Imagine There Were No Transcripts - It's Easy If You Try

Do GPAs and SAT/ACT scores reflect a student’s ability to succeed in college?  Umm. NO!  We’ve known this for decades, yet schools keep ramping up pressure to get good grades in AP classes and colleges use rubrics that heavily weight GPAs and SAT/ACT scores when admitting incoming classes each year.  But, this is beginning to change now that over 100 elite private high schools plan to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based, non-standardized documents without grades using the Mastery Transcript Consortium. 

The goal here is to change the way colleges admit students by eliminating the traditional transcript.  Yup!  The Mastery Transcript Consortium will evaluate students based on levels of proficiency in various areas:
1.  Analytical and Creative Thinking
2.  Complex Communication: Oral and Written
3.  Leadership and Teamwork
4.  Digital and Quantitative Literacy
5.  Global Perspective
6.  Adaptability, Initiative, and Risk-Taking
7.  Integrity and Ethical Decision-Making
8.  Habits of Mind

By creating portfolios to demonstrate projects, experiments, and works of art produced by students, colleges would get a more comprehensive look at the student.  But this movement intends to eliminate grades and standardized test scores completely, which I doubt colleges will accept or adopt anytime soon.  I think that a combination of GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, and projects would be the better option because it checks to see if students have the academic foundation (skills needed to enter college) and the creative and entrepreneurial prowess (skills to think outside the box and become innovative leaders) to become successful students in college.

I believe that students who do independent projects (ProjectMERIT) become confident innovative thinkers – the kind of young adults we need to solve the many problems we as a society face today.  I am pleased to see other high schools challenging the institutional evaluations and hope that colleges welcome new ways to efficiently select their new incoming class of students.


What If Every Student Did An Independent Project?

How our youth can solve climate change

It’s not surprising to see the mudslinging between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials.  After all, who’s to blame for the insidious state of affairs that have developed over the decades?  Is it the selfish and indulgent Boomer who made tons of money on real estate (when it was nearly impossible not make huge financial gains buying houses in the ‘70s and ‘80s) or the entitled lack-luster Millennial who is strife with student debt, housing crises, and low-paying jobs? I’m not going to enter this contentious arena, but instead offer a solution that may bring everyone together – and could possibly save human civilization.

We need people who are not part of a government that has fired the scientists in our EPA and stripped funding from all climate-related research. We need people who aren’t controlled by special-interest groups whose hidden agenda is to make colossal profits and creates environmental degradation.  We need people who realize that we need to drastically reduce carbon emissions NOW and are willing to do the research, make personal changes, and promote community action. 

To do this, WE NEED OUR YOUTH!  Yup, it is going to be the Millennials who are going to bare the brunt of climate disasters and they are the ones who will pull us out – and yes, save the Boomers.  But the beauty here is that the Boomers are going to support the Millennials with their knowledge, experience, and funding, and the Millennials are going to do the work, spread the word, and ultimately save us all. 

Here’s how:

  1. Every high school and college student needs to do a project.
  2. Projects can be as simple as promoting alternative transportation or as involved as building energy systems or carbon sequestration solutions.
  3. Retired professionals will mentor the students as they complete each phase of the projects.
  4. Other Boomers will fund these projects and support/buy the products when they’re rolled out.

When 4 million students enter high school every year in the United States, just imagine how many problems they can solve before they graduate. Besides, these projects will help them get into top colleges/grad schools and win scholarship dollars! To learn more about how to do projects, check out ProjectMERIT. I’ve also written Beat the College Admissions Game: Do a Project! to guide students through the entire process of doing a project. 

So, let’s encourage our youth to find innovative solutions to climate change by supporting and guiding them through the process.  Stop the name calling and start working together. It’s going to take the Millennials to lead the 99% to save human civilization. 

Through The Looking Glass From A Millennial's Point Of View

Normally, I charge into the new year, pretty much the way I closed the previous year, with exhilaration, hope, and determination.  But this year, I’m worried about our future generations.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, we have “improved” our lifestyle by making things go faster, easier, and cheaper – and we have reaped the benefits of becoming an incredibly efficient and wealthy society.  Our children, however, are now facing financial uncertainty and the pressing question of how human civilization is going to survive the positive feedback loops caused by too much CO2 in our atmosphere – among other things.

Did you know that millennials…

… have 300% more student debt than their parents?

… tend to live with their parents rather than roommates?

… are delaying marriage longer than any previous generation?

… are half as likely to own a home as people their age in the 1970’s?

… are delaying having children longer than any generation in history?

… (20%) are currently living in poverty?

… will probably not be able to retire until they’re 75 years old?

Hey, if you’re not a millennial, don’t pat yourself on the back and look the other way.  And, don’t blame them for their predicament.  We need to support our youth as they venture into careers that will solve our social, environmental, medical, and economic problems. Unless we help fix these problems and get our future generations back on their feet, all of the above will become the future America, and then we’ll all be in trouble!


6 Careers That Pay Over $75,000 Without A Bachelor's Degree

Did you know that bachelor’s degrees in performing arts, cinematography, and anthropology have a median salary of under $25,000? Umm.  That’s a 4-year degree! Now consider other careers that pay well over $75,000 that only require an apprenticeship or Associate’s Degree:

Physician Assistant: $112,200 (associate of science)

Elevator constructor/mechanic:   $106,900      (Apprenticeship)

Elect and comm engineering tech:  $91,700     (Associate in Science)

Millwright (install/repair machines): $82,500   (Apprenticeship)

Heavy-equipment operator:   $81,000               (Apprenticeship)

Fire prevention/safety technician: $76,400       (Associate in Applied Science)

That said, the highest paying jobs are in engineering, health sciences, and business.  But, be careful when choosing your major/career.  Many majors focus on specific skills, knowledge, and training, which means that when that niche market changes – or disappears due to technological advances – so, too, may your job!  With the ever-changing technological fields, make sure you’re keeping up.  Do your homework to ensure that you are on top of your game!


Brown Got Rid Of Student Loans For All Students!

Did you know that in 2016, the average student owed more than $35,000 in student loans? GASP.

Starting next year (2018-2019), Brown will eliminate all student loans and instead issue scholarship, which don’t have to be paid back. Now this is what elite, higher education should be. Only the best get in regardless of their ability to pay.

Countries from Sri Lanka to Germany to Norway offer free college tuition. Maybe, it’s beginning to catch on here in the United States…


What Every Parent Of A College Student Hopes To Hear

I don’t get many handwritten letters these days – with texts and emails offering quick messages with little effort. But last month, my daughter Nicole wrote a letter to Rob and me after she attended her 10-year reunion at Stanford that made me cry.

Mom and Dad

At my 10-year reunion, we all reminisced about our incredible shared experience at that incredible place. It also gave me the chance to reflect on the continued constant assistance that youve provided over the years, even after I left home. Knowing the tuition costs involved, I want to thank you. Thank you for the emotional and financial support.

It has afforded me great freedom from the worry and oppressive debt facing many others in my generation. I am just beginning to understand and appreciate what you did for me.

So, thank you again.

I love you both so much.



To all parents of college students, they really do appreciate your sacrifice and dedication to giving them a college education – even if they don’t say or write it!   

UC Offers Extension on Nov 30th Transfer Deadlines!

If you missed the November 30th deadline for transfer applications this year, you’re in luck!  For UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced, the new transfer deadline is January 8th

The UCs are making a concerted effort to enroll more transfer students across all campuses this year.  So if you were considering UCs and were worried you weren’t a strong applicant, try applying to these 3 campuses and you just might get in!  Good luck!

Discrimination in College Admissions: It's Not What You Think

Harvard is being sued by the Justice Dept because of their discriminatory admissions policies against Asian-Americans (not international students).  Apparently Harvard restricted admission of Asian-Americans to 18 percent in 2013.  A Princeton study found that Asian-Americans need to score 140 points higher on the SAT to have the same chance of admission to private colleges and the Ivy League. 

History repeats itself -- again.    

Back in the 1920s, when Jews were high-achieving minorities – just like the Asian-Americans today – Harvard, Yale, and Princeton changed admissions criteria from strictly grades and standardized test to considering leadership, volunteer work, and athletic prowess.  In doing so, this ensured that the Jewish admissions rates wouldn’t continue past 20% on this upward trend. These colleges needed to protect their legacies and aristocracies.

So Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were able to change the merit-based admissions policy to a quota system that would limit the number of Jews admitted each year.  Read the book ­The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel to learn how elite colleges blatantly discriminated against women, Jews, blacks, and others.

Look at colleges that don’t ban students based on their ethnicities.  Asian-Americans made up 34.8% of the student body at the UCLA and 42.5% at Caltech in 2013.  Elite colleges are worried that if they removed the race factor from the admissions process, Asian-American admissions would rise, while white, black and Hispanic numbers would fall.

Sounds to me like admissions committees are making discriminatory policies about whom they are admitting.  Why can’t the best students be admitted based on their own merit?


UC Application Update: What To Do About SAT Scores!

If you’ve taken the November SATs or plan to take the December SATs, enter the dates of the exams on your online application form.  Then, after you receive your scores, go back to the UC application (even if you’ve already submitted it) and enter your new scores.  You only need to do this for one of the UC campuses because all of the UCs will receive your updated SAT scores. 

If you have any questions, just contact us at 831.462.5655.  

U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" is Fake News!

Be careful when reading the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of “Best Colleges” because, well, the buzz among college advisors is that it is FAKE NEWS!  Yup.  Their rankings are really just measures of parent affluence and cater to the wealthy.

3 reasons why rankings are skewed:

1st: Student Selectivity:
Students who have better grades (private tutoring), strong SAT/ACT scores (private tutoring and test-prep programs), and don’t need financial aid (apply using Early Decision) have parents with deep pockets.

2nd: Faculty and Student Resources:
Professors who receive higher salaries and students who receive more resources cause tuition to skyrocket – often discouraging low-income students from applying.

3rd: Legacy Admissions:
Wealthy parents who donate generously to their alma mater, receive preferential treatment when their children apply for admissions.

Because parents rely too heavily on these college rankings, colleges redefine where their marketing dollars go to ensure that they inch their way up the U.S. News & World Report rankings. What’s missing in the criteria for these rankings is the college experience with professors, programs and opportunities.  Instead of reading these fake news rankings, read what the students say about their classes, majors, careers, and reflections.  Isn’t that what really counts?



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