Chicago, Chicago!

Just returned from a whirlwind visit in Chicago where we ate our way around the city.  We started out with Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza at Gino’s, enjoyed their unique Eatily, where a medley of artisan chefs prepare gourmet dishes, and tried dozens of other specialty restaurants on just about every block downtown.  Jaclyn and Alex (and Radar!) live on the 40th floor right downtown and just 1.5 blocks from Kellogg’s grad school. 

We stayed in a suite with a conference table and a Murphy bed (love Murphy beds!) in their building, where we hosted a mini family reunion with Jean and Davis Tatsui-Satake.  It was our first time meeting the Chicago Tatsui relatives who left California right after Pearl Harbor.  Rather than be interned like the rest of the family, this part of our family moved to Chicago and has stayed there ever since.  We immediately hit it off with Jean and Davis, and have already made plans to get together again this year.  It’s exciting to make connections with family members, learn new facts, and hear interesting stories about our ancestors.  They contributed to our genealogy database and plan to help us fill in stories and data about our Chicago family.

We also had dinner with Rob’s brother Bill and his family in the suburbs south of Chicago. Rob and Bill exchanged stories about their youth – the ones you don’t want your children to hear – except, oops Jaclyn sat there in shock with her mouth wide open as she learned about her father’s earlier days. She kept looking at me to make sure these were real stories!  It’s shocking that Rob and Bill are alive today…

Jaclyn hosted a get together with her Kellogg friends (Alex, Rob, and Kelly – yup, weird coincidence!) so Rob and I could meet them.  As always, we love her new friends and had a blast with them.  We plan to return to Chicago in June for Jaclyn’s graduation ceremony.  Time flies; and we can’t wait to get her back to California!

Checking Out Colleges In The Windy City

Packing in business with pleasure in Chicago!  I joined Jaclyn in business classes at Kellogg’s MBA program at Northwestern last week.

Sitting in on one of the Top 10 MBA programs in the nation, I was intrigued and inspired by the excellence in both professors and grad students. We toured the new Global Hub on the Evanston campus where I saw students engaged in conversations and projects with fellow students.

The design of the Global Hub was quite impressive; with amphitheater social areas and modern architecture both inside and outside, it made me want to go back to college!

We also toured University of Chicago and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  Visiting these colleges makes us better resources to our students – so we can recommend programs that meet our students’ needs, expectations, and goals.  With over 4,000 colleges just in the United States, there’s a college that’s perfect for every student!

Cheating and Favoritism in College Sports

Honestly, how can colleges look the other way when their star athletes cheat and plagiarize, when other students are expelled and humiliated for doing the same thing?  What’s worse is that this rolls into a despicable arena where rape and sexual harassment are ignored when it involves athletes.  This is just wrong.  It sends the wrong message to the student body and to aspiring young athletes.

In my book, athletes shouldn’t receive any special treatment in the classroom or the courtroom.  These athletes should go into professional sports and leave spaces open on college campuses for students who really want a college education.  Period.


Did You Know That Some Colleges Are Slashing Tuition To Recruit Students?

Who would have believed that some colleges are desperately seeking students when you hear about how Stanford has a 4.8% acceptance rate, which is lower than Harvard’s 5.4%? Yup!  There are over 2,800 public colleges, and over 1,200 private colleges in the US. Only the top colleges are ridiculously selective.  Eight private colleges just announced that they are slashing tuition for next fall (2018-2019). Reducing college tuition is called “tuition reset.” 

Although you might think that this tuition reset attracts and helps financially struggling families, it actually does the opposite.  Students who would be entitled to financial aid (grant and loans), only receive less financial aid so the actual amount they pay is about the same.  ARGH.  And guess what?  The wealthy students are the only ones who actually pay less with tuition reset.  Because these students wouldn’t get financial aid anyway, the discounted tuition rate means that they pay less for college. 

So tuition reset is really just a marketing ploy that benefits the wealthy.  It moves the college into the limelight bringing more applicants; and to make up for the decrease in tuition revenues, many colleges are increasing their enrollment.  In my book, that may lead to lower academic standards with increased class sizes and fewer professors.


Does Location Matter When Choosing A College?

You’ve heard that LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION is everything in real estate and retail business, but did you know that location is also a key factor in choosing the right college?  Yup! I’ve been advising students to choose a college that’s located in a vibrant city where they can intern in top companies – possibly for their future employer. Going to college in cities where they can explore the industry and make vital contacts adds a bonus to the mix when choosing colleges.

According to Stanford’s Chetty and coauthor Brown University economist John Friedman, students who attend college in New York City, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Fayetteville (Ark), El Paso, and San Antonio, increase their after-college earning salaries by as much as 15%. 

In other words, you don’t want to study business marketing in a rural community or animal sciences in a metropolitan city.  It’s really just common sense.


Dirty Little Scholarship Secrets

Did you know that colleges can actually take scholarship money away from students? It's called DISPLACEMENT, it's a common practice, it's highly unethical, and it makes my blood boil more than just about anything else (except MAYBE Donald Trump). What's worse is that they can take money they said they'd give to YOU and give it to someone else instead. The money you bring in from outside awards/scholarships DISPLACES (or replaces) any awards the school has said it would give you. And often, students don't even realize this until very shortly before they start school, which can put them in a very difficult financial situation.

Here's how it works: 

Let's say that someone (like my daughter, for example), works hard to get a $20,000 outside scholarship to help pay for her VERY expensive education. One of the colleges she considered offered her $30,000 in financial aid. Tuition, room and board were $55,000 per year. So logically, she should have had to pay just $5,000 for her freshman year. Great, right? NOPE.

The school takes the money they said they'd give you and SUBTRACTS the amount you bring in "from outside", which tosses the funds you would have received back in the pot/endowment/whatever. To add insult to injury, this particular school told her that the only way her outside scholarship would be applied toward her net cost AT ALL was if she earned OVER $30,000 in outside scholarships. In other words, she would have to MATCH what the college gave her in financial aid, and ONLY THENwould they apply a single dime toward her tuition bill. SO. SO. WRONG.

Colleges should not have the right to take a student's promised funds and give it to another student. This discourages students from applying for outside scholarships and discourages philanthropists from awarding grant money to students in need.

BEFORE you accept admission on May 1st, PLEASE check with the financial aid department to make sure your scholarships/outside aid will actually be applied to your tuition bottom line! Fortunately, not all colleges work this way - make sure yours doesn't! College is expensive enough!

3 Things You Need To Do To Secure Financial Aid For Your College Student

If your child will be starting college in the fall of 2018, it’s time to get ready for the financial aid process.  The 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on October 1st.  For financial aid it's first come, first served! So, sharpen your pencils and do the following 3 things:

  1. Get your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID
  2. Get your 2016 Tax Records and Social Security Numbers
  3. Complete your FAFSA before March 2, 2018

Students who qualify for the California Dream Act (CADAA) and the Chafee Grant for Foster Youth can attend the free Cash for College workshops in California.  Sign up for the 100+ workshops to learn more about moneys available.

In order to receive scholarship funds, you need to complete the FAFSA and indicate which colleges you’re applying to.  After the colleges receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) from your FAFSA application, they will calculate your financial need and create scholarship/loan offers if your child receives an admissions offer. Good luck!

Who Needs To Take the SAT 2 Subject Test?

It used to be that college-bound students took the SAT 1 or ACT to demonstrate that they had the reading, writing, and math foundation to be successful in college, and they took the SAT 2 Subject tests to demonstrate their specific skills in academic subjects.  While most colleges still require the SAT 1 or ACT today, very few colleges now require the SAT 2 Subject Tests.  

If you happen to be strong in a particular subject area and you’re applying to competitive colleges, take the SAT 2 Subject Tests and submit them with your other scores.  It might help you get in.  But, if you’re not a good test taker or you aren’t ready for any of the subject tests, then skip them.

Check with the colleges on your list to make sure you don’t need the SAT 2 scores.  In California, UCs don’t require SAT 2 Subject Test but they do recommend them for freshman applicants majoring in competitive majors like engineering, biology, chemistry, or physics.  Here are the UC recommendations:

Chemistry: Math Level 2 and science test (same as major)
Engineering: Math Level 2 and Physics

Engineering: Math Level 2 and Physics
Computer Science and Engineering: Math Level 2 and Physics
Pharmaceutical Science: Math Level 2, Biology M and/or Chemistry
Physical Sciences: Math Level 2
Public Health Sciences: Biology E, Biology M, and/or Chemistry
Public Health Policy: Biology E, Biology M, and/or World History

Los Angeles:
Engineering: Math Level 2 and Physics
Applied Sciences: Math Level 2 and a science test closely related to the major

Natural and Agricultural Sciences: Math Level 2 and Chemistry or Physics
Engineering: Math Level 2 and Chemistry or Physics

San Diego:
Engineering: Math Level 2 and Physics
Physical Sciences: Math Level 2 and a science closely related to major

Santa Barbara:
Engineering: Math Level 2
Mathematics: Math Level 2
Physics: Math Level 2 and Physics
Biology: Biology
Chemistry and Biochemistry: Chemistry
Computer Sciences: Math Level 2

Sept 30th Is The Deadline for UC TAG!

Transfer students who attend California community colleges and hope to transfer to UCs need to get their Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) application in before September 30th

Six UC campuses offer an admission guarantee for junior transfer applicants (Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz).  Simply complete the online UC TAG application at  Use the useful Transfer Admission Planner (TAP) to help you get organized. 

If you need help, just ask a Merit College Advisor at!


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