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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…

Jun 16 15

New Information about the June 6, 2015 SAT Error

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

Scores from the June 6, 2015 SAT will still be valid; however, any student believing their June 6, 2015 SAT scores were unduly affected by the printing error, which we discussed in our previous post, can petition for a retake for free.  The College Board will waive the fees for the October 3, 2015 SAT date for students who took the June 6, 2015 SAT. read more…

Jun 13 15

As You Commence…

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




You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.  

Alan Alda

We all go through life bristling at our external limitations, but the most difficult chains to break are inside us.  

– Bradley Whitford 

You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse. You can’t take it with you.  

– Denzel Washington 

That diploma you hold in your hands today is really just your learner’s permit for the rest of the drive through life. Remember, you don’t have to be smarter than the next person, all you have to do is be willing to work harder than the next person.

– Jimmy Iovine

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.  

– J.K. Rowling 

Here’s the thing: the world is not going to issue you an engraved invitation to this life.

– Sarah Heidt

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.

Will Rogers

Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.

Erma Bombeck

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Vidal Sassoon

The unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective.

Jon Stewart 

I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

Jim Carrey

You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain cells than you have today.

 Tom & Ray Magliozzi

A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success.  

– Robert Orben

“Your families are extremely proud of you. You can’t imagine the sense of relief they are experiencing. This would be a most opportune time to ask for money.”

– Gary Bolding

To those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, ‘well done.’ And as I like to tell the C students, you too can be president.

– Former U.S. President George W. Bush

Sometimes, your insecurities and your inexperience may lead you, too, to embrace other people’s expectations, standards or values. But you can harness that inexperience to carve out your own path, one that is free of the burden of knowing how things are supposed to be, a path that is defined by its own particular set of reasons.

– Natalie Portman

See our previous post for more about the graduating Class of 2015.

Jun 9 15

About the June 6, 2015 SAT Error

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



First, take a deep breath.  Hearing “error” and “SAT” in the same sentence can create stress. The College Board will NOT ask anyone to retake the SAT, despite a printing error on the June 6, 2015 test.  Here’s what happened, straight from the College Board public announcement:

The time allotted for a specific math or reading section — either section 8 or 9, depending on the edition — was incorrect in the student test books but correct in the script and manual provided to test center supervisors. The copy in the student test books indicated “25 minutes” while the manual and script indicated the correct time limit of “20 minutes.”

Not to worry, the June 6 SAT scores will still be acceptable for college admissions and applications. read more…

Jun 6 15

The Complexity of Choosing Colleges

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

Options Image

The vastness of the western United States, specifically California, can actually limit our view. Each time I speak with high school juniors about college choices, I hear the aforementioned oxymoron. The diverse geography of California and distance of Northern California to Southern California can entice students to think they’re making a big move away from home. I know. I did that move myself—from Sacramento to San Diego for college—convinced that I was taking a humongous leap away from home, not recognizing the contradiction that I was comforted by the idea of living in the same state. My other top college choice was near Seattle, Washington. In reality, Seattle is only 1.5 hours of car travel more than driving to San Diego, but the idea of moving two states away, was too much of a mental obstacle for my 17-year old self.   So, I can fully empathize with today’s California high school students, who are seeking colleges in their home state. read more…

Jun 3 15

The Practicality of a College Education

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

Presented in addition to last week’s post about what faces Class of 2015 Graduates


From Zero Hedge, May 31, 2015

May 29 15

Congrats, Class of 2015?

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

The Class of 2015’s graduation celebrations may be short-lived.  A graduation is often called a commencement, or beginning.  So, what can the Class of 2015 expect for their new beginning?

1) The highest average student debt of any graduating class in the last 23 years – $35,000 per student loan borrower.


2) In addition, a greater percentage of the Class of 2015 will be repaying student loans, than previous generations

Almost 71% of bachelor’s degree recipients will graduate with a student loan, compared with less than half two decades ago and about 64% 10 years ago.  (Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2015)

read more…

May 23 15

Internships: The New Entry Level Job

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

Go to college. Then, get a job.  The old adage may have passed its time.  Now, the meme may be more like, “Compete to get into college.  Go to college; work unpaid internships every semester starting your freshman year, and each summer take more internships, then, hopefully, you’ll get a job by graduation.”

According to a May 18, 2015 Washington Post article:

Companies are increasingly bypassing the spring job market, when they typically interviewed college seniors, and instead are hiring directly from their intern pools, offering jobs and forcing students to commit just weeks into their senior year. More than 70 percent to 80 percent of new hires at big companies like Facebook, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and eBay come through their internship programs now, compared to about half or less just a decade ago.

“There was a time when 50 employers came to recruit for interns,” Patricia Rose, director of the career center at the University of Pennsylvania, told me. “Now we have 180.”

read more…

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