Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL’s To Attend College


At our inner-city school, Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, we emphasize the importance of developing life-long learners. On aspect of this focus is to encourage a college-prep culture, including for our English Language Learners.

I’ve found some ELL accessible websites that have helped convey that message, and thought a short “The Best…” list would be useful. Good sites include:

I’ve recently posted about Know How 2 Go. It’s really quite an impressive site designed to encourage middle and high school students to attend college. It’s been created by the American Council on Education and the Ad Council. It’s quite informative, and accessible to high Intermediate English Language Learners. Part of the site is a very interactive visit to a virtual college campus. While there, the user can collect information for a “notebook” that they can then email to themselves.

Nothing beats a real-life visit to a college campus, and we generally take our English Language Learners to the local Community College, Sacramento State University, and the University of California at Davis. In addition, eCampus Tours lets you take virtual tours of over 1200 different colleges.

The United States Department of Education has a site called College.Gov designed to encourage students to attend college, including some nice and short testimonials from college students and accessible text.

Both of these next two sites have a wealth of important information specifically related to encouraging English Language Learners to go to college.  However,  the language is primarily directed towards teachers who, in turn, would modify it.  The sites are probably only accessible to advanced ELL’s.

The two are:

An article from Colorin Colorado titled Getting Ready For College: What ELL Students Need To Know

Financial Aid and Scholarships For Undocumented Students

There are a couple of additional sites that are especially useful for ELL’s in California.

One is the California Community Colleges Online Application Center. The site has a lot of neat tools, including tours of different community colleges. Unfortunately, though, it has the incorrect url address of our local community college, the Los Rios Community College District.

I’ve posted previously about this last site. Students can still attend Community College in California even if they have not graduated from high school, which is a problem for many ELL’s who do not pass the English portion of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). But not passing it still provides some barriers to going on to a higher education level.

The California Community Colleges have developed a phenomenal website to specifically help English Language Learners prepare for the CAHSEE.  It’s interactive with image, text, and audio support, and is very accessible to Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners.  I don’t believe in “teaching to the test,” and I’m happy to report that this site primarily reinforces reading and writing strategies that we teach our students in developing their life-long skills.

I think this program, directed by Pam Thompson and free to California students, is by far the best online program out there for reinforcing academic English and Math skills with Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners. (Unfortunately, for now at least, it’s not accepting new enrollees because of the state budget crunch).

I just learned about FinAid through an article in the Wall Street Journal. It appears to be one of the most complete, if not the most complete, resource on the web for college financial assistance.  It could be accessible to advanced Intermediate English Language Learners with guided assistance from a teacher, but even then it would be difficult.  However, it’s such a great resource that I’m still going to add it to this list.

Sallie Mae has an Education Investment Planner which would be accessible to advanced English Language Learners. It helps you estimate and compare costs for thousands of schools.

You’re Going To College is from Thinkfinity (which is on The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet list). To quote from their description: “Students make their way through this three-stage game by demonstrating their knowledge of: funding costs and benefits, the cost of college, and potential lifetime earnings.”

“A Guide For Advisors Of Undocumented Students” is a new excellent website specifically designed for undocumented students who want to attend college in California. A fair amount of the resources would be helpful to students in other states, too.

En Camino: Educational Toolkit For Families is a series of free online “modules,” available in both English and Spanish, designed to help answer parent and student questions about college. It’s sponsored by the National Center For Family Literacy.

“The Big Future” is a brand-new college planning site that looks pretty impressive — for English Language Learners and mainstream students alike.

The New York Times published an article about it. Here’s an excerpt:

The College Board, the nonprofit association of colleges and universities that oversees the SAT and Advanced Placement program, has introduced a new college planning Web site that it hopes will help a wide range of students, including first-generation college students who may not know much about the college admissions process.

BigFuture, which was introduced last Tuesday, includes a college search tool revamped from the organization’s previous planning site, as well as a scholarship search tool and a customizable action plan for students about to embark on journeys through the college admissions process.

“The old site did have a lot of information,” said Roy Ben-Yoseph, who led the development of BigFuture, “but this was completely rewritten with students in mind.”

The new site is the product of a multimillion-dollar investment and has been two years in the making, said Sandra Riley, a spokeswoman for the College Board. Both the SAT and A.P. program, among other products and services sold by the organization, have links on the BigFuture home page.

“Life After College: A Guide For Undocumented Students”

Illegal immigrants find paths to college, careers is from USA Today.

Thanks to the Latino Ed Beat, I learned that:

For the first time, the College Board has released a resource guide intended to help undocumented immigrant students seeking to pursue a college education.

You can find the guide at Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students.

That Was Quick — Obama Administration Unveils “College Scorecard”

Education Dept Releases Resource Guide for Undocumented Students is from NBC News. Here’s the actual report.I commented on that guide, and other recent ELL reports, in a post earlier this week titled Is There A Law Saying Every Government Report On Ed Has To Be Written In A Way That Nobody Wants To Read It?

Additional suggestions are welcome.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Pingback: Carnival of College Admission–Fab Four Edition

  2. NCLR has some great resources for undocumented students. Go to their website, go to publications, and type undocumented as a key word search:

    Here’s a link to college financial aid guide for undocumented students:

    Also, Keeping the dream alive resource guide:

    Lots of great stuff there!

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