Author, speaker, expert college admissions coach.


Dave Marcus is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written for dozens of magazines and newspapers.

From college admissions tips to insights about parenting, from reviews of campus architecture to pointers on travels in war zones, he’s covered it.  Here are a few samples.

Published Articles

College Admissions Tips

Stories About Teens

Here’s a selection of essays and op-ed pieces I wrote about kids for a bunch of publications, from the New York Times to the Deerfield Academy alumni magazine.

Real People, Real Stories

My favorite articles are profiles of folks you’ve never heard of. I’ve stumbled onto scientists, teachers and others who are courageous, generous and innovative—or simply trying to get through life with their integrity intact. These people who don’t usually make headlines: The witness to a massacre of Brazilian street children who refuses to die, for example. Or the biologist in Colombia who set out to help re-establish the Andean condor.

Youth and Education

When I started in journalism in 1982, education was seen as the subject for green reporters: Do good work and you’d ascend to an Important Beat. (Do mediocre stuff and you’d churn out back-to-school stories for life.) That’s changing, as shown by the large number of gray-hairs on the beat. Why? I’d like to say that the country is obsessed by the quality and variety of education—something beyond test scores. But the truth is simpler: A generation of editors—many with children—has started noticing that schools are newsworthy.

The best education stories transcend campuses and tell us something about how we live. That’s why I liked writing about the single father from a poor neighborhood who was embraced by well-to-do students at Bowdoin College.

Drugs & Thugs

After studying for a summer at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, I got the foreign correspondent bug (among other, more malicious, bugs). Years later, I moved to Mexico City, and then to Bogota, to open a branch of the Dallas Morning News in South America. I wanted to write about the environment, human rights, archaeology and other topics, but unfortunately the dominant topic was drugs. It took me a while to realize that the US drug fight was a sham—chuck billions of dollars at the countries that produce cocaine and heroin and blame them. Covering drugs was the most frustrating, futile and foolhardy assignments I’ve had.

Us and Them: Diplomacy/International

There’s nothing in journalism like being a foreign correspondent—the freedom is incredible, and every year of roving is like earning a master’s degree. I was lucky enough to have a few enlightened editors who understood how to reach busy Americans. Those editors wanted to stay away from the predictable “process” stories (election and post-election coverage in Paraguay) and instead thirsted for new perspectives on places undergoing change (the saga of three generations of a family in Hong Kong, and their conflicting views of mainland China).

Close to Home: Personal and Meaningful

The toughest pieces to write are the personal ones. But I find they’re the most effective way to reach a young audience that doesn’t regularly read standard news stories. I got a kick out of serving as an ersatz Big Brother in Mexico City, and writing about the experience made me appreciate it. My silly essay about applying to Yale (oh, and getting rejected) brought me more responses than almost anything I’ve written in the two decades since.

Traveling in War Zones

Looking back on the stories I’ve churned out about the mystery of the Nazca lines in Peru, or the guys who made elegant (and bulletproof) leater jackets in Colombia, I’m reminded how lucky I was to see so much of the world before it was McDonaldized. Little did I know when I covered the coming of free trade to Latin America I was also covering the end of an era of isolationism, and a blurring of the differences from country to country, or town to town, much more pronounced. And much more interesting.

Fun, Funky and Slightly Embarrassing

In two decades of roving the world, I’ve seen a lot, from the Indian guru who took over the town of Antelope, Oregon to the luxury condominim for nudists on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Every time I think about leaving this profession for a real grown-up’s job, I lose my nerve because I reminisce about the people I’ve met on these unusual assignments.

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