Stairway to College Heaven
Stairway to College Heaven
The Most Readable College Guide on Earth

The most readable college guide on Earth 


Why This Book Is Different

Let's be honest -  most books about college admissions aren’t page-turners. Stairway to College Heaven is different! Do you remember how The Magic School Bus used stories to make learning science fun? That’s the same approach we’ve taken here.

Instead of subjecting you to dry reference material full of technical details, we’ve woven crucial college planning information into a story. You’ll join Michelle, the mother of a high school student, and the three College Fates as they ascend the Stairway to College Heaven together. At the end of the story, you'll find a detailed glossary of key terms and a parent checklist to keep you on track.

We won’t pretend that getting your family through the college application process isn’t grueling. It is. That’s why we want to prepare you for the journey. By the time you’ve reached the top of the Stairway, you’ll be in the best shape of your life (metaphorically speaking, anyway), and you’ll know the obstacles you’ll face and how to conquer them.



4 Reasons to Read This Book


1. You'll save your relationship with your teenager

Are you worried that college applications will strain your relationship with your child? The nag-withdraw-fight cycle is not inevitable! Once you understand the application process, you'll be ready to offer effective guidance and support. 


2. Your friends will admire how calm you are

Fear of the unknown might be normal, but that doesn't make it any less stressful, especially when it comes to college applications. This book will turn your stress levels down by showing you how to help your kid tackle everything from the college list to the application essays.


3. You'll help your child become the person he or she is meant to be

The college application process isn’t just about getting into awesome colleges. It’s also an opportunity to discover what your child cares about, what he or she is curious about, and what he or she is good at or capable of getting good at. In other words, what makes your child tick? You’ll learn to help your child find his authentic voice.


4. Your child will maximize his college choices

Applying to lots of prestigious schools willy-nilly will not maximize your child’s choices; it will most likely maximize his rejections! You’ll learn to find colleges that are a good match for your child and selectively apply to them. This process will lead to the most options once decisions come out. The hardest part will be deciding which offer to accept!


How the Book Is Organized



in The Testing chapter you'll get an overview of standardized testing and an explanation of how various tests factor into the admissions process. 


in The Colleges chapter you'll learn how to craft a good college list and what important factors to consider when deciding on a college.

Demonstrated Interest

in The Demonstrated Interest chapter we'll give you proactive measures that will catch the attention of colleges.


in The Applications chapter you'll learn about the different forms and what they typically require. 

The Main Essay

in The Main Essay chapter you'll discover what makes an essay effective and how to avoid common mistakes. 

The Supplemental Essays

In The Supplemental Essays chapter you'll learn about the most common supplemental prompts and how to approach them.


in The Checklist we'll give you an overview of the entire process and include a suggested timeline. 


In The Glossary we'll define key terms and point you to some useful resources. 


What You'll Learn for Your Child

  1. The most effective prep for standardized tests
  2. The ideal timeline for all aspects of the application process
  3. How to craft the perfect college list
  4. How to show colleges they are a top choice
  5. How to stand out
  6. How to avoid writing cliché and ineffective essays
  7. The most important factors for college admission
  8. How to not waste your time and money

And much more! 


Should You Make the Climb? 

Do you have a child who's applying to college?

Are you in a position to help your child apply to college?

Are you confused about the college application process?

Are you confused by books about the college application process? 

Are you stressed out about what you've read online and don't know what's true and not? 

Do you want to help your child get into college while maintaining a good relationship with him or her? 

Do you find it hard to filter through all the online college admission information? 

Do you like stories with puppies and dragons? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you! 

Meet the 3 College Fates


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Victoria earned her BA from Johns Hopkins and her AM and PhD from Harvard. She has worked on the faculties of Harvard, Middlebury College's Italian School, and Elon University. She now runs Distinctive College Consulting in Bethesda, MD. Victoria has published articles on college admissions in Fox NewsThe Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed, and she has contributed to pieces published in US News and World Report as well as the Washington Examiner. She enjoys aimless walks around Washington, DC, reading and dancing with her daughter, and eating nachos. 

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Jon has a BA in English from Stanford and a JD from Harvard. He supports Liverpool FC because their motto is "You'll never walk alone." If you try to merge into Jon's lane, he will wave you over instead of accelerating and pretending he didn't see you. He lives with his wife and high school sweetheart (it's the same person; Jon is not a bigamist), and their two children, in Palos Verdes Estates, CA. Jon and Phil offer a full range of college counseling through Essaywise. If Jon is not spending time with his family or yours, he is probably playing soccer or chess.  



Phil graduated from Stanford where he majored in English and minored in Human Biology. He enjoys playing basketball, tennis, boxing, social dancing, listening to podcasts, and visiting national parks. He has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sydney and has had students from all over the world. One day at Hot N Tot, Jon and Phil's diner of choice, Jon asked Phil if he wanted to start an educational counseling company, and thus was born Essaywise. The company has evolved over the years, but Phil still enjoys working with students and their families, and with Jon.