Considering Working in the Trades

An NPR story from a year ago featured a student, Allison Hughes, who elected to forgo a standard 4-year college education and instead attend Bunker Hill Community College while apprenticing with NStar, a Massachusetts utility company.

While gaining her associates degree she was taking the required general education courses English, math, computer science, as well as the occupational specific courses in AC and DC theory, physics and engineering.  Her total annual expenses amount to $1,200. Once she finishes her coursework she will, in all likelihood, ply her skills with NStar. Yet, what makes others pause before following Allison’s path is the type of work she will be doing. In one of her apprenticeship sessions she was taught how to protect herself from an arc flash beneath a manhole cover in an underground electrical substation.

Trade labor can be dangerous—as noted above--dirty, disagreeable, and—perceived by some—as demeaning: it puts one on the vocational track—and that in itself is repugnant to many American families who want a future for themselves and their children that is filled with promise, challenge and rewards.

Yet, don’t discount the trades when it comes to promise, challenge and rewards. In the bestselling book, The Millionaire Next Door, the typical millionaire drives a pickup truck and has his own business in the trades. Further, In terms of opportunity, the demand for skilled electricians, as an example, is growing. More than half of the electricians in the US will be retiring over the next 10 years opening up over 300,000 positions. Despite apparent opportunity, many students wonder if they will find any intrinsic value in trade work.    

Matthew B. Crawford, a PhD from the University of Chicago, who once toiled in a think tank, and now tinkers in his customized motorcycle accessary shop in Richmond, VA addresses this very question in his book Shop Class as Soulcraft. Laboring as, say, a mechanic, “brings pride in meeting the aesthetic demands of an engine rebuild.” You do a job and your work exhibits your proficiency for all to judge. Quite frankly, if you’re incompetent it becomes obvious immediately. Work isn’t a function of ‘celebrating potential rather than achievement;’ it’s all about what you have produced.   

Others discount the ‘cognitive demands’ of manual work. Mike Rose of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education in his groundbreaking book, The Mind of Work, carefully documents how certain types of work, such as carpentry requires planning, thinking through the job, anticipating problems, attending to details and working methodically. All are attributes found in many white collar job descriptions.  

Some become fixated on whether they are working in a white collar or blue collar job. Mr. Crawford notes that such labels really don’t matter all that much any longer. While call center workers are considered white collar, mechanics, blue collar workers, are generally considered more indispensable. After all, it’s very difficult to fix cars over the web.

The true visceral pleasure gained from working in the trades, say as a welder, is a sense of self-directed labor while approaching a job with ingenuity and time tested expertise. Welding with its mathematical calculations, symbols for types of welds, standards and codes all become embedded in the weld itself. An expert welder develops his or her own style and approach, much like a jazz trumpeter develops a voice: distinctively unique.

Obviously, no article is going to convince someone to forsake the well-worn college preparation path for a career in the trades. It just might be useful to know that there are alternative paths in finding pride, independence, and a strong sense of self-reliance through work. One can join the likes of Ray and the late Tom Magliozzi, both MIT graduates who worked as mechanics in their Good News Garage and were featured on NPR’s Car Talk. It might mean cutting your connection to a computer in a cubicle and picking up a wrench--a novel direction that might prove immeasurably rewarding.


The Importance of the College Essay Grows

The essay has always been an important factor in the admissions process: this year its import reached an even higher level.

This observation is a product of the sheer number of applicants plying their qualifications for spots in the most selective schools. The number of applications is staggering. If we just focus on the 10 most selective colleges in the US, the Ivy League, MIT, and Stanford, they admit annually about 27,000 students, while they receive over 305,000 applications. To compound the competitive nature of the admissions process, 8,127 admits were given during the early round, with most of them being Early Decision, taking those admission spaces off the table.

Consequently, for regular decision across these 10 campuses there were 297,000 applicants seeking the remaining 19,000 spots, for a collective admissions rate of 6.4%. Now consider the top 10% of candidates from this application pool, the highly competitive 29,700 students. Let’s filter them through the NACAC  (National Association of College Admissions Counselors) top 5 factors affecting admissions: 1. grades in college prep courses, 2. strength of curriculum; 3. standardized test scores; 4. grades across all courses; 5. Essays

 It can almost be taken for granted that this top 10% has high grades in college prep courses, come from programs with strong curriculum, did well on the ACT or SAT, and have solid grades across all their courses. The key differentiator among the top five factors is the essays. These essays must almost perfectly capture the key elements of who you are. This is usually best done within a narrative essay where your actions create character. You’ll need to edit, proofread, revise, get second opinions and make these essays as flawless as possible, 

At the University of California the importance of the personal statement is equally critical. The University of California has few means of appraising a candidate: GPA, test scores, activity and academic honor lists, and the personal statements. Then consider just how many applications the UC System must review. Freshman applications numbered over 500,000. At UCLA alone the number was over 85,000 for the fall 2014 class. Assuming the UCLA admissions office is reading all these over four months, seven days a week, to finish they’ll have to read over 700 applications a day, every day, for the entire four month period. Be merciful. Don’t bore them.  

Think long and hard about a topic that will uniquely present who you are. You want to come off the screen in three dimensions. Steer clear of what the crowd writes about. One admissions officer recently bemoaned having to read one more essay about building or repairing a school, house, or park in a foreign country, or creating a micro-finance project with goat herders in Nepal. Also do not write about a personal tragedy unless you have an uncanny sense of how to present it in a positive form. Some students seek to treat the essay as a personal therapy session. Trust this is not the forum to discuss suicides, divorces, feelings of insecurity, or calamities. Think of the essay as if it were your chance to sit down with the admissions officer and unveil yourself.

The essays must be personal and revealing, giving a sense of the true, honest you. You need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Nothing good is produced when you play it safe. The essay demands risk, adventure and bold, stark honesty,

A set of essays that worked with the Johns Hopkins admissions office begin with the following first sentences: “A blue seventh place athletic ribbon hangs from my mantel.”; “One fundamental rule of reincarnation is that you do not know your past life.”; “I was born in the wrong century.”; “Two years ago, I was a spy.” Do any sound bold or adventurous?

Start early, start now, and revise until they’re burnished. They reflect who you are and every word is under your control.  

Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.School)


  •          Virtually everyone can innovate
  •          d-School rankings on Bloomberg
  •          Non-degree program features three key precepts of innovation

 “Innovators aren’t exceptional as much as they are confident.” (WSJ, 17 October 2011, R5)

 “…virtually everyone has the capacity to innovate. It’s just that somewhere around fourth grade most of us stop thinking of ourselves as creative…so our ability to innovate atrophies.” (Ibid.)

These are the beliefs, along with a $35 million gift from German software entrepreneur Hasso Plattner, the co-founder of SAP, that have stirred David Kelley to create the d.School at Stanford. The program does not award degrees and is open to Stanford graduate students to learn what it takes to become more innovative. It warrants mention in this column because to survive in the years ahead every student will need to innovate and create both within the classroom and afterwards within their chosen careers.

The recognition by businesses of training  is measured in the popularity and growth of d.Schools. Bloomberg Business Week lists programs at, with d.Schools found on a range of campuses from Arizona State, to an alliance between MIT and  Rhode Island School of Design.

David Kelley wants us to resurrect our latent talent and stretch our limitless imagination around an ‘experience,’ a ‘design challenge.’ He knows that within each of us there is an ossified creative engine; it needs to be kicked into gear and we need to start ‘design thinking.’ That’s a lot of buzzwords that might seem daunting, but they shouldn’t. Design thinking works, and it’s a set of skills that evolve through experience. There is a mythical dimension to the creative process that innovative concepts appear as flashes, or bolts, from the heavens: certainly Hollywood had a bit to do with this perception, but the realities are that innovation is a developed habit and, again, most of us contain the key elements.  Three precepts must be instilled in us to unlock innovative thinking. Mr. Kelley tells us ‘we must be open to experimentation, become comfortable with ambiguity, and don’t fear failure.’ By the way, Stanford d.School actually has a K-12 lab where a lot of these processes are being used to create innovative curriculum and more effective teaching methods.

Here is how Mr. Kelley’s teaching model works. First a student is given a design problem. Yet, rather than just setting off to work on the problem, the student must define the problem in his or her own words, through research, and direct observation. The key is to get a visceral sense of what it is one is attempting to solve, why, and what are the constraints? Defining the challenge also allows for the problem to gel. The second step is ‘ideation.’ Groups of students, and beyond, with disciplines of all sorts: engineering, language, computer science, political science…the list goes on, collaborate in an attempt to brainstorm and visualize a solution.  In such a mix of views, conflicting and contrasting solutions arise and are encouraged. It is through such entanglements that truly innovative paths are illuminated. Moreover, going through this process of search and consideration gets students use to dealing with the wide open nature of innovation, and, more importantly, builds self -confidence with the innovative process.

The third step is ‘prototyping’. This can be done through a series of sketches, or CAD (computer aided design) modeling, or even creating 3-D images or models. It’s not important how the prototype is composed, what is important is to create as many as possible that can be tested, modified, and retested. The innovative process, done successfully is very hands-on and iterative. The more prototypes, the better:  it’s important to fail early and often to get to a plausible solution. This is the heart of design thinking.

Some of the fruits of the process include a number of spinoffs; d.light design produces solar powered lamps for developing countries; and, Alphonso Labs markets an iPhone application named Pulse for news reading. Altogether, wants you to get out and innovate. Yes, some innovations arise through associating two unrelated ideas, but even association is often abetted by questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting. These skills, in turn, can be honed through practice. You have the capability and capacity to innovate. Build confidence through action and your creative prowess will be boundless.  

Stanford 대학의 Hasso Plattner Institute of Design(d.School) 소개        

  •          모든 사람은 획기적일 수 있다
  •          의 Bloomberg 순위
  •          비학위 과정으로 혁신을 위한 3가지 원리를 제공한다

“혁신은 예외적인 것이 아니다…모든 사람은 혁신의 능력을 갖고 있다…단지 4학년 쯤에서 우리 모두가 스스로 창의적이라는 생각을 버렸으며…그래서 혁신할 수 있는 능력이 쇠퇴한 것이다.” (WSJ, 17 October 2011)

독일인 사업가 Hasso Plattner은 이런 신념으로 $35 million을 투자하며 스탠포드 대학 내에 d.School을 세우도록 David Kelley를 부추긴 것이다.  이 프로그램은 학위과정이 아니나, 스탠포드 졸업생들에게 혁신이 무엇인지를 알게 한다.  필자도 확신하거니와 앞으로의 세상은 모든 학생들이 공부나 직업에 있어서 창의적이고 혁신적이어야만 살아 남는다.

d.School의 인기도는 이 학교의 성장과 Bloomberg Business Week lists에 나타나며 (, Arizona State대학과 그리고 MIT, Rhode Island School of Design과도 연계되어 있다.

David Kelley는 우리에게 경험을 바탕으로 한 재능과 한계를 넘어 ‘design challenge’를 갖도록 원한다.  즉, 우리 모두 안에는 잠자고 있는 창의적 엔진이 있으며 ‘design thinking’을 하도록 시동을 걸어야 한다고 한다.  이러한 주장이 질리게 하지만, 그럴 필요는 없다.  디자인 사고를 할 수 있으며, 경험을 통한 기술의 집합이라고 할 수 있다.  창의적인 과정으로 나타나는 혁신적 개념은 번개가 천둥처럼 하늘에서 내려온 것이라 믿지만, 사실 혁신은 발달된 습관이며, 우리 모두가 이런 요소를 갖고 있다.  혁신적 사고를 위해서는 3가지 행동수칙이 일어나야 한다.  Kelley에 따르면, 실험에 노출되어야 하며, 모호성에 편안해 해야 하며, 실패를 두려워 하지 않아야 한다고 한다.  한편, Stanford d.School은 이러한 과정으로 이미 K-12 전 학년을 위한 혁신적인 교과과정을 계발하기 위한 교육실험실을 갖고 있다.

Kelley의 교수 모델은 다음과 같다.  첫 단계는 학생이 디자인 문제를 받는 것이다.  그러나 이 문제에 바로 시작하기 전에 학생은 문제에 대해 리서치와 직접 관찰을 통해 본인의 말로 정의를 내려야 한다.  열쇠는 문제에 대한 본능적 느낌이며 한계를 깨닫는 것이다.  그리하여 문제가 풀리도록 하는 것이다.  두 번째 단계는 ‘ideation’이다.  학생들의 그룹은 모든 전공들로 이루어져 있다: 공학, 언어, 컴퓨터 공학, 정치학 등등…  이 모든 종류의 학생들이 문제 해결을 위해 협동하고, 브레인 스토밍, 시각화를 한다.  이러한 여러 견해의 집합에서 갈등과 대조는 해결을 위해 조장된다.  이렇게 얽히고 섞인 관계에서 혁신적인 길이 열리게 된다.  더욱이, 조사와 고려를 거듭하면서 학생들은 혁신의 개방성을 이해하게 되고, 무엇보다 이러한 혁신의 과정에 자신감을 갖게 된다.

세 번째 단계는 ‘prototyping(정형화)’이다.  이 단계는 스케치, CAD (컴퓨터 디자인), 모델링, 3차원 이미지를 통해 이루어 진다.  정형을 만드는 것이 중요한 것이 아니다.  가능한 모든 것이 테스트되고, 고쳐지고, 다시 테스트되는 것이다.  이와 같은 혁신적 과정이 성공적으로 이루어지고 또한 반복되는 것이다.  정형이 많이 만들어 질수록 좋은 일이다.  또한 일찍 실패하고 다시 그럴듯한 해결을 만드는 것이다.  이러한 점이 바로 디자인 사고의 핵심이다.

이러한 과정의 열매는 d.School의 수많은 작품을 낳았다.  d.Light 디자인은 계발도상국에 태양열 전등을 보냈으며, Alphonso Labs는 새로운 독서를 위한 iPone의 app인 Pulse를 만들었다.  d.School은 여러분을 혁신적으로 만들어 내는 것이다.  정말 어떤 혁신은 전혀 관련없는 두 생각을 연결할 때 나타나기도 한다.  이러한 연결은 질문과 관찰, 네트워킹, 실험을 통해 종종 이루어 진다.  한편, 이러한 기술은 연습을 통해 연마된다.  여러분도 혁신의 능력과 재능을 갖고 있다.  행동을 통해 자신감을 갖고 여러분의 창의적인 기량을 펼치길 바란다.

The Engineering Major

  • Extensive Engineering information at College Board’s Majors and Career
  • Sloan Career Cornerstone Center
  • Learn Occupational Prospects
  • Rice’s Engineering Offerings
  • Many BS Engineering degrees take more than 4 years
  • BS/MS 3+2 Programs

Engineering programs attract students who like to design, develop, and create solutions, and who have an aptitude for structural visualization. Certainly, a burning curiosity and tenacity to wrestle with physical puzzles, such as building a tunnel through the side of mountain, is advantageous. If that description sounds as if it’s been extracted from your resume, the next step is to figure out which engineering discipline fits best: aeronautical, architectural, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical…the College Board’s Majors and Career homepage lists over 40 different engineering degrees.

Another website to help you gain an understanding of what becoming an engineer is about is the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, For example, let’s assume you’ve decided to major in chemical engineering. On the Sloan site there are profiles and interviews with over 25 chemical engineers working in the field for companies from Chevron to Genentech. Examples of what chemical engineers actually do also abound.

Information on earnings potential (median salary is just under $85,000), key associations, and career outlook is also there. The ‘career outlook,’ by the way, is discouraging for future chemical engineers: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a decline of 2% employment over the next 7 years. Considering the time and effort required to become an engineer, you might want to explore other fields that hold more promise. In any case, it’s good to do some basic research before entering into any pre-professional major.

What does it take to become a chemical engineer? An undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from an ABET accredited engineering program is required. There are a number of famous engineering schools with solid chemical engineering programs: MIT, Case Western, UC Berkeley, Cal State Long Beach, or Rice University. If we take a close look at Rice’s Chemical Engineering department, as an example, it offers both a BA and BS Ch.E. The BA program is not certified by ABET and falls about a semester short of the requirements of the BS degree. If you want to be a practicing chemical engineer, it’s best to get the BS. If you’re planning to possibly do something outside the realm of engineering, and a portion of Rice’s graduates do go on to medical, law, or other fields, then possibly the BA will do.

Obviously if you desire to become a licensed engineer (which requires also passing the FE-fundamentals of engineering exam; minimum of 4 years of engineering work experience;  passing the PE exam—professional engineering exam), as mentioned, a BS from an ABET accredited program is necessary.

Studying chemical engineering, or any engineering field, is not easy. Only about half of the engineering students are able to finish their degrees in four years. The engineering curriculum contains a full range of science courses: chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, thermodynamics, and of course, chemical engineering. Future engineers also need a range of electives in everything from language arts, computer science, geology and other courses that will supply the breadth and depth necessary to be successful. As with most disciplines, mixing the academic workload with coop programs (working in a business applying new skills) is revered by most employers. Summer internships with firms are also valued.

Additionally, many programs require the completion of a capstone course that culminates in a process or plant design, or some other final project that indicates certain mastery. Furthermore, the more independent research you can do, the better; especially if you think you want to attain a master’s.  A number of engineering 3+2 programs result in combined bachelors with master’s degrees. A good list can be found at

Engineering is a commitment to a demanding multifaceted profession. The workload is extensive, but the rewards, should you have the aptitude and drive, are great, depending on which engineering field you join. The key is to figure out what it is you plan to do with your engineering major and plan ahead to reach your goal. You’ve just taken the first step.



  • College Board에서 전공과 직업 찾기
  • Sloan Career Cornerstone Center
  • 직업적 전망
  • Rice 대학의 공학프로그램
  • 학부과정이 4년 이상이 걸린다
  • 학부+대학원:3+2년 프로그램

공학은 디자인하고 계발하고 문제를 해결하기를 좋아하는 학생들과 구조적 시각화에 적성이 있는 학생들에게 잘 맞다.  산을 뚫어 터널을 만드는 것과 같은 물리적 퍼즐 맞추기를 좋아하고 불타는 호기심이 있다면 더욱 잘 맞다.  만약 이러한 경향이 여러분의 이력이라면, 다음은 어떤 세부 전공이 잘 맞는지 골라야 한다: 항공, 건축, 화학, 토목, 전기, 산업, 기계….  College Board의 전공/직업란에는 40개의 각종 공학학위가 나열되어 있다.

또한 공학도가 되려는 학생들이 많은 것을 얻을 수 있는 다른 웹싸이트는 Sloan Career Cornerstone Center, ( 이다.   예를 들어 여러분이 화학공학을 전공하려 한다고 하자.  Sloan 싸이트에는 Chevron이나 Genentech에서 일하는 엔지니어 25명의 프로필과 인터뷰가 나와 있다.  그래서 화학공학자가 실제 무엇을 하는지 알 수 있다.

잠정 수입에 대한 정보 (평균 $85,000정도), 주요 단체, 직업 전망 등도 알 수 있다.  그런데, 직업 전망이 화학공학도에게는 밝지 않다: Bureau of Labor Statistics에서는 향후 7년간 2%의 감소를 예상하고 있다.  공학도가 되기 위한 시간과 노력을 감안할 때, 아마도 다른 유망한 세부전공을 택하는 것이 좋다.  아무튼 이런 기본적인 리서치를 하는 것이 직업전선에 나가기 전에 필요하다.

예를 들어, 화학공학자가 되려면 무엇이 필요한가?  ABET인증된 공학프로그램 대학에서 화공학전공이 필수이다.  많은 유명한 화공학과가 있는 대학들이 있다: MIT, Case Western, UC Berkeley, Cal State Long Beach, Rice University.   Rice 대학의 화공학과를 살펴보면, BA와 BS Ch.E를 동시에 제공한다.  BA 프로그램은 ABET에 인증되어 있지 않고, BS 보다 한 학기가 짧다.  만약 졸업 후 다른 전공을 한다면, Rice의 이 학위를 갖고 의학, 법 또는 다른 분야로 진출할 수 있다. 

만약 여러분이 면허있는 엔지니어가 되려 한다면 (FE 공학시험 합격, 4년의 공학계 실무, 전문 공학시험인 PE 시험 합격이 필요함), ABET 인증된 대학에서의 BS가 필수이다.

화공학이든 다른 어떤 공학분야이든 쉽지는 않다.  50%정도의 학생만이 4년 안에 학위를 받는다.  공학의 커리쿨럼은 다양한 과학을 필요로 한다: 화학, 유기화학, 물리학, 생물학, 열운동학, 화공.  미래의 공학도는 다양한 분야: 언어, 컴퓨터 공학, 지질학 등의 깊이와 넓이에서 많은 공부를 해야만 한다.  이런 공부와 겸하여, Coop 프로그램 (새로운 기술적용을 위한 실습)도 해야만 높이 평가받는다.  회사에서 여름 인턴쉽도 필요하다.

또한 여러 프로그램은 최고점에 이르게 하는 플랜트 디자인이나 숙련도를 보이는 졸업 프로젝트를 요구한다.  더욱이 개인 리서치를 많이 하면 할수록, 좋은 평가를 받으며, 석사를 준비한다면, 더욱 필요하다.  학사와 석사가 합쳐진, 3+2의 프로그램도 많다.  좋은 리스트를에서 구할 수 있다.

 공학은 직업에서의 다양한 요구에 맞추어야 한다.  일의 량도 엄청나지만, 보상도 높다.  여러분이 적성이 있다면, 맞는 공학의 분야를 택하면, 최선이 될 것이다.  중요한 것은 여러분의 공학전공 분야로 무엇을 계획하며, 여러분의 목표를 어떻게 달성하느냐는 것이다.  이미 첫 걸음은 내 디딘 것이다.

The Future of a Post-Secondary School System Currently Under Siege

  • Current College Educational cost structure cannot be maintained
  • Making College Education Scalable
  • Current on-line educational resources are numerous and are set to multiply further
Guessing the future, even if the guess is well off the mark, kicks the brain into gear. Guessing at the future of post-secondary education, however, is more like getting the brain kicked into a very low gear. Current news is stark no matter where you look. Post-secondary enrollments continue to grow, costs continue to escalate, and demographics continue to change. Examining some of these criteria, and making projections from them, though inaccurate, just might prove useful in picturing the future of higher education and our place in it. In 1999 there were 15,000,000 students enrolled in post-secondary schools; today, this number is just under 20,000,000. Expect this number to grow steadily and indefinitely at a 4% annual rate. Consequently, all areas of higher education are under stress as classes become lectures and, gaining access to required or popular courses becomes ever more challenging (meaning taking 5, 6, or even 7 years to earn a bachelors will become more the rule). Furthermore, being taught by professors on the tenure tract will become rarer: adjunct professors and teacher assistants (graduate students) will gain an ever greater portion of class time. College costs continue to rise: between 1982 and 2007, while median household incomes rose 147%, college tuition and fees increased 439%.  The cost of higher education is already unaffordable to many families. Yale University, which sports an annual $51,000 price tag, gives financial aid to 70% of its undergraduates; its average institutional grant is over $26,000.  This cannot continue many more years into this century, even in institutions with large endowments. Demographically, female is outstripping male enrollment at many of the most selective schools (females are 51% of enrollment at Harvard, and 59% at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). This trend will continue as we head into the 21st century. Additionally, 40% of post-secondary students are over 25. Trends also indicate that an ever growing portion of the post-secondary student mix will contain first-generation students, foreign students, and returning students. This is to be expected, as post-secondary enrollment mirrors the national population. Where are these trends taking us?  Undoubtedly, the Ivies, Stanford, and Dukes of the world will continue to be sought after. Reputation and need-blind financial aid assure this. For the vast bulk of students, however, most will continue to turn, in ever greater numbers, to the community colleges to begin their postsecondary schooling. More than 40% of US college students are now enrolled in community college. Ironically, because many classes within the 4-year schools are impacted, just visit any of the Cal State or University of California campuses (or just about any public post-secondary school for that matter) to confirm this, a number of four-year-college students are turning to community college to gain access to professors who teach, and to less expensive college credits. The big opportunity to address our post-secondary demands is and will continue to be distance learning-the virtual and scalable classroom.  As of 2007, over 4,100 of our 2-year and 4-year degree granting institutions offered college level educational courses. These distance learning courses garnered over 12 million enrollments. Outside of standard bearers of distance education: Devry University, Kaplan University, and the University of Phoenix, the number of ‘open courseware’ sites is exploding. Just go to You to get a sense of what’s out there,  Or go to ‘open courseware,’ at  and get complete classes (videos, notes, and tests) from Johns Hopkins, MIT and Tufts (to name just a fraction of the contributing members). Certainly these are tough times for post-secondary education, but it’s usually within the cauldron of difficulties that alternatives arise that might revolutionize our efforts and free our minds to attain new thresholds of learning and productivity. Now is such a time. The traditional classroom within the century-old university structure is being questioned on all levels, and alternatives, such as community college and the virtual classroom, are forging forward. Change in post-secondary education is assured thank goodness. Ralph Becker Founder, Ivy College Prep LLC -------------------------------------- 어려움에 처한 대학교육의 미래
  • 대학교육 비용은 감수하기 어렵다
  • 대학교육의 대안
  • 온라인 교육의 확장
미래를 추측한다는 일은 비록 표적을 벗어날 지라도, 두뇌를 작동시키는 일이다.  그러나 대학교육의 미래를 점치는 일은 일단기어로 천천히 움직여야 한다.  현재 뉴스는 어디를 보아도 갑갑하다.  대학 등록은 계속 증가하고, 등록금도 계속 오르고, 인구 통계는 계속 변하고 있다.  이런 기준들을 점검하고, 적용함으로써 비록 정확하지 않을지라도, 미래의 대학교육을 그려보며 예측할 수 있다. 1999년에는 1,500만 명의 학생이 대학에 등록하였고 현재는 2000만 명에 가깝다.  즉 연 4%의 증가로 학생이 꾸준히 늘고 있음을 알 수 있다.  결과적으로 대학교육이 강사들이 많이 담당하게 되었으며, 인기있는 강좌들은 수강이 힘들어 지고 있다(학사학위 받기가 5,6, 혹은 7년까지 걸릴 수 있음).  종신 교수에 의한 강의가 드물고 외부교수나 조교(대학원생)가 수업의 많은 부분을 맡고 있다. 대학 비용은 꾸준히 오르고 있다: 1982년도와 2007년 사이에 중산층 가계의 수입은 147% 상승했고, 대학 비용은 439% 증가했다.  고등교육 비용은 이미 많은 가정에서 감당하기에 벅차다.  Yale 대학은 연간 51,000불을 받으며, 학부생에게 70%의 재정보조를 해주며, 그랜트는 26,000불이다.  이런 사정은 비록 많은 자산을 가진 대학일지라도 오래 제공하지 못할 것으로 예상된다. 인구통계학 측면에서 대부분의 명문대학에서 여성의 수가 남성을 넘어섰다(Harvard에는 51%, University of North Carolina는 59%).  21세기를 접어들면서 이런 경향은 계속될 것이다.  또한 대학생의 40%가 25세를 넘고 있다.  또한 1세대, 외국학생들, 복학생들로 구성되어 있다.  이러한 대학생의 등록을 보면 나라 전체의 인구 구성을 예측할 수 있다. 이런 추세는 어디까지 인가?  물론,  아이비 대학들과 Stanford, Dukes 대학은 끊임없이 인기이다.  명성과 장학금은 더 부추긴다.  그러나 많은 학생들은 대학교육을 community college에서 시작할 것이다.  대학생의 40%이상이 community college에 등록되어 있다.  반어적으로, 4년제 대학의 많은 수업들은 정원초과이며(Cal State대학들이나 University of California 캠퍼스를 방문하거나 어떤 공립 대학이라도 확인하라), 많은 4년제 학생들이 교수와 만날 수 있고, 덜 비싼 대학을 찾아 community college로 옮기고 있다. 대학교육에 접근하는 큰 기회는 원거리 가상 수업이며, 또한 계속 될 것이다.  2007년에는 2년제와 4년제의 4,100개가 넘는 대학들이 수업을 제공하였다.  이런 원거리 교육은 1200만 명의 학생 수를 기록하였다.  전형적인 원거리 교육 외에 Devry University, Kaplan University, University of Phoenix의 ‘open courseware’싸이트는 학생으로 넘친다.  YouTube.edu에서 감을 잡을 수 있으며, (; 이 싸이트에서 Johns Hopkins, MIT, Tufts의 수업(비디오, 노트, 시험들)을 볼 수 있다. 이런 일들은 대학교육의 어려운 시기를 반영하지만, 이런 어려운 시기 속에서 이런 대안들은 우리의 노력에 대변혁을 일으킬 수 있으며 배움과 생산성의 새로운 문턱을 넘을 수 있는 마음을 줄 것이다.  지금이 그런 시기이다.  대학의 전통적인 교실은 이제 의문시 되고 있으며, 대안인 community college와 가상 교실은 전진할 것이다.  대학교육의 변화는 좋은 것임에 틀림없다.

Dealing with the Costs of College

  • The Art of Leveraging your application
  • Don't hesitate to negotiate financial aid packages with colleges that have accepted you
Tuitions are slated to rise over the next years as public schools feel the pressure of state government belt tightening, and private schools encounter a drop off of funds. One remedy might be to apply to the service academies , which will cover all your costs and pay you a monthly stipend, or attend tuition-free schools (with some, such as Deep Springs, actually picking up all costs) .  Or, if you're lucky enough to gain admission to the most selective schools, you might find some incredible blue light specials: Stanford is eliminating tuition completely for students from families earning less than $100,000; Dartmouth & MIT are eliminating tuition for students from families earning less than $75,000; Harvard is implementing a descending payment scale for families earning less than $180,000. For families earning between $120,000 and 180,000, only 10% of their income will be paid to cover tuition; under $60,000, the family pays nothing. If, however, these alternatives do not fit into your college plans, don't despair. Now is a good time to start thinking about how you're going to leverage your application in the world of financial aid. No matter where you are in high school, there is one cardinal rule: get the best grades possible, and study for your standardized tests. Many schools, such as University of Nevada, Reno, award scholarships based on combinations of high standardized scores and GPAs. The higher your grades and test scores, the more options you will have to leverage your application Next, you need to apply to a lot of schools.  Look hard for schools where there might be a shortage of candidates with your type of qualities. If the school needs male trombone players, and it's a school of interest, get your application in.  Don't fall in love with one school and decide that you're going to apply Early Decision: if you do get in, your efforts to secure grants will be hampered. The admissions office does not have to negotiate very hard with you. It will, of course, give you enough to make attending affordable (or you can withdraw from the commitment), but the word 'affordable' has many definitions. Next, determine the total cost of attending each school on your list. One quick way to do this is to use College Navigator (, which contains 'estimated student expenses' and detailed financial aid information. Knowing your student expenses, you then deduct your grants and scholarships to determine your out-of-pocket expenses. You also need to know, should you be offered any scholarships, what are the requirements to get them renewed for each year you attend. Some schools offer substantial grants for freshman year. Once in, however, the renewal of these scholarships sometimes becomes extremely difficult. Also be aware of how long it will take to get your degree. For example, if you're attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and planning to study engineering, in all likelihood it's going to take 5-6 years to get your degree, not the standard 4. Again, you can find out about retention and graduation rates on College Navigator. This fact needs to be considered when negotiating your financial aid package with the admissions office. The key to this exercise is to get a mix of colleges interested in your application. You want them to feel the heat of competition. Then, you want to compare their offers. Sure, Yale's director of student financial services, Caesar Storlazzi, will tell you Yale, "does not match awards from other schools." Yet, if you've been accepted, Yale wants you. Consequently, Mr. Storlazzi adds, "(after) seeing the copy of an award from another school (it) often enables us to review the Yale 'needs analysis' and ask questions of the family to help us in reviewing our calculation of the parents' contribution." (US News and World Report, September 7, 2007, "How to Leverage Your Aid" by Kim Clark)   In other words, they're ready to play ball. Ralph Becker Founder, Ivy College Prep LLC -------------------------------------- 대학 학자금 다루는 방법
  • 대학원서 활용의 예술
  • 입학된 대학과 재정보조 협상을 주저하지 말라
대학 등록금이 공립은 주정부의 재정압박으로 사립대학은 기금의 삭감으로 앞으로 몇 년간 계속 올라갈 것이다.  한가지 처방은 군복무 학교에 지원하는 것으로, 학비와 월 생활비까지 보장받는다.  아니면, 등록금-무료 대학(Deep Springs 대학에서는 모든 비용이 무료)에 다니는 것이다.  아니며, 운좋게도 명문대학에 입학하는 길이다.  아래의 명문대학들은 믿을 수 없는 밝은 빛을 비추어 준다: Stanford는 연소득 10만불이하의 가정의 자녀의 학비무료: Dartmouth & MIT에서는 연소득 7만5천불 이하의 가정의 자녀 학비무료; Harvard에서는 연소득 18만 이하의 가정의 학비를 비율로 삭감, 즉 12만에서 18만 소득 가정은 수입의 10%를 학비로 내지만, 6만이하의 가정은 전혀 학비를 내지않는다. 한편, 위와 같은 대안들이 여러분의 대학 계획에 들어있지 않더라도 너무 실망할 필요는 없다.  이제부터 재정보조를 위하여 여러분의 원서를 어떻게 활용할 것인지 생각해야 할 시기이다.  어느 고교에 재학 중이든지 한가지 주요한 규칙이 있다: 가능한한 좋은 학점을 받기와 표준고사 시험준비이다.  많은 대학들 (예: University of Nevada, Reno)은 학점과 시험성적을 합하여 장학금을 준다.  학점과 시험점수가 높으면 높을수록, 학자금을 받아낼 수 있는 선택은 많아진다. 다음, 많은 대학에 응시할 필요가 있다.  여러분과 같은 자질을 가진 응시자가 적은 학교를 애써서 찾아라.  만약 대학이 남자 트롬본주자를 필요로 하는데, 여러분이 맞다면, 원서를 넣어라.  한 학교에 집착해서 얼리 디시젼으로 응시하지 말아라: 합격이 되면, 그랜트를 받으려는 여러분의 노력은 무산될 수 있다.  이때, 입학사정실은 여러분과 협상할 필요가 없다.  물론 여러분이 대학을 다닐 수 있도록 도울 수 있지만, 돕는다는 의미도 다양하다. 다음, 여러분의 리스트에 있는 각 대학의 전체 비용을 계산하여라.  알아보는 빠른 방법은 College Navigator(이다.  대학에 드는 재정보조 정보와 ‘평균 학생비용’이 나와있다.  전체 비용을 알고서 그랜트와 장학금을 제하면 개인 지불비용을 알 수 있다.  또한 만약 여러분이 장학금을 받게되었다면, 매년 받기위한 자격도 미리 알아두는 것이 유용하다.  그러나 한번 받으면, 계속 받기란 매우 어렵다. 또한 학위를 받는데 걸리는 시간을 염두에 두어야 한다.  예를 들면, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo에서 공학을 공부한다면, 4년이 아닌 적어도 5-6년은 걸릴 것이다.  College Navigator에서 재학과 졸업률을 알아 볼 수 있다.  이런 사실도 재정문제와 더불어 고려되어야 한다. 이런 과정의 열쇠는 대학이 여러분의 원서에 흥미를 갖게 하는 것이다.  여러분이 대학이 경쟁을 느끼게 만들 수도 있다.  그 다음 각 대학들이 제공하는 장학금을 비교하는 것이다.  Yale대학의 학생재정담당관인, Caesar Storlazzi는 ‘다른 대학에서 제공하는 장학금과 상응하는 상이 없음’이라고 할 수 있다.  그러나, 여러분이 합격되었다면, 예일대에서는 여러분을 원한다.  그래서 Mr. Storlazzi는 “다른 대학이 제공하는 장학금을 살펴보고, 경제지원 ‘필요성 분석’을 위하여 가정환경을 분석하고 부모님의 재정능력을 고려할 수 있다”고 덧붙였다.  다시 말해, 여러분은 게임을 할 준비를 해야 한다.

Researching Colleges

The importance of researching colleges and how to do it.
  • Strategies essential in conducting research
  • Resources useful for the task
One part of the admissions process that is often a bit neglected, is doing the research on potential college fits. Many students, and their parents, pull together a preliminary list of colleges based mainly upon college ratings, rankings, reputations, and opinions; that's human nature. But there is more to the research process than graduating near the top of your class and immediately applying to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and then UCLA and UC Berkeley as your "safety schools". Today every applicant to a selective US college is facing stiff competition; most knowledgeable students and their families recognize this reality. Whether you believe it or not, even if you're the next Albert Einstein or Marie Curie, it's not a bad idea to research colleges of interest.  Furthermore, while you're going through the research process, it is critical to prepare a list of "reach" colleges-colleges that will be a challenge to gain entry, "target" colleges-colleges where you stand a good chance of acceptance, and "safety" colleges-colleges that will admit you, with very good assurance.  This coming admissions season will be the most competitive ever. The demographics confirm it. So, looking at a range of schools, and really getting to know your short list of the most promising and appealing is not just a good idea, but an essential strategy for dealing with what's ahead. Beyond these strategic necessities, there are some other reasons why research is now more important than ever before. Even if you're lucky enough to gain acceptance into your college picks, tuitions, fees, books, and room and board are becoming substantial expenses. Even if expenses are reduced through grants, or 'in state' status, the time a student invests to gain an education is not trivial: nowadays, in many institutions, taking 5-6 years to finish school is becoming less and less unusual. So, not knowing what you're getting into before you get there is plain foolish. To create a preliminary list of colleges upon which to research, some key questions need to be answered: location/setting-which regions of the country are of interest--; campus life-what school size is appealing, is it possible to live on-campus?; academic resources and requirements-does the student prefer a specialized program of study, e.g. pre-med, engineering, fine arts, or liberal arts?; extracurricular activities-study abroad programs, job internships through alumni networks, theater or intramural sports...Answering these types of questions is a good start. One standard college guide, Fiske Guide to Colleges 2008, has a "Sizing up the Survey," which you can use to guide you through this step. Assuming your preferences have led you to produce a preliminary list of schools, and remember, this is only a preliminary list, you can always make whatever changes you wish, now you are ready to get started. The first step is to grab a reliable, current guide, and read through, completely, a description of the university in question. The guide I mentioned above, The Fiske Guide, is a good source for a number of the leading selective schools. In addition, a very useful website, "College Navigator,"  mentioned previously in this column, will also give you a lot of the basic information you need to determine how well a school matches up with a student's needs. Here you'll find general information (including the school's mission statement), estimated expenses (that are pretty accurate, as this site is the government agency that gathers the FAFSA information), financial aid, enrollment, admissions, retention (what percentage of students actually graduate in 4, 5, or 6 years), programs and majors (and the number of students taking each major), and campus security. With this information, you a have a good foundation, but you still need to get more information to gain a better grasp of the school. Go to the school's website and take a general tour.  Let's assume that Dartmouth College is on your list. Then you'll want to go to Dartmouth's general information site,  Here you'll find all the basic information, but there is a lot more that might give you a better feel of the campus and the students. There is a virtual tour, both video and still images, and blogs by current students, to gain an even better insight into the daily life of a student. If you have a specific interest in a department within Dartmouth, you can also go to its news site and sign up for a newsletter: .  There's even a site for Dartmouth experts, with biographies, one of whom, David Kang, is a noted expert on North Korea.  One other area to examine, if you're looking at a specific department, such as Physics or French, is the list of majors and their courses. This will give you a good idea of the course selection and major requirements. If you have specific information you're attempting to glean from a site, and it's not readily found, you can always enlist Google University: (, which allows a student to a search over whichever university website she wishes, using the Google Search engine. Sometimes, because the breadth of information available on colleges can seem virtually limitless, it’s not a bad idea to pull together a checklist with the specific information you want to find out about various schools, before you begin an extensive search. This will also allow you to customize your search to specific interests, and make the process that much more focused. Let’s assume you’re interested in MIT, and have a strong interest in studying physics. You can actually take a MIT Physics class on their website. MIT is part of OpenCourseWare, a group of universities that supplies complete courses, videos of lectures, booklists, tests, syllabi, all free, on-line. If you mention, on your application, should you decide to apply, that you have already worked through their 1999 class on Classical Physics, it tells the admissions office that you have done your homework and are more prepared to take advantage of the full scope of activities that MIT has to offer. By the way, the link to the physics class is: Your aim is to arrive at a list of 7-8 colleges (with the state university systems counting as one) containing reaches, targets, and safeties. Your research will lead you to schools, regardless of selectivity, that you like a lot.  I have had students that were so taken with one of  their “safety” schools, that it became difficult for them to choose where to go, when they were accepted to all of their schools. More importantly, don’t think this is a useless exercise. Researching your future is an invaluable skill that will come into play throughout your life (e.g. graduate schools, job searches).  So, do it well and look beyond the famous colleges: there are over 2,000 four-year schools awaiting your investigation. You might just fine some gems if you venture off the beaten track. Ralph Becker Founder, Ivy College Prep LLC -----------------------------------