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Sep 2 14

College Confidence?

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

The following chart shows wage growth (or lack of) 60 months into the most recent economic “recovery”, which is at the lowest point since World War II.


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Furthermore, the employment situation is no more rosy:

“The bottom line is, we’re a million miles from full employment,” said [David] Blanchflower, a Bank of England policy maker from 2006 to 2009 [a professor of economics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire]. “Workers are struggling, and they don’t see signs that things are suddenly going to change.” (Bloomberg News, August 18, 2014)

With a less-than-optimistic employment outlook, plus stagnant income, all while college tuition escalates annually, families’ confidence in a college degree may be tottering.

Aug 29 14

Guest Post: So You’re Gonna Be A College Freshman

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

About the author: Allie is starting her senior year at University of Arizona, which she selected after an intensive search for colleges in the Western U.S. with speech therapy and audiology programs.  She graciously agreed to allow Creative Marbles to repost the following from her blog.  

This summer I worked at the College of Admissions at the University of Arizona and I called incoming Freshman every single day offering up advice, answering questions and concerns and ultimately making sure they had everything they needed before they start school. I decided it might be beneficial to some if I shared some of these tips! Every school is a little different in how they run things, but for the most part, the important things are all about the same.

So let’s get started::

1. Shop around for your books.

read more…

Aug 22 14

College Tuition Up 1225% Since 1978

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


As has been previously discussed, college tuition is increasing annually, and shows few signs of abating; however, at some point college education will be subject to the law of supply and demand.  As demand for college education continues growing - seen in each year’s record numbers of applicants, with total student debt growing beyond the record breaking $1.2 Trillion mark and college tuition skyrocketing, demand for a college education may cool at some point.  Furthermore, any decrease in student demand would have the immediate effect of crimping college budgets, forcing an adjustment in the college education market toward a much needed equilibrium, where a reasonable price will prevail. However, when and how the law of supply and demand will make itself known in the college marketplace is up to anyone’s best educated guess.  So, additional consideration of which college to choose and what to study in college may be the most prudent course of action.

Graph from: Bloomberg News


Aug 14 14

College Worth vs. College Worthy

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

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…

Aug 9 14

Ahead of the Curve: August 9, 2014

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

Inspired by CMC Clients:

  • OMG College ESSAYSCollege 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:

Aug 6 14

The Bill Always Comes Due

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

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.


2014 Average Student Debt

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.

CMC_Debt(new).2014Recent 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

Aug 2 14

Top 10 Questions NOT to Ask a High School Senior

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


  1. Where are you applying to college?
  2. You must be excited to graduate high school, aren’t you?
  3. Isn’t senior year the best time of your life?
  4. What is your GPA?
  5. What are your SAT scores?
  6. Why do you want to apply there? (referring to a particular college)
  7. 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?
  8. What’s going to be your major?
  9. What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
  10. Why aren’t you going to become a ______, like your mom or dad?

Original Image by Hubbubbaloo Creative

Jul 26 14

The Anti-Helicopter Parent?

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

Presented without comment…


Courtesy: The New Yorker Magazine

Jul 17 14

Summer Is Not a Time For Slacking Off or Is It?

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

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.

Jul 10 14

The Chronicles of Procrastination

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


  1. Bravado

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

  1. Anger

read more…

Jul 5 14

Ahead of the Curve: July 5, 2014

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

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.

read more…

Jul 2 14

Gotta Read ‘Em All

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

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.

Jun 29 14

Sometimes You Gotta Go Slow to Go Fast

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

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.

Jun 21 14

Guest Post: Follow Your Instinct to Choose a College

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

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.


Jun 18 14

A $60 Trillion Inheritance…in Debt

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

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.


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Chart courtesy:


Jun 14 14

Ahead of the Curve: June 14, 2014

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

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.

read more…

Jun 13 14

Stamina, Attitude and Tranquility: Essential SAT & ACT Skills

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

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:

Jun 5 14

How Major is a College Major?

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

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.


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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.


Jun 4 14

Guest Post: Investigating the Stereotypes about Women’s Colleges

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

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.)  

Stereotype 1:

Olivia writes:

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.

Stephanie writes:

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…

May 29 14

Borrower Beware

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

Student borrowers aren’t the only ones defaulting on college loans…


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Chart source: Department of Education & Inside Higher Ed