Five Ways that Running the Santa Cruz #WharftoWharf is like Applying to College. #collegeadmissions #reachhigher

wharttowharf1988.dadblairandychristyThe annual Wharf-to-Wharf Run takes place in Santa Cruz, Ca on the fourth Sunday in July and this week is no exception. This is the 44th year the race has taken place. I’m proud to say that members of my family have been part of the run for about 20 of those years. It has become a family tradition for us that started with running the race when my dad was in his 60s. Our family tradition continues this weekend when 3 out of 5 of us siblings will be in the run as well as various cousins and other extended family members. Added into our family this year will be my 10-year-old nephew who will be running it for the first time with his parents. Here are some photos of our family at past runs.


How is running a race like applying to college? Here are five ways:

1. There is a Start and a Finish:

A run has a start and a finish, just like applying to college has a start and a finish. To run well, you have to practice ahead of time so you are in good shape to run. In applying to college, the earlier you start the better, because those who prepare themselves to apply to college do better than those who don’t.

2. Be Systematic / Create Your Plan:

During a run, there are times when you aren’t sure you can make it. But if you have trained for the run and focus on your plan and breathe right, then you can make it to the end. In applying to colleges, it may seem overwhelming, but getting things done in a systematic way can provide you with the time and energy needed to get everything finished on time for your college applications.

3. Enjoy the Run!

There are 15,000 people who run the Wharf-to-Wharf Run. Along the way there are bands playing throughout the run to entertain the runners. In addition, the run is along the ocean, which provides wonderful morning views. Similarly, enjoy the process of applying to college. Visiting colleges, talking with others in college and figuring out the right colleges to apply to should be fun and adds to your growth as an individual.

4. Wear the Right Clothing:

When running a 10k Run or a marathon, your shoes are the most important part of what you wear. Shoes that are not running shoes or have holes in them will result in sore feet and legs by the end of the run. The same is true for applying for college. If you equip yourself with the right tools – getting good grades, writing out a plan, and then following a plan – the end result is a college acceptance .

5. Goodie Bags at the End!

At the end of the run, there is a photographer and then every runner gets a goodie bag filled with various healthy food snacks as well as the annual Wharf-to-Wharf shirt. In applying to college, the college acceptance is the “goodie bag” because selecting the right college provides you with the right knowledge that leads to a successful career in the future.

Get help in training and planning with your college application “run”, contact us at ForwarDirections !

What do you want to be when you grow up? #collegeadmissions

What do you want to be when you grow up?

familygroup2This is the question many adults ask young people of all ages. Simply asking this question and related questions like it help student to start thinking about and planning for college and the future. In my family, this question was asked by my parents, my grand parents and almost anyone who walked into our house. We grew up knowing we would attend college. When my family went on vacations, we would at least drive through colleges. And, because both my parents graduated from U.C. Berkeley, we would especially tune in during football season and the “Big Game” against Stanford.

College Education Equals More Money

In my family, there was never a question about attending college. In my own research and experiences, I know that it is better to have a college education than not. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, those with a college education earn almost double what a high school graduate earns. Look at the chart below to see the earning power of different types of college graduates.



Now, as an Independent College Admissions Counselor, I know that getting into college involves planning and that planning can never start too early. College going families always talk about college. In addition, parents can do simple things to help their children think and plan for college by talking about college, visiting college websites, and visiting colleges as a family.

In my family, we would talk about our goals, but would not necessarily write down our goals. I now know it is helpful to encourage everyone to write down their goals.  This is another way to make a commitment and learn how to identify the action needed to achieve it. These goals can be simple goals like making a new friend or playing on a sports team or writing in a journal. Or they can be more challenging goals like saving a certain amount of money each year or learning a musical instrument. Successful people write down their goals and have a system for reviewing their goals. Finally, celebrating when goals have been achieved is important as well.

Doing well in school was another expectation in my family. This, of course, helped with getting admitted to a college.  It is important to note that today, the average GPA for students to be admitted to college is a 3.0 or B average for the courses needed to apply to college. Setting those expectations and study skills early such as a school study routine and a quiet study area are two ways to help meet those expectations. If needed, find tutors who can help your child to be successful in difficult subjects. Everyone needs a little help from time to time.


Listen to your child talk about the things he/she likes. Most children indicate a preference at an early age. One student I have worked with talked about how his parents put him in many different sports before he found that he most enjoyed football. Help your child learn about what he or she likes to do by talking about it or encouraging reading about a variety of careers. In my family, each of us charted our own path and ultimately became successful in our own ways. We are now passing that on to our own children.

Finally, it is never too early to start saving money for college. Teach your children the importance of saving money over time and how that money can be used to invest in college in in their future. This can be accomplished by setting up a savings account for your child and visiting your local bank to listen to different ways to save money for college. Here are some ways to save for college.

Top Tips to Help Your Child Plan for College:

  • Talk about college
  • Visit colleges
  • Write down goals
  • Encourage good grades
  • Identify interests
  • Start saving for college now

ForwarDirections can help. Just fill out this form.

#CollegeApp Help: Got a College App Question? Tune In Tonight (Nov. 16, 8pm PST)

Many high school seniors are completing college applications this month. The California State University and University of California college applications are due Nov. 30.

Join the ForwarDirections team online TONIGHT, November 16, between 8 and 9 P.M. (PST) and ask any college-related question for free!


Any student or parent interested in asking questions about applying to college are welcome to join. Have a quick question about a college application? Want ideas about which colleges to apply to? Qualified college counselors will be available to answer your questions regarding applying to college. See you online: 8-9 P.M., Monday, November 16.

For information about how to participate:

California CTC Updating Ca Standards for the Teaching Profession #caedchat

It was a pleasure to testify as part of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing online for the draft of the updated California Standards for the Teaching Profession and the Teacher Performance Expectations. There was a group of people physically in the room and 25 people and groups who joined the meeting online from a distance. Here is what it looked like from my computer.


With several colleagues in California, we emphasized the importance of the difference between designing a technology rich environment and integrating technology (e.g. blended and online learning) into the classroom on a daily basis. Some of the comments I shared were the following:

In the 20th century it was fine to design and implement technology-rich environments.

But in the 21st century, teachers should be integrating technology on a daily basis with their students. No longer should technology be confined to a once a week visit to the computer lab to do something that does not directly align with what is being taught in the classroom. Our students deserve more than that.

I would encourage you to consider these documents as you update the California Standards for the Teaching Profession:

  1. CUE’s Leading Edge Certification Standards
  2. The iNACOL Teaching Standards for Blended and Online learning
  3. The ISTE NETs Standards
  4. The Christensen Institute work in Blended Learning

Teachers throughout California want to be prepared to meet the needs of what is being termed “Generation Z” who are people who are today ages 0-20. We want to make sure the teachers of Generation Z are truly prepared with the digital tools and pedagogy to adequately meet their needs.

CSTP #4 addresses “Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students”. In conversation with the committee members, we examined #7 principle that states: “Using content pedagogy, subject matter, and educational technology knowledge, teach students how to use digital tools to learn, create new content, and demonstrate their learning.”

I believe that educational technology, blended and online learning should be specifically addressed with a #8 with wording such as:

#8: Teachers effective integration of technology is achieved when teachers and students utilize it on a daily basis for teaching and learning which includes knowing which technology to use when, when to utilize blended and online learning tools, when to use other technologies such as hand-held devices or phones, and how to present and interact with online technology tools.

Be #FutureReady Now! #CEM15 Webinar October 29

The term “future ready” has become an important concept among school districts through the US over the past year since the Future Ready Summit was held in Washington DC in May 2014. In case you missed it, you can read more here.

  • What does “future ready” really mean to a school or school district?
  • What does a school or school district really look like if it is “future ready?”

You now get the chance to hear from four experts who will talk about how to build the culture in a school or school district to be “future ready” now! Educational practitioners from Lindsay Unified in California, Lowell School in Illinois, Portola Valley School District in California and Natomas Charter School in California will share how their institutions are future ready now.

Join the CUE Organization in partnership with Connected Educator Month for:
Future Ready: What Does This Really Mean?
Date: October 29 at 6:30 Eastern / 3:30 Pacific.


Church, History, Education: What’s the relationship? #ISTE2015

I arrived in Philadelphia for the annual #iste2015 educational conference to facilitate a blended learning workshop. Having taught history earlier in my career, I always enjoy taking in the local history. On Sunday morning, I decided to attend church at Christ Church, known as the “the Nation’s Church” since it was built in 1744, seven of the signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in the nearby burial grounds and it was the church attended by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Betsy Ross among others. The 9:00am Episcopalian service was attended by about 100 people and was officiated by the Rev. Susan Richardson.


The Rev. Richardson began her sermon with “It’s been a hell of a week!” First, she talked about the tragic killing of 9 people at the Charleston Emanuel African American Methodist Episcopal church and the inspirational eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney and singing of “Amazing Grace” by President Barack Obama. Next she discussed the senseless terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France. Then she discussed the decisions of the Supreme Court this past week. First, on Thursday, the decision of the court to “keep the Affordable Care Act on the table”so that millions of Americans would not suddenly lose their health care. Then, the historic decision on Friday that struck down state bans on same sex marriage. And then, in the Episcopal Church, they elect a “presiding Bishop” every nine years. Bishop Michael Curry was the first African American Bishop elected in the Episcopal Church and he is following the first female Bishop elected by an Anglican church.

She then turned our attention to the Bible reading of the day, which was the story of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and touched the cloak of Jesus Christ and was then healed (Mark 5:21-43).  The Rev. Richardson then asked rhetorically, “so what is the connection between the events of the past week and this reading?” She went on to explain that we are all human and that we seek connectedness and relationships with others.

As an educator, Catholic, father and as a gay man, I could not have agreed with her message more. Life really is about being human, connecting to others and relationships. Good educational leaders know that relationships built with colleagues causes others to think and transform in new ways – especially in the field of educational technology, blended learning and online learning. Good teachers also know that the best way to impact student learning is by building relationships with each individual student, learning about the interests and abilities of each individual student and then challenging them where they are at.

The message of Rev. Susan Richardson in Christ Church in Philadelphia almost 250 years after its founding validates the progress that has been made in America. It also illustrates the importance of valuing each person and respecting their opinion, while at the same time valuing the discourse. It took many years before the Declaration of Independence was shared for the first time on July 4, 1774. The Declaration was written and debated and developed for many years before it was officially proclaimed. In order for that to happen, there was much compromise, connectedness and relationship building.

Even more important today, for American society, churches and schools to remain viable, our relationships with one another, how we are each human, our ability to connect with one another as well as respect one another for who we are and where we are each at – are important qualities that lead to a successful nation, successful churches and successful schools.

How can there be school districts in Ca that cannot access the Internet? #ccss #caedchat

I just find it hard to believe in this day and age that in California, there are school districts that do not have access to the Internet. Will all of the brain power and innovation and universities, surely a simple solution can be figured out. And, from another perspective, how is it that these school districts have not figured out how to make this happen for their students long before now?  And, wow, if this is one byproduct of Common Core testing – that all students in California have access to the Internet at school – then that is a nice unintentional consequence.

According to this article, some key quotes:

  • But upgrading the remaining 47 school sites – six to nine of which have no Internet at all – has proven problematic.
  • “The 47 school sites that remain are some of the most difficult to connect, often because of geographical barriers or just not having businesses with an interest in connecting those areas,” CDE spokeswoman Monique Ramos told committee members. “We are working on trying to find solution for those districts.”

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