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Decision Time: hard choices and free knickknacks

Isabel Rodriguez-Vega is a senior at Skyline High School in Oakland.

College acceptance and decision time is much more exciting than the application process. Suddenly the tables have turned, and the colleges that you desperately tried to win over are now hoping you will choose them over the others. They start sending an endless amount of letters telling you how great they are and sometimes attempt to woo you with gifts. I’ve actually received a T-shirt and luggage tag from two schools.

But when it really comes down to decision time all this stuff is useless in helping to make your decision. Continue Reading

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New Census data on college degree, earnings


photo by Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau (source: Current Population Survey) found that workers with bachelor’s degrees, on average, earn $26,000 a year more than workers with only high school diplomas. It also found that a greater percentage of adults graduated from high school and college in 2008 than they did 10 years earlier.

You can see the breakdowns by race in the summary, as well as a link to the data tables, here. I wonder how many of those surveyed last year still have a job.

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College applicants feel the economic crunch

Diamond Broussard is a senior at Skyline High School in Oakland.

In light of our economic crisis, many college applicants, including myself, are feeling the burn. Students have been turned away from schools or wait-listed due to preservation or lack of funds by colleges. More students are applying to their own state colleges and others than ever before. The effects of these events have left many students undecided or unsure about their futures.

I found myself in oblivion when I realized just how much the economic crisis would affect college acceptances. I applied to about 13 schools. Though my GPA is average, my credentials are great, so I knew that I’d have a shot at the top state schools. I felt as though my chances were even better when two of these state schools sent me a supplement to find out more about me. So when I was rejected by them both, I was confused. Why? That was the one question on my mind. Continue Reading

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Should Oakland stiffen its grad requirements?

Education Trust-West thinks so, and so does Brad Stam, OUSD’s chief academic officer.

Right now, less than 40 percent of Oakland’s high school seniors graduate with the requirements needed to attend a state university. At some local schools, Ed Trust reports, barely more than half of the classes offered count toward those 15 course requirements, known in the education world as “A to G.”


photo by Alison Yin

There seems to be a movement afoot to adopt those college requirements — a `C’ grade or better on all 15 “A to G” courses — as the new standard for graduating high school in Oakland. Continue Reading

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Some advice on middle school, from your friendly (elementary school) alumni


photo of Think College Now alumni panel by D. Ross Cameron/Oakland Tribune

There are probably all kinds of fancy ways to describe the transition from elementary school to middle school, but 13-year-old Nhat Tran probably put it best: “a small world to a big world.”

Nhat goes to Roosevelt Middle School now, along with another nearly 700 kids. He says he likes it “OK,” but he sure misses the nurturing cocoon that was his elementary school, Think College Now. Continue Reading

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Generation Recession


image from buckle1535′s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

I saw two stories in the New York Times this weekend about how a prolonged recession might affect children and teenagers — one about how it could shape their ambitions and values in the long-term, as the Great Depression did for those born in the 1920s, and another about how the economy has complicated the college admissions process (for colleges).

Looking for a silver lining? Here’s what the Times story had to say about what some are calling “a students’ market” in college admissions:

Colleges have been in the catbird seat for the past decade or so. As the number of high school students swelled, applications rose, allowing colleges to be more selective. And families benefiting from a flush stock market seemed willing to pay whatever tuition colleges charged. Continue Reading

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Happy New Year! Now, about that financial aid…

Just as college-going high school seniors have caught up on their sleep over the holidays, they face another round of application deadlines — this time for scholarships and financial aid.

Fortunately, they and their families don’t have to figure it all out on their own. Next Tuesday evening (Jan. 13) at Oakland Technical High School is the first of at least 11 multilingual Cash for College workshops (put on by the California Student Aid Commission) to take place across the city before the March 2 federal financial aid deadline. You can find the workshop locations and times here.

Then, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, California State University, East Bay is holding its annual Latino Education Summit, open to everyone. Continue Reading

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Bringing in the New Year

The year 2008 was a very rewarding one.  I accomplished many things and learned a great deal about myself as a student.  I accomplished success in my AP classes and as an officer of the Black Student Union at my school.  I learned that if I apply myself, I am a great student.  I also learned that I prefer history tests to the SAT and the ACT any day.

Many things happened this year, some good some bad.  Our school went through a rough time due to a lack of administration, but we are doing just fine now.  I experienced difficulty in some classes, but summer school ended up being a rewarding experience.  College applications were overwhelming, but now I am reaping the rewards — with my first acceptance, to San Francisco State University! Continue Reading

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Advanced Placement prowess

Here’s some happy news for your Thanksgiving week: 116 Oakland public high school students have been named ”AP Scholars.”

That means they have earned a score of 3 or better (out of 5) on three Advanced Placement exams. Only 18 percent of the 1.6 million AP test-takers nationwide can claim that distinction, according to the College Board (via OUSD release).

Here are the number of AP Scholars at each high school: Continue Reading

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College Applications: Not so simple after all

Hello again. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the free time to blog but I thought I would add a recent update on what senior year is like at Skyline. For starters the school seems to be functioning well enough, much smoother than last year. Mr. Sye does seem to have things under control and I’m starting to hear all these new announcements about students who are tardy to class starting next week will be detained (maybe it’s just me but that made me chuckle awkwardly considering how much we’ve been reading about the Patriot Act in government class).

I’ve been enjoying my senior year but it is crazy busy. I’m currently loaded down with three AP classes, plenty of homework to keep me busy, a job three days a week, participating in three clubs while running one of them, and trying to apply to colleges all at the same time. Yes… my head starts to explode probably every other day. Let’s just say I HIGHLY recommend that every student in this type of situation use a day planner… it’s been saving my life.

As for colleges, I’m starting to get overwhelmed and a little lost. Continue Reading