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May 20 15

Homework Blues

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

Presented for parents who contend daily, sometimes through a full 12 rounds, with their teenagers about their homework assignments: 


Published May 13, 2015

May 16 15

The FAFSA PIN is Now the FSA ID

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

When submitting the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for financial aid at colleges and universities all over the United States, parents and students have needed a PIN number as their electronic signature.  Recently, Federal Student Aid has changed the PIN to an FSA ID, which will serve as an electronic signature for the:

  • FAFSA,
  • My Federal Student Aid to monitor all Federal Student Aid received,
  • to complete entrance counseling for all Federal Stafford Student Loans and Parent PLUS Loans, and
  • The TEACH Grant Program, allowing future teachers to reduce their Federal Stafford Student Loans up to $4000 per year when agreeing to teach for at least four years

For a parent or student with a PIN number, use the FSA ID website to replace an existing PIN with a FSA ID number.  Just like the PIN, a parent’s FSA ID number can be used to electronically sign more than one child’s FAFSA.

For others without a PIN, the same website can establish a FSA ID.

Just a reminder: all families should submit the FAFSA each year a student is enrolled in college, regardless of family income and asset values.  The only way to be considered for any financial aid is to complete the annual FAFSA.

May 13 15

Kudos to the Class of 2015!

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

Congratulations to the Creative Marbles Consultancy Class of 2015 Seniors!

We’re proud that you’ll be attending the following institutions in Fall 2015:

The Ivy Leagues:

Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island

Private Universities:

Chapman University – Orange, California

Creighton University – Omaha, Nebraska

Gonzaga University – Spokane, Washington

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mills College – Oakland, California

New York University, Stern School of Business – New York, New York

Sarah Lawrence College – Bronxville, New York

Seattle University – Seattle, Washington

University of Portland – Portland, Oregon

University of San Diego – San Diego, California

University of San Francisco – San Francisco, California

University of the Pacific – Stockton, California

Willamette University – Salem, Oregon

Public Universities:

California State University, Sacramento – Sacramento, California

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – San Luis Obispo, California

George Mason University – Fairfax, Virginia

Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

Oregon State University – Corvallis, Oregon

San Diego State University – San Diego, California

Sonoma State University – Rohnert Park, California

University of California, Davis – Davis, California

University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley, California

University of California, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, California

University of California, San Diego – La Jolla, California

University of California, Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, California

University of Oregon – Eugene, Oregon

University of Washington – Seattle, Washington

May 7 15

The Work of Innovation

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

“…the core skill of an innovator is error recovery not failure avoidance.”

– Pixar University’s Randy Nelson

Innovators simply tweak a relatively ordinary experience to seem new. Think: Howard Shultz, Starbucks CEO, repackaging coffee (a substance humans have been drinking for thousands of years) building a whole new market. Think: Steve Jobs of Apple, building on the transistor radio, and ‘80’s Sony Walkman, to create the iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iYetToBeNamed. How many prototypes, mistakes, mishaps did Shultz and Jobs—who incidentally was fired then rehired by Apple, the company he founded—endure before landing on the right combination to what we know (and can’t live without) today?

What Jobs and Shultz experience shows is that success is not only about inherent aptitude, but about a willingness to learn from experience. Through objective analysis, mistakes can turn into opportunities to improve for the next model. How we fall down and how we pick ourselves back up can mean the difference between history-making innovation, and a good idea that never was.

Apr 24 15

Student Debt in Seven Charts

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

Not all student debt is ruinous.  However, borrowing can be complex.  Loans spend tomorrow’s income today, and for college students, a promise of tomorrow’s income is spent to pay for expenses in the present day.  Understanding recent growth in student loans and the challenges of repayment can help potential student loan borrowers consider both the benefits and the risks before borrowing.

For the last 30 years, college tuition is increasing greater than other consumer goods and services:


Click to enlarge



In addition, median household income is relatively flat in growth over the same time period:


Click to enlarge


read more…

Apr 11 15

The Changes to the SAT

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


The College Board will give the revised version of the SAT for the first time in March 2016. The revised version of the SAT will still include a Critical Reading, Math and a Writing portion; however, the Writing section will be optional. College admissions offices are slowly addressing the changes in the SAT format, yet have not published revised admissions policies for the Class of 2017.

The current version of the SAT will be given for the last time in January 2016.

The Class of 2017 faces the question of taking the current version, the new version or both versions of the SAT. Preparation materials for the new SAT are currently unavailable for purchase.

Mar 31 15

Decoding College Admissions Decisions

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


  • What it feels like: “YES! OMG!” And, loud screaming. Maybe some tears of joy (and relief).
  • What it means: You still need to pass all classes in Spring semester with a C or better, otherwise the acceptance can be rescinded.


  • What it feels like: Rejection. A disapproving judgment of where there’s no discussion, no appeal and only seemingly ceaseless, endless questions. Anger.
  • What it means: Opportunity to test character and the ability to weather unmet expectations, as well as decide which college does match from the options available. *


  • What it feels like: Hope and disappointment simultaneously. Then, the questions start. “What more can I do?” “When will the university tell me if I’ve been accepted or not?” “Why did I get waitlisted?”
  • What it means: The college is protecting its interests to be sure to have enough students in the incoming Fall freshman class. Generally, decisions about applicants from the waitlist are made after May 1, when all the admitted students have submitted their replies. *

“Likely” Letter*: a recent innovation borrowed from college athletic recruiters, used by college admissions offices

  • What it feels like: “I’m in!” “Wow! Somebody knows my name!”
  • What it means: In all likelihood, you’ll be accepted into the college sending the “likely” letter, BUT don’t make any final decisions. Wait for the official offer of acceptance before celebrating.


*Admissions decisions are conditional. Be sure to read all the conditions and processes that need to be followed. (Even denials can be appealed, yet know that the decision may still not be overturned.) Ask any and all questions to be clear on the next steps, and consult trusted advisors if more strategic decision-making is needed.

Mar 12 15

Ahead of the Curve: All About Financing A College Education

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

Thoughts from the news:

Feb 28 15

The Perils of Scholarships

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

To many parents, winning scholarships both rewards academic excellence and various leadership achievements, while subsidizing the total costs of college. Even though many high school seniors also desire the benefits of scholarships, many scholarships remain un-awarded. Understanding the timing of scholarship deadlines may explain why action doesn’t follow good intentions. read more…

Feb 14 15

Enjoy Childhood

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

Preparing for college admissions doesn’t have to begin at conception…


Cartoon courtesy of The New Yorker

Feb 3 15

“Situational Awareness”

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

Violence periodically erupts throughout history, and college campuses are not exempt from these episodes. Yet, our human tendency to forget painful events as soon as possible can cause us to be gullible and irrationally fearful. However, when we understand the epidemic of violence, we can become proactive agents in our everyday lives, through developing a “Situational Awareness”—an expanded consciousness of our surroundings.

Being alert requires no extraordinary training or security measures. Yet, paying attention may not be so simple. Modern technologies distract us; in addition, humans are naturally habitual creatures, tending to become robotic in our daily routines. Modern generations need not only confront their innate human inclination to be robotic in our routines, but also remain vigilant of the technological temptations for our attention.

In accepting that violence may erupt randomly, a natural caution arises. As a result, being accustomed to our surroundings, we can easily spot an out-of-place person or circumstance. Thus, being more attentive, we can react appropriately— from simply crossing the street to informing the authorities about an unusual situation.

Jan 17 15


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

Yes.  The reasons for completing community service matters…

workshop(sm).newyorkerCartoon credit: The New Yorker Magazine

Jan 2 15

Guest Post: Is My Nest Going to Be Empty? Part 2

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

Advice from Louise, who’s two daughters are in their second and third years of college at University of California Berkeley and Cornell University, respectively, for parents with anxieties about their Senior-in-high-school-children, who are soon to leave their childhood homes.  Nerves can be heightened at this time of year, as the final college applications are being submitted, and parents anticipate their children’s inevitable move away from home. 

I think the transition is different for each of us – mom, dad, siblings, and new college student. It depends on: you, your kids, number of siblings and their ages, distance away from home, not to mention your relationship with your young adult.

Have compassion for yourself.

Have compassion for your young adult.

Have compassion for your other children.

It is normal for all of us to be happy, sad, proud, anxious, excited and afraid, all at once.  It is going to be okay.

Louise previously wrote about her experiences watching her two daughters move away from home in “Guest Post: Is My Nest Going to Be Empty?

Dec 17 14

Wait…I Have Student Debt?!?

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

In a recent survey published by the Brookings Institute, current college students with student debt were unaware of the exact loan amounts, as well as what they’d eventually repay.  At $1.2 Trillion and growing daily, total student debt may be more complicated than we, as a society understand.

Highlights of the findings are below:

  • At a public four-year colleges, 24% correctly estimated their student debt within 10%, while 22% overestimated and 54% underestimated it.
  • At private colleges, 27% knew about how much they owed, while 23% overestimated and 50% underestimated.
  • At two-year colleges, 29% got it right, while 22% of students overestimated their burden and 49% underestimated it.

“We find that among students with federal loans, 28% reported having no federal debt and 14% said they didn’t have any student debt at all.”

– Elizabeth J Akers and Matthew M Chingos of the Brookings Institution.

Source & for more information: The Guardian

Dec 6 14

On Being Sick

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

As we enter the winter season, this year’s class of bacteria and viruses will be waiting to greet students with open arms. While no one intends to be sick, sickness is an inevitable part of life. Yet, once sick, students resist taking time to rest, so as to “not fall behind.” Sickness is disruptive, forcing those who are ill to choose between denial or healing. read more…

Nov 21 14

Living with Mom & Dad?

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

Is the trend shown in the chart below,


caused by the increase in student loans, as seen in the following chart?


Charts Courtesy: Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research & Zero Hedge, October 26, 2014

Nov 11 14

CMC’s Top Ten

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



Nov 2 14

On Writing

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

The writing process is not simple nor are perfect college essays developed in one draft.  The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times Magazine article, “Old Masters“:

Lewis Latham on writing:

When I was 6, I delighted in the act of writing, at 12, in the expecting that by the time I turned 21, I would know how to make of it an art. The birthday came and went, and no dog showed up with the bird in its mouth. Before I was 30, I’d written seven drafts of a first novel mercifully unpublished; I consoled myself with the thought that by the time I was 40, I would know what I was doing. Another dream that didn’t come true, and so when I was 45, I began to explore the uses of the essay, the term from the French essayer (to try, to embark upon, to attempt), the form experimental and provisional, amenable to multiple shifts of perspective and tone, and therefore the best of instruments on which to practice the playing with words. The essay proceeds from the question “What do I know?” and doesn’t stay for an answer until the author finds out what he means to say by setting it up in a sentence, maybe catching it in the net of a metaphor.

On the way through my 50s I could see signs of progress, producing manuscripts that required only extensive rewriting, not the abandonment of the whole sorry mess of a dumb idea. Revisions pursued through six or seven drafts allowed for the chance to find the right word, to control the balance of a subordinate clause, to replace the adjective with a noun. I didn’t enlist the help of a computer because words so quickly dressed up in the costume of print can pretend to a meaning and weight they neither enjoy nor deserve. Writing with a pen on paper, I can feel the shape and sound of the words, and I’m better able to judge how and why one goes with another, and on approaching the age of 70 I toyed with the hope that success was maybe somewhere not far away in a manger or on the near side of a rainbow.

Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.

Oct 25 14

Where the Young Live

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

The following graph shows the top American cities with growing populations of young adults and recent college graduates – indicating growing jobs and features attractive to today’s generations.  As cities gain popularity, college applicants may be wise to research the location in order to determine the potential job opportunities and quality of life for after college.



Graph Source: The New York Times


Oct 21 14

Guest Post: Is My Nest Going to be Empty?

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

About the Author: Both of Louise’s daughters worked with Creative Marbles Consultancy to navigate the college admissions process.  Emily is a third year student at Cornell University and Kate is a second year student at University of California, Berkeley.  Louise graciously shares her experiences about the transitions as both daughters moved away for college.


Before my first daughter left for college, I received lots of advice from friends and other parents and was given books about my pending “the empty nest”. Mostly I heard about anticipated fear and loss and suggestions about how to handle it.  The bottom line for me, I discovered, was that everything was going to be all right.

I burst into tears at seemingly random times starting in the college application process. Something was about to change. read more…

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