college project—from brainstorming to implementation to fruition. With examples of other projects that students have completed, the students learn how to plan each step, how manage their time to get it done, and how to present it on college applications to leave admissions committees dazzled.
Do a project. Ensure that your child gets in!
Buy it on Amazon!
Read more about the author, Susan Tatsui-D'Arcy!
Check out Some of Our Projects!
- When Not If
- CA Dreams
- World Wide Watchers
- Do You Sign?
- Learning Curve
- Kids 4 Hydrogen
- Nerd Girl Home
- Prodigy Preschool
- National Disaster Preparedness Day
- Loves In Heat Music Festival
- CPR for Life
- Teen´s Pharmaceutical Disposal Proposal
- Helpin' on the Go
- Tiny House
- Methane Bio-Digester
- Get Your Shots!
- Build My PET
- I Wish I Would Have...
- Ambiguous Texts
- Seeds of Hope
- Trumpists: The Art of the Tweet
- Overcoming Turbulent Times: Teenage Angst
- TEDx Talk: How Did Toilet Paper Break the Supply Chain?
"I came up with this idea of a policy and created this website because I have always thought that there wasn’t really much I could do to help with a problem as big as overpopulation. But, with a solution like this, everyone can help, even just by taking a pledge/promise to just have two kids. I know at first it seems a bit much, or maybe extreme, but it could really help in the long run.
I’m a junior at a small high school in Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz is a pretty hippy town, and is very active when it comes to employing eco-friendly habits as a community. Living in a town like this, I never quite realized how really weird my little hometown really was. But Facebook completely popped my bubble. I read articles about deforestation, orcas in captivity at Seaworld, and another oil spill. Concerned, I researched these issues: GMOs, animal abuse in food production (Smithfield Foods), pollution, animal abuse in captivity (specifically Seaworld, but also Six Flags), and Crispr. The more I read, the more helpless I felt. I wanted to take on all of these issues until I realized how many of these problems were the direct result of overpopulation."
"Earlier this year my English teacher assigned us a research paper where we had to pick a topic and write a four page essay on it. I did not know what I was going to do, so I went online and started looking for big issues that were happening in the U.S. I happened to stumble across climate change, and how many people in Congress were denying its existence. This really frustrated me because if scientists are saying it’s real and have proof that it is real, how can one deny its existence? So, I started looking into it more and asking my friends and family if they knew anything about it, and I realized that while many of them believed in climate change none of them knew very much about what it could do. I decided to write about it and how, despite some progress happening in government to take action against climate change, I do not think enough was being done to fight it, and that brings me to now. I have decided that if I really want something that I care about to happen, I need to make it happen, so I created When, Not If… in hopes that I can share facts with people and get the world to take action against climate change.
In the next few years I hope to get into college and go someplace that suits my personality and my needs. I really hope to make a difference with When, Not if… and I just hope that I can become a better person who does all that I can to help people and the environment."
Santa Cruz Sentinel Article
"I was inspired in my junior year of high school to combat environmental issues, when learning about the harm our environment is experiencing in my AP Environmental Science class. I got the idea when he discovered the overflowing landfill and its affects on the environment.
I wanted to find a simple way to combat this problem, but knew just recycling bottles and cans wouldn't be enough. I also wanted to help those in need, which is when S.H.O.E was born. The idea was to make an organization in which people could recycle their shoes in a box, keeping them out of the landfill, and then those shoes would be donated to people in need. I had to figure out how to transfer this idea into an actual business, which was something I had never done before.
First I created a name, a logo, and a website. Next I had to work on advertising, as the organization wouldn’t work if no one heard about it. I created flyers and posters to draw in donators. I also needed to find other businesses willing to house the boxes for people to donate. This was extremely difficult as I realized not every business was willing to take the responsibility of getting involved. After I designed my receptacles, I realized that this project would cost quite a bit of money (which I didn't have), to reach my goals. That is when I reached out to local businesses to obtain donations of boxes for use in S.H.O.E. By reusing boxes I was able to eliminate the need for start up cash, while keeping to the philosophy of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."
"I learned from researching online that most of the students accepted to schools like the Ivy Leagues were amazing kids, but not because they joined clubs and represented on committees. They used their innovative brains to find a way to impact the world doing something that they loved.
There are very few websites that tell you this. Wanting to change the way that kids approach trying to get into college, I decided to create a place that inspires students to stay with the activities that they love, whether it be art, leadership, athletics, or anything really.
And as we all know, not every student is looking to go to an Ivy League. I want to extend my help to these students too. Some of these kids still try to overachieve in their college search. Others aren’t sure where they stand. And others, even though they have the abilities to do it, barely even consider a four-year college because they believe that they aren’t smart enough or that they won’t be able to afford the notoriously- pricey ambition of attending them.
Although I am still in high school, I have done a lot of research on colleges, college in general, students who go to college, students who get into certain colleges, and ways for everyone to go to college. On this website, I hope to share some of the knowledge I have accumulated from dozens of people and resources so that the college admissions process is just a little bit easier for everyone."
"I wanted to create World Wide Watchers so I could make neighborhoods and communities all over the world safer, because I know how unprotected my neighborhood was.
When I was 12, my house was broken into and items were stolen. Since then, I’ve always been interested in investigation and crime. In high school, I decided to create my own way of protection nationwide.
With years of hard work and planning, I came up with my own website. I know my family and neighbors now feel safer in their own town. I created World Wide Watchers because I didn’t feel safe.
I have no doubts that I am safe now."
"In my Junior year, I decided to take an ASL class. As the teacher welcomed everyone, I knew this was the right language for me. My teacher signed as she talked to the class, so that we would become more aware and gain a better understanding of the language. She did a lot of physical activities where we would walk around the class and sign to communicate with different people.
On the first day, my class and I learned the ASL alphabet. I memorized it by the end of the first day. This language was easy for me to pick up because I am a physical learner. I really enjoyed signing to everyone and signing to the deaf people on the streets when I passed them. I even went to Deaf Pizza Nights at Woodstock's Pizza in downtown Santa Cruz, and I had friendly convserations there.
This situation made me realize that the deaf community was completely isolated from the hearing world, and I needed to do something to change it, such as starting an ASL class for preschoolers to get them excited at a young age about bridging this communication gap.
LearningCurve was founded by Omar A., a high school senior in the California Bay Area, with the original intention of providing assistance to his AP Biology class.
With a few months, a simple project evolved into LearningCurve as it is now, with a free one-on-one tutoring service and a variety of AP note guides.
Our goal now is to amplify the original intention we started out with: providing free help that can equalize the playing field between all students so that access to valuable tutoring is not a luxury of the privileged.
We believe that socioeconomic status should not have to do with success, and so we made LearningCurve to provide help with virtually any subject to students of all backgrounds, free of charge.
After scooping ice cream from an electric ice cream maker that was powered by her sister’s hydrogen fuel cell in 4th grade, Jaclyn became a true environmentalist. Merit's College Advisors coached her as she researched alcohol fuel, hydrogen fuel cells, and solar energy.
In 9th grade, Jaclyn founded Kids 4 Hydrogen, a non-profit 501.c.3. She spoke at the American Lung Association’s Breathe Easy Award Ceremony honoring then Governor Schwartzenegger for his leadership in the hydrogen economy at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. After hearing Jaclyn’s inspirational speech, American Honda offered her a one-million dollar hydrogen fuel cell car.
Under Merit’s guidance, Jaclyn worked closely with hydrogen organizations, car manufacturers, and politicians to find the most sustainable energy carrier for the future. She discussed the possibility of converting combustion engine vehicles from using petroleum to gaseous hydrogen, and worked with several engineers to determine its marketability and safety. Jaclyn won 4 of the 5 scholarships she applied for including the $20,000 Toyota Community Scholars Award. When Claremont McKenna College offered Jaclyn a huge scholarship, she matriculated to the college where every student is a “Leader in the Making.”
Legacy Kids4Hydrogen Site
Current Kids4Hydrogen Site
"NerdGirlHomes is a project inspired from one of my childhood goals. My parents have always encouraged me to dream big, and one idea that really stuck with me is that I want to learn to build a house from the ground up.
I’ve always loved building things. When I was little I created contraptions and structures out of Knex, Legos, Playmobile, and much more. I’ve learned to weld, use plasma cutters, power tools and to light the wood stove with a blow torch!Now as a teenager I am ready to take on my childhood project and invite you to join me on the journey! Over this summer I’m building a LUSBY from the Tumbleweed Tiny House company. When it‘s complete, I’ll either be donating the tiny house to a deserving recipient or giving the proceeds of its raffle to a charitable cause."
Santa Cruz Sentinel Article
831 Magazine Article
McKenzie B. is sixteen years old, and she was born and raised in Santa Cruz County. She has loved reading ever since she was a little girl. As a child, McKenzie was often found teaching her dolls to read. She started dancing at the age of two, competing at age six, and is now on a successful competitive dance team. Her love of children inspired her to start this program for toddlers. McKenzie plans to study education in college and become an elementary school teacher.
Prodigy Preschool Program gives preschoolers the head start needed to be successful in elementary school. By learning how to read books and write stories, the children build confidence and come to enjoy learning. Prodigy Preschool uses Merit Academy Reading Readiness Program. With this proven technique, preschoolers get a jumpstart in reading, which provides a strong foundation for students as they enter kindergarten.
Chloe thought more should be done to prepare for natural disasters. She believes families should know how and where to buy supplies and create kits in case of emergency. In an effort to serve the greater community by spreading the topic of natural disaster preparedness, she created “National Disaster Preparedness Day,” a nationwide effort held on Labor Day, to gather communities and spread the word on disaster preparation. NDPD, her California-based non-profit, works in conjunction with various companies and organizations in the Bay Area including the Police and Fire Departments, the American Red Cross and the Palo Alto City Council to raise awareness.
Chloe built an informational website designed as the online source for disaster preparedness. Working closely with her Merit College Advisor, she organized the first National Disaster Preparedness Fair in Palo Alto. Starting a non-profit organization and working with local government in event planning took tenacity, integrity, and hard work.
John organized and presented the Loves in Heat Music Festival. During his junior year, Merit helped John to brainstorm about various ways to explore his career options. He wanted to learn more about the music business as a career possibility so he met with local musicians, rented a hall, promoted the concert, and managed the event.
John enjoyed meeting with band members and managers but found it frustrating when they didn’t keep appointments or follow through on promises. To avoid further problems, Merit helped John to negotiate with musicians and their managers, write contracts, layout a event flow chart, and negotiate terms with artists.
John’s concert was a huge success and what’s more, he applied to music business colleges to pursue his dream of promoting concerts.
When Dylan learned that his uncle might still be alive today if someone nearby knew how to administer CPR, he immediately decided to do something about it. Dylan convinced his family to join him in becoming CPR certified.
Merit College Advisors helped Dylan create CPR for Life and guided him as he set up his high school’s first CPR program for 9th grade students. To make all of Santa Cruz County a safer place to be for heart attack victims, Dylan launched a countywide program. He recruited CPR instructors from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, UCSC, and local fire departments.
One of Dylan’s biggest lessons was organizing all of the volunteers’ schedules with high school class schedules. Dylan also managed to get donations from local businesses to pay for the manikin shields and certification cards. He hopes to make CPR certification part of high school graduation requirements. Imagine if every high school student becomes CPR certified? We could save 325,000 lives per year!
Santa Cruz Sentinel Article
After conducting an experiment comparing regular soap to antibacterial soap, Natalie found that they both kill the same amount of bacteria. Because triclosan causes both environmental and health problems, she claims that there is no reason to continue using any antibacterial products.
As a 17-year-old environmentalist, Natalie organized Worthless Antibacterial Soap Harms Us Permanently (W.A.S.H.U.P.) to educate the public and to encourage them to stop buying products made with triclosan. Merit College Advisors helped Natalie select this project and coached her as she created her logo, ran her experiment, set up her website, did her public debut, put up her video on YouTube, and sent out press releases. Natalie made a soap dispenser costume and paraded along the Pacific Garden Mall to bring attention to her project.
Her story was covered by a local newspaper and she is currently working with her high school to get them to stop using antibacterial soaps.
Santa Cruz Sentinel Newspaper Article
After months of brainstorming, Rebecca found her project when Merit’s College Advisor informed her that the bottled water she was drinking contained pharmaceutical drugs. In disbelief, Rebecca checked with local water treatment plants and pharmacists to find that the water treatment plants neither test for nor remove drugs from the public water.
Merit College Advisors helped Rebecca set up an outreach program to teach consumers not to flush down the toilet or toss in the trash their expired or unused medications. They worked with her to find ways to divert the drugs from our water systems and into safe containers that she designed. Realizing the economic and political resistance from pharmacies and drug companies, Rebecca approached Senator Simitian via his Ought to Be a Law contest, and joined Simitian in Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Sacramento to turn her idea into a California law.
In July 2008, Rebecca’s idea officially became a law (SB966). When several colleges that had initially denied Rebecca admission heard about her project’s success, they immediately reversed their decisions and offered her a place in the upcoming freshman class.
ProjectMERIT T.P.D.P. Video
Santa Cruz Sentinel Newspaper Article
Palo Alto Online Article
San Jose Mercury Article
Good Times Article
Growing up in silicon valley, Arjun saw technology all around him. He was wondering about a better use of technology that could provide a social platform connecting people who needed help and people who were willing to help.
This lead him to the development of "Helpin' on the Go" App. Development of this app has boosted the level of understanding of the technology and made him more confident about computer programming. This is only a starting point and he has lot more to contribute and give back to his community. The App is available on Google Play store ("Helpin' on the Go"). Please download this app and start using it. Please let your friends and family know about it.
Pranav created Bubble, a service made especially for kids who need rides to and from school and for working parents who need assistance with child transportation. Bubble believes that driver safety is the most important part of their business. Not everyone can become a driver for Bubble. Bubble ensures that thorough background checks and safety procedures are conducted. They aim to save parents’ the time and hassle of transporting kids, ensure drivers are reliable and trustworthy, and reach the destinations safely and promptly.
Bubble wants to encourage children to be mobile and less dependent on their parents. Working parents have to take time out of their schedule in order to drive their kids to school and to various extracurricular activities. Bubble is here to provide safe and secure rides for children whose parents/children request them. Bubble is also solving traffic congestion issues in the Cupertino area by providing a platform for multiple kids to leave in one car and reducing the amount of cars waiting to pick up children.
This has been quite an exciting project for Will because he laid out his own building plans, created a budget, purchased all of the materials, and organized the build schedule with his mentor. Will had zero building skills prior to the start of this project. He has learned all of the aspects of building a real house because a tiny house is a real house.
Will plans to major in electrical engineering with a possible double major including mechanical engineering. By spending a year building a tiny house, he has a valuable perspective from the builder’s point of view. By understanding the importance of the end-user’s skill set and knowledge, he’ll be a more effective engineer.
The earth is falling apart and people are scared. Humanity's recklessness has led to ecological disasters in every niche and every home. Climate change is getting exponentially worse and this is due to the heating of the Earth's atmosphere due to greenhouse gasses, specifically methane and carbon dioxide.
The purpose of Sami's project is to utilize readily-available renewable energy sources to create self-sufficient heating solutions and fertilizers at home.
Get Your Shots! is an educational outreach program created to make people aware, especially parents, of the risks that come with refusing shots that protect children, adults, and elders from diseases that have already been eradicated.
Help the environment with just a few wires and a soup can
The PET: Particulate Emissions Tailpipe is a device capable of filtering out particulate matter from cars. Particulate matter is a harmful substance that can lead to cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organization, seven million people die every year from air pollution. In fact only 9% of countries actually meet the WHO standard for air quality. The PET filters out up to 75% of the particulate matter and allows people to live longer healthier lives.
Environmental issues must be solved by a community of people. That is why the PET was designed with materials that can be found in anyone’s home. Anyone can build the PET, even you! All it takes is a few wires and a soup can.
Everyone has a story. Do you have one that nobody knows? Looking back, do you wish that you could have done something differently? What if a friend could have guided you through that difficult time? Sometimes hearing other people’s experiences makes your life feel more normal. Well, this website is a chance for you to share your story with other people and read other people’s stories too. You might even see someone in the same circumstance as you! Whether it’s about drugs, sexual abuse, or even a bad relationship with your parents, sharing these stories could help someone else in a similar situation by giving them advice, providing a new perspective, and simply letting them know that they are not alone. Sometimes the hardest part about going through something that sucks is that you feel like no one else is experiencing the same thing. At the same time, when you feel like no one else can relate, you don’t want to reach out for help. Iwiwh.com is here to solve this. Your story will be kept completely anonymous and will be included with others in the book called “I Wish I Would Have: REAL Stories from REAL People”.
After trying to decipher months of confusing text messages that resulted in ruining friendships, I became an advocate for clear writing. I was unsure if it was me or my friends, but I knew one thing for sure: We had to use more effective words to communicate our thoughts.
I am not a grammarian. I never considered learning grammar rules important because it seemed so unnecessary and old fashioned. Today, our number one mode of communication is texting because we no longer talk in person, send emails, or hand write letters. But since it’s fast, spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes have become a problem causing miscommunication. By using adjectives, adverbs and correct punctuation, and avoiding abbreviations and random words, we can clearly communicate our thoughts.
On this website, view examples of poor text messages, which often leads to miscommunication. You have the option to suggest alternative phrases to help improve people with their writing skills. We also offer a page to submit screenshots of your frustrating text conversations. For people who would like to improve their communication, we offer tips about grammar, emojis, and abbreviations.
Seeds of Hope is a non-profit organization dedicated to mitigating climate change by getting students to plant trees. We all know that burning fossil fuel causes over 70% of the CO2 that contributes to our climate crisis. Did you know that all living plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen? Most scientists agree that the least expensive and easiest way to capture CO2 is to plant trees.
Imagine if every student planted a tree? Each sapling tree would absorb 13 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and as the sapling matures it would absorb 48 pounds. Over its lifetime, that sapling would sequester one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it is 40 years old. With more than one billion students on earth, they would plant one billion sapling trees. These trees would absorb 6.5 million tons of CO2 every year. As these trees mature, the one billion trees would sequester 24 million tons. We can do this!
We alone cannot solve the climate crisis, but with each seed planted, we become increasingly hopeful that other committed students will join us in using our ingenuity to mitigate civilization’s biggest threat. Please join us by planting a seed! Get your family and friends to plant trees, join the contest, send photos!
Concerned about how misinformation has created mistrust among American youth (and adults!), Sethumadhav Perumalla wrote this book to empower people with the truth. He researched hundreds of President Trump’s tweets and wrote rebuttals to each lie. Using graphs and illustrations, the book is easy and entertaining to read. He takes some of Trump’s 15,000+ lies and calls out the president with real facts, while encouraging rational thinking, and voting. Now that Trump has been impeached, blocked witnesses from testifying to the senate, and was acquitted, Americans will savor the humorous tone of The Trumpists and hopefully diffuse violent retaliation from outraged citizens.
Buy it on Amazon!
Overcoming Turbulent Times; Teenage Angst is a must-read book for teens, families, counselors, educators, and psychologists. Written through the lens of a teen, Decena engages the reader with captivating writing styles: narrative, journal entry, text stream, and reflective thought while intertwining a diverse group of characters faced with real-world struggles. These conflictual teen scenarios come alive, connecting with many of the personas and obstacles that teens can relate to today.
Being a teenager today is far more complicated than it was just a few generations ago: teens feel isolated and alone as they struggle with challenges, obstacles, and the dramas of growing up in a fast-paced, always “on’’, and 24/7 connected world. Natalie identifies key situations and areas that trouble teens. Through her writing, she reassured fellow teens that they are not alone in their trials, and offers well-researched solutions to their conflicts. With shelter-in-place orders, online classes, and cyberbullying, now more than ever, teens need a book they can read to see how others are dealing with similar situations.
Natalie tackles strenuous issues such as loneliness, sexuality, body image, relationships, and social media. Her book narrates how the characters navigate the tricky journey through these problems to a healthy resolution. Each conflict resolves with a set of supports that help teens and families, as they work through these difficulties. This book is a vital resource for anyone who needs guidance during the turbulent times of the teenage years and beyond.
Buy it on Amazon!
Read the press release
17-year-old student creates COVID-19 clearinghouse website to prevent shortages of PPE as America’s death toll surpasses 400,000
Back in June, millions of tons of food, literally, were dumped because everything from processing plants to restaurants to schools were suddenly closed. Farmers were forced to slaughter their livestock, meat processing plants were forced to discard their food, and farmers were forced to landfill tons of crops, all while food banks were running out of food and people didn’t have meals to feed their families. At the same time, hospitals ran out of PPE for doctors, nurses and healthcare workers because of the sudden demand for masks, gloves, and ventilators. Plenty of manufacturing companies here in the US could have halted their normal production of other products to focus on making the PPE needed but there was no platform for them to respond to specific hospitals and buyers. Now, we as a nation have surpassed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths and Supply Chain Relief is ready to be the clearinghouse platform to connect buyers to suppliers on the national and world stage..
Create a transit solution in your metro area
Create app that lets shoppers know when they are buying food that contains GMOs, right at the grocery store
Create a website where animal abusers are called out with videos, photos, and statements about their animal abuse
Educate the public about single-use plastic
Start movement about when to shut off social media and meet face-to-face
Demonstrate a new way for people to protect themselves from viruses
Anything to do with CO2 production
Come up with a new way (or publicize an existing way) to increase election security and protect voter rights
My son benefited from Merit in many ways: college counseling, tutoring, projects and boot camps. My son's only regret was that he did not work with Merit earlier! Boys tend to not want to work or talk to anyone in their teenage years. Merit advisors have a unique insight into youths and can relate to teenagers. We started with ProjectMerit for our son and tutoring for our daughter. My son is an artist, so it was nice that Merit advisors were able to help us with colleges outside of the typical purely academic offerings. They know how the system works and are well versed in paths outside of that system as well.
Our daughter who is a freshman at Mitty High School is starting ProjectMerit this year!
Merit can offer anything a student needs. Advisors can even help with life coaching, planning, and scheduling for finals.