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Jul 23 16

“I Have Student Debt?”

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

[Sung to the tune of Heigh Ho from Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs] “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go…”

Even though I remember singing this refrain in jest, Millennials, the current generation between age 18 – 35 , may not be so light-hearted.

According to Bloomberg News in April 2016:

A new survey conducted online in February by research agency TNS on behalf of Citizens Bank found 59 percent of those [Millennials] polled have “no idea” when they will be able to pay back their student debt.

The survey found millennials, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 35, have an average student debt of $41,286.60. That’s significantly higher than the national average amount of debt for college graduates, which the Department of Education determined is $29,400.

Current student debt totals more than $1.3 Trillion, but estimated to be growing at $2726.03 per second, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.

read more…

Jul 8 16

And, You Thought College Tuition Was Expensive…

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

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that in multiple states, childcare expenses are greater than college tuition…

Jun 25 16

Mind the Gap

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

Malia Obama recently became a famous representative of a Millennial trend, The Gap Year.  Defined as a “year-off” between high school and starting college, most “Gap Year-ians” aren’t just loafing around, playing video games and drinking Bobo teas all day.  For a generation raised on scheduled play-dates, year-round athletics, and regimented community service activities, the gap year is similarly purposeful and structured.

The New York Times stated:

In deferring her start date until 2017, Malia, 17, is availing herself of the opportunity to take a “gap year,” a popular option for high school seniors who are seeking experiences outside the classroom — some in far-flung parts of the world — before they begin pursuing a degree.

Many students want a “break” from the prescribed learning that comes in the standardized curriculum of many modern high schools and will continue with the required General Education (i.e. G.E.) classes once joining most colleges and universities.  Although gap year activities are constrained by the responsibilities of an internship or the service project in an international location, the natural uncertainties of life can feel less constraining to a maturing adult freed from the confines of school. read more…

Jun 10 16

“I Forgot My Calculator for the ACT!”

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

About the author: I’m Karli Ching and I graduated with C.K. McClatchy High School’s Class of 2015.  I attend University of California, Davis as a biological sciences major pre-med student.


When I was taking the ACT for the second time during my senior year in October, I was taking it to improve my math score because I was applying to competitive schools and wanted to increase my chances to be accepted.  The night before the I had laid everything out on the kitchen table: pencils, erasers, water, granola bar, and calculator; but in the morning pre-test panic, I grabbed everything except for my calculator.  I didn’t realize this until I sat in the desk, preparing for the test.  Every little bit of fear I contained within me filled my body and I broke into a cold sweat.   read more…

May 25 16

The Middle Class Squeeze

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

In the last several years, our middle class clients are being confronted by flattening incomes and  college costs that have risen over 1000%.  More and more families are finding themselves not only planning to pay for college when their children are quite young, but asking for more financial assistance when their children are ready to enroll in college.


With families earning less, but the costs of college skyrocketing, families may be spending a greater portion of their total budget to pay for college.

Prices of educational books and supplies have increased 141 percent, and college tuition and fees have increased 146 percent since January 2000.

Average American’s Cost of Living Falls, February 1, 2016, American Institute of Economic Research

Even if parents of today’s incoming college Class of 2020 began saving when they were young, at the average savings account interest rate of 3% (FDIC, 2016), (and of course, depending on the amount saved annually), the nest egg may not be enough to compensate for the 146% rise in college tuition over the same time period.

Millennial youth have achieved academically, dutifully served their communities, run thousands of miles in year-round sports leagues and led many sundry student organizations—both to develop character and compete for college admissions. Yet, parents who face the chasm separating their income and savings from rising college tuition, may be forced to choose between:  lowering their standard of living, limiting younger children’s educational opportunities to the benefit of older child(ren), seeking greater financial aid and even curtailing their children’s college prospects.  Not Enviable.

May 11 16

University of California Flagship Cuts Staff

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

The stress from the continuous reduction in state funding over the last decade has finally come to the University of California’s flagship campus, Cal Berkeley.  The Washington Post reported on April 13:

a workforce reduction of about 6 percent that comes as the prestigious public flagship is moving to erase a large budget deficit.

In February, [Chancellor Nicolas] Dirks had warned “painful” measures were needed to deal with a “substantial and growing” budget deficit.

Berkeley officials said at the time that the school’s expenses were projected to exceed revenue this year [2015-16] by about $150 million, or 6 percent of its operating budget.

read more…

Apr 20 16


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


to the

Creative Marbles Consultancy Class of 2016

for acceptances to:

American University

Arizona State University

Baylor University

Boston College

Boston University

Bryn Mawr College

California Lutheran University

Cal Poly, Pomona

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

California State University, Channel Islands

California State University, Chico

California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Long Beach

California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University, Sacramento

California State University, San Marcos

Case Western Reserve University

Chapman University

Christian Brothers University

Colorado State University

Cornell University read more…

Apr 14 16

Depth Over Breadth?

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

“Well-lopsided” is the new catchphrase in college admissions. In CMC’s recent conversation with an Ivy League admissions officer, she mentioned that the trend for applicants are either well-rounded, with depth in each activity or well-lopsided—which means if applicants are going to focus on one activity, like a sport, Olympic training should be in view for such a candidate.

In Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of The American Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life, former Yale Professor, William Deresiewicz, echoes the Ivy League admissions officer’s sentiment when recounting his service on a Yale admissions committee:

With so many accomplished applicants to choose from, we were looking for kids with something special, “PQs”—personal qualities—that were often revealed by the letters [of recommendation] or essays.

I’d been told in the orientation that morning that successful applicants could either be “well-rounded” or “pointy”—outstanding in one particular way—but if they were pointy, they had to be really pointy: a musician whose audition tape had impressed the music department, a scientist who had won a national award.

So, for generations of youth who may be groomed from kindergarten to position for the most selective universities in the United States, (for example, Harvard’s effective admit rate is 5% for Fall 2016) the strategy to be competitive for admissions, is once again being turned on its head.  Where today’s parents (i.e. Generation X) may have been admitted to college with a smattering of extracurricular activities demonstrating the breadth of one’s interests, their children may be encouraged to commit at a young age to a single activity to create the well-lopsided, pointy resume seemingly prized by today’s admissions officers.


Apr 9 16

The University of California Unveiled Brand New Application Essay Prompts

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

UC SealIn Fall 2016, both freshman and transfer applicants to the University of California (UC) will choose from brand new writing prompts when composing the required personal application statements.  After ten years, the UC has retired their previous two essay prompts. With annually record-breaking numbers of applicants—which increases the selectivity in admissions—admissions officers are seeking a fuller understanding of each applicant.  read more…

Mar 26 16

Denied and Qualified

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

When the #1,256 ranked student at your high school gets into a highly selective university and you don’t:

Mar 23 16

Texts from a College Admissions Victor

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

About Karli: She’s a freshman at the University of California Davis, currently studying Biology and Chemistry.  Karli is a former Creative Marbles Consultancy client; we advised her as a high school senior through the college admissions process, knowing the pressures she experienced in completing her college applications.


In response to a recent New York Times editorial, Karli and I discussed the state of college admissions.  I asked Karli, “What changes would you make to the college admissions process?”  Our texts are what follows.  

[K] I feel like… In ways I can agree with this process because I’ve gone through high school thinking that everything is getting the “grade” to move on to a good college.  But now that I’m at [University of California] Davis, I feel this pressure to still do well, and still get the grades.  But I’ve struggled with chemistry and bio this quarter, and even math! Which is so highly unusual.

My friend gave me a different perspective.  This entire journey is not about these grades that we are trying so hard to achieve.  But it’s the battle to be the person you want to be, and acquiring knowledge.  It’s about building character.  Grades don’t help build character, they build a piece of paper with letters and numbers that aren’t going to tell the person on the other end about you, except maybe that you can memorize stuff and regurgitate it.  It’s not going to tell them that you can apply the knowledge.  It’s not going to speak of the struggle.  Only the person can speak of the struggle.

All of that doesn’t really answer your original question.  So what would I change? read more…

Mar 18 16

And, The Oops! Award for Fall 2016 College Admissions Goes To…

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

….University of California Santa Cruz!

We’ve all “clicked prematurely”, but on Wednesday, March 15, 2016, the Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC regional admissions officer for UC Santa Cruz sent 4000 “Congratulations on your admissions to UC Santa Cruz!” emails to students who hadn’t even applied.

At least this application season (knock on wood), only UC Santa Cruz college admissions officers have had to send apologies to applicants.   Carnegie Mellon in 2015Johns Hopkins in 2014, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014, Fordham University in 2013, Vassar College in 2012, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2012, and University of California San Diego in 2009 learned the premature clicking lesson the very hard, very embarrassing way.

UC Santa Cruz just provided Reason Number 4,281 to send acceptance letters the old fashioned way—The Big Envelope.

Mar 12 16

Acceptance Anxieties

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

Clicking “Submit” only allows momentary relief.

New anxieties rise

Leaving many to exclaim, “Good Grief!”

The months long wait for a response has begun

Leaving everyone



The compulsive checking of the email inbox

Seems to only mock

The seriousness of the hunt for the (virtual) “large envelope”

“Maybe tomorrow…” they hope


Others who’ve heard

Gleefully, spread the word

Social media buzzes

Their friends feign a smile

Trying to vainly reconcile

Their chances too for the prized acceptance letter


The roller coaster of hope and doubt

Runs about

Knocking back even the most devout


Until finally….

The new mail alert bings delightfully

Defying school rule

A Senior hurriedly reviews

The latest email with the Good News!


Validation ensues

Mar 11 16

MIT Admissions Honors Pi Day

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

In an annual homage to Pi Day (3.14), MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) releases their admissions decisions.  So, on Monday, 3.14.16 at 6:28 pm ET in a galaxy close, close to you, check

Mar 5 16

Guest Post: Life After Getting Into College

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

Kai is a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Class of 2016.  He will graduate with an Aerospace Engineering degree, as well as completed the requirements for medical school.  He also runs on the USNA Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track and Field Team.  Below are Kai’s reflections on the transition from high school to college: 


My high school was not a school people had to study hard to get straight A’s. I wish my high school taught me better study habits because I learned them the hard way in college. It hurt me in my first year in college. I thought I could get good grades with last minute studying and finish projects a few days before. I got a 3.40 combined GPA my freshman year, taking 18 credits both semesters.

But I met my three best friends and they taught me how to study and soon I was working on homework a month ahead of time and reading chapters not assigned. I was writing papers weeks ahead and revising them religiously every week to get it near perfect (but obviously never perfect). Now I have a 3.8+ GPA taking 24 credits a semester as an aerospace engineering major with pre-med, in fact I’m the only aerospace engineering major that is taking on the pre-med track and one of the few engineering majors in general on the pre-med track. And I have almost taken enough economics classes to major in that as well.

One of the biggest realizations I came to in college was I cannot do it all anymore like I did in high school.

Feb 20 16

Remember Your Truth

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


Feb 13 16

Know the Instructions

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

Did you know you’re going to be allotted a specific time period for reading during the following Advanced Placement (AP) exams?  See below for the specific instructions from the College Board website.

AP Exam Reading Periods

Eight AP Exams – Biology, English Language and Composition, European History, Latin, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, United States History, and World History – have a 10- or 15-minute reading period in Section II (free response) that provides students with the opportunity to read the exam questions and any related sources and documents and plan their responses.

  • This time is part of the overall Section II timing and must be given to students.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take full advantage of this time, which is designed to help them develop better-organized, higher-scoring responses; however, they are permitted to begin writing their responses before the reading period is over.

TIP:  Read through all the directions for each of the AP Exams you’re scheduled to take.  Then, you can challenge the proctor, if s/he does not grant you the allotted time.  (And, yes, proctors have been known NOT to follow the directions.) 


Feb 6 16

University of California Blues

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

University of California LogoWith first counts of Fall 2016 applicants totaling 206,339, the competition for University of California (UC) admissions will be even greater for current high school seniors and community college transfer students.  A recent Atlantic Monthly article highlighted the steep odds for admissions of today’s UC applicant.

The UC has educated generations of Californians in the last century—making applying a rite of passage for any California youth.  But, the UC of our grandparents and parents and even my generation is not the same UC for today’s applicant.  (Full disclosure: this author is a University of California graduate.) 

For certain UC hopefuls, that [application] deadline [November 30, 2015] marked the culmination of years of sleep deprivation and SAT prep, writing-center visits, new extracurriculars, and one last frenzied Thanksgiving break.

Yet, with three UC campuses exceeding 100,000 applicants each—UC San Diego at 102,692, UC Berkeley at 101,665 and UC Los Angeles at 119,326: read more…

Jan 20 16

Guest Post: Wrapping Up the Brainstorm

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

About the Author: Antonio, aged 19, currently works at Hubbubbaloo Creative, as well as is a college student.  After writing his own college essays, he has the following advice to share: 


The brainstorm is meant to warm you up for taking on the college essay so don’t fret discrepancies. read more…

Dec 29 15

Guest Post: Be One With The Brainstorm

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

About the Author: Antonio, aged 19, currently works at Hubbubbaloo Creative, as well as is a college student.  After writing his own college essays, he has the following advice to share: 



It’s important to give some time and thought to brainstorming for a college essay, don’t be afraid to get started take a look at the first blog post to get started.

If you are still stumped result to the alternative in brainstorming, “start with the present moment: I’m sitting at the kitchen table on a rainy Saturday morning. Everyone is gone and the house is quiet. Let your simple description of the present moment lead to something else, let the letter drift gently along.” The progress in this is the essence/detail behind your generation of ideas that separates you from the others. For example no one will have the same sentence structure as you, no one will describe the moment you are experiencing as descriptive as you, and importantly no one will “drift gently along” the same as you do with your idea generation.

Try to “tell us what you’re doing and tell it like you were talking to us”, when thinking up ideas for your brainstorm. It is like writing out your conversation or telling your story to the audience.“Don’t think about grammar, don’t think about literary style, don’t try to write dramatically, just give us your news. Where did you go, who did you see, ‘what did they say, what do you think?” Remember this is a technique that allows for the production of a brainstorm paper that will help define who you are and be a reference for ideas when typing out your college essay.

My advice in generating ideas for an essay prompt or for defining yourself is to not try “too hard to be terrific.” Time and again students always think an extreme or defining moment in their life is what they need to write about to a college, (not to totally diminish an extreme or defining moment that would make a perfect essay) but really it’s the moments/habits that are subtly thought about on a daily basis that can get the job done. Thinking about ordinary everyday activities can tease out specific qualities about yourself and possibly become the building blocks to your next college essay. “The toughest letter to crank out is one that is meant to impress”

“Don’t worry about form. It’s not a term paper. When you come to the end of one episode, just start a new paragraph. You can go from a few lines about the sad state of pro football to the fight with your mother to your fond memories of Mexico to your cat’s urinary-tract infection to a few thoughts on personal indebtedness and onto the kitchen sink and what’s in it.” What comes to mind is perfect for a brainstorm because you are passed the doubt of starting a college essay and you have ideas that are original from you. “Outrage, confusion, love– whatever is in your mind, let it find a way to the page.”

In the next blog post, I will be sharing some last minute tips to help you wrap up your brainstorm and prepare for the college writing process.

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