California legislature passes ‘yes means yes’ bill


On Thursday the California Senate unanimously passed SB 967, also known as “Student Safety: Sexual Assault.” The bill is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signature.

The bill states in order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, such as the Cal Grant, colleges and universities in the state of California must adopt the policy related to sexual assault investigations. According to the bill, there will be “an affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity.” This means that each party must consent to sexual activity and lack of protest or silence does not mean consent. The bill also says that it is not consent if the person is intoxicated, drugged, unconscious or sleeping. When investigating sexual assaults, only “yes means yes” will be considered consent.

Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) explains his bill would create uniformity in the way college campuses investigate and provide services to victims of sexual assault. He argues, “we need to have a cultural shift across institutions of higher education to take these crimes very seriously.” The federal government is currently investigating 76 colleges and universities for possible violations of Title IX.

Supporting the Bill, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said, “this bill is needed and makes a strong statement that California does not tolerate rape and sexual violence.” Currently five California colleges are under investigation for Title IX violations, including UC Berkeley, UCLA and USC.

The National Institute of Justice has found that 19 percent of women in college have reported “experiencing completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college.” De Leon has said sexual assaults are far too common on college and university campus and it needs to change. He also said he brought this bill forth because “administrators are either under-reporting or not reporting at all” the sexual assaults on their campuses.

The bill requires colleges and universities to adopt “detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols.” The policy will provide protections for the privacy of individuals involved. In addition, the goal of this bill is to ensure that every college student have the opportunity to succeed in college and not have their college career impeded because of a sexual assault.

Student missed deadline due to computer glitch

Lincoln To, 17, graduated in June from Junipero Serra High School in San Diego. He was ranked in the top five of his graduating class and had a 4.67 grade point average. To was a finalist for QuestBridge, a program that bridges under-served students with top university. He chose to apply to Stanford University through Questbridge, and if selected for the program, would have received a full-ride scholarship. However, Questbridge notified him that he was not selected for the scholarship because his application was incomplete.

To discovered QuestBridge did not receive his transcript by the deadline. However, he had made the necessary requests to have his school submit his academic record. The school district discovered the problem and sent an email notifying QuestBridge of a ”technological error” with their student information system. Unfortunately, it was too late.

Other students in the school district also had problems getting their academic records to colleges and universities. In February, Superintendent Cindy Marten of the San Diego Unified School District wrote a letter to colleges, universities, scholarship committees and financial aid offices explaining the error. In the letter, she asked that organizations requiring transcripts to “hold our students harmless for any unforeseen nuisances on their transcripts and for any possible deadlines missed due to our internal workings.”

District spokesperson Ursula Kroemer told San Diego 6 News the district “made a mistake. We’re fixing that mistake so that it doesn’t happen again.” The district offered an apology to To on Tuesday. While he will not be attending Stanford in the fall, he is starting at UCLA with a full-tuition scholarship.

Although the school made the mistake, this is a good reminder for students to closely monitor their college and scholarship applications. For items that are submitted by other individuals, such as transcripts and recommendations, students should always request these items early in the process. In addition, students should check with colleges and scholarship committees to ensure documents were received before the deadline. By being proactive, students should be able to meet deadlines even if there is an error made by others.

Parents: Prepare a healthy care package

Healthy Care Package

When packing for college, many students and their parents forget about medication. It’s just something many people don’t think about when packing for college. Instead, their focus is on things like extra-long bedding and room decorations. However, many students will get sick during the fall semester of college. From the changes in sleep patterns to the communal living, it’s bound to happen.

Whether students have moved-in already or are moving in soon, parents should prepare a “healthy” care package for their child. Here are list of items to consider:

Students will not want to go out and get these items for themselves, especially if they are already getting sick. Plus, drug or convenience stores are not always conveniently located near college campuses. Therefore, parents should prepare a care package full of medication and healthy items for their children before they get sick.

I have found that CVS has everything available students may need. CVS carries name-brand products, as well as CVS brand products. I’ve tried many of the CVS products and they do the job just as well as name brand and cost much less!

Parents can go to the store themselves and prepare the package, or shop online and have it shipped directly to their child. Shipping rates are a standard $5.49, no matter how much is purchased. However, shipping is free for most items if you purchase $49 worth of merchandise. CVS also offers 20% off and free shipping if you choose to have items automatically shipped on schedule. For example, this would be a great option for vitamins.

Before your child get sick, make sure they have the medication they need to take care of themselves when away from home. You, as a parent, won’t be able to be there physically, but you’ll know your child will have everything they will need to get better.

Helpful tips for the ‘why us?’ college admissions essay

Many colleges ask the question, “Why us?” as part of the college admissions process. The question is asked differently by the colleges, but the idea behind the question is always the same: why us?

Here are a few examples of “why us?” essays:

  • Columbia University: “Tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why.”
  • Northwestern University: “What are the unique qualities of Northwestern – and of the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying – that make you want to attend the University?”
  • University of Notre Dame: “Why Note Dame?”
  • St. John’s College: “Explain in detail why you wish to attend St. John’s College.”
  • University of Pennsylvania: “The Admissions Committee would like to learn why you are a good fit for your undergraduate school choice (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering). Please tell us about specific academic, service, and/or research opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania that resonate with your background, interests, and goals.”

Colleges are asking “why us” because they are trying to learn how serious students are about their college. Admissions officers do not want to admit students who are not serious about attending their college, especially at competitive institutions. Unfortunately, many students do not answer this question in the way admissions officers would like to see. General responses that could be used at other colleges suggest that the student is not serious about attending the institution. Admissions officers are looking for serious interest in the institution and a passion for wanting to attend. Therefore, students must do their research about each college and be very specific about why they want to attend the institution.

Students must research the programs, resources and activities of interest at the college before submitting the essay. Writing “I want to attend ‘X’ University because it feel right,” is not enough. Instead, students should go into detail about the unique offerings the college offers and why it would be beneficial for the student. For students who have visited the campus, they should use this information in the essay. Students should talk about the activities they attended, the classes they visited and the professors they met during their visit.

Other tips for “Why us?” essays:

  • Recycling college admissions essays is common. However, students must proofread to ensure it is specific to the college. Do not send an essay that says, “I want to attend ‘X’ university” when applying to ‘Y’ university.
  • Check the facts. Do not use the wrong information when talking about a university. If mentioning city, state, professor name, team colors, etc., make sure the correct information is included.
  • Do not regurgitate information that is listed on the website or publications. The average class size, for example, may be great, but many other colleges have the same statistics.
  • The main reason for attending a college should not be location, prestige, size or weather. Do not list these reasons in the essay because they can apply to many other colleges. This information should only be included if it is supporting other reasons listed in the essay.
  • Read each sentence of the essay and see if it could apply to another college. If it can be for another college, it might not be specific enough for the “why us” essay.
  • The “Why us?” essay is the perfect time to use names. Students should mention names of professors, students, student organizations and other items that are drawing the student to the university.
  • Although many of the essay prompts do not ask this, students should also include what they will contribute to the college campus. Colleges want to admit students who will be active on campus.

If students are having a hard time writing specific reasons they want to attend a college, it might suggest the college is not the best fit for the student. Alternatively, it might suggest the student needs to dedicate more time to researching the college to learn about the unique opportunities the college offers.

California community colleges could offer baccalaureate degrees in future

 On Thursday, California’s Legislature unanimously approved legislation that would allow some of the state’s community colleges to issue baccalaureate degrees. Governor Jerry Brown will now consider SB 850. If signed by the governor, California will be the 22nd state to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

Proponents of the bill suggest California needs to produce at least one million more baccalaureate degrees to remain economically competitive. The bill states California’s four-year public institutions cannot meet the demand and community colleges can help fill the gaps. The bill was introduced by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) who says, “this is landmark legislation that will change the face of higher education in California.” Senator Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) gave the example of the Nursing program at San Diego State University. He said there were approximately 300 freshman students who wanted to enter the Nursing program, but only about 70 spaces. He says the bill “is a viable way to help people, many from backgrounds who otherwise would not have [the] opportunity.”

The bill would allow the community colleges system to establish a pilot program that would allow no more than 15 community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees. Each community college would only be permitted to offer one baccalaureate degree program. The bill does not designate specific community colleges or programs. Instead, the bill requires community college districts to seek approval from the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. When seeking approval, community colleges districts must show unmet workforce needs in the subject area they wish to offer in the local community or region. Community colleges could start offering baccalaureate degrees as early as 2015.