Author, speaker, expert college admissions coach.


Arranging a PTA evening?  High school guidance night? Professional development workshop? Education conference?

I’ve been the keynote speaker at all of these, and more. I guarantee satisfaction.

Speaking Arrangements

If you want a speaker who will get your audience buzzing about education, parenting, or college admissions, I’m ready. You can contact me directly or through my speakers bureau. Of course, I’m happy to share reference letters.

Teaming With The Guidance Office

Remind local guidance directors that my presentations encourage parents to work with counselors, not against them. My speeches are uplifting; parents and faculty members tell me they feel relieved after a presentation. I speak to parents and kids grades 7 – 12.

Making The Most Of A Visit

When I visit a middle or high school or synagogue or college, I often do a day-long series of events. I start with talks to student assemblies or visits to English classes. At lunch, we invite parents to a book club to discuss Acceptance or What It Takes to Pull Me Through. In the evening, I speak to parents and students. Note: I can combine visits to several private schools in an area, or private-public schools and a library.

Advance Notice

I suggest you email or letter to parents urge them to look at excerpts from the book at We’ll have a more robust discussion if some in the audience have read at least a few pages. I can send you columns I’ve written about for “The Choice” blog of the New York Times and others. Sample flyers for events are posted on my site – click “speeches.”


It’s fine to open this up to a wide audience – high school students and their parents, for example. Sometimes we invite elementary and middle school parents, so they can understand the college process. (Also, I can do a more specialized breakout session for 11th and 12th graders and their parents.)


It’s best to invite nearby public and private schools to evening sessions. Some organizers ask for $10 donations from each family. If you say space is limited and you request advance registration, that gives us email addresses so we can send reminders as the date approaches. Here are some example flyers from recent events: Flyer1, Flyer2.


Do parents at your school have contacts at local radio or TV stations and newspapers? Can you arrange media interviews with me in order to spread the word about this event? Would you invite neighboring schools? Can you invite a local cable station or other outlet to cover the speech?


I prefer to speak in informal settings, such as black box theaters and school libraries. They are more relaxing than auditoriums, and I can be closer to the audience. If we’re in an auditorium, please tape off the last rows so audiences are forced to sit close to the front. I rove while I speak, so a wireless microphone is best. No lectern.

GPA Game

If you want this included in the presentation, I ask you to select eight students in advance. If possible, they should represent different cliques – “nerds,” “jocks,” and so on – so that every group has a stake. (Remember, the GPA game takes at least 20 minutes, so I urge doing it as part of an assembly during the day. If it’s done at an evening presentation, we won’t have much time for everything else.)

AV Needs

I bring three-minute DVD to show on the screen as the audience settles in, so we’ll need a DVD player or computer, and a screen. Occasionally, I show a few PowerPoint slides.


Often the principal, headmaster, or guidance director briefly introduces me. Alternative: Do you have an outgoing student who can read a couple of chapters of the book before I arrive, then give an energetic, 45-second introduction? (See below)*

Book Giveaway

I usually ask the host to stick a piece of colored tape under one seat in the auditorium before I arrive. Halfway into the presentation, I ask the audience to look on the bottom of the seats. Whoever finds the tape gets a signed book for free.


I will send you a PDF. Example: For audiences that include 11th and 12th graders and their parents, the one-page questionnaire asks students to figure out who they are so that they can start thinking about the kind of college they’d fit into. Meanwhile, parents answer the questions. I urge you to make copies and distribute it as the audience enters.

Time Of Presentation

If you agree, I keep evening presentations and Q & A to 55 minutes or shorter. I recognize that families are busy. Of course, I’m happy to stay around after for the questions of those who linger.


I offer a money back guarantee – I will refund the speaking fee if you are not 100 percent satisfied. (This doesn’t apply to travel expenses.)

Book Sales

You can sell books as a fundraiser, and buy them in bulk for a discount. Or I can bring them and sell them. If you sell them, please contact Sarah Hutson at Penguin Press:

If I sell the paperback myself, I’d like a student or other volunteer to take the $15 cash and checks. I prefer a table at the entrance to the auditorium for book signing.

Thanks for considering me!


Note 1:  Sample introduction

“We’re pleased to host Dave Marcus, who has been a journalist, high school teacher, and visiting professor at several colleges.  You might have seen Dave on the Today Show or heard him on National Public Radio.  Dave has been a staff reporter at U.S. News & World Report magazine and Newsday.  He’s written for Vanity Fair magazine, Newsweek, and the New York Times.  As a newspaper reporter based in South America, he shared the Pulitzer Prize.

Dave wrote a book about struggling teenagers, WHAT IT TAKES TO PULL ME THROUGH.  Now he’s on the road discussing his second book, ACCEPTANCE, a true story about seven kids applying to college.  A graduate of Brown University, he spent a year as a fellow at Harvard.  But he’ll tell you that his life was changed by courses at a college you’ve never heard of.”

(If it’s a speech on or near Long Island, the introduction should mention this:  “ACCEPTANCE takes place at Oyster Bay High School, on Long Island.”)

Note 2:  Advance reading 

If we’re discussing students who take an alternate path, please share this brief essay about my son. I call it, “Confessions of an Ivy League Dad”:

More info

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