A single ‘C’ grade in a high school class is not the security guard blocking the door of admissions to college, nor is an middle-of-the-road SAT or ACT score the reason to abandon all college plans. read more…
Inspired by CMC Clients:
- OMG College ESSAYS! College essays are often feared. Topic selection can confound students, who’re under the impression that a traumatic-dramatic-life-altering experience makes a compelling college essay. However, choosing the “perfect” topic is not necessary to begin writing. Simply start putting words on the page. Then, students will have some thoughts to edit and refine. Knowing that the first draft is just the first of many drafts can reduce the pressure to write the perfect draft as the first and only draft.
- The ‘A’ in SAT and ACT Doesn’t Stand For ‘Anxiety’ Feeling pressure to answer EVERY SINGLE question correctly on the SAT or ACT as the only way to a college acceptance is typical. On the one hand, such care about future success means a student values what happens in the future. Yet, concentrating on the content of SAT questions in the midst of fear and stress can be an unanticipated test taking skill, that teenagers need to practice. In preparing for the SAT or ACT, don’t just review the concepts that will be tested, also practice skills to stay calm and focused during the test.
- What Lazy Summer? Summer’s lazy, sleep-until-afternoon days seem non-existent for today’s youth. Between summer reading, multiple week-long enrichment camps, family vacations and summer sports, summers can quickly fill with activity. The year-round hamster wheel of organized activities, while creating competitive resumes for future college applications, may have drawbacks. Be sure to create a balance between exploring interests and taking a break.
From the News:
- Building a Better College Ranking System. Wait, Babson beats Harvard? New York Times July 28, 2014
- No SAT? No problem, Bryn Mawr Says, The Philadelphia Inquirer July 28, 2014
- Education Versus Experience, Human Resource Executive Online July 29, 2014
An unprecedented $1.2 trillion in student debt has grown exponentially in the last several generations, showing few signs of abating. In less than one generation, college graduates have tripled their debt burden. According to the Wall Street Journal, over 70% of the Class of 2014 will graduate college with an average of $33,000 in student debt. The convergence of multiple, complex social and economic issues fuels the unrivaled borrowing, and may potentially handicap multiple generations.
Record numbers of students are applying to college, having grown up believing a college degree is the foundation for prosperity. Colleges scramble for the necessary financial resources to expand capacity that will accommodate the increased demand of students. However, states—forced to balance their own budgets—are simultaneously reducing financial support for universities. Left with few alternatives, colleges raise tuition at rates that outpace even those double digits rises seen in healthcare. Unfortunately, while college costs slope skyward, median income for American families remains flat. Thus, student loans are filling the gap between languishing incomes and triple-digit percentage hikes in college tuition.
Recent college graduates, who borrowed under the aforementioned circumstances, face a multi-faceted conundrum. Persistent underemployment and unemployment, combined with stagnant income and ever-present inflation may help explain why $124 billion or 11.7% of all Federal student loans are currently 90+ days delinquent. To add insult to injury, no matter the threat of default, student loans cannot be discharged under current bankruptcy laws, creating a chokehold over borrowers into financial perpetuity.
Facing economic insecurity, young adults are delaying marriage, starting families, and purchasing homes. Thus, current twenty and thirty-somethings may become the first generations since WWII who are not expected to amass more wealth than their parents. Moreover, the effects of a less settled and debt-addled workforce trying to support the largest and rapidly aging generation in history is, at best, a tenuous economic proposition.
Society may not escape the repercussions of run-away growth in student debt. After a lifetime of indoctrination promoting bachelor’s degrees as a guarantee of future success, generations of youth willingly borrow to pay increasingly unaffordable, yet unabatedly mushrooming tuition. Finally, current college graduates find themselves burdened by student debt, un- and under-employed, and generally bereft of the economic prosperity enjoyed by previous generations, while nevertheless still expected to fund the long-ago promised pensions of their parents. Something’s bound to give.
Original Graphic from Hubbubbaloo Creative
Chart from The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2014
- Where are you applying to college?
- You must be excited to graduate high school, aren’t you?
- Isn’t senior year the best time of your life?
- What is your GPA?
- What are your SAT scores?
- Why do you want to apply there? (referring to a particular college)
- My son/daughter/nephew/co-worker’s daughter’s boyfriend’s cousin went to _____ (fill-in-the-blank with a college name). Why don’t you go there?
- What’s going to be your major?
- What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
- Why aren’t you going to become a ______, like your mom or dad?
Original Image by Hubbubbaloo Creative
Parents often wonder how kids can use summers to stay competitive for college admissions, and at the very least, not lose all their academic knowledge from the previous school year. On the other hand, kids are planning how late into the afternoon they’ll be able to sleep, how many Call of Duty levels they’ll be able to master, and how much fun they’ll have with friends. Yet, somehow, parents and kids will compromise in the middle. Summer reading will naturally force students to keep academics in mind—even if only in the last week of summer vacation before school starts again. Yet, students will fill in long summer days with as much “play” as equal to their tolerance to endure mom’s and dad’s consistent “reminders” about getting summer homework done. In addition, positive peer pressure may encourage teens to join their friends, who are spending their summers seemingly solving world hunger and finding cures for cancer, so can they have fun while serving others. No matter what the actual activity, striking a balance between resting and exploring is the aim for summer.
When first given an assignment, especially a project due beyond the end of the week, we’re often overly confident that we’ll complete the assignment in stages, so there won’t be a last-minute-panic-tear-streaked-temper-tantrum-tazmanian-devil-whirling-dervish kind of effort in the 24 hours before the deadline. We pridefully chalk up previous “all-nighters”, as “all in the past”, determined to honor all the promises we made to ourselves the last time we completed a project despite procrastinating. We plan out, sometimes meticulously, with calendars and step-by-step To-Do lists—proudly declaring our intentions to anyone who’ll listen that this is the time is different…
Inspired by CMC Clients
- Advanced Placement (AP) Test Scores: Students often believe that a score of less than 3 will hurt their college admissions competitiveness. The belief is a myth. A student’s willingness to challenge themselves academically by taking AP classes and the tests will be considered by college officials in the admissions process. The score, however, is of little consequence during admissions evaluations. The score is most important when determining college class units after enrolling in a particular institution.
- College Essays: Choosing a topic for the college essay can be a process in itself. Narrowing a topic without considering the range of 16+ years of life experiences as possibilities may prematurely stunt a student in the writing process. In addition, not exploring a wide variety of potential topics may unwittingly shortchange the competitiveness of the final essay submitted with the college application.
- Paying for College: As college costs continue rising, parents may be concerned about paying for college without going bankrupt or having to work until they’re 95 years old. Developing a savings for future college costs is only one strategy to help families pay for college. Teaching kids financial literacy and the value of money, by starting an allowance or talking with them about the costs of their current extra-curricular activities, can help them understand the tens of thousands of dollars that will be paid for their college educations eventually.
Let the summer reading games begin! In this corner, Whatever Novel that your kid does NOT want to read, but is required to read for Class X! In this corner, Kid + Team Distraction—Instagram, YouTube, XBOX, Hulu, Sleeping In…you get the picture. Additionally, parents may wonder if summer reading is a cruel revenge fantasy of an intricate high school teacher conspiracy network, especially when dinnertimes become epic tests of patience at the mere mention of summer reading, let alone when parents dare to ask how the assignments are coming along.
Most veteran parents know that summer reading assignments progress like a protracted battle—extensive entrenchment and quiet, with occasional half-hearted volleys after mom’s numerous “reminders” about due dates. The whole ordeal usually ends in a resounding flurry of reading in the last days (night) before school starts again. Making palatable what is inherently objectionable does not have a straightforward or singular answer. At various times, nagging, bribing and commanding or some combination thereof may goad The Kid into vanquishing The Novel.
In the meantime, earplugs and weather stripping doors can help mute the inevitable high-decibel, stress-induced rantings and the occasional door slams of frustration.
Good luck to all participants! May the best novel, I mean, competitor win.
Parents are often afraid that summer vacation will render their children’s minds into mush. Plus, the indulgence in what can be considered mindless activities, like playing video games, for hours on end is a seeming threat to a kid’s long term college admissions competitiveness. Realistically, most students brains, nor their chances for college admissions, were ever totally ruined from a single summer vacation. However, parents’ concerns point to the consistent tension of relaxing in the now versus moving toward future goals. Since no single combination of experiences guarantees admission to college, parents will be relieved that there is no ONE right way to spend a summer vacation. And as a silver lining, perhaps in learning when and how to rejuvenate, maturing teens can gain a valuable tool that will serve them beyond their college years.
A second blog post from Stephanie about how the “feel” of the campus helped her choose a Mills College in Oakland, CA.
I graduated last year (2013) with a BS in Biopsychology and minor in Ethnic Studies. I was originally interested in medicine, but discovered that I enjoyed laboratory work after doing research under scholarship for a professor. Mills has really prepared me for post-college life with the skills that I need to stay focused, set goals and use time management effectively, and to communicate with others. This fall, I will be starting the clinical lab scientist (CLS) training program with SFSU and then doing my clinical affiliate training at Stanford Medical Center in January. I am forever grateful for all of the people who have helped me to get here and it all started with Mills College!
From the moment I entered Mills, I knew it was the right place for me. I toured the campus with my parents and it was a very personalized experience, unlike other schools I had visited. Not only did I have my own student contact who had hand-written a letter in the mail and greeted me at my visit, but the staff was also very friendly and treated us like honored guests. There were so many appealing aspects about my first visit that I simply fell in love at first sight – the campus environment, housing, dining, and overall atmosphere.
Wishing a better life for our children is normal. Actually setting aside our personal wants in favor of our children is more complicated in practice. The next generation will inherit a record $60 Trillion in total U.S. debt—government debt, business debt, mortgage debt and consumer debt. (See chart below) Furthermore, the growth of student loan debt, a $1.2 Trillion subsection of the total $60 Trillion debt, is outpacing consumer credit card debt and auto loans.
Welcome to the new millennium.
Chart courtesy: zerohedge.com
Inspired by CMC Clients:
- To tour or not? Summer is a convenient time for families to visit colleges, yet also is not ideal for experiencing a more authentic view of campuses, as college students are on break too. Empty buildings and deserted pathways demonstrate the majesty of a college, however not necessarily the vitality. Since teens, who may prize a social life greater than academics and often follow intuition to judge a college, summer campus visits can be both a plus and a minus. Knowing the priorities of a teen can help temper any first impressions of a campus – especially if a second chance to visit is not feasible.
- Summer Homework may be a part of the deal when taking Advanced Placement (AP), Honors, and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes; however, having to complete homework while on a “break” from school can create stress. Accept a consistent, inconsistency throughout the summer when developing a plan for completing summer work. A thoughtful, balanced strategy will allow students to both relax (as is the intention of a summer vacation), as well as fulfill their academic obligations for next fall.
- SAT & ACT: Both tests have been conflated to Mt. Everest-like proportions, where one wrong answer has the destructive power to deny a worthy student from a college acceptance at any college, anywhere in the world. First, take a deep breath. The test scores are ONE form of information that will be considered from a college application; grades, types of classes, extracurricular activity descriptions, letters of recommendation, admissions interviews – also provide additional information about an applicant’s worthiness for college admissions. Second, there are hundreds of universities around the United States, where SAT and ACT test scores are neither considered NOR required for application. In other words, there’s many options for college admissions. So, relax. Being calm is a key component to earning a top score.
At approximately 4 hours of testing time, the SAT and ACT measure the endurance of a student, as much as their knowledge and ability to reason. Test taking skills can help students access their knowledge during the long testing period, and pace themselves appropriately. Padma, CMC’s resident 8 year old Renaissance Man, shares the following test taking advice:
Choosing a college major is not the fork-in-the-road life moment, where the only consequences are becoming the next Steve Jobs or complete destitution. Many will equate “deciding a major” with “deciding a career.” However, major choice doesn’t always match exactly with careers. Ask any college graduate if their career directly correlates with their academic major. Their answers may be eye-opening, and help reduce the fear that an academic major decision is a major decision.
National Public Radio recently analyzed major choices since 1970 and found the following:
According to the Department of Education, as recently as 1999 roughly two-thirds of new teachers graduated with an undergraduate degree in education. By 2009, that figure fell to just half.
And, if more proof is needed, the author could easily be counted as one of the “roughly two-thirds” in the Department of Education’s statistics for the Teaching Class of 1999. A brand-new teacher in 1999, my undergraduate degree is in Ethnic Studies, not education.
While choosing a major isn’t a trivial matter, approaching the decision as a process that unfolds over time and through multiple conversations can reduce the pressure.
Hearsay and rumors can preclude students from considering women’s colleges. In order to gain more understanding, Olivia and Stephanie, the authors of the following post, share their experiences as students at women’s colleges in different parts of the United States. Olivia currently attends Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA and Stephanie recently graduated from Mills College in Oakland, CA. (The stereotypes are bolded, with each person’s response listed separately.)
1. “It must be full of lesbians.”
I have heard countless permutations on this myth: “So, is everyone a lesbian?” “Y’all must have crazy parties.” “Is anyone straight?” etc. etc.
Mount Holyoke is full of people who understand that difference is beautiful. The community is open-minded and full of some of the most compassionate people I know. It’s a place that invites people to be honest with themselves and with others. As with many marginalized people, non-heterosexual and trans* people often feel safer being open about their identities in safe environments. Because Mount Holyoke is generally a safe(r space than many other spaces), there is a highly visible and vocal queer community. Does this mean that everyone is a lesbian? No. Does Mount Holyoke’s student body have higher percentages of queer-identified students than other colleges? Well, the college doesn’t keep statistics on students’ gender and sexual identities, so I can’t answer that. Does Mount Holyoke have higher percentages of “out” queer students than colleges that aren’t safe spaces for these students? Probably.
1) “You will become a lesbian” – This is probably the most common phrase that I have heard from high school students; mainly guys. Your sexual orientation isn’t something that changes because you are around more women or men. It is true that Mills is very liberal and open about rights for all including the gay/lesbian/bi/trans community and it is important to be open-minded about meeting new people and learning about the struggle for equality for all. read more…
Student borrowers aren’t the only ones defaulting on college loans…
Chart source: Department of Education & Inside Higher Ed
Even though the news may be promoting economic recovery, a recent UCLA study showing that middle aged parents aged 50 to 64 are moving back into their elderly parents home with kids in tow for financial reasons – may support a competing meme that shows our current financial state isn’t so rosy. To further add to the less-than-optimistic picture, we earlier published a post that almost a third of young adults 24 to 35 years old are also returning to live in childhood bedrooms, due to financial concerns. Along with increasing student debt, which we previously discussed and the rise in college tuition that we highlighted in various posts in the last year, financial pressures may be growing for average families, not lessening.
Study source: the Los Angeles Times
Your name blares over the loudspeaker. Your family erupts in the far back corner of the auditorium – all 8 of them that you judiciously chose to award the precious tickets, while tears create black, Tammy Faye Bakker streams of mascara down your mom’s face. You nervously flash a toothy grin, silently telling yourself, “Don’t fall!” as you raise your leg to start walking. Striding with right hand outstretched and head erect, you vigorously shake the principal’s hand – you know, that person you probably haven’t ever actually met in 4 years? Seizing your “diploma” – the blank, rolled up piece of copy paper tied with a bit of school-colored ribbon – you strut off the stage into the side wings once again. Then, like a ton of bricks, reality floods back into view. “That’s it?!? Less than 20 seconds, and I’m done? Graduated?” abruptly registers in thought; you’re surprised at the ordinariness of the moment – an occasion that may have taken on momentous, Mt. Everest like proportions in your mind over the past four years. Then, before you know it, all 20,678 names of the Class of 2014 have been read. The lengthy valedictory and Principal’s and Superintendent’s and Vice Principal’s and class sponsors’ and random persons’ off the street speeches are done. You’re throwing your mortarboards skyward, whooping, yodeling and screaming – as you file out of the auditorium. Back outside, your cheeks are hurting as you smile like you’re on the red carpet. The Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr paparazzi – aka friends and family – circle like vultures, screechingly calling your name and every other person you’ve known since Pre-K to take picture after picture after picture after picture – to be posted for all of pixelated internet-‘ternity. And, just like that (fingers snap), “Goodbye high school, childhood, lifelong bedroom, old friends, AP homework, IB exams…” and “Hel-low, Rest of My Life!”
Savor the moment. Let the gravitas of what you’ve accomplished sink in.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014!