The Tony Steuer Podcast

Get Ready with Haruka Yamashita: College Knowledge

March 19, 2021 Tony Steuer / Haruka Yamashita
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Haruka Yamashita: College Knowledge
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The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Haruka Yamashita: College Knowledge
Mar 19, 2021
Tony Steuer / Haruka Yamashita

“Pay attention. Prepare for the heart to heart college money talk.” - Haruka Yamashita

In this episode of Get Ready, I spoke with Haruka Yamashita, Founder of Plan-It-Education about what College Knowledge you need to know to make the best college admission decisions.  We also discussed the “College Knowledge with Haruka YouTube series”.

Bio: Haruka Yamashita is a college admissions counselor, based in the San Francisco East Bay. She founded Plan It Education in 2016 and has hosted College Knowledge Webinars since 2020.  Haruka is a graduate of Cornell University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies. She brings a passion for working with youth and counseling to her practice.  She shares unique insights as a result of her own Ivy League education.  Her mission is to inspire, motivate and educate families so that they can make the best college admissions decisions. In 2020, she launched College Knowledge Webinars and her YouTube Channel: College Knowledge with Haruka. 


Show Notes Transcript

“Pay attention. Prepare for the heart to heart college money talk.” - Haruka Yamashita

In this episode of Get Ready, I spoke with Haruka Yamashita, Founder of Plan-It-Education about what College Knowledge you need to know to make the best college admission decisions.  We also discussed the “College Knowledge with Haruka YouTube series”.

Bio: Haruka Yamashita is a college admissions counselor, based in the San Francisco East Bay. She founded Plan It Education in 2016 and has hosted College Knowledge Webinars since 2020.  Haruka is a graduate of Cornell University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies. She brings a passion for working with youth and counseling to her practice.  She shares unique insights as a result of her own Ivy League education.  Her mission is to inspire, motivate and educate families so that they can make the best college admissions decisions. In 2020, she launched College Knowledge Webinars and her YouTube Channel: College Knowledge with Haruka. 


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the get ready. Tony Stewart podcast. I'm pleased to be joined today by Rekha . You must shake her. Got is a college admissions counselor and the founder of planet education. Her cat is also the host of college knowledge with Huracan series on YouTube. In this episode, we'll be discussing her [inaudible] philosophy and with college knowledge, you need to know to make the best college admission decisions. Haruka , welcome to get ready. Thank you for joining me today. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, it's a pleasure. I can't wait to learn more about you and what you're doing. So, you know , this is always the starting question. Can you tell us a little bit, what is your origin story? How did you get started with college knowledge?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm originally from New York and , um, I graduated from Cornell university with a major in human development and family studies. And I was a volunteer as an alumni working , uh, to help students in the Bay area with college interviews. And I just get so involved with it that one day someone said, you treat this like a job. That's when I had this kind of , uh , you know, aha moment, like this can actually be a profession. So I've made a shift from working in Silicon Valley. I mean, it didn't turn overnight, but I decided, well, I discovered that there was a , uh , job out there called independent educational consultants where you can help , um, uh, students and families with the college admissions process. Uh, and so I established my company planet education , uh , back in 2016 and here I am now.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. So , um, you know , as we get into it is , um, can you just tell us a little bit about , uh, your financial philosophy? What is your financial philosophy?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think that every, you know, when, when students and families are beginning their college admissions journeys, there's a balance that has to be maintained. And that is that when you build a best fit college list, it has to balance three things. People often talk about the academic fit, of course , uh , your GPA, your academic strength, your test scores, that type of thing, what you want to study. Then the second thing is social fit. You know, all of your extracurricular activities, demographics location, but there's a third element that's really important and that's financial fit. That's the third element. And I think that when you think of academic, social and financial fit, they're almost like three legs on a stool. And if any of them are not balanced, you're going to tip. So financial fit actually is the more as, as the years go by. I think that is perhaps the number one thing, more, even more important than academic and social fit. So I'm, I'm thrilled to be able to have this opportunity to talk about financial fit for families as they are building their college lists and looking at colleges.

Speaker 1:

Well , that's great. And I think that was something that we were definitely talking about is how did you come up with that concept? What is the concept of best fit colleges?

Speaker 2:

So when you look at the college admission seems really daunting for many families because you think that there are only like say these Ivy league schools and my kid is not a perfect student and that's it . And college costs so much. And you know, how is my child ever going to get admitted, but you kind of have to set all of that noise aside because at the beginning, at the end of the day, you have to realize that every student is unique and you have to think about your student's situation, your family situation first, right? You have to be customized. So , um , getting an understanding that each family has a budget, every college, every university has a price tag, and that you have to honor what your budget is as an integral part of the college , uh, list-building process. Um, and it's not rocket science, but it also does require some due diligence, you know, so, and there are tools out there there's a process. Uh , there are, there are concepts to understand it is not mystic, but , uh, so these are things that I like to share with my families.

Speaker 1:

Well, and I think that's so important. I mean, that's one of the things is, you know, I know you're , uh, we're going to talk a little bit about financial literacy as we run through it, but I , I think that's so important is we talk about the number of people who carry massive amounts of student debt that, you know, it is a consideration when you're picking a college. Um, so I, I love that that's a, in part of your core strategy for people when thinking about college , um, one of the other things I really liked is, you know, you talk about goals. Um, can you tell us a little bit about what are smart goals?

Speaker 2:

So in the business world, and even now students learn about smart goals, right? The acronym S M a R T, what does that stand for? And so these goals can be set by students and families as they are planning for college as well. So S S stands for specific, so specific maybe , uh, you know, instead of coming up with big goals, kind of come up with smaller, specific goals that are bite-sized for your family am is measurable, meaning , uh, have a , um, numbers so that you can , uh, quantify your goals. A often stands for , uh, achievable in most business contexts, but I like to use it for affordable. You run it through and you're looking and building your college list. You want to have schools that are affordable, keep it real. And then , um, R stands for realistic, right? And then T is time bound. So the process of college admissions is a long one, but the most important one year period is between January of junior year and December of senior year. So things that you're working on before that, during that period and after it kind of reaches a kind of a crescendo. So the intensity of your research will differ where you are and how, you know, how old your kid or children are. Um, yeah. Does that help?

Speaker 1:

Uh , yeah. I , I think that's a wonderful , you know , turn, I think that's very helpful for, you know , uh, people who are thinking about colleges to think about it, you know, as you mentioned, you know, that this is a wider concept than just with college and you've adapted it to thinking about college, but it really is a lot about goals is , um, that we need to reframe that concept of thinking about colleges. Like, what do you want to get out of the process? Um, and how do you find that college that is we talked about earlier is a best fit. Um, and I think that leads perfectly into our next question is what are the four focus areas when planning for college?

Speaker 2:

That's a great question. And when, when I work with families, it seems like college admissions is like this big amorphous monster. But in actuality, I think of college as the college admissions planning process has four buckets. The first one is self discovery, which is about starting with the student, figuring out what majors the student might be interested in studying. Uh, the second one is college research because there are 4,000 schools in the United States , uh, public ,

Speaker 3:

Uh,

Speaker 2:

Public public, as well as private in California. We have the UC system, which has nine campuses. We have the seat, it , uh , California state university system, which has 23 campuses. There are about 140 community colleges. There are out of state schools for the 50 States. There are private schools, some, you know, including Ivy league institutions, smaller liberal arts colleges, women's colleges, engineering, only specific colleges institutes. So how do you figure out where your student might fit in and what are the pros and cons of each type of school? Because not every school has pros and cons and you have to analyze them and understand that as part of the process, the third area of focus is financial college financial literacy, because every school has a price tag and every school has a different cost of attendance and cost of attendance includes of course, tuition. That's the biggest chunk, but fees, a room and board, which is housing and food and other hidden costs as well. Things like transportation or insurance , um, and even things like, you know, the, the expected time to graduation. We used to think that college is a four year process, but if you ask around, you'll realize that not everybody graduates in four years. And so the average , uh, you know, four year and six year graduation rate is, is not just an academic ,

Speaker 3:

Uh,

Speaker 2:

Characteristic. It's a financial one, because if you have to go for a fifth year of school, six years of school, that is coaching , coaching that's money, right. Someone has to pay for it. So those are some things that are in the financial literacy, of course, things like financial calculators ,

Speaker 3:

Um, you know, and

Speaker 2:

Understanding the different forums like FAFSA CSS profile. There's a long time

Speaker 3:

Deep list . And fourth

Speaker 2:

Area of focus is college essay writing because your student is more than a number, right? And the essays are a way in which students can share some of their authentic self to explain to colleges and universities that they have special experiences and skills that they can contribute to different college campuses. So they're not

Speaker 1:

Well that that's great. I love the perspective that, you know, that financial literacy is part of the conversation. It's not the full conversation, but it does have an impact. And I think people overlook that when thinking about college, when purchasing a house, you know, that purchasing house, it's not just about the neighborhood. You could apply your four focus areas to some degree when you're purchasing a house. Um, you know, in financial literacy is obviously the financial aspect is a major part of buying a house, but it's not the only factor and money shouldn't drive the bus, but it is an important passenger .

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Well, you need to decide whether you're taking a bus or whether you're taking a limousine or something in between.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. There you go. That that's back to the, you know, that , that the money is an important part of it, but it's also part of how you want to travel. Um, you know, some people it's worth that trade off . Uh, you know, we look at it with the cars, people drive is like, you know, some people think the porch is worth the money. I'd prefer to save the money. Um , you know, so it's, it's a trade off . And I think, you know, maybe, you know , that's the sense I get from talking with you and for disclosure for our listeners is I've hired Haruka as a counselor for my son. Uh, so you know, that that's how much I love her philosophy, but I , I think that's part of what you're saying is that, you know, everybody's gotta make their own choice about what they want and their affordability.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. When you're looking for schools, when you're building a college list for your own child, when this goes, it goes back to my initial best-fit college philosophy of the three things, right? The academic fit, you want to figure out whether the family or the student has academic strength and, you know, some are strong and some are not. And even if your student is a B student, you still have to find schools for them , uh, whether your family is , um, earning more than a hundred K per year, 200 K per year, or maybe under 50 K per year, you still have to find a school that meets that budget. Right. And so understanding where you are in that spectrum, you, you have be true to that. And don't be, don't ignore that because otherwise you're setting yourself up for, for disappointment. It's about setting expectations, right? Yeah. Certainly

Speaker 1:

Reasonable expectations, so important . Um, so w one of the things you're doing that, that I, I think is great is that you're putting a lot of free information out there, free resources for people. Um, can you tell us about your college knowledge with Huracan , uh , YouTube series,

Speaker 2:

Right. Thank you for asking. So I just launched the college knowledge with Hanukkah, a YouTube series, and a lot of the content. Well , obviously all the content in there is free. I've been giving a Facebook lives for all of 20, 20, and every week I share some nugget related to college admissions, and it could be related to any of those things. The about self-discovery finding majors , uh, exploring different UCS or , uh, understanding what tag is a transfer admission guarantee, or how does the COVID epidemic affect the college admissions process? How, how do you approach essays anyway, just a whole range of topics that I've been sharing advice and my expertise on every week, this content has been converted , uh , so that everybody can watch it also , um, the YouTube channel. Uh , so it's called college knowledge with how to cut. And you could just find that , um, I hope you do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And for our listeners and viewers is there will be a direct link , uh, to Horeca as a YouTube series, as well as to her Facebook page. So you can engage , uh, with her Rekha live or catch , um , the episodes later on, on YouTube. So , um, you know, when of the other things that you're doing is , um, some webinars , uh, what are the college knowledge webinars

Speaker 2:

I'm launching the college knowledge webinars series , um, and it's weekly series where I do some deep dives. So they are related to mostly college, financial literacy and college research. And the topics that I cover are deep, you know, for example , um, hidden costs of college attendance, because there's so much out there, you know, in the colleges, they are, some of them are not so straightforward about what the cost of colleges . So I kind of go into all of that and what you might miss and , uh, and , and, and how to find out the actual, the true cost of college attendance. Other topics include net price, calculators, scholarships, merit money, FAFSA, which is a free application for student, sorry, the free application for federal student aid. I talk about expected family contribution, which is a key number that is the core of the core number that is used to determine how much financial aid you will or will not get CSS profile, which is the other financial aid form, student loan and risks and risk mitigation. So all those topics, even early decision, which in my opinion, is really a financial decision , uh, not just an academic decision,

Speaker 1:

That, that that's great. And one thing you said there is that I think is so often overlooked in many financial decisions that people make is true cost . I think people often overlook that, that as you mentioned with college, there are additional costs above tuition, but you know, again, to talk about purchasing a house is there's more cost than your house is you have , uh , your insurance, you have the upkeep. If you're buying a large house, are you going to need to hire a landscaper? Um, there's all those things that it's, it goes beyond that. And I'm really glad that you're putting out resources to help people think about that, that the tuition is just the starting cost, but it's not your full that's right out of pocket .

Speaker 2:

That's right. I think that a lot of families are a bit in denial about the cost of college education. They don't, you know, I'm one of the first steps is to actually look it up on the internet. How much is the school going to cost ? Because, and it's not necessarily easy to find either I, as a college admissions counselor hunt hard, you know, and even for the UCS, it's hard to hunt and get the exact numbers. But the UCS typically cost about the total cost of attendance is about $38,000 per year. That's per student. So if you've got more than one child, you have to double everything, right. And also it's per year per student. So if it takes more than four years to graduate , uh, if it takes five years or six years, then you have to calculate that into your budget. If you go to a private school, it could be much more like $75,000 per year per student. So that can become $300,000 and most families that I know, I think hopefully nobody, no listeners have fallen ill just listening to that. But it's true. And, but the good news is that not every family pays full price. That's a huge takeaway that I want listeners to remember that there's a difference between their price, that there's a , um, there's a sticker price. And then there's a net price. What you as a family have to end up paying is different from the initial sticker price. So dig deep, there's a lot to learn.

Speaker 1:

That's great. And, you know, that's like buying a car is, you know, but they put it on a price, but most people don't pay that price, you know? So it's , uh, it's interesting. Um, so, you know, also one of the things is , um , I encourage and I will happen to show links is links to your planet educational website. Can you give people just a quick overview of what type of resources people can find on the planet education website?

Speaker 2:

Sure. I think to start out, it's always good to see what's available for free, right? So if you go to my website, it's called plan it education three words, plan PLA and hyphen it hyphen education. And you can see lots of resources on my free resources page. I have checklists , um, including , uh , financial under college planning, checklists , uh, you'll see a financial aid checklist. If you scroll down, you'll see a green section where I kept all of my financial literacy resources together. So financially basics , uh , including glossaries, different calculators, FAFSA, forecasters , uh , net price, calculator information , uh, a link to getting the FAFSA form as a PDF. Uh, what is the CSS profile, different CSS profiles schools, also a section just on scholarships. So if any of these topics are interesting to you and you're finding it difficult to navigate on Google, or it's true because if you just do a Google search and say, all right , let's find scholarships. Sometimes it's totally overwhelming because there are, you know , 30 sites out there what's the best resources related to financial aid. I mean, it's just like you get on Amazon, how many it can be very overwhelming, but I vetted these links. These are the ones that I believe I can trust. And these are for your S your families.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. And I , I think you and I talked about one of the sites , um, big future , uh, which is from the college board sat , uh, and how you've narrowed down, you know, they're Incredibles, they have an incredible amount of resources, but finding that right resource , um, that's a challenge.

Speaker 2:

It is. It is. I think that if you're totally a newbie at this, the big future website is pretty good. Uh, it's D it's, it's deep and wide, but , um, it's a great first place to look at also, great resource is the UC website, university of California, again, that it's like the ocean and it's deep and it is wide. So I have , uh , done some fishing for you, if you want the best links, just coming to my website and get shortcuts to this ocean.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. And again , uh , for everybody, there , there will be a link to the website. Uh , so as we start to wrap up , um, one of the questions I love asking people is how do you feel we can improve financial literacy?

Speaker 2:

I think being honest about what you can afford and what's out there and trying to educate yourself. I mean , my goal is to inspire, motivate, and educate families and students on their college admissions journey. There is a huge, there is a body of information out there so that you can make the best college decisions. And part of that is financial literacy. So don't be scared, just start, you know, and begin with the basics, understanding what is the total cost of attendance for different types of schools, whether it's public or private , um, and, and start asking those questions like, you know, you know, what is , uh , what is, what are all these calculators anyway, because you gotta keep it real, be realistic and start to spreadsheets so that you can anticipate how much college could cost. And, and that's how you build your list and just follow the process. Um, I think that the college knowledge webinars and my YouTubes videos can all help you to demystify the college financial aid process.

Speaker 1:

Yeah . And I think even the name of your website, planet education says exactly that is, you know, take a step, make a plan, educate , um, and you'll lay it out. So to , to wrap up what is your number one tip on being financially prepared,

Speaker 2:

Pay attention and, and, and, and, and, and, and prepare for the heart to heart college, money talk.

Speaker 1:

I like that. I like that. So we've talked a lot about this, but, you know , just as a reminder , um, where can people learn more about you?

Speaker 2:

Well, the best place is my website, planet education.com. And from there, you can get links to my free resources links to social media, because I'm on YouTube, I'm on, I have my weekly Facebook lives. I have , um, you know, it's a one-stop shop. You can find out about deep dive , uh, college knowledge, webinars, and bonus presentations. I gave a presentation to UC Berkeley splash about , um, how about the UCS 14 , um, factors for college admissions , uh, holistic review, things like that. So what I'm just doing is , uh , I recommend that you check my website out and start with the free stuff, right . Free is good. So struck there. And then as, as your child gets older , uh, dig deeper into some of my more focused content. And let me help you with your college admissions journey.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Well, Huracan , uh , thank you so much for coming on today. It's been a real pleasure to talk with you about what you are doing. Thank you again,

Speaker 2:

Thank you for the opportunity, and I appreciate the chance to reach out to your listeners.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Um, and for everyone out there , um , listening or watching the podcast , thank you again for joining us. And please remember to subscribe to the, get ready with Tony stirrer podcast until next time.