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Apr 19 14

They’re Called Growing Pains for a Reason

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

ChoicesSeniors all over the country, who are facing May 1st deadline to officially enroll in a college may be at times surly, reclusive, exuberant, talkative, manic, anxious and exhausted – sometimes changing moods within one breath – personifying the complexities of going to college. Zafrin, one senior in the midst of choosing a college, recently shared her experience with Creative Marbles Consultancy. In her email exchange, she elucidated the ups and downs of weathering denials and trying to predict her future:

As terrible as it [the college application process] has been, it has been a really good learning experience. [Being denied admissions] Forced me to compromise on perfection, and always getting what I want. I honestly did not realize how terribly spoiled and unrealistic I can be (I am), but, better now than never.

In another part of her email, she referred to being humbled by receiving “very sweet denial letters.” read more…

Apr 18 14


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

Attitude counts when taking the SAT or ACT.  An “I Will” mentality goes a long way to sustaining test-takers in those inevitable moments when confronted with the doubts, “Why are BOTH A & B the right answer?!? Which one do I choose?” or “I think it’s A now, not D – but time’s running out and I still have 40,000 more problems!”  Having the concentration at that moment to take a deep breath can clear the loud thoughts  to choose an answer.  Self-confidence can propel test-takers through any doubts, to perform at their best.

With that in mind, listen to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to create a “Can Do” state of mind:


For those needing to be pumped up, a little old school, “Rocky Theme Song” before taking on the ACT or SAT:

Hum a few bars, and feel less stressed, especially when at about the two and a half hour mark of the three hour and fifty minute test time the “Who wrote this *&$#, #$%# test anyways?!? And, why aren’t THEY here taking this @&^% test at the crack of dawn on a SATURDAY?!?” strikes.

Apr 12 14

College Admissions Is Not a Race

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

When choosing colleges for application, the first criteria considered is often, “Where can I get in?” Students are really asking, “How do I measure up?”, creating a competitive mindset.  Then, in comparing the strength of their application to those of other possible applicants, students can generate unfounded or stereotypical conclusions, building nervous energy and aggravating any insecurities. Forecasting admissions decisions is inexact, and only one of many considerations when choosing colleges. With a small tweak in mindset, students can gain perspective and reduce stress.ProActive.CreativeMarbles2013 read more…

Apr 10 14

College Degree: Gateway to Financial Prosperity or Not?

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

The chart below illustrates the number of college graduates since 2005 who are employed, yet earning at or below the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  As we discussed in an earlier post, the chart reinforces that more of today’s college graduates are underemployed, or working in jobs that don’t require college degrees.


As we previously discussed, the Federal Reserve Bank is reporting that the greatest numbers of recently added jobs are low-wage and temporary work, many in the retail and restaurant service industries.  Current economic developments and job trends begs the question: Is college still a pathway to future prosperity and job security?

Chart Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics & CNN Money



Apr 5 14

The “Inside” Track on College Admissions, Especially To The Ivy League

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

Kwasi Enin was recently accepted to all 8 Ivy League colleges – and offered these words of “wisdom” for future college applicants on The Late Show with David Letterman:

In other reports, college admissions officers have recounted stories of being offered free surgical procedures from parents who are doctors in exchange for their kid’s acceptance, a single shoe being sent as a “foot in the door” gesture from applicants, food of all sorts, offers of free travel – none of which, by the way, swayed admissions decision making.


Apr 3 14

Rules of Dating…I Mean, Choosing a College

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

OpenRoad.HubbubbalooCreative 2014Open houses, admit days, and overnight stays for prospective students are like the blind dates of the college application process. No different than arranging and primping for the first date in order to make a good impression, months have gone into planning these annual events. Workshops are arranged, rooms are reserved, student hosts are trained, menus are set, banners are ordered, t-shirts are printed, and “unappealing” characters are “disappeared” into the bushes as tour groups approach. Viewing the final campus visits as a start of a long-term relationship will help seniors ask pointed questions and make observations which help inform final decisions.  Prospective students can seriously consider the fit of the each college in the final cut.  As with any blind date, the nervousness and butterflies over what may or may not happen during campus visits can cloud anyone’s judgment. Be gentle and make room the the natural (and expected) emotional reaction to choosing a college. After all, there is no rush to make a decision until May 1st.




Mar 27 14

Thinking of Others + Ingenuity + Space = Innovation

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

A teacher colleague once described middle school students as, “Hormones with feet.”  These middle schoolers break the stereotype.  And, at the same time, the ‘tween girls earned Verizon’s Innovative App Challenge top award of $15,000, plus technical support to bring their invention to life.

Don’t underestimate the power of youth.


Mar 26 14

Is College Worth the Expense?

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

More Americans believe that going to college is NOT an affordable option.

CollegeAffordability.Pew Research

read more…

Mar 21 14

Got Scantron Nightmares?

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

Image of Screaming Janet Leigh in PsychoSay, “S-A-T” or “A-C-T” to a high school junior, and watch their whole demeanor change.  The idea that a test score that will be considered as part of a future college application can provoke a racing pulse and perspiration. A typical conversation with Juniors about the SAT and ACT goes something like this:

read more…

Mar 20 14

Fat Envelope Torture

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

Each spring, somewhere in the bowels of college admissions offices around the country is a network of diabolical admissions officers executing their annual conspiracy – Code Name: Fatty.

FatEnvelope.CMC2014 read more…

Mar 18 14

Ahead of the Curve: March 18, 2014

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

From Our Clients:

  • The New SAT: current high school freshman (Class of 2017) will be the first students to take the recently updated SAT.  The newest version with an optional essay section, will be given for the first time in Spring 2016.  Stay tuned for how the new SAT will or will not affect the college admissions eligibility process.
  • Common Core: changes to math and English classes are not currently influencing college admissions eligibility standards.  Although the high school and middle school curriculum are changing, college admissions eligibility standards (i.e. 4 years of English and 3 years of mathematics through Algebra II) have not shifted.
  • College Waitlists: AKA “College Admissions Purgatory” – a waitlist offer is not quite a “Yes, you’ve been admitted” and not a “No, you’ve been denied admissions”. The continued unknown of a waitlist offer can prolong the anxiety of both deciding where to enroll, as well as the ceaseless wonderings about why a waitlist offer was received and not an acceptance or straight denial.  Students and their families should discuss both the benefits of electing to stay on the waitlist or moving on to other options.  JUNIORS BEWARE: the unpredictable nature of college admissions – as witnessed by the Class of 2014′s current acceptance, denial or waitlist offers arriving daily – demonstrates once again the importance of choosing a diverse range of colleges for application.

From the News:

Mar 12 14

Here Come The UC Decisions

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

UC SealThe University of California (UC) system will be releasing admissions decisions on a set schedule through the end of April.  While UC Riverside and UC Merced have already sent some admissions decisions, the other eight campuses will not be releasing decisions until this week.

The following is a listing by campus of when admissions decisions will be available online for both freshmen and transfer students. read more…

Mar 11 14

College Degree = Value, Right?

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

Financial security, or the promise of lifetime employment, is often a reason for choosing to attend college.  However, recent income and employment trends may give college-bound students pause to further contemplate their expectations of job security with a college degree. 44% of today’s college graduates are underemployed, meaning they don’t need a college degree for their current jobs, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  In addition, since college graduates median income has remained relatively flat from 1965 to today, meaning that the exact middle of all full time employed college graduates of each of the last five generation has not changed substantially, yet college tuition since 1978 (see the second chart) has grown by 1140 percent, is the expected return on a college degree worthy of the costs?

Thinking though the most valuable academic major in which to earn a college degree may be a wise move.


Chart 1 Source: Pew Research Center, February 2014


Chart 2 Source:

Mar 7 14

Hurry Up and Wait and Wait and Then Wait Some More

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

Now What.CMC2013“Will my kid get in?” is a concern often rattling around Senior parents’ minds at this time of year, causing a fair share of insomnia.  Worries spike each time these same parents listen to other parents excitedly share good news about their kid’s acceptance, while polite smiling to hide the anxious wonderings about why their Senior has not yet received any response from the same college.  Once the conversation ends, unnerved parents feverishly try to hold insistent thoughts about rejection at bay.  The idea that their children will suffer the disappointment of a denial letter can be miserable for parents, who will stand witness from the sidelines, feeling powerless to shield their children from life’s adversities.  In addition, the concerns that their children will have harder paths toward future prosperity, having not gotten into the “right” college, can be equally distressing for parents.  Many parents often begin questioning if there was some other magic extracurricular activity that would’ve made their kid unique and therefore accepted.  All these concerns are typical.

Antidotes can help keep perspective, like “When a one door closes, another one opens.”  In addition, remembering that every kid who went to a said “right” college doesn’t graduate from that same college, some kids graduate from off-brand name colleges and are wildly successful, as well as those individuals who don’t graduate from any college yet still prosper – can mitigate fears.  Alternately, taking a moment to reflect on the resiliency of their child throughout his/her lifetime can help reassure parents that their kid will grow from whatever responses college admissions officers return. Lastly, parents who trust their own experiences having endured rejection will know that life’s ups and downs build character in the long run, even though not fun in the short run.  Parents who first work with their own anxieties can then empathize and support their children, no matter the outcome.

Mar 5 14

Why Winning Free Money Takes Effort

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

student loan debtScholarships are not mysterious.  Winning them takes work – which is only a continuation of the efforts to be eligible to compete for scholarships in the first place.   read more…

Feb 28 14

There’s No Excuses

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

Elementary school has recess for a reason – pent up little kid energy can get in the way of focusing on the academic task at hand. Adults and teens are no different; we just have to be more deliberate about making “recess” in our lives. If The President and Vice President can do it, there’s no excuses.

Feb 27 14

Ahead of the Curve: February 27, 2014

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

From Our Clients:

  • Aaaaccck! How do we pay for college?  Parents often tell themselves, “First things first.  Applications, THEN we’ll think about how to pay for college.”  Totally an expected reaction, when considering the six figure totals for a college education these days.  However, the planning to pay for college can take place long before applying (and may help prevent sleepless nights later).  Teaching kids the value and purpose of money can be a starting point from the time they’re young to prepare for the expense of college. Then, trying to convince teenagers to apply for thousands of dollars in scholarships in the spring of their senior years may be a less difficult discussion.
  • FAFSA, EFC, COA: the alphabet soup of financial aid can be a learning curve in itself, before even considering how to pay for college.  FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and generally required to apply for financial aid at any college across the country.  EFC is the Expected Family Contribution and the dollar amount calculated after a family completes the FAFSA, which colleges use to determine any need-based financial aid.  And, COA stands for Cost of Attendance, which is the estimated average cost for the school year at a particular college campus, including tuition, housing, books, transportation and average personal expenses.
  • Got Tutoring?:  The second semester can be a chance for students to adjust their studying efforts, in order to earn grades that reflect their intellectual abilities and knowledge.  When there’s a lack of academic progress, naturally parents want to help their kids, and start suggesting tutoring as a solution.  Not so fast.  First, find out if the problem is a lack of conceptual knowledge. Subject matter tutoring  may not address the learning issue, which instead may be a miscommunication between teacher and student or a lack of understanding by the student of how to demonstrate her/his knowledge on a test.  Ask kids more questions about what’s going on with the class, to apply the most appropriate solution.

From the News:

Feb 22 14

Mission (Im)Possible?

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

“I just looked at it [the original Star Trek series] as science fiction, ’cause that wasn’t going to happen, really, but Ronald saw it as science possibility.”

- Carl McNair, about his brother, Astronaut Ronald McNair, who died aboard The Challenger in 1986


While we all face difficulties in our lives, some continue to move forward regardless of expectations and norms.  Listen to the following podcast from National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, as Carl McNair talks about his brother, Astronaut Ronald McNair, and his life growing up as an African American boy in segregated South Carolina in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Photo Credit:

Feb 21 14

Rising Student Loan Delinquency

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

Student loans can help fund college expenses, yet create a future financial burden for students when in repayment.  Currently, the total of student loans 90 days or more delinquent is at a record high of $124.3 billion – an increase of more than $3 Billion since last quarter.  Possible reason for the delinquency can include the growing underemployment rates for new college grads, increasing college costs, a mismatched major choice with emerging career prospects and a less-than-complete search for colleges.


Also, see Zero Hedge

Feb 20 14

“When You Cheat You Only Hurt Yourself”

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

Keep Your Cool ImageAlthough, generally cast in moral terms, academic cheating can be explained by examining practicality and circumstance, rather than attributing to simply a character weakness. Understanding when people cheat can help show the complexity of why people cheat.

In 2012, 125 Harvard undergraduates were investigated for sharing answers on a take home final exam, and approximately 70 students were mandated to temporarily withdraw from the university, after being found guilty of cheating.  None of them were expelled.  As quoted in the January 2014 Atlantic Monthly:

The take-home final exam for Harvard University’s 2012 Introduction to Congress course was open-book, open-note, and open-Internet. The only source students weren’t allowed to consult was other people.

But consult they did, and within a few months the university was investigating nearly half the class for plagiarizing or improperly collaborating. read more…