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Nov 7 15

Slaying The College Essay

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy


Oct 21 15

Adverbial Perils

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Very, greatly, really, extremely, strongly, deeply…the adverb can seem genuine and necessary for emphasis in a college essay, yet can actually have the opposite effect of watering down what is described.  Plus, the adverb can be an extraneous word in the precious word count of the college essay.  Yet, teenage college essay writers typically include multiple adverbs in their first drafts, as their written language corresponds with their spoken language, where every issue is of utmost importance.

Given the second nature of the adverb to teenage-speak, an editor can be key in helping recognize the unnecessary words to help revise the essay to meet the word count, without losing the meaning of the sentences.  The college essay writing process gives new meaning to, “Mean what you say and say what you mean.”

Oct 8 15

Guest Post: Knowledge is Power

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

About the author:  Rocio and her eldest son, Daniel, worked together to successfully navigate the college admissions process.  (Not a simple task for any teenager and mom duo). They asked questions, thoughtfully considered editing suggestions to write 21 college essays and faced 7 acceptances in the Spring of 2015 before choosing New York University.

Rocio discusses her thoughts about watching Daniel mature and leave the family nest.



It is August 29, 6:30 pm and I just left Daniel at his college dorm – NYU (New York University) to be exact. This morning I was a nervous wreck, not knowing how I would be able to walk away from him. I have protected him and guided him to this point since the day he was born, and suddenly within seconds we hugged, and we both walked away, me to catch my train and he back to his dorm. It was easier than expected, because at the end of the day I realized what a wonderful place NYU is and that Daniel truly belonged there. I was a proud parent. read more…

Sep 26 15

Senior Year Is Not Supposed to Be Stressful

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

The idea that senior year will be simple and stress-free is a myth.  Yet, most seniors expect that their last year of high school will be smooth-sailing until graduation.  Between college applications due in the fall, the non-stop homework through the school year, and generally transitioning toward adulthood, the stress can build for a senior.  Catie discusses the pressures she felt as a senior to help current Class of 2016 seniors know they’re not alone:

Sep 23 15

Preparing for Your First College Admissions Interview

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy


Going to your first college admissions interview can be pretty nerve-wracking if you don’t know what know expect. In the following podcast, admissions interview veteran, David Alcalay, shares his first college admissions interview experience, and some tips on how to prepare:

Sep 11 15

Guest Post: SAT: Stressful Anxiety Time

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

About the Author: After being accepted to four year college, but choosing to postpone going to college in favor of pursing a career as a cyclist, David in his spare time works at Hubbubbaloo Creative.  In the following, he offers insights to the challenges in taking the SAT or ACT.  



It’s a cold Saturday morning. You pull your car into a foreign parking lot, packed to the brim with students like you. Your breath fogs as you get out of the car. You carry little—a graphing calculator, a pencil, and a brand new pink eraser.

You take a deep breath, and try to slow the anxious beating inside your chest; then you trudge towards the looming buildings in front of you. Your eyes flash left and right, hoping to find someone you know. You go through procedure after procedure. Your Student ID is double and triple checked.

You line up alphabetically, and wait to hear your name called. You file into the foggy schoolyard, slowly peeling off from the other groups, heading to your own specific classroom.

Your stress continues to build. “You will do great,”  you tell yourself.  You’ve spent weeks studying for this. And, you slept well last night—nine hours of slumbering preparation. All you need is a 2400, and surely come late December, you will be showing up to school in a crimson Harvard sweatshirt. Or perhaps Yale’s royal blue. You haven’t really decided. read more…

Sep 6 15

For All The Parents Out There

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy



Aug 29 15

UC Berkeley Adds Letters of Recommendation for Fall 2016 Freshman Admissions

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

For Fall 2016 freshmen admissions, the University of California Berkeley will be accepting up to two letters of recommendation from selected applicants. In November 2015, some applicants will received emailed invitations to submit letters of recommendation.   Submitting the letters of recommendation will be optional; therefore, no freshman applicant, including those who do not receive an invitation, will be disadvantaged for not submitting letters of recommendation.

No other University of California campuses will be requesting letters of recommendation from applicants for Fall 2016 admissions. read more…

Aug 23 15

The College Essay

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy


Choose an essay topic wisely.

Cartoon courtesy of The New Yorker.

Aug 14 15

Does a Free Lunch Exist?

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy


Here’s how to borrow $127,000 in student loans, only repay $87,000 over twenty years, and have the U.S. Government pick up the tab for the $450,000 still owed at the end of the repayment period.  [Notice the quadrupling effect on the total balance owed because of the interest that accrues in the two decade long repayment period? ] read more…

Aug 8 15

Guest Post: How often should you talk to your college student?

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

A timely post from a mom who knows.  Louise’s two daughters are attending Cornell University and University of California, Berkeley, while she lives in Sacramento, California.  Since her oldest daughter moved to New York, Louise has learned a few lessons about keeping in touch with her kids, while giving them space to grow. Her thoughts are below: 


You and your college student are likely to have different opinions about how often to talk to each other on the phone, text, email or even Skype. I am not including writing real letters because it seems no one even does that anymore.

As parents, we want to know our kid is okay. Some of us want to know everything. Some of us just want to know all is well. Some of us are challenged to trust our kid to be able to figure things out on his or her own. Some of us wish our kid would figure out how to do things on his or her own. We all come in all flavors.

As newly launched college students, there is also a large range of how often to check in. Some want daily support. Others will talk when they have some challenge to deal with or when they have something great to report. Others will only talk when we call them, and briefly at that. And yet others will seemingly be difficult to reach.

How to handle the mismatch? read more…

Aug 1 15

Changes to the ACT Writing Section

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

The ACT will be changing the Writing portion of the test, starting in September 2015.  The following outlines the changes:

  • Extended Writing Time: Students will have 40 minutes to craft an essay response, rather than the previous 30 minutes.
  • Changed Prompt Style: Test takers will be presented a contemporary issue and three perspectives regarding the issue.   Students are expected to respond to the three perspectives in their argumentative essay.  The perspectives can help prompt students thinking, and reduce the planning time in outlining the written statement.
  • Directed structure and format for the essay: The ACT provides structured directions, and questions to guide brainstorming and outlining of the essay.
  • Scores: The numerical writing score for the essay will be reported on a 1-36 scale, instead of the former 2-12 scale.
  • Rubric for Evaluation: students will receive a 1-12 scale score in four main areas: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, Language Use & Conventions.  Basically, both the format and the content of the essay will be evaluated.  While the criteria for evaluation is similar to the previous versions of the ACT Writing test, students will now receive an numerical score for each criteria.

In addition, knowing what has NOT changed can help ACT takers prepare.  The following lists what is the same on the ACT writing test:

  • Argumentative Essay: Students will still be asked to state a position on a topic and support their position with detailed examples in the body.
  • Writing Style: Word choice, sentence structure still matters.  Complex sentences with phrases that explain a student’s analysis of the topic are still weighted in the evaluation.
  • Thesis Statement: A guiding statement that summarizes the author’s position and demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the topic will strengthen a score on the essay.

Students have the opportunity to view a sample prompt and example essay responses to be familiar with the changes before the September 12, 2015 test.  A viewing of the new prompt can help students know what to expect on the writing portion of the test.

Jul 25 15

The Free-For-All in University of California Admissions

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

The University of California (UC)’s reputation as a flagship public university system attracts not only us Californians, but a nationwide and international applicant pool.  Record numbers have applied to UC schools year over year.  Given the finite number of seats on each UC campus, someone’s not going to be admitted, regardless of residency status. (And, for Fall 2015, 65,822 someones weren’t admitted to the UC system overall.)

Often, Californians argue that out-of-state students (who pay double resident tuition) are being admitted at the expense of California resident applicants. The argument goes that the State of California hasn’t continued funding (i.e. subsidizing) resident tuition, so the UC has been forced to meet operating costs with higher tuition paying students (i.e. nonresident students).  The assumption follows that higher qualified California resident students are being sacrificed for less qualified, yet higher tuition paying nonresident students.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported current UC admissions statistics for Fall 2015: read more…

Jul 15 15

Where is the “Middle” in Middle Class?

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Middle class families can sometimes feel like this:


Cartoon credit: Americans for Limited Government, 2015

Especially when considering the annually increasing tuition, and other costs for a college education:



read more…

Jul 9 15

Intern Beware

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

As we recently posted, internships are becoming the new entry level jobs.  Although appealing to students hungry for future jobs, given today’s challenged employment outlook, not all internships are created equal.  The line between “employee” and “unpaid intern” needs to be carefully defined by both companies and student interns, in order to create a mutually beneficial and legal experience.  A Federal Appeals Court recent ruling broadened the definition of “unpaid intern,” as reported in the New York Times:

Employers have considerable leeway to use unpaid interns legally when the work serves an educational purpose…

The issue being contested in front of the Appeals Court was the difference between an “employee” and “unpaid intern”, after three individuals who had served as interns in the production of “Black Swan” sued Fox Searchlight pictures for violation of minimum wage laws and sought to be paid for their work. read more…

Jul 3 15

Arts and Science Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

All too often, science is considered the polar opposite of arts.  Dr. Mae Jemison speaks to the intersection of arts and science, given her own experience, as a dancer, doctor, chemical engineer and first African American female astronaut.

“Many people,” she wrote, “do not see a connection between science and dance, but I consider them both to be expressions of the boundless creativity that people have to share with one another.”  (New York Times, September 16, 1992)

When Dr. Jemison flew on Space Shuttle Endeavor, she took an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater poster on board.  While students (and their parents) may believe that they will have to choose between arts and science in order to be successful, Dr. Jeminson provides an example of someone who creatively intertwined both.

Jul 1 15

The Modern “Starving” Student

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

College alumni often joke about days as a “deprived” undergrad, only eating instant noodles—fast, filling meals on a limited budget—like a badge of honor.  Growing numbers of today’s college students, however, embody the literal meaning of “starving” college student. According to the Wall Street Journal:

In 2010, the UC [University of California] system added a food-security question to its biannual student questionnaire. Forty-nine percent of respondents reported skipping meals to save money “occasionally” to “very often.”

Since the UC system currently enrolls 188,300 students within its ten undergraduate campuses, approximately 92,267 students skimp on meals based on financial necessity. Nine of the ten UC campuses operate an on-campus food pantry for students.

Yet, California students are not alone. To serve the growing population of students needing assistance, food pantries are being built on college campuses around the nation, giving away food and other necessities for free.

More than 200 U.S. colleges, mostly public institutions, now operate pantries, and more are on the way, even as the economy rebounds.

read more…

Jun 27 15

Welcome to the New Adulthood

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

For most of us, moving out of the parental units’ house is the ultimate signifier of adulthood.  So, what’s the threshold defining adulthood for the growing numbers of 25 year olds, who live with their parents (even after moving away for college)?

Since 2002, parental co-residence rates have only risen:



And, in 2012:



read more…

Jun 24 15

What a 99 Year Old Wall Street Trader Knows

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Although Irene Bergman intended her advice for Wall Street finance types, her wisdom can apply to anyone in any situation.  Bloomberg News recently highlighted Ms. Bergman for her longevity in a notoriously competitive business, stock trading. We can all learn a lesson, if for no other reason, than Ms. Bergman has the weight of a century of life behind her words.


Don’t do anything stupid.

read more…

Jun 19 15

Leaving the nest

Submitted by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

JoeJoeAbout the Author: Joe is a member of the Creative Marbles Consultancy and the Hubbubbaloo Creative team. He shares his experience transitioning into his first year of college away from home.


Sacramento was my bubble, it was all I really knew.  My life was school, having fun with friends, and large Filipino family functions—a weekly ritual that involved eating, gabbing, and more eating, celebrating any occasion from birthdays to National Pancake Day. It was a lifestyle of comfort and familiarity. So, why would I leave home and go away to college? Curiosity—there was a part of me that wanted to explore outside of my boundaries.  I also saw myself as those characters in teen movies where they leave home for college and start their journey to “adulthood”, but like most of those teen flicks, they rarely depict the difficulty of adjusting to being away from home.  Out of the California State Universities that granted me admissions, I chose Chico State. Before there were smartphones, MapQuest showed Chico to be two hours away from Sacramento—an hour and twenty with a lead foot—it was far enough to test the boundaries of independence, but close enough to come home if needed. read more…

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