Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Procrastinate Now - Don't Put it Off!

Are you having difficulties in producing the results you want because of procrastination? Are you keeping on delaying and putting things away in life? Don’t worry, you are about to discover how you can get rid of procrastination once and for all with 3 proven principles…
1) Create The Passion
Do you know that one of the main reasons people procrastinate is because they don’t like what they’re supposed to do? Just like some people procrastinate and delay in doing their homework, but they can have all the energy to watch a movie until late night or to play computer games. What do you love to do? When you do what you love, you will be able to tap into your natural motivation and bring out your inner potential. Successful people are able to come up with motivation all the time because they are doing what they love.
Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Michael Jordan, etc, all of these great people are doing what they love, that is why they are able to overcome procrastination and produce outstanding results in their life.
If you don’t love what you do, you will find all sorts of excuses to not do it. You will say that you don’t know how to do it, you don’t have the time for it, or simply you just don’t wish to do it. And in order to be successful in life, you have to go through tough times. Hence, you need the inner motivation to push you through. If you don’t love what you do, you will just quit when you face with obstacles.
So do what you love and tap into your inner motivation to get things done. What if you don’t like the task but you still have to do it? Just like you don’t like to do your homework but you still need to submit it? Well, you can be creative and try to find fun while doing it. Invite your friends to do the chores along, listen to your favorite songs while doing your homework or simply put yourself on the line where you have no other options but to get it done.
2) Build The Success Cycle
One very important principle that you must understand if you want to overcome procrastination is that you must always start small. Yes, you have to dream big so that your dreams can inspire you, but when you start, you must start small. Just like if you want to adopt the habit of jogging every morning after you wake up. You have to tell yourself that your minimum commitment is to get changed and jog for only 5 minutes. You don’t have to do it for 1 or 2 hours as a start. You just need to start so that you will build up the momentum. And trust me, if you are able to jog for 5 minutes, you will never stop there.
Most people are too ambitious and they wanted to start big. They are too rushing for big results in the beginning. This is what paralyzes most people because your brain can tell whether it can be done. If the task is too heavy and you cannot get it done, your mind will sabotage it because you simply don’t believe that it is possible to do. Another key point about starting small is that when you start small, you definitely will achieve some results. And when you see results, you will feel more confidence and you will want to do more of it.
Just like if you want to write a book, you don’t have to do it one go. You can just set your minimum commitment as to write just one page, or if writing one page scares you, commit to only write a paragraph a day. Of course, once you started writing, your creativity juice will flow, you will build up the momentum and you will continue to write once you have achieved your “write one paragraph” goal.
If you apply this strategy by starting small, you will eventually turn the small action into your habit. And once it has become your habit, you will be able to reap the reward you want in the end. The key in starting is to make taking action your habit. When you take small action, you will create small result. When you created small result, you will build more confidence and wanted to do more. It becomes a success cycle and which will eventually becomes a success habit.
3) Punish And Reward System
A very powerful way to force yourself into commitment and overcome procrastination is by applying the punish and reward system. What you can do here is to punish yourself if you did not get your tasks done and on the other hand, reward yourself if you get the tasks done.
For example, if you have to write an article by today, but you procrastinate and did not do it, you should punish yourself to do it at night when you are aware. Stay up late if you need to and no movie or games as punishment. And if you get the article written on time, you can reward yourself with a cup of your favorite beverage, watch a movie or play computer games. Remember, no fun or relax moment if you did not get your task done. And if you get it done, give a pat on the back yourself.
Another great way to implement this is to do it in the 60/60/30 principle. What it means is that you focus in doing your task for 50 minutes, and then rest for 10 minutes. You have to be super focus in working on your task. No distraction and only doing the task for 50 minutes. Once the time is up, stop right away and rest for 10 minutes. Even if you’re half way writing an article, you have to stop. The 10 minutes is for you to refresh your mind and take rest. Grab a snack if you want to. After that, continue to work on your task for another 50 minutes, and take another 10 minutes rest. Once you have completed the first 2 blocks of 60 minutes, take a 30 minutes rest.
The principle behind 60/60/10 rule is that you want to make sure you focus in doing just one of your tasks at a time and make sure you get some refreshment so that you can continue to work for the long run. This principle is very powerful, try to implement it and you will see the result.
These are the 3 proven principles how you can overcome procrastination. Clear your mind right now, get a piece of paper or grab your journal, write down how you can apply these principles into your daily life so that you can achieve more and produce better results in life.

By Shawn Lim
Dumb Little Man 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How To Live a Life That Is Uniquely Yours

The biggest mistake people make in life is that they pursue dreams and goals without taking the time to discover what they are truly passionate about, and then allowing their dreams to unfold naturally as an expression of their passion and who they really are.
If you are doing something under the impression that you will be happy once you achieve this or that, or that you’ll love your job when you get that promotion, but not right now, then you are mistaken. Your happiness and your wealth (in the truest sense of the term) is determined by how you feel now, not by how you will feel when you achieve your goals.
When you make your happiness reliant on a potential future, all that you are doing is creating barriers in this moment from you being happy, being at peace, and thus being as effective and productive as you can be while working towards your goals.
If you are not in love with what you are doing, how can you reasonably assume that somehow you will fall in love with what you are doing later, much less be fulfilled by it?
The only way to a life of passion, happiness, and purpose that is uniquely your own and expression of who you really are, is to go from the inside out.
1. Follow Your Heart. There are people who say that it is a lie to tell people that they can achieve anything they set their minds on.
I agree.
But what is not a lie is that you can achieve anything that you set your mind and your heart on. When you can wholeheartedly do something, you do it with passion and enthusiasm. Moreover, whatever your heart is guiding you to do is the truth of who you are, and what you need to be doing.I agree.
To follow your heart, just start doing what you love to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, the more you try things and search within yourself for what you really love, eventually you will find it. Don’t just start picking new career options because you think that they are what you want, or because they appear to provide the lifestyle you want.
Live the life that you want now by doing more of what you love. Cultivate love by doing the things that you really love to do and you will be following your heart. Eventually that passion that you feel for what you are doing will find a way all by itself to create the life that you wanted to live all along.
If you are thinking about your family and your children and that you must provide for them, remember that they will respect a parent more who is filled with love and enthusiasm because they have the courage to do what they love every day, than a parent who provides all the financial means in the world but who is devoid of that love and passion which makes us human.
It is a preconception that you can’t earn a living doing what you love. And, it’s not true. There is always a way so don’t let your mind defeat you and distract you from following your passion. That doubt is the one thing that is keeping you from experiencing the true abundance, security, and freedom that comes from doing what you really love to do.
“Don’t need tools I’ve got my heart.” – Jack Johnson
2. Follow Your Curiosity. While following your heart gives you direction towards your passion and purpose in life, following your curiosity provides the foundation of knowledge for you to make your dreams reality.
By choosing to follow our heart and our curiosity we are deliberately choosing to leave behind our limiting beliefs and ideas of ourselves, and step into unlimited potential. We are choosing consciously to change our level of awareness by literally choosing a whole new way of being. Our curiosity is a manifestation of a deeper aspect of ourselves that is trying to surface, which includes with it the talents, abilities, potential and passion you never knew you had.
Follow your curiosity fluidly and you will expand your mind and you will grow exactly in the way that you need to be growing, and you will learn all that you need to learn because you will be tapping into a greater, unfathomable aspect of yourself and creation which will guide you perfectly to where you need to go. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement address:
“Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.”
3. Never stop learning. If you followed the first two steps, then not only will you be absolutely fascinated by what you are doing with your life and what you are learning, but you will also love it immensely and be irrationally passionate and enthusiastic about it.
Fascination, curiosity, enthusiasm, passion: these are all essential qualities for success.
If you followed the first two steps then it will be easy to never stop learning because you will be exhilarated by what you are doing! What more could we ask for as human beings than to be filled with curiosity and fascination every day while doing what we love? The more you learn the more you grow, and the more that you learn in alignment with your dreams, the more powerful you become at what you do.
“Power rests on the kind of knowledge that one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless? They will not prepare us for our unavoidable encounter with the unknown.” – Don Juan
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify. The less time you spend doing things you don’t want to do, the more time you have to spend doing what you love to do.
Sometimes I think that this is the key to life.
Most people spend their time thinking thoughts that don’t make them happy and which don’t produce uncontrollable feelings of love, or they do things they don’t like to do out of some form of obligation, or work at job they don’t like to make ends meet, and so on.
What we really need is time. There is more than enough time in the day for all our passions and dreams and family time to co-exist perfectly but we waste it doing things we don’t love to do!
If you really want to change your life, take the risk and start cutting out all those things you do that you know don’t make you happy, but which you think you have to be doing. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. And when you stop doing those things, you’re free.
Simplify not only how you think, and what you do, but also simplify your purpose and your dream. The more focused your dream becomes, the more definite it becomes. Instead of reading 3 books at a time on your subject, read one book wholeheartedly. Put some of your other passions aside for a while and focus on the one that fills you with energy and enthusiasm. See if you don’t actually enjoy it a little more when you don’t have to stress about fitting all those other things into your day.
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee
5. Be persistent. In many ways life is a lot like meditation. Perhaps that is why meditation is the key to life, and the key to unlocking your potential. In meditation, it doesn’t matter how many times you are distracted by your thoughts and become involved in them, what counts is how many times you bring yourself back to the silence between your thoughts.
If you can persistently bring yourself back when you get distracted, you will make progress until eventually your thoughts only crop up occasionally, or not at all. It is inevitable with practice. Just like the realization of your dreams will be with persistence. It doesn’t matter how many times you appear to fail, or how many times you lose focus. Everyone makes mistakes. It is part of life, and it is part of learning.
If you are doing what you love every day, if you are always learning, and if you are always following your curiosity, then you will always be growing and it will be nearly impossible to feel like you have failed … ever.
Failure can only exist when we have not learned from our mistakes. Yet as soon as you do learn from mistakes, with the gift of hindsight you will discover for yourself that your whole life was somehow orchestrated perfectly to get you to where you are now.
Be persistent in doing what you love and following your dreams and never will you regret a moment of your life, and if you can stick with them when things get difficult, as they always do, or when doubt creeps in, if you can stay steadfast in the course you have set for yourself you will meet with success.
Michael Jordan hit the most game-winning shots for his team in the whole history if the NBA, but what most people don’t know is that he also missed more game-winning shots than anyone else in the history of the NBA. In the words of Josh Waitzkin, “What made him the greatest was not perfection, but a willingness to put himself on the line as a way of life.”
Put yourself on the line, and see for yourself what you can become when you learn to deal with failure, but stay persistent in your commitment to you dreams, and maintain integrity in your expression of who you really are.
7. Meditate. I was going to put the last step as believing in yourself, but I chose not to because when it comes down to it, meditation is more important.
Don’t get me wrong, believing in yourself is absolutely essential. But the best way to believe in yourself is to experience your infinite potential, your power, your creativity, and your life purpose directly. And that is where meditation comes in.
When you learn how to get into the gap between your thoughts, something truly amazing happens. You feel the boundaries of who you thought you were begin to dissolve and fall away, and you experience yourself as something truly pure … and powerful.
Pure energy, consciousness, spirit, love, power, potential, whatever you want to call it, for it makes no difference. The point is that when you start to enter that awareness, that space between your thoughts more frequently, you start to center yourself in a place where nothing can ever go wrong and where you realize that you are perfect and complete in every way.
If you want to experience your true power directly, then meditate. Not only will you experience what you are capable of as you learn to identify with the infinite potential of the space between your thoughts instead of your thoughts themselves, but you will also discover who you are and thus become more attuned to what you love doing, what you’re curious about, and so on.
Then not only will you know that you are magnificent, but you will be able to experience that magnificence any time you want to, and channel it into all that you do.
Follow these steps, embody them, become them, and happiness will be your way, and you will be able to achieve anything and get exactly what you want in life, because you will become exactly what you always wanted to be.


Dumb Little Man

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why it's harder than ever to get into an elite college?

U.S. college enrollment may be on the decline, but for those applying to America's elite colleges, the admissions process is "more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever," the New York Times reports.
For the second year in a row, Stanford University was tougher to get into than Harvard, accepting just over 5 percent of its latest applicants. It's the lowest acceptance rate among America's top colleges and lower than its 5.7 percent acceptance rate last year.
According to the Times, Harvard and Yale accepted about 6 percent of applicants, while fellow Ivy League institutions Columbia and Princeton accepted approximately 7 percent. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago each accepted about 8 percent.
Those rates have been shrinking. In 2005, Harvard accepted 11 percent of its applicants. The same year, Stanford accepted 13 percent.
The reason? Prospective students are hedging their bets and applying to more top schools, forcing those schools to reject a greater percentage of applicants in the deluge.
“Kids see that the admit rates are brutal and dropping, and it looks more like a crapshoot,” Bruce Poch, former admissions dean at Pomona College in California, told the paper. “So they send more apps, which forces the colleges to lower their admit rates, which spurs the kids next year to send even more apps.”
Another reason: Electronic applications and widely used forms, such as The Common Application, have made it easier for bet-hedgers to apply.
The Times report is not exhaustive, since admissions rates for many schools have not been released.
And, as The Washington Post points out, the rates are often misleading. Waiting lists are typically not included in the initial calculations. And colleges define applications differently. Some only count those  "that have all required elements in a file — essays, test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation," the Post notes. "Others essentially count anyone who starts the process and pays a fee."

Still, it's a useful, if imperfect, metric that helps answer the most common question that college admissions counselors get: What are my chances?

Lowest preliminary acceptance rates at top U.S. schools, 2014
• Stanford University: 5.1% (2,138 offers; 42,167 applications)
• Harvard University: 5.9% (2,023 offers; 34,295 applications)
• Yale University: 6.3% (1,935 offers; 30,932 applications)
• Columbia University: 7.0% (2,291 offers; 32,967 applications)
• Princeton University: 7.3% (1,939 offers; 26,641 applications)
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 7.7% (1,419 offers; 18,357 applications)
• University of Chicago: 8.4% (2,304 offers; 27,503 applications)
• University of Pennsylvania: 10.0% (3,583 offers; 35,868 applications)
By [Sources: The Washington Post, The New York Times]

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Top 13 Things College Admissions Officers Want to See

Public high school students can get into the college of their dreams.  All it takes is gumption, advanced planning, and guidance.  Students frequently want to know what colleges are looking for.  The reality is, there is no one perfect combination. Colleges want a range of students to create a diverse campus community, so students need to present themselves as a whole, showing off their own unique mix of qualities in the best way possible. As there isn’t one perfect combination, but rather may different ones, students should focus on the following: 

1. Choose the right high school classes.Take classes that are a challenge, including AP and IB, when possible. If a student takes classes that are all easy, this will not be very impressive.  Students need to challenge themselves but not to the extent they are hurting themselves grade-wise.  Students must also meet all high school course requirements for their chosen college and to meet statewide graduation requirements in order to earn a diploma. 
2. Get to know the college counselor.  High school counselors can help students with their big picture planning for the future, including academic advising, college planning and personal counseling.  College counselors are also needed for the all important college application letters of recommendation. Make an appointment to see a school counselor at least once each year, including freshman year. The goal is to try to build a relationship with the high school counselor during the four years of high school.  During the meeting talk about interests and goals. The more the school counselor knows about a student, the more he or she can help. Many public school students do not know their advisor, being proactive will make a student stand out.  
3. Keep the grades up.  Make a commitment to work hard for the good grades.  Students who find themselves falling behind should get help -- before they fall too far behind.  Grades count and schools look for students who have challenged themselves and expressed a passion for learning. There is a classic question, is it better to get an A in a regular class or a B in an AP class? The real answer is it is best to get an A in an AP class. For the majority of students, good grades are entirely necessary to get into a good school. Schools are looking for a positive pattern.  In the best-case scenario, a student maintains good grades throughout his or her high school career. Though, if the grades started off badly and then improved, colleges give points for this. If grades are too low or show a steady decline, then a student is in real trouble. Spending a night studying while friends go out may not be exciting, but the path to college needs to be looked at with a long-term perspective. 
4. Take standardized tests early.At most highly selective colleges, SAT or ACT tests are very important. The schools are looking to see if test score are consistent with – or exceed – a student’s high school performance. No student knows how high his or her score can go until the test results come in. But, if a student waits too long and does not get a desired score, there won’t be enough time to retake it. Many unexpected circumstances can affect test scores on any given day, including the state of a student’s health.  (It’s impossible to plan not to get food poisoning.) Taking the test early will also allow time to take a test prep course if necessary. Most students take the SAT and-or ACT at least twice and improve their score the second time they take it. Students must also make sure to schedule test days for the SAT Subject Tests. Most students take Subject Tests toward the end of junior year or at the beginning of senior year. The best time to take the tests is as soon as possible after completing the course in the subject. 
5. Do your homework and try hard.No matter what the class, even one with a loathsome teacher and boring subject matter, students need to do their homework, try hard, and behave. Keep the eyes on the prize: college. Plus, teachers are where college recommendation letters come from so you want to impress them.
6. Engage in the right mix of extracurricular activities.Admissions officers are looking for commitment and impact in a student’s activities. It is better to be highly involved in one to three activities and-or sports over a number of years, than less involved in many activities. Anyone can join 10 clubs and be marginally involved in them all. Schools are looking for a student to demonstrate the willingness to stick with something and make the most of it. Schools are not so interested in hearing about passions; they want to see them proven! Once a student finds the activities he or she wants to focus on, the next step is to work on becoming a leader or to demonstrate initiative.
7. Take the college application seriously.Students need to make sure they put time and effort into every part of the college application, from the essay to the resume.  The college essay gives admissions officers the opportunity to know who a student is and how that student might contribute to the college campus. It also gives the admissions team a chance to learn something about a student that they won’t find elsewhere in the application. Admissions teams tend to prefer thoughtful, authentic essays that show real interests and passions combined with complicated thinking and good writing. Extracurricular activities should be carefully written so a student can best highlight all of his or her accomplishments and experience. The best recommendations come from individuals who really know the student.  They should offer detailed information and-or personal stories about the applicant that back up the information on the application.
8. Do the research.Know what the choices are when it comes to colleges. This way any coulda, shoulda, woulda regrets can be avoided later in life. Research could be as simple as visiting a school’s website. Students should also try to attend college fairs, meet with admissions experts when they visit, and go on college visits. 
9. Maximize summer opportunities.High school students who want to stand out on their college applications should consider the summer an ideal time to add some resume gold.  Good choices include attending a summer enrichment program, taking a summer job or internship, participating in volunteer work, taking virtual classes, attending a dual enrollment program, or taking classes at a local college.
10. Develop any special talents or abilities.Students who do something extraordinarily well do gain an edge in the college admissions process. A special talent or ability can be anything including performing or visual arts, athletics, science, math, speech & debate, or writing. Colleges will look for evidence of a student’s accomplishments through recognition from others (i.e. awards, scholarships). They may also look for significant contributions that show the student’s depth of commitment and follow-through. (i.e. newspaper articles).
11. Get help as needed.Students who are having trouble with academics or other issues, or need college guidance, should seek help.  It is not hard to ask, though some students do find it difficult.  Adults who are in a position to help may not know if a student is struggling, if no help is requested.  Parents, teachers, expert independent college advisors can all help the process. 
12. Make smart decisions.Say no to alcohol, drugs and embarrassing usage of social media.  Don’t text and drive or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  One dumb mistake can ruin a student’s life. 
13. Banish the self-doubt.Fear of failure and doubting personal abilities only hold students back from achieving what they want to achieve. Just say no to these thoughts and others like them.
Different admissions directors seek different things. Some colleges look for students who are well-rounded, with a wide assortment of extracurricular activities, others give preference to those who have displayed a sustained passion for something. Be the best you, you can be.

Mandee Heller Adler is the Founder and Principal of International College Counselors

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The 5 Commandments for Saving Time and Reducing Stress

I know lots of people who would give anything to get more done and in less time. They typically respond by being rushed and harried everywhere they go and with everything they do. Such a stressful existence isn't the answer. Instead, here's a chance to have both productivity and freedom from stress. The answer lies in the 5 Commandments of Time Management:

Commandment #1: Organize your time

This first rule of thumb will make a dramatic difference in your effectiveness: keep one calendar and devote yourself to keeping it current. Stop spreading yourself thin between calendars on Outlook, on your smartphone, in your planner, and even on your kitchen refrigerator. Life is busy, and there are far too many chances for an important event to fall through the cracks. Commit yourself to one trusted location for your appointments, meetings and events. Yes, there will be other calendars you're issued at work, school or home, but those should be considered secondary. Spend a few minutes each morning transferring upcoming events from those calendars to your primary schedule. You'll save tons of time later by not scrambling to remember dates and times. Equally important, be sure to always keep your calendar on-hand. Being able to pull-up your schedule in a split-second empowers you to make better choices when setting upcoming appointments and it takes pressure off you having to remember your schedule. Stick with this rule, and you'll take a better command of your time.

Commandment #2: Prioritize your time

You may be busy today, but are you the right kind of busy? It's all a matter of priorities. Far too often people spend their days doing busywork instead of focusing on the important tasks. Here's how you prioritize what's important: 1. Think about the top 5-10 items you want to accomplish today and make a to-do list in your daily planner. Keep it realistic to the time you have available. 2. Prioritize your to-do list by ranking the activities by importance. Assign them a letter A, B, or C using this criteria: * A tasks must be done today, and carry undesirable consequences if not completed * B tasks need to get done, but you won’t be penalized if not * C tasks are things you want to do, can wait another day * Number your tasks in the order you want to complete them with the most important tasks going first Word of caution: Avoid the "kitchen sink" list, an overwhelmingly long list filled with everything that needs to get done, ever. It's a major source of one's anxiety and fears, and it sets you up for failure before you even get started. Instead, plan 3-5 high priority tasks you can realistically accomplish each day. You can spend 5-minutes each morning and effectively get your priorities set for the day. It's a vital step to getting more done and staying on track with what's important.

Commandment #3: Protect your time

Time is your most valuable currency, so don't allow yourself to waste it. To do this you must avoid the common distractions that knock your productivity off-course. Try scheduling a daily "Distraction Free Hour" in your planner. Then, shut your door, unplug from the internet, turn off your phone, and blot out any other external noise that steals your time. Another good way to defeat your worst procrastination habits is to keep a work log where you track what you've accomplished each hour. That way you can learn your weaknesses and self-correct. For example, if you often get sucked into Facebook and other entertainment websites then unplug and go offline for one hour, twice per day.

Commandment #4: Balance your time

You've long been told that success comes from working longer and harder, and by "burning the midnightoil." But it comes at a cost – your other commitments will suffer from neglect. The key is to find balance between work and life. Here are some more suggestions: 1. Choose a personal goal to work on each week and schedule tasks. 2. Include activities from all categories of life in your daily to-do list. 3. Schedule a repeating family event such as Thursday game night. 4. Use the downtime in your day to accomplish personal tasks, such as reading, exercise, calling a friend, or meditation. Schedule these activities in your day planner calendar to ensure you don't skip it. 5. Designate a daily exercise time, such as an early morning run or a lunchtime walk. 6. Unplug at home. Turn off the television, internet and smartphone and enjoy the lost art of conversation with friends and family. In order to be truly productive, you need to include tasks from all facets of life, like grocery shopping, fitness, yard work, personal finances, and of course quality family time. Try one of the above ideas each week and you'll soon develop habits that create a more balanced life.

Commandment #5: Enjoy your time!

Don't wait to get organized tomorrow. Instead of struggling through your days and weeks waiting for the weekend to come, enjoy your time in the here and now. Here's the secret: it's all about putting yourself in the driver's seat when it comes to your time. Gain control of your time by using the daily habits above that will make you more proactive about setting your schedule, your to-do list and your priorities. When you're making the right choices with your time each day, you'll enjoy more productivity, will get more work done in less time, and enjoy more time to do things for yourself and your family. You can live a richer, more fulfilling life that is free of stress. So, what's stopping you? Start today by living by the 5 Commandments of Time Management.

The Author Jeff Doubek shares his expertise on time management and productivity at the Day-Timer Blog. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

California universities may see return of affirmative action

SACRAMENTO – Patrick Chen will never forget the cautionary tales he heard before sending in his University of California application.
“I remember how there was a myth even as I was applying to college that my ethnicity would disadvantage me in getting into UC,” said Chen, a 22-year-old who serves on the board of UCI’s Asian Pacific Student Association.
But the fifth-year computer informatics major made the cut, and demographic data shows that his success shouldn’t be a surprise: Asian American students are the predominant ethnic group on the UCI campus, making up nearly half of freshman admissions in 2013, and 36 percent across the UC system.
Still, Chen’s experience highlights the deeply divided views over the roles of race and ethnicity in admissions to California’s public universities, an issue that has reignited in the state Capitol.
State officials last week agreed to create a task force to review whether the University of California, California State University and community colleges should change their procedures with the aim of broadening college access.
The soon-to-be-named panel comes after a proposal to ask California voters to let university officials consider an applicant’s race. But the idea ran into swift opposition from some Asian American groups.
“I think the conversation is long overdue,” said UC Irvine Vice Chancellor Thomas Parham, while discussing the merits of the 1996 ballot initiative that struck down affirmative action in California.
Parnham, also active with the 100 Black Men of Orange County organization, added the ban on affirmative action has “had an interesting and, some would argue, devastating effect on certain elements, felt most acutely in the African American community.”
California became the first state to ban affirmative action in college admissions when voters approved Proposition 209. That policy, which went into effect in 1998, prohibits state institutions from “discriminating against or granting preferential treatment” on the basis of race, sex, or national origin in employment, contracting and college admissions.
Student diversity statistics within the UC system shows admissions among black and Latino students significantly declined after the policy went into effect. Despite some gains, those groups continue to be underrepresented, while the percentage of Asian American students at UC greatly outpaces the rate of Asian high school graduates in California.
But some groups argue that their childrens’ chances for getting into college could be hurt if affirmative action is allowed when considering admission.
“We felt this is really discrimination,” said Olivia Liao, president of the 40,000-member Joint Chinese University Alumni Association. “When you talk about higher education, it should be based on merit and that should be the only criteria.”
The proposed constitutional amendment in favor of affirmative action for university admissions came from Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina. The idea was to address the racial disparities in the state’s higher-education system. When the initiative passed the Senate in January, he said the state is suffering from inequalities caused by Prop. 209 and that his measure would help “keep that talent pool right here in the state.”
UC’s admitted freshman class last fall was 36 percent Asian, 28 percent white, 27 percent Latino and 4 percent black, according to university data. But state education data for high school graduates in 2012 shows this breakdown: 14 percent Asian, 31 percent white, 45 percent Latino and about 7 percent black.
At UC Irvine, less than 3 percent of those admitted last year were black, 20 percent were white, 25 percent Latino and 49 percent Asian.
UC officials say it’s challenging to reflect the state's diverse population on campus without taking race into account in admissions. In a brief supporting the University of Texas in an affirmative-action lawsuit, UC officials wrote that policies aimed at recruiting students across racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have shown “limited success” in reversing the admissions decline.
UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said UC officials never have and never would use a quota system. Any consideration of race would need to be “narrowly tailored” for use after other factors are considered, she said.
At the state’s largest public university system, California State University, admissions are based primarily on test scores and grade-point averages. CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said it’s unclear what effect the return of affirmative action would have had on policies at those campuses, where demographics more closely reflect statewide figures.
Opponents, however, said any consideration of race would be too much. Republican Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly blasted the measure at the party’s recent convention, describing it as “anti-American” and for the Asian community, “the greatest threat to their kids’ future.”
Orange County Supervisor and state Senate candidate Janet Nguyen also spoke out against the bill, saying it is unfair to treat any group differently. Additionally, the National Asian American PAC urged residents to call lawmakers and three Asian American state senators who had voted for the return of affirmative action later changed their minds.
But not all Asian American groups opposed the bill, which found support from the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Chen, too, backed the proposal, and as students began to sign a petition against the amendment he organized a forum to discuss misconceptions.
“I thought that this bill would allow for more race-conscious admissions, that it would be one small step in that direction,” Chen said, adding that it could help boost enrollment for Asian groups with less of a campus presence, like those from Southeast Asia, Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians.
Hernandez said “scare tactics and misinformation used by certain groups” convinced him that a broader statewide debate on the issue is needed before putting an amendment before voters.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said, “Access to higher education in California and what that means for the long-term economic prosperity of the state of California is too important to let it get reduced to siloed arguments.”
Liao and others concerned about potential changes say the yet-to-be-named task force should look at K-12 education instead of at university policies if they want to give underrepresented groups a better chance of being admitted. “They should raise their academic capabilities so they can really compete,” she said.
University funding is another factor, with Perez saying the diminished funding during lean budget years may have had some effect on diversity.
UC Irvine’s Parham said part of the focus needs to be on re-framing how affirmative action policies and diversity are discussed. The relevant question, he said, is whether the structural inequities that affirmative action was designed to address are present today.
“If those structural inequities still exist, then what should we do to try to address those?” Parham asked.


Inside the admissions process at George Washington University

High school seniors around the country are nervously awaiting college admissions decisions. The Post's Nick Anderson explains a few unexpected factors school officials consider when choosing whom to admit.
Britt Freitag, an admissions officer at George Washington University, confessed she was “slightly nervous” about a candidate for the Class of 2018. His grades were solid, but not stellar. The student had taken some tough courses, but not as many as Freitag would have liked. Test scores, she said, were “definitely on the low side.”
On the other hand, Freitag told two other officers one recent morning, the student compared favorably to his high school classmates, wrote a good essay, showed impressive determination in activities outside class — and had a family connection to GW.
“I could go either way,” Freitag said.
“Either way what?” asked her colleague, Jim Rogers.
Deny or admit, she said, stumped. Her voice fell to a murmur. “You think maybe he’s a wait-list?”
This is the kind of conversation high school seniors across America wish they could hear but never will. For the past few weeks, teams of gatekeepers at colleges have dissected the academic and personal lives of these students in a matter of minutes to reach decisions that will chart their future.
College-bound students are on high alert as the Ivy League and other selective schools expect to issue verdicts within days on hundreds of thousands of applications. GW allowed The Washington Post to observe its deliberations in late February, providing a rare view of crunch time inside an admissions shop. It showed how the quest for students with brains, guts and desire shapes both the destiny of the applicants and the selective, private university that hungers to raise its national profile.
Everyone wants the formula for getting in. There is none.
The successful applications withstand probing of every line item, from high grade-point averages to that unfortunate 10th-grade C in chemistry. They also show evidence of a student who actually wants to enroll. But sometimes, what appear to be strengths also can be seen as weaknesses. Here is the back-and-forth:
Look at that gaudy GPA, 4-point-something. But how is it “weighted”?
Check out all those Advanced Placement courses. How many did the student avoid?
That’s a pretty decent SAT score. What was the math subscore?
This essay endears him to me. I’m biased because I think he’s charming.
I think he really could handle the work. He also brings some diversity. What’s giving me pause is that weak ‘Why GW’ essay.
With 19,025 applicants, GW probably will admit a little more than 8,300 in hopes of assembling a class of 2,350. Nationally, there are about 350 schools that turn down more than half of their applicants. A few universities are ultra-competitive, with single-digit admission rates, such as Harvard, Stanford and Princeton universities. GW’s admissions rate in the recent past has been comparable to those of Northeastern, Lehigh and Wake Forest universities. GW is somewhat less selective than that other private university in the nation’s capital with George in the name. (Free tip to GW applicants: Don’t refer to Colonials as Hoyas in your essay.)
Selectivity factors into GW’s national reputation. In 2012, the university lost its place in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top national universities after it acknowledged overstating the share of freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Last year, GW returned to the national list, ranked 52nd, close to where it was before.
That episode put a spotlight on the school’s admissions. But like most selective colleges, GW keeps its actual decision-making — case studies in a field of maddening subjectivity — behind a veil. Until now.
For all those who ever wanted to eavesdrop on the inner sanctum of competitive admissions — “The Committee” — this is what Yes sounds like in Foggy Bottom:
“Like her rigor, love her personals,” GW Admissions Director Karen S. Felton said before moving one New York student’s file into the admit pool. “I have ‘Leadership!!!!’ with four exclamation points. A-B girl. She has a great story. She’s a great student. . . . She feels GW to me.”

Astrid Riecken
The Washington Post
Karen S. Felton, left, director of admissions at George Washington University; Kimberley B. Gordy, senior assistant director; and Jim Rogers, assistant director, discuss application cases that need further discussion before a final decision can be made.

This is the language of No: “The boards are what they are,” Felton said of a Pennsylvania candidate’s test scores. “They’re pretty average. My bigger concern is what looks to be a declining GPA in a very modest senior year. . . . Yeah, I would agree with a deny.”
And this is the language of Limbo: “I don’t necessarily know that we want to throw him away right now,” Felton said of an international prospect who hadn’t cleared the bar but might get another shot. “I think he’s really interesting. He sounds like a great fit. So, yeah, I would ‘possible’ him for now.”
Felton oversees 22 officers in a floor of cubicles and conference rooms at GW’s Rice Hall on I Street NW. A graduate of Goucher College with a master’s degree from Syracuse University, Felton worked in admissions at Johns Hopkins UniversityGeorgetown University and the University of Maryland before arriving at GW in 2010. She was raised by a single mother and was the first in her family to go to college, a background that the 47-year-old said gives her “some insight” into certain applicants. “Striver” and “grit” are not just buzzwords for her.
Most of the year, the officers are recruiters. They range across the country and through parts of Europe, Asia and Latin America, spreading the word about a school they hope will leap to mind for anyone who craves the experience of an urban research university with 25,000 students a few blocks from the White House.
In the winter, they hole up and read. A lot. Each officer goes through about 30 files a day, 40 if they’re on a roll. Everything is done electronically. Paper was ditched in 2005.
The first read is crucial. GW officers are empowered to admit or deny if the case is clear-cut.
In: The standout student, a mover and a shaker, aces the most demanding curriculum offered, sets the tone for classroom interaction, understands GW.
Out: The so-so student, with few tough classes, an undistinctive personal story and a thin sense of the university.
These are provisional decisions, subject to reshuffling. But Felton makes clear that she gives great weight to the judgment of officers such as Freitag.
A graduate of Hamilton College, 27 years old, Freitag came to GW in 2012 after admissions gigs at Catholic University and the Corcoran College of Art and Design. One morning she set down a can of Illy espresso, popped open her laptop and plunged into files from a high school in the Northeast. GW’s standard practice is to read all the applications from a given school consecutively. That means classmates get compared. Contrary to popular belief, she said, there are no admission quotas per school.

Astrid Riecken
The Washington Post
Britt Freitag, 27, senior assistant director of admissions at George Washington University, sits at her desk, where she reads applications. Freitag and several other “readers” are reviewing about 19,000 applications.

“A huge misconception,” Freitag called the quota theory. “We read in school groups because then you get more consistency. It’s actually more fair.” Knowing as much as possible about a student’s school and classmates provides essential context, Freitag and other GW officers said.
GW allowed a Post reporter to observe Freitag and her colleagues at work on the condition that applicants and their high schools remain unidentified.
Freitag called up the file of a student who scored about 2000 out of 2400 on the SAT, a very solid mark. She read recommendation letters, jotting down key words to sum up how counselors and teachers feel about the student. “Sometimes they use funny phrases, like, ‘She’s a real sparkler,’ ” Freitag said.
She dived into the transcript and started counting. First the number of “core” classes per year a student took in English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages. Not core: classes such as band, physical education and drama. Then the number of AP, honors and International Baccalaureate courses. Then the number of A’s and B’s in core classes.
“Uh-oh,” she said. “Got a D.” Freitag made a note.
Every C, D or F in a core class gets discussed in the admissions review. (An F is not a disqualifier. One applicant with an F in math who later made a big comeback was admitted.)
Freitag skimmed the extracurriculars, read the first essay, rated it good. GW also asks students to list a role model and two words to describe themselves. As for herself, Freitag said, she would list “Martha Stewart/Tina Fey” and “sassy/classy.” This year, she’s seeing a lot of Edward Snowden citations.
She scrutinized a supplementary essay on what excited the student about GW. She noted a campus visit. She called the student’s interest solid and specific. Sometimes, she said, applicants write mostly about Washington, D.C., rather than the university. Or they just write about themselves. Not helpful.
At the end, Freitag said she was in “a predicament.” Questions about the transcript were balanced by strong test scores and other pluses. “The perfect candidate to come to committee,” she said. About half of applications do.

Astrid Riecken
The Washington Post
Karen S. Felton, director of admissions, right, and Britt Freitag, assistant director, discuss application cases.
Astrid Riecken
The Washington Post
Political science sophomore Colin Davies, 19, takes care of incoming mail sent by applicants at the admissions office at George Washington University.

Committees vary from one college to another. Some are rather large. Georgetown committees include students and faculty. GW goes for efficiency. Typically its committees are made up of three people. One officer presents files; two listen and respond.
When they’re humming, Felton said, committees can decide 20 or more cases an hour. Three minutes apiece to resolve files on the bubble.
Chatter in the President’s Room on the second floor of Rice Hall was rapid-fire the next morning as various officers took turns presenting to Rogers and Felton. It was too early to break out the usual committee fuel: Skittles. Rogers, 31, a veteran of political campaigns and Bentley University admissions, brought a can of ­sugar-free Red Bull.
First the presenters recounted “rec-words” from counselors and teachers, to give an initial sense of applicants from those who know them well. One was said to be “balanced, open to risks, a good time manager,” another “conscientious, compassionate and ­detail-oriented.” Recommenders called a third “intelligent, affable, determined, a caring young woman, really sweet” and said she “has a ‘wow’ factor.”
Next came summaries of course-and-grade tallies compiled from transcripts, test scores, highlights from extracurriculars, educational attainment of parents, a summary of essays and other items that struck a chord. Sometimes race or ethnicity was mentioned. If a student was a “first-gen,” shorthand for first generation in the family to go to college, that came up. Same if a student held down a job. Same if there was a disciplinary record.
The committee agonized over an applicant who got into a disciplinary scrape as a sophomore but had been a straight arrow since. “I know it was 10th grade, but I don’t know, it’s a little bothersome to me,” Felton said.
The officers took a dim view of students who were coasting as they finish high school. One seemed to be “taking a lighter senior year,” Kimberley Gordy said. “That, therefore, makes the straight A’s less distinctive.” The candidate was destined for the waiting list.
Gender came up. About 55 percent of GW undergraduates are female. Several times, officers pointed out that a candidate was male. Rarely did that happen with female applicants. “We have fewer males in the pool,” Felton said afterward. That doesn’t mean men get an edge, she said. “But I notice it when it’s being presented.”
Officers noted which students were the children of lawyers and which had parents who were a cook and a housekeeper. But there was no discussion of financial need. Before making final decisions, GW planned to run a total need analysis for the class Felton wants to admit. The goal is to ensure there is enough money to help needy students attend a university where tuition, fees and room and board top $58,000 a year. At that point, some tentative decisions might be reversed to boost the financial-aid budget. That could help a few borderline students from affluent families.
Last year, senior associate provost for enrollment management, Laurie Koehler, acknowledged this “need-aware” policy, which is common nationally. Her statement caused a stir.Previously, the university had claimed that aid requests did not affect admissions decisions. Koehler, who came to GW in 2013 after heading admissions at Bryn Mawr College, knew the claim didn’t square with practice. So she set the record straight.

Astrid Riecken
The Washington Post
Karen S. Felton, right, director of admissions at George Washington University, and Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management, are reviewing about 19,000 applications.

Transcripts got far more scrutiny than tests. “Grades and rigor trump scores,” Felton said.
But officers complain that some schools seem allergic to giving out any marks lower than an A or a B. “The grade pool is so inflated, watered-down, it doesn’t really mean much,” one said.
Test scores provide backup in those situations. Last year, the middle half of all SAT scores for students admitted to GW ranged from 1840 to 2060. The committee frequently alluded to this range, part of what is known as GW’s “profile.”
“B student,” Felton mused over one. “Scores slightly below profile. But she does bring some diversity, and she’s interested.” Verdict: wait-list.
Family connections came into play a few times. The file that had stumped Freitag tied Felton and Rogers in knots, too.
“I’m going to go out on a limb,” Felton said. “Male. Solid rigor. B student.” She hesitated. “Aayyy. . . . I’m gonna agree.” Green light: admit. The officers were mindful of how much each admission means to a university that wants to rise from the pack. GW now needs this student to say yes, too.
“Better come,” Rogers said.
“He better come, yeah,” Felton said.

By Nick Anderson, The Washington Post