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Apr 29 17

The Bittersweetness of Choosing a College

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


“We live in a house around the corner from my parents. He’s gone to all the same schools I went to, and his grandfather went to. We’ve lived this suburban, settled lifestyle. And, now, we’re telling him we want him to dream and live a life in the arts, if that’s what he wants. But, I can understand his suspicion that a life ‘out-there’ is a little far-fetched, given his experience.” – A Father of a High School Senior

The annual National College Admissions Reply Deadline is May 1, the day when high school seniors will respond that they accept a college admissions acceptance…or not. Within the decision-making process is an often-unexpected dilemma: tussling with a typically-hazy vision for their lives—predictable conventionality vs. live-your-dreams. Wrangling with the dilemma can spark vigorous debates and intense reflections. Yet, by May 1, the decision-making will end.

And, in truth, the complexity of choosing a college doesn’t mean having to sacrifice conventionality for dreams or vice versa. The debates are designed to illuminate the college environment where a fledgling adult can develop their potential—both for financial security and nurture their life’s purpose. When families carve time and space for difficult discussions then a decision will be made wisely and with confidence.

Apr 22 17

Congrats to the Class of 2017!

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

Creative Marbles Consultancy’s consultants are proud to assist the Class of 2017 seniors in starting the next chapter of their lives and continue maturing into the new generation of global leaders.

Congratulations on their many college acceptances!

West Coast Colleges & Universities

California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly)

California State University, Chico

California State University, Humboldt

California State University, Long Beach (Bob Cole Conservatory of Music)

California State University, Northridge

California State University, Sacramento

California State University, Stanislaus

Chapman University

Colorado State University

Concordia University

Dominican University

Gonzaga University

Hawaii Pacific University

Lewis & Clark College

Occidental College

Oregon State University Honors College

Point Loma of Nazarene University

Portland State University

Reed College

Santa Clara University

San Diego State University

San Francisco State University

Scripps College

Seattle University

Sonoma State University

St. Mary’s College of California

University of California Berkeley

University of California Davis

University of California Irvine

University of California Los Angeles

University of California Merced

University of California Riverside

University of California San Diego

University of California Santa Barbara

University of California Santa Cruz

University of Denver

University of LaVerne

University of Nevada Reno

University of Oregon

University of Puget Sound

University of Redlands

University of San Diego

University of San Francisco

University of the Pacific

University of Utah

University of Washington

Whitman College

Willamette University

Midwest Colleges & Universities

Case Western Reserve University

Creighton University

DePaul University

Loyola University Chicago

Purdue University

University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne

University of Minnesota

University of Missouri Kansas City

East Coast Colleges & Universities

American University

Bryn Mawr College

Boston College

Boston University

Cornell University

Drexel University

Emerson College

Fordham University

George Mason University

The George Washington University

Hampshire College

New York University

Northeastern University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Seton Hall University

Siena College

St. Johns University

Syracuse University

Temple University

The New School – Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts

Trinity University

University of Pittsburgh

University of Rochester

Villanova University

Washington & Jefferson College

Southern Colleges & Universities

Belmont University

Emory University

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Rhodes College

Rice University

Southern Methodist University

Apr 11 17

“The Road Less Traveled”

Submitted by Art Baird, Founder & Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

ThePathLessChosen(SM).CMC 2017Life begins with a finite period of temporal existence baked into the cake. Somewhere between the innocence of our youth and the reality that balancing needs with wants is a tricky business, lies a narrowly defined period where any choice made can have a disproportionate (positive or negative effect)—exacerbated at times by the hand of fate, mean as it can be at times—on the overall quality of our lives.

Our lives can unfold in ebbs and flows, almost without us even noticing the passing years, until confronted with a more stark reality that emerges from our often foggy existence presenting a more difficult choice; one that has been incubating in our sub-conscious, feeding on the most minute of outcomes correlated with a seemingly endless array of choices, for which we can now barely, if at all, remember being made. It is at this mythical fork in the road that considering choosing a path less traveled—lonely as it may seem—may be fate’s invisible hand guiding you toward living a more purposeful life. read more…

Mar 23 17

Tuition Surging at California Public Universities for 2017-18

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

University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) students will pay more tuition for the 2017-18 school year.  For the first time in six years, both the UC and CSU boards have approved tuition and fee increases.  At the same time, Governor Jerry Brown proposes to phase out the state-sponsored Middle Class Scholarship program for students starting college for the first time in 2017-18.

As of February 2017, the Regents of the University of California will raise tuition 2.5%, or approximately $282 per student, in the 2017-18 school year.  Concomitantly, CSU fees will increase approximately $270 per student, or 5%, in the 2017-18 school year.  In both the CSU and UC systems, proposed fee hikes for student services will also add to total college costs, while subsidies are proposed to be eliminated. read more…

Mar 17 17

BUYER BEWARE: Federal Student Loan Interest Rates Set to Rise for 2017-18

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

Middle-class(sm).CMC2015Being informed about the costs of taking loans before signing the promissory note is prudent, especially with rising college tuition and average student loan balances totaling $30,000+ for Class of 2017 graduates.

However, college students don’t know the exact student loan interest rates before enrolling in the new school year.  Federal educational loan interest rates are set each year in June, but, May 1 is the national deadline for incoming freshmen to submit their intent to enroll, and fall class registration takes place before June 1.

Each school year, Federal Student Loan interest rates are equal to the 10 Year Treasury Note Yield (at the Treasury auction immediately prior to June 1), plus 2.05%, not to exceed 8.25%, and are reset each new school year. [The 10 year Treasury Note Yield is the amount the Federal government pays to borrow money for 10 years.]  Estimates for 2017-18 Federal Stafford Loans (i.e. Federal Student Loans) is 4.56%, as of March 15, 2017.

Since interest can add to the overall costs of a student loan, students are wise to estimate potential interest rates, as well as calculate the total interest costs to be paid over the life of the loan—typically a 10 year repayment term.  Then, students can understand the affordability of the loan, plus the financial obligation they’ll be assuming for the next 10-15 years of their lives.

Note: as of July 1, 2016, current interest rates for the 2016-17 school year are 3.76% for both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal student loans, while parent PLUS loans have a 6.31% interest rate.

Source: Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 (H.R. 1911) 


Mar 1 17

“Free” Speech?

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

Debate, questioning, argument are central to education.  From Aristotle to John Dewey, educational theorists and teachers have long touted the benefits resulting from the meaningful dialogue, including a spectrum of viewpoints.  Yet, given today’s increasingly polarized society, educators, like Dr. John Etchemendy former provost of Stanford University, are making public declarations warning, beseeching students, faculty and society at large that the place of universities is to create dialogue, is to welcome the airing of disparate opinions, is to learn from our differences.

However, Dr. Etchemendy also recognizes that the core mission of universities is a complex undertaking.  In a recent speech to the Stanford Board of Trustees, he stated:

Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.

read more…

Feb 15 17

University of California Admissions Decisions Timetable 2017

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

UC SealIn the post-college application response period, high school seniors are eagerly (sometimes anxiously) anticipating admissions decisions from colleges.   The University of California campuses will be returning Freshman admissions decisions along the following schedule:

Limited Release Mid-February & Late March  

  • UC Irvine
  • UC Berkeley

Early March

  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside


  • UC Davis
  • UC San Diego
  • UC Santa Cruz (March 15)
  • UC Santa Barbara (Week of March 20)

Late March

  • UC Los Angeles

NOTE: all Freshmen admissions decisions will be released by March 31, 2017, and have until May 1, 2017 to make enrollment decisions.

UC Transfer Applicants can expect to receive admissions decisions by April 30, 2017, and have until June 1, 2017 to make enrollment decisions.


Feb 7 17

Changes to Common Application Essay Prompts for 2017-18

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

The Common Application members have changed the prompts for current juniors in the Class of 2018, who will become college applicants in Fall 2017.  The word count remains unchanged at a maximum of 650 words.  Applicants will still be required to only choose one of the seven prompts listed below.

The Common Application administrators have identified the prompts which changed, with notes at the end of the question.  Also, words in italics represent a changed term from the current 2016-17 Common Application prompts.

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]

For more information: see the Common Application blog or contact us at

Oct 8 16

Grammar Shmammer

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

The rules of grammar can be annoying, especially when an English paper is “bleeding” with red ink marks, noting every single punctuation and grammar error. However, the purpose for grammar, which is to articulate the author’s ideas clearly to the reader, can get lost in trying to follow the rules of grammar.

To help all the college essay writers with “meaning what they say” and employing grammar to assist them, watch The New Yorker Magazine’s Comma Queen, Mary Norris, shed light about when to employ  “that” and “which”  in writing:


Sep 23 16

Selfish Caring

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

Not a day goes by, when I don’t hear from a concerned parent that their kid isn’t doing enough community service. The unsaid part of the concern is “not enough for a competitive college admissions resume.” Although community service IS recalled in college applications and can matter in demonstrating the interest and commitment of an applicant outside of her/his academic achievements, caring for others as a self-serving resume bullet point may miss the mark.

A recent New York Times opinion piece featured several college admissions officers formally confirming that community service and charitable acts with a self-interested motive can be recognized and diminish the applicant’s competitiveness.

In the case of drive-by charity work, the checked box can actually be counterproductive, because application readers see right through it.

“The running joke in admissions is the mission trip to Costa Rica to save the rain forest,” Ángel Pérez, who is in charge of admissions at Trinity College in Hartford, told me.

read more…

Aug 26 16

FAFSA Changes Release Date

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

The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the government form required to apply for financial aid at any U.S. college or university, will be released on October 1, 2016. The October date is a full three months earlier than previous years, when the FAFSA was released on January 1.

What the earlier release date means:

  • Families will use 2015 Federal Tax returns to complete the FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will allow families to connect their FAFSA application to their already filed 2015 Federal Tax Returns, autofilling some data points, speeding up completion of the form and reducing potential for typos.
  • Current college students who filed a FAFSA between January 1 – June 30, 2016 for the 2016-17 school year, will need to complete an additional FAFSA during the 2016 calendar year for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
  • Some college and university financial aid offices are moving priority FAFSA filing dates forward to January 2017. Be sure to check the financial aid websites for specific dates.

In addition, families may receive financial aid award letters sooner than in previous college admissions cycles, especially for those students applying in the early admissions rounds, which can assist in choosing a college.

Aug 13 16

Guest Post: A First Year Reflection

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

About the author: Born and raised in Northern California, now studying at New York University, Daniel is majoring in Business with a concentration in Accounting and Information Systems with a Minor in Computer Science and Mathematics. After gaining three job opportunities and extensively volunteering in Brooklyn over the past year, here is Daniel’s reflection of his first year of college:


As a native Californian, the idea of an underground train system sounded like an alien concept. Naturally, the question, “Why can’t you just drive there?” would enter my mind. A system of many connecting lines that can take me anywhere was an inconceivable dream.

Once I started school at New York University and began working fifty blocks north of my dorm, I was confronted with the fact that I was dependent on this underground train system called the subway. Taking part in the ritual of riding the subway to work made me feel a lot more a part of the city. I felt like a true city dweller with New York as my home. Seeing the multitude of faces everyday, with the train’s increasing population and decreasing comfortability with each stop, made me realize just how many people live in this city. Although we were together on the train, the atmosphere never led to close personal interaction. With the amount of life and experience in a single car, I’m sure I would have had an eye-opening exchange with each and every rider. But it was too early in the morning and naturally, we were tired, so we rode in silence. read more…

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.


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