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.
Honolulu National College Fair
Hawai‘i Convention Center – Kamehameha III
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. & 5 to 8 p.m.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary educations.
NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP).
A member-directed organization, NACAC is governed by its voting members; an assembly of delegates elected by voting members in NACAC’s state and regional affiliates and by an elected board of directors.
The board of directors sets the strategic direction for NACAC. Additionally, 10 standing committees, ad hoc committees and an Affiliate Presidents Council lend their expertise and experience to the issues, programs and governance that keep the association vibrant in its service to members, the profession and students.
NACAC‘s award-winning publications and other media resources, professional development programs and practical research efforts have all been designed to give counseling and admissions professionals the tools they need to improve the counseling services they provide to students.
The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) is pleased to host the Honolulu National College Fair this fall. This year marks our 44th year of National College Fairs. The fair is one of 63 National College fairs that NACAC hosts in different cities in the United States and Canada each year. This is the first of two fairs that we will host in Hawai‘i! The second will be held on April 11, 2017 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Admission representatives from schools across the country and around the world will gather to help you learn more about their institutions. The fair provides families with outstanding resources as they plan for college.
Our programs continue to grow, attracting more than 675,000 students and parents in search of college access options. In addition to the traditional college going population of high school students, NACAC has expanded its reach to include students attending community colleges, veterans, home schooled students, and other students with an interest in pursuing postsecondary opportunities. Our programs have expanded to include a more global and diverse representation of students. Information on the website and in materials provided to families is translated into different languages for the increased participation of the Hispanic and Asian communities in our programs. The landscape of our fairs continues to change as a result of these new initiatives. These programs serve as a visible and positive resource for assisting students in acquiring and completing their educational objectives beyond high school. Millions of students have benefited from participating in this activity since the program’s inception in 1972.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students and families.
Register at gotomyncf.com to make the most of your time onsite and to ensure that colleges can follow up with you. We look forward to working with you and if we don’t see you this fall, we hope that you will visit with us in the spring!
Best wishes as you continue with your college search!
Director of National College Fairs, Programs and Services
National Association for College Admission Counseling
1050 N. Highland St., Suite 400 | Arlington, VA 22201
firstname.lastname@example.org | nacacnet.org
p 571-551-5277 f 571-551-5327
Tips for Attending a NACAC National College Fair
Before the Fair …
Answer the following questions to help determine what kind of school would be best for you:
Do you want to attend a two- or four-year institution? Coed or single sex?
What size school do you want to attend?
What programs of study are you considering?
How far from home do you want to go?
Do you wish to participate in any specific extracurricular activities or athletics?
Do you want to attend a school in an urban, suburban or rural environment?
Do you require any special services (i.e., tutoring, notetakers, readers, a TDD or an interpreter)?
Research your colleges of interest on the internet and in your guidance office/library.
Check dates and registration deadlines for college entrance examinations.
Register before heading to the fair. Watch the video about student registration at nacacnet.org/ncfstudent.
Watch a video for more information about what happens at a NACAC College Fair at nacacnet.org/ncfstudent.
Download and print the checklist to take with you to the fair.
At the Fair …
Pick up a bag and a fair directory.
Visit with colleges and universities that you feel meet your criteria.
Talk with a college counselor at the counseling center if you have any questions or need help with your college search.
Attend a workshop.
After the Fair …
Be sure to watch the videos about preventing anxiety during your college search and financial aid options at nacacnet.org/ncfstudent.
Students can register for NACAC National College Fairs now at www.gotomyncf.com
The benefits of online student registration
Students register for the fair one time.
It eliminates the need for college contact cards.
Students are easily able to elaborate on special interests, extracurricular activities, and accomplishments.
Log on to gotomyncf.com to pre-register for the electronic lead retrieval system.
Honolulu National College Fair Committee Listing 2016
Shannon Sakamoto, Co-Chair, Kapi‘olani Community College
Larry Kekaulike, Co-Chair, Maryknoll School
Kathryn Kekaulike, Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama Campus
Jennifer Baum, Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama Campus
Steve Morales, Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama Campus
Marques Kaonohi, Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama Campus
Margaret Bailey, American Renaissance Academy
Dan Manuyag, ‘Iolani School
Denise Yamamoto, Mililani High School
Ryan Scudder, Punahou School
Darlee Kishimoto, Punahou School
Nelson Chee, Castle High School
Che Sabol, Kamehameha Scholars Program
Nohea Walker, Kamehameha Scholars Program
Dr. Amber Caracol, Chaminade University
Making the Most of Your Visit to a National College Fair
Ready to take the next step in your education? There’s no better place to explore your options than at a NACAC National College Fair. Admissions representatives from schools across the country are all gathered in one place. Their goal: To encourage you to learn more about their institutions, and help you sort through the qualities you’re looking for in a college. Take advantage of their expertise, and make the most of your time by following these simple step
Before the big day, visit nationalcollegefairs.org and scan through the list of colleges and universities that will be represented. Make a note of the schools that interest you the most, and plan to visit their booths at the fair.
Are you looking for colleges that are close to home or far away? Are you interested in small, private schools, or large, public universities? Which of the institutions in attendance offer your projected major?
“Planning ahead can help you stay focused,” says Cynthia Kaan, a Ferris State University, Michigan, admissions officer. “If you have certain schools you know you are interested in, don’t limit yourself, but make learning about those schools your priority.”
Keep an open mind
Take time to do a little exploring.
Yes, it’s important to plan ahead and select a few colleges you know you want to visit.
But each fair draws representatives from 175 to 400 campuses. The schools are located throughout the U.S., and from around the globe.
You owe it to yourself to follow up with colleges that catch your eye.
“Do your research, but also have an open mind,” says Valencia Hamman, co-director of college counseling at La Jolla Country Day School, California. “Sometimes students take time to talk with a representative from a school that they really hadn’t considered before and it becomes a part of their list.”
Chatting with representatives from a variety of colleges can also help you cement your own preferences, Kaan notes. “It’s just as important to figure out what you don’t want as it is to figure out what is really attractive to you,” she says.
Make your questions count
Like so many other things in life, a successful visit to a National College Fair is marked by quality, not quantity.
In other words: Rather than focusing on collecting a brochure from every college booth, make it your goal to have in-depth conversations with a few of the college reps on hand.
“I encourage students to not just stop by the table and pick up a brochure, but rather engage the representative with a few questions,” says Hamman. “That means you want to come into the fair with a list of questions so you’re ready for that opportunity.”
Don’t waste time on softball queries, such as “Is your nursing program good?”
“That’s not a good question because it gets you nowhere … no one is going to tell you that their program is terrible, or that it is struggling,” Kaan says. “If you’re interested in a specific program, like nursing, ask college reps what sets their program apart from other colleges, or ask them to compare their nursing program with one at another college that you’re considering.”
Learn about the process
What’s the deal with college entrance tests? What do admission officers look for in a college essay? How can I find out if I’m eligible for financial aid?
No matter where you end up enrolling, you’ll likely encounter at least one of these questions during the college application process.
Use your visit to a National College Fair to get a head start. Check out the fair’s education sessions, covering topics ranging from college costs to student athlete eligibility and college selectivity.
Each fair also includes a counseling center, often an invaluable resource for students with specialized interests.
Do you love hands-on learning? Counselors can help you pinpoint colleges that provide research opportunities for undergraduates.
“There are resources available and there are people available who can help answer very individualized questions about the college search process,” says Dana Lambert, a counselor at West Milford Township High School, in New Jersey. “Take advantage of their expertise.”
Ask college reps for their contact information and be sure to follow up.
“Not always, but often, the representative attending the college fair is the representative who will end up reading your application,” Hamman says. “Keep in touch with them; reach out with thoughtful, intelligent questions. That demonstrates interest.”
For the colleges you want to know more about, schedule campus visits.
Remember: Your trip to a college fair is the beginning—not the end—of your college search.
“Visiting a campus is by far the most important aspect of looking for a college,” Kaan says. “There’s no other experience like it. It’s the best way to find your perfect fit.”
Using High School Courses and Activities to Prepare for College
Your post-high-school years hold tremendous promise.
In college you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, follow your interests and, hopefully, find a satisfying career.
However, nearly half of all students who enter college fail to graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years.
“There are two reasons kids flunk out,” says Amy Thompson, a counselor at York Community High School, Illinois. “They are either academically unprepared or they are emotionally unprepared.”
Increase your chances for success by making the most out of your high school years.
Buckle down in the classroom.
Taking rigorous classes in high school doesn’t only help you get into college, the knowledge and skills you acquire work double-duty, preparing you to be successful in your pursuit of a degree.
Seek out honors, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in subjects that interest you.
“You want to take the most demanding courses you can while maintaining your sanity and still achieving good grades,” Thompson says.
Look for courses that require lots of writing and critical thinking—two skills you’ll be asked to use in almost every college class. Don’t panic if the material seems difficult at first. Developing good study habits and time-management skills in high school can help you persevere in college, even when times get tough.
Some rigorous courses actually allow you to jumpstart your postsecondary education. Students who do well on AP tests, for example, can earn college credit. Some high schools also partner with local colleges to offer dual-credit courses for high school students.
From athletics to theater to volunteer work, there’s a whole world of extracurricular activities open to high school students.
“It can be overwhelming,” Thompson says. “But the one piece of advice I give students is don’t just join something to pad your resume. Pick something you’re genuinely interested in.”
Your goal: By senior year, “Be in a position that shows not only your devotion to the group, but also some level of initiative or leadership on your part,” she says.
“Admissions officers can see through applicants who join a million different clubs in their junior or senior year,” Thompson notes. “Use your activities to show colleges who you are.”
Universities are looking for students who will make the most of the opportunities available to them. A high school record that includes extracurricular activities helps show admissions officers that you’ll be a valuable part of their campus community.
Your senior year of high school will be hectic.
In addition to applying for colleges, you may find yourself leading a student organization or sports team.
It can be tempting to slough off in the classroom, but stay focused. Senior year grades and courses still count.
“You need to maintain your academic performance, and do at least as well—if not better—because you don’t want to have your admission offer rescinded,” Thompson says.
When planning out your schedule, make sure that you’re on-track to meet college entrance requirements, including at least two years of a foreign language and four years of math, science and English courses.
“Colleges want to see that you know how to work hard, and that you have taken advantage of the courses and activities your high school has to offer,” Thompson says. “A strong finish in your senior year helps make you a more attractive candidate.”
Balancing Act: Tips for Adults Returning to College
Considering going back to college?
You’re in good company. Nontraditional students now make up the majority of U.S. undergraduates, and 1-in-4 college students is age 30 or older.
But although colleges are serving a greater number of adults, finding the right program—a place where you can balance your education with employment and family responsibilities—is key to your success.
Here are four questions every nontraditional student should ask when researching schools.
1. What is the college’s track record with nontraditional students?
Ask some tough questions: What’s the graduation rate of nontraditional students at your institution? Are adult students eligible for merit aid? How much debt do students typically accrue? What’s the average time to graduation?
Learning the answers can help you decide which college is right for you. It can also help you estimate how much time—and money—you’ll need to complete a degree.
2. What sort of flexible learning options does the college offer?
Responsibilities at home and at work can change over the course of time you’re enrolled in college. Choosing a school that provides a variety of course options—from in-person to online to hybrid—increases your odds of staying on track.
“A lot of adults have full-time work schedules or child-care responsibilities,” says Amber Harnack, Student Success Center director of Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana. “They often need more flexibility when it comes to scheduling classes.”
Also ask about student support services, such as tutoring, recommends Michelle Christopherson, director of the Center for Adult Learning on the University of Minnesota—Crookston campus.
“You want to make sure that you are going to be supported, and you want to make sure that those services aren’t going to end up costing you extra,” she says.
3. What will it take to get a degree?
The majority of nontraditional students have already accumulated some college credits by the time they re-enter higher education.
Before you enroll in any program, learn whether your credits will transfer and how many courses you’ll need to complete a degree.
“You want to make sure that, from the beginning, you have a clear understanding of how much it will cost and what your degree pathway will look like,” Christopherson says.
4. How will the institution help me meet my career goals?
Begin your college search with the end in mind.
What’s spurring your decision to return to school? Are you looking for advancement options in your current field, or do you want a career change?
Ask college officials about the types of jobs landed by recent program graduates. Inquire about the services offered at the campus’ career center.
“Make sure that your goals match up with what the college is able to provide,” Harnack says. “You want to be certain that the degree program you ultimately choose is a good fit.”
As you plan for college you have many options. Listed below are the college categories that describe the different types of institutions available to you.
These Colleges and Universities:
– receive funding primarily from student tuition and endowments. Some funding comes from the government in the form of tax breaks and student loans
– follow the leadership of a board of trustees
– develop their own institutional plans since they operate mostly on private support
– rely on private funds, which leads to a higher average cost
– offer financial aid opportunities to reduce the total cost
These Colleges and Universities:
– receive a large part of their funding from state or local taxes. Some funding comes from tuition and endowments
– follow performance standards set by the state
– are mostly state-run, which lowers the tuition for in-state students
– are typically categorized as two-year, four-year, research, comprehensive or community colleges
These Colleges and Universities:
– receive up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal student aid
– operate under the demands of investors and stockholders
– usually offer a nontraditional format,
– have come under federal scrutiny for high-pressure sales/recruitment tactics
A close examination of the academic, social and financial factors will lead you to a best-fit college.
To read more on the differences in college categories, please visit nacacnet.org/ncfstudent.
Ready, Set, College
HONOLULU Magazine's annual guide to navigating the road to college.
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.”
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.”
UH-West O‘ahu Kūnihi Ka Mauna: Hula Journeys (Hawaiian Pacific Studies 312) students dance in their final performance at the end of the semester in front of the UH-West O‘ahu Library.
Photo: Mellissa Lochman, University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu
Both the parents and the education experts we talked to agree on one thing: It’s critical to involve teens in the financial conversation from early on. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and not look at the financial realities. “It’s hard in Hawai‘i because you have a high cost of living: nearly double the national average for the cost of a home, private school tuition, possibly K through 12, and then you’re planning for your retirement,” says Klein. “Financial aid may not go as far, because those costs aren’t going into consideration for your family contribution.” Let’s look at some options for financial aid.
The biggest provider of student aid in the country is the office of Federal Student Aid, which handles loans, grants and work-study programs to the tune of $150 billion each year. Other sources include state aid, aid from colleges and aid from nonprofits and private organizations, like Rotary or Lions clubs.
All students should start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which takes about half an hour to fill out online once you gather tax returns and other pertinent documents. The application will also be shared with the financial-aid offices of the colleges listed on the application, so the colleges can figure out what aid they want to offer. Colleges look at the cost of attending the school, subtract the expected family contribution, and that indicates the financial need. Applications are available each year in early January at fafsa.gov. Important note: FAFSA applications need to be filled out each year a student is in college.
Anywhere from three days to three weeks after filing, the office of Federal Student Aid sends you a Student Aid Report. Look this over closely to make sure everything is correct. From there, a college can send you an aid offer, either on paper or electronically.
Don’t discount the possibility of independent scholarships. Mid-Pacific Institute senior Lamar Carter, for example, armed with his FAFSA application, landed one of only 10 scholarships offered annually by the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) that not only pays for his entire undergraduate tuition at UH Mānoa, but also guarantees admission to the School of Medicine when he graduates. Many students would have been happy to call it a day at that point, but Carter had also used his FAFSA results to pursue a wide range of independent scholarships. “There were organizations giving out anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $2,000,” he says. “I wouldn’t get any of the scholarships I didn’t apply to, and there’s no harm in applying, so it just made sense.”
All told, Carter says the independent scholarships, from organizations ranging from Burger King to the National Eagle Scout Association, were worth about 20 percent of the value of the UH/JABSOM scholarship.
Chaminade University is regarded for its remarkably diverse student body—students come from Hawai‘i, the U.S. Mainland, Pacific region and beyond. The community is a family where students mature into world citizens who respect the complexity and diversity of others, value community service and strive to create a more just society.
Photo: Courtesy of Chaminade University
Nationwide (but not federal)
Nearly 300 colleges, universities and scholarship programs use the College Board Scholarship Service application, called CSS/PROFILE, to determine to whom they’ll grant aid. The application is different from FAFSA and takes between 45 minutes and two hours to complete. There is a fee to file this application, so only do so if the school(s) or scholarship programs of your choice are asking for it. It’s $25 for one college or program; additional reports are $16.
In 2015, the University of Hawai‘i Foundation gave nearly $40 million in student aid to help students attend the UH system. “The bulk of our students are still first-generation kids or of minority/immigrant status, so the need for scholarships is particularly great,” says Donna Vuchinich, the president and CEO of the UH Foundation. She recommends using the organization’s database, found at uhfoundation.org, to “slice and dice it” to see what financial aid might be a good fit. She has two pieces of advice. One, if a student is enrolling in a community college, ensure she or he is taking at least 15 credits. “If kids don’t take that many credits, they don’t tend to do as well.” Second, apply early: “November and December for summer scholarships; February through May for fall. Don’t wait until you graduate to start looking.”
The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) administers more than 200 scholarship funds and annually awards $4.5 million in student aid for students bound for college locally or on the Mainland. “We begin the process in November, and encourage families to start early,” says Eric La‘a, the Senior Development officer at HCF. “The application process is quite extensive.” The good news? The platform is set up so students can be matched with more than one scholarship. But the number of applicants has increased significantly in recent years, so apply as early as you can.
Students who are of Hawaiian ancestry may be eligible for scholarships, ranging from $500 to $4,000, through Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Visit oha.org/scholarships for information on the two OHA programs, and a downloadable guide with information on additional scholarships, financial aid resources and support services for Hawaiian students.
The UH-West O‘ahu offers students a variety of opportunities for academic, personal and professional enrichment.
Photo: University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu
When it came time to find a college for his daughter, Kamehameha Schools parent Kaina Kauahi took a hands-on, methodical approach. He’s in the financial industry as a State Farm insurance agent/owner, so, naturally, “I put together spreadsheets. We categorized the schools, looked at acceptance rates, financial aid, U.S. News and Forbes. Cappex.com can tell you what your chances are of getting in. It helped us be realistic with conversations with my daughter.”
The family visited colleges starting in junior year, met with swimming and water polo coaches, and took detailed notes after touring each campus. Throughout the process, Kauahi’s goal was to provide information. “I did at least 50 percent of the work to get the information to help her make decisions. I’ve seen teens do 95 percent of the work on their own, and they didn’t go to the best colleges. I think if they had better guidance, they would have applied for better opportunities.” His daughter, Madison, applied to 10 schools and ultimately chose a small, liberal arts college with a strong academic reputation, Pitzer College, in Claremont, California. “It was a hard decision because she had good choices. I told her, feel fortunate about it, take your time and we’ll figure it out.”
The Common Application
More than 500 colleges and universities, including some schools abroad, accept the Common Application. That’s a lot of schools, and can save you time on not having to fill out what feels like 413 applications. However, check with every college to which you’re applying to ensure they accept the Common Application. Use the Common Application at commonapp.org.
Photo: Courtesy of Chaminade University
Colleges and universities are most interested in grades and scores, but essays can be a tiebreaker. It’s similar to a job application: The résumé is like the application, and the essay is more like a job interview, that human connection. Here are some helpful tips:
Parents should not write their children’s essays for them, but do help proofread.
Skip the story about volunteering abroad. It’s become a cliché.
Google the school of interest, plus “essays that worked.”
The website inlikeme.com, which focuses on college applications, has a lot of resources on essay writing.
Should you hire a college counselor?
It depends on how you feel about the counselors at the high school your child is attending. Maryknoll High School senior Channen Dunn turned to his school’s director of college guidance, Larry Kekaulike. “He was really helpful. When I’m interested in a school, I let him know and he says, ‘OK, you picked that college. Why? Then he gives me advice on what’s good about the program and talks about some of the negatives of the school,” says Dunn.
Dunn had the opportunity to meet with Kekaulike every day for a while in his junior year. With the help of Kekaulike, Dunn has narrowed his choices down to private schools in Southern California, where he intends to major in social psychology. “I like California because it’s far enough away, but the tickets home are cheaper than the East Coast,” says Dunn.
But some counselors are simply overwhelmed. “Nationally the average is 400 students per counselor; that’s why people turn to independent educational consultants,” says Donna Finley, who has a private college counseling practice based in San Diego. She works with students as early as freshman and sophomore year, helping with course selection, extracurricular activities and developing career interests. “Kids used to think they had to be well-rounded. Now, it’s go deeper, instead of wider.” For juniors, she works with them on applications, essays, college selection and financial aid options.
Some consultants charge hourly, others will do a package price. Visit the Independent Educational Consultants Association at iecaonline.com to find a consultant.
Western Under-graduate Exchange Program
Hey, neighbor! Can I get a kama‘āina discount? Actually, you can. The Western Undergraduate Program allows students from 15 western states, plus the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, to attend colleges and universities at 150 percent of the school’s in-state tuition, rather than at an out-of-state rate. Estimated savings for a student from Hawai‘i were $8,605 for the 2015-2016 school year. There are more than 150 institutions participating; check the database at wiche.edu/wue/students. But there are loopholes, too. Some colleges require a certain ACT or SAT test score, others limit the number of program participants each year, and still others only feature it for certain majors. There is no separate application process; it’s part of the regular process and you check off the WUE box. Our advice? Apply early and check with the admissions office for the institution you want to attend for more details.
UH-Mānoa has hundreds of extracurricular recreational, cultural and learning opportunities to enhance your education.
Photo: University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa
High schools should alert you to upcoming college fairs, or, you can check listings from NACAC, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (nacacnet.org, #nacacfairs). This year, there’s a new Honolulu National College Fair on Oct. 18 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.
Before attending a college fair, do some homework. “Find out what institutions will be at the fair and research them,” says Jeff Fuller, the director of student recruitment at the University of Houston, and past president of NACAC. “Use the fair as an opportunity to interview the university. See if this is the right fit. It impresses admissions officers when you come in well read and can have a deeper conversation about the programs you’re interested in.”
Remember that colleges want to make an acceptance offer to students who are more likely to actually attend, and showing interest at a college fair is one way to do that. “They really do keep track of this,” says Donna Finley, who has a private college counseling practice based in San Diego. “It goes into a database.”
(See more tips on making the most of your college fair visit on page CG 150.)
Making the Most of Your College Visits
Since road trips from Hawai‘i can’t happen, it can be challenging for families to tour Mainland colleges. But if you can afford a trip, there are two schools of thought: Go before the application process, to narrow down choices, or go after acceptance, to aid in the final decision-making. The costs of college tours are not tax deductible, but, if parents can piggyback a legitimate work trip onto the college visit, that may be a way to cut down the costs on airfare, hotels and a rental car.
Viewpoint: Go Before
“I feel there is great power in a campus visit,” says Denise Yamamoto, the college and career counselor at Mililani High School. “I haven’t seen an ugly brochure or website yet from a college,” so it pays to do your own snooping on the real, live campus. Yamamoto recommends that families start touring campuses freshman year of high school, if they happen to be on the Mainland. “Let’s say you’re visiting grandma in Vegas, go see a college there. Maybe you don’t want to go to that college, specifically, but you can get a feel of what a 20,000-student public campus looks like versus a 2,000-student private.”
Lamar Carter says doing a site visit really helped clarify the decision he had to make between two schools. He was considering the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, and took a guided tour of the Baltimore, Maryland, campus to get a better sense of the school. “I had a host student and stayed in one of the dorm rooms for two nights,” he says. “There were activities, and all the admitted students get a chance to know each other. I had been feeling a little paranoia about getting into that competitive of a university, especially in such a different environment from Hawai‘i. But, after going there, you see that people are just like you. They’re humans, they bleed blood.”
Carter ended up deciding against Johns Hopkins, in favor of UH Mānoa and the John A. Burns School of Medicine, but says he’s glad he was able to make a choice based on the full set of facts, rather than assumptions about a school he had never seen in person.
“Definitely do tours by the summer before senior year,” says Yamamoto. I have a daughter who went to school on the Mainland and I could see the light bulb go off when we found the college for her. That’s the beauty of the college visit.” If you can’t make it for a tour, take advantage of the opportunities to meet with college representatives when they visit the Islands, and contact the school to see if you can talk with current students, ideally those who came from Hawai‘i.
For visits to local colleges such as UH, Chaminade, HPU and the community colleges, work with the admissions office prior to a visit. Sometimes there are open house days, other times, you can set up a tour of campus and housing, and feel free to ask to meet with someone from the department you’re interested in getting a feel for the program and faculty.
Viewpoint: Go After Acceptance
“Why would I spend $1,000 going to a school that my kid might not even get into?” says Lillian Klein, a mother of three children who have gotten into college. “This is a strategic mission. You can wait and do your visit when you have choices, once you have acceptance.” In the meantime, she and her daughters researched schools online. “Look at the message boards, communicate with parents whose kids are at the school. You can get a sense of the flavor of the student body.”
Another way to get a feel for a college campus without physically visiting is by taking a virtual tour online. Marissa Lum, a 2015 Castle grad now attending UH Mānoa, was unable to visit the Mainland schools she was considering due to extracurricular activities she was taking part in this past spring. Instead of flying to California, she looked up the schools online. “It didn’t really matter the size of the school. The location mattered somewhat, if there were things to do around campus,” she says. The website campustours.com has stats on nearly 1,300 schools, with links directly to each school’s virtual tours and campus maps.
Lum also says it really helped her get to know some of the schools when she met with representatives here in Hawai‘i, since talking to a real person was more important to her than the scenery. In the end, Lum chose UH for a number of reasons, including saving money in case she wants to attend a Mainland university for grad school. And she’d been to Mānoa on multiple occasions, including field trips and a two-week summer program during which she got to dorm, which inspired her to live on campus. “It’s definitely a good experience,” she says. “You get
to know all the people around you.”
Come up with a big-picture plan at the nonprofit College Board’s website, bigfuture.collegeboard.org, or knowhow2go.org, which helps middle and high school students prep for the college route.
College Navigator is a resource provided by the U.S. Department of Education. It has the scoops on every college in the country, with data on admissions, retention, graduation rates and financial aid data. Narrow down choices, build a list of favorites for side-by-side comparisons and create your own interactive maps and spreadsheets. nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator.
U.S. News & World Report has a College Compass service ($30/year) that has profiles of 1,600 schools, including data on campus life, sports and financial aid. usnews.com/usnews/store/college_compass.htm
The forums on College Confidential are renowned for providing the real scoop on what’s happening on U.S. campuses. collegeconfidential.com
The National Association for College Admission Counseling has an extensive offering of resources for students and parents, including schedules of college fairs and downloadable guides like “Applying for Financial Aid in 7 Easy Steps.” nacacnet.org
If obstacles feel insurmountable, visit youcango.collegeboard.org, with success stories for students who overcame challenges getting into college—and resources for others to do the same.
SchoolSoup (schoolsoup.com) is an online database with information on 250,000 scholarships. Browse by state to see what is available to Hawai‘i students. Click on “Scholarships by Race/Minority” to see what is available for students who are of Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Asian-American or Vietnamese descent.
Use an app, like Scholly Scholarship Search or SAIL to sniff out opportunities. SAIL is 99 cents, while Scholly requires a $2.99 account.
Timeline to Success
Finding and getting accepted to the right college or university is actually a four-year process. That may sound daunting, but take each step one at a time and stay organized, and you’ll be fine. Here’s how to manage the road to college admission:
Enroll in challenging classes.
Keep grades up.
Get involved in extracurricular activities.
Explore potential career paths.
Set up a college savings plan.
Develop good time-management skills.
Try some AP classes.
Take a practice Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in October (this year, it’s Oct. 19 and Oct. 22) and in November (Nov. 2). Juniors qualify to compete for the National Merit Scholarship Program, but younger students can take it for practice. collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt
Consider volunteering during the summer.
Visit campuses while traveling, just to get a sense of what type of college appeals to you. Small? Big? Public? Private?
Photo: ODEELO DAYONDON
In October or early November, take the PSAT/NMSQT.
Sign up to take the ACT or SAT. Colleges usually accept either one, but check with where you’re interested. Many students will take the test once as a junior and again as a senior. Is it worth taking it twice? According to ACT, 57 percent of students increased their Composite score on the retest.
Visit campuses if possible.
Attend college fairs and network with the college representatives.
In the fall, repeat the ACT/SAT tests. Sign up for the SAT Subject Tests, if appropriate. Send in scores.
Gather teacher and other personal recommendations. Send thank yous afterward!
Narrow down the list, but have at least four to eight schools to apply to.
Draft your essay. Leave enough time for at least two people to read it and comment.
Check all due dates at the colleges you want to attend; they vary by institution and you don’t want to miss anything.
Hawai‘i Community Foundation opens its scholarship application process. Check hawaiicommunityfoundation.org for updated deadlines.
FAFSA forms become available. The online FAFSA application must be submitted by June 30, 2017. However, many colleges will require this earlier. Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to find more scholarship options.
The deadline for financial aid applications at most colleges.
Many colleges send out acceptance letters during this month.
Many colleges require that you reply with your intent to enroll by this date.
If you need to turn something in by midnight of a deadline, make sure it’s in by midnight of that time zone, not HST.
When Tere Ann Membrere walked the stage at Pacific University in May of 2015, she was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Membrere received multiple scholarships, including support from the Hawai‘i Community Foundation for first-generation college attendees. The public health major is an alumna of Farrington High School and assured us, “applying for financial aid seems complicated and scary, but it’s not.” Her advice? “Write down all the dates for applications so you don’t miss anything. Work on the HCF application in parts, like, one night, work on the essay, instead of sitting down and trying to do it all in one night. Lastly, every student should try and apply. You never know which scholarship you will be eligible for.”
SAT/SAT Subject Tests
The nationally administered SAT tests reading, writing and math and is used to test how ready a student is for college. The SAT Subject Tests are also used by colleges for admission consideration, particularly for certain majors, and to help with course placement. For bilingual students, the Subject Tests are also an excellent opportunity to show off mastery in another language, like Mandarin, Japanese or Korean. For more, go to sat.collegeboard.org/home.
The SAT is undergoing a revamp, notes Denise Yamamoto, the college and career counselor at Mililani High School. “There was a revision in 2005 with the writing component; now they are making the writing component optional again and kind of following what the ACT is doing. The SAT right now, they penalize you for guessing, but with the revision, they aren’t going to penalize you for guessing.” For more on the changes that took place in spring 2016, visit
Registration deadlines are typically a month ahead of the test. Test dates are as follows: Oct. 1, Nov. 5, Dec. 3, Jan. 21, March 11, June 3.
The ACT is a national college admissions exam that includes English, math, reading and science questions. The ACT Plus Writing includes a 30-minute writing test, which is required by some colleges and not others. In Hawai‘i, the state picks up the cost of taking the ACT test for all juniors, says Yamamoto. “Schools will accept scores from either the ACT or the SAT. As for next year, we’re not sure which one the state will use.” To register, visit actstudent.org.
Upcoming ACT Test Dates:
Oct. 22, 2016 (register by Sept. 16; late registration until Sept. 30)
Dec. 10, 2016 (register by Nov. 4)
Feb. 11, 2017 (register by Jan. 13, 2017)
April 8, 2017 (register by March 3, 2017)
June 11, 2017 (register by May 5, 2017)
DO bring a current photo ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or the high school, as well as printed test ticket and calculator.
DON’T bring a cell phone to an SAT test; they are prohibited. ACT test sites allow cell phones if they are turned off and placed out of reach.
Crunching the Numbers at UH Mānoa
In-state tuition (average, 2014–2015 school year)
Nonresident tuition (average)
Western Undergraduate Exchange Rate
Pacific Island Exemption Rate
Room and board (average)