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Susan Tatsui conference image

How I Solved My Childcare Dilemma and Helped My Kids Get Into College

May 30, 2024

Susan Tatsui conference image

For many of us, becoming a mother has been the most rewarding part of our lives. However for some of us, motherhood prevents us from getting a college degree or pursuing a lucrative career. Some stay in abusive relationships for financial reasons because child care costs can be higher than their potential income.

I solved my child care dilemma by setting up a preschool program in my home. First, I designed a curriculum with a healthy balance between academics, the arts, and sports; and then I laid out a schedule that worked around my kids’ nap times and my work schedule. Next, I invited 3 to 4 other families to join us and hired a teacher to teach; and the families’ tuition covered our expenses for the teacher’s salary and materials. I set up this program for my 2 daughters when my oldest was 18 months old for 9 years so I could work full time — and it didn’t cost me a penny. I saved $150,000! And in addition, to my girls learning to read before they started kindergarten and starring in musical theater, the teacher also prepared our family’s dinner, cleaned the house, and did our laundry!  This improved the quality of our family time together.

My focus changed from childcare to college admissions as my girls got older. As we all know, it’s gotten so cut throat to get into top colleges that parents are bribing coaches and cheating on SATs. However, as a college advisor, I’ve learned that students who do independent projects during high school, distinguish themselves from their peers by demonstrating their curiosity, persistence, and integrity. I have guided 100s of students as they do projects like building hydrogen fuel cells, writing books, or fighting climate change.

As parents, we can encourage our kids to find their passions that can be developed into projects. These projects build self esteem and empower them; and they’ll be less likely to get involved with gang violence, drugs and alcohol, or sexual activity. They’ll get into their dream colleges — on their own MERIT, and win scholarship dollars to pay for it.  With 4 million students entering high school every year, imagine if they all did projects –that’s 4 million projects per year… They could solve major issues that we face as a nation — and civilization.

When kids do projects, everyone WINS!


Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy was born and raised in Southern California and currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects and then expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard. Susan is the 2019 California Mother of the Year. Read more about Susan here…