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2017 Hawai‘i College Guide

(Sponsored) Application to Acceptance: Choose the best fit, find financial aid options, plan campus visits and more with this complete resource. Plus current students share firsthand knowledge on financial aid.


(page 10 of 16)

Ready, Set, College

HONOLULU Magazine's annual guide to navigating the road to college.

Ready Set College

Photo: Bigstock


Time flies when you’re parenting, and it seems like we go from talking about the Tooth Fairy one minute to having serious conversations about college the next. The opportunities provided by higher education—economic, social and psychological—are enormous, but the task of finding the right school can feel just as huge. Soaring tuition costs have raised the stakes, and there’s a lot more college pressure on young people than there was just a few decades ago. But with research, patience and organization, you can definitely come up with a strategy that works for your family.


“Try to visit a school, even if it’s just UH,” says Mō‘ili‘ili resident Pamela Funai, who is in the midst of a college search process for the second time. “Just so you know what a college looks like. What kind of things are important to you for an environment? If you want a big school in a big city, or a small school in a big city, it narrows it down.”


Her son, Thomas Ikeda, is a junior at the University of  British Columbia at Vancouver. “The program they have—a forestry program—is perfect for him,” says Funai. “I mean, they have a farm on campus.”


Studying students



Funai’s daughter, Madeline Ikeda, is a senior at ‘Iolani School. “She’s a softball player, so we’re doing the athletic route,” says Funai. “We’re learning it’s a very different process. She’s looking at smaller private schools on the East Coast. We visited Arizona, and she realized she didn’t want to be in the desert. That ruled out most of the West Coast schools she was looking at.”


Funai and her family have learned the importance of being proactive during a college search. Bits of advice from a veteran? Complete essays and scholarship applications the summer before senior year. Visit colleges during vacations or on trips with a team, even if you don’t want to go to school there. Visiting colleges in different areas has given her children the chance to get a feel for what environment they are looking for. “You’re going to be there for so many years, so you have to be comfortable,” says Funai.


According to Jeff Fuller, Director of Student Recruitment, University of Houston, students are applying to an average of six to eight schools. “About 10 percent of universities in the country are the most selective. That’s only about 300 colleges. There are colleges all around the country looking to add to diversity, both ethnic and geographical.”


The key is to start early with your strategy, around the freshman year of high school. “Encourage your child to do what they love, but to also give back with that talent or gift,” says Donna Finley, who has a private college counseling practice in San Diego. “Maybe your child is great at soccer and she or he can give classes to underprivileged kids. It’s not always about the résumé. It’s about being a good human being. And hopefully the side effect is finding a good school and something they want to study.” 


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