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Panel to explore alternate post-high-school paths

Original post made on Feb 20, 2013

Unconventional post-high-school paths will be explored Thursday in a Gunn High School panel discussion titled "OMG! I Forgot to Apply to Harvard!"

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 7:10 AM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:05 am

Great idea, but having a blasphemous title takes away from it. Please amend the title to something that is not so offensive.

After all, you would not call it Oh Allah, I forgot to apply to Harvard.

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Posted by affen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:20 am

Well, of course you wouldn't mix languages. However you might say "Ya Rab, ..." to say the same thing in Arabic.

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Posted by mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

It would be nice to have this as an assembly at the high schools so all the students can hear it.
I agree that the title is inappropriate, both use of "God", "OMG", and "Harvard".
It doesn't really explain the content, just makes some not even look at it.
I like the first words of the blurb for a title: "Unconventional post-high-school paths"
Glad to see this topic!

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Posted by islandTiki
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 20, 2013 at 11:29 am

Seriously? OMG can stand for Oh My Gosh... you have made an assumption that it stands for something different.

Agree that a different title might be more refelective of the content and grab attention.

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

This is the sort of thing that one would expect from the people hired as as student counselors. Given that there is a more-or-less 50% failure rate in US colleges/Unis, the fact that someone is accepted to college does not mean that they are going to graduate.

These days, this sort of information is easily published via web-sites. Lots of information can be provided via short videos, and with video-chat software, students in any school in the US can connect with people all over the US--who might be willing to offer ideas, and their personal experiences, on a one-on-one basis, from the student's own home.

While this event is nice, why isn't the PAUSD taking advantage of the many tools that the Internet/web offers to connect students looking for information that might not be readily available at their local schools?

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Posted by Star Teachout
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

This is a parent education event (organized by freshman parent volunteers) that is simply making a small step towards encouraging parents to support the choices their high school students make as they travel through high school and beyond. We want to share the stories of some generous and kind young adults who have taken normal paths, but not the ultra-achievement route. In most parts of the country this event wouldn't be necessary, but here it might have some usefulness due to the (over?) emphasis on academics. They are still academic types, but more balanced and willing to say no to excessive demands (put on them by parents, peers, society, etc.). Hope that clarifies some of the issues.

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Posted by Christina Owen
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm

The 5th Annual Career Month event at Palo Alto High School will focus on precisely this topic. We provide opportunities for our students to hear from people who have found the "sweet spot" in their career--doing what they are good at, what they are interested in, and where they can make a living.

March 5-8th the Paly College & Career Center will host the following: Women in Business Forum, IDEO Product Design Tour, Job Fair, Specialty & Career Programs Fair, and Community College Forum.

From March 18-29 during lunchtime, students are invited to come to the ERC/SSRC in the Paly Library each day to hear the stories of 20 dynamic professionals--how they found passion in work and life, and what they do in a typical day.

We encourage our students to consider post-high school paths based on their interests, talents, and passions. To see this year's line-up of Career Month speakers and events, please see

Christina Owen
Career & Community Engagement Advisor
Palo Alto High School

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Posted by den Affen
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I hope they are not referring to vocational schools--those are substandard, expensive, and get no one anywhere. Employers know it, too! Same with Junior Colleges, and four-year colleges know that, too, as well as employers. Most good schools will not accept all, sometimes any, of your units from a JC. It is a waste of time, effort, and money.

So, I hope they have some good, realistic, and effective alternatives. Historically, they haven 't!

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Posted by Transfer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hmm, den Affen, it appears you have a strange definition of "good schools". All the UCs and CSUs will accept JC units, and unless you're about to claim that the only good schools are those ranked higher than Berkeley or UCLA (eg, the top twenty), you're being ridiculous. Furthermore, transferring to those institutions is just unrealistic--Stanford, for instance, only accepts 20-50 transfer students a year, probably from similar Ivy caliber universities. So, if you're going to a JC, you're probably looking at public schools to begin with, which accept the units and make JC a very good use of time, effort, and money. You just need to know where to transfer.

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Posted by den Affen
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

My sister went to Foothill, transferred to Davis, which made her start over as a second-semester freshman. My daughter also went to Foothill, transferred to Chico, which made her start over completely. My friend went to Foothill, transferred to Berkeley, which made her take her sophomore year over. My husband got a Master's from SJSU, and when he tried to get a Phd from Stanford, they made him get the same Master's over again from them before accepting him into their Phd program. Lots of wasted time and money there. Now my son, who had an AA degree from Foothill, has transferred to Davis, and they are not crediting his sophomore year, so instead of going in as a junior, he is going in as a freshman.

Go figure! The rules state that they have to take you if you have an AA degree from a JC, but truth is, they want students who go for more than two years.

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Posted by Myth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

What's blasphemous about OMG?

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Posted by Barbara Slone
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

My two sons attended Paly. They both got admitted to UCLA in Electrical Engineering. We never pushed our kids and they both did very well probably due to their inborn smarts (I take no credit!). We wanted our sons to be happy and find careers of their own choosing (hopefully one that they were passionate about!). Since my firstborn could do all the AP Physics and Math the Paly college center told him to apply in EE which he did. Well into his studies he realized that he didn't want to be an engineer (actually I don't know that he ever wanted to be an engineer but he didn't have a chance to discover that fact because the curriculum requires you to put blinders on and adhere to a narrow path of study). In his third year of studies, our son came to my husband and me and asked if we would support him for a quarter while he got a grunt job in a restaurant to find out if being a chef was really what he wanted to do. He started cooking professionally learning all of his chef skills on the job and has never looked back. He did not want to go to culinary school (we offered to pay his tuition) as he felt that he could learn everything they teach on his own. He even went to Jamaica for more than a year to learn to cook in another culture. His ultimate goal was to own his own restaurant and at the ripe old age of 25 he had realized that goal (Sent Sovi in Saratoga). We are very proud of what our son has achieved Although being a chef/owner (with his wife) is not an easy way to earn a living he has never regretted dropping out of UCLA. He loves his work and the industry (even though it is a very stressful and challenging field) and credits his education and training in engineering and the sciences with helping him acquire good critical thinking skills.

I am delighted that a panel is being called to discuss alternate career paths. A university education does not guarantee happiness. I would love to walk into the Gunn counseling office some day and see a banner that says, "Our goal is to help you find your passion!" amongst all of those college banners (most of them from prestigious schools if I remember correctly). I can't imagine what it must feel like when a student enters that office space filled with anxiety about potentially not getting into the "right" college or university.

I ran into the mother of a very high achieving girl who was in my son's class at Paly and asked her what her daughter was doing. She told me that her daughter had taken leave of her Harvard studies for a year to sell shoes. The daughter was very happy taking this time out to do life in a different way. She most likely went back to Harvard and got her degree but the point is that our students do not have to have blinders on and stay on a straight, narrow, and often times stressful path until they graduate from college. There is more to life than study, study and more study!

I like the title of the panel discussion. It is eye-catching and gave me a bit of a chuckle. I think substituting "Gosh" for "God" if you are offended solves the problem! Good suggestion.

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Posted by "JC" Mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2013 at 1:37 am

@ den Affen:

I'm surprised that your relatives even got accepted as transfers from community colleges when they clearly did not meet a lot of the requirements of the colleges/programs they were transferring into.

My son went to Foothill, and entered UC Santa Cruz this academic year (as a junior) in Computer Science. He did not even bother to get an AA degree first; it wasn't necessary. Of course, he did a few things (admittedly, with some parental nudging) to assure that his transfer would go well:

(1) He paid attention to general-education and major requirements (at both Foothill and the four-year schools to which he applied), and to what courses were prerequisites for what others.

(2) He paid attention to the coursework the schools wanted to see before students applied as transfers, both the courses required and the courses that were recommended.

(3) He paid attention to the articulation agreements between Foothill and the programs he was considering, so he'd know exactly what courses would fulfill the requirements at the target universities. These articulation agreements are on Foothill's Website (listed by the Transfer Center, I believe).

(4) He did not change the major he was aiming for anywhere along the line. (Extra time to graduate can happen even when all courses are taken at a "four-year" school as well; one of our campus guides on our Cal Poly tour was a SIXTH-year student, who admitted that he'd brought the extra time upon himself by changing majors.)

(5) He took very few classes "just for fun" that didn't really fill any requirement slots, but there were a few.

It is the case that there are still some snafus to work out in getting credit for everything he took at Foothill that he should get credit for (especially in cases where articulation agreements are unclear or absent), and he still needs to see a UCSC counselor about this, but no more than a few of his classes should be affected, and no one has questioned either his status as a junior coming in, or the prerequisites for the classes he needs now as a junior in his major that he took at Foothill.

So a student just has to take care in selecting a schedule in community college that maximizes transferrability to the four-year school, as well as maintaining the course grades (and overall GPA) that the goal school wants to see.

Foothill served us well to prepare our son, as well as allowing him a few more years at home to mature before he set out on his own. (Not every student needs this, but our son, who was at the young end of his grade cohort, definitely benefited from it and is now doing well away at school in a demanding major at a rigorous university.)

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Posted by Panelist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I had the pleasure of speaking at this event last night. At least 3 of the panelist, including myself, went to community college before transferring to a university. I took advantage of the UCLA honors agreement, which allows near guaranteed admission to UCLA upon completion on the Foothill honors requirements. I, as well as many of my honors classmates, also got into Berkeley. UCs have very specific guidelines for how to choose transfer-eligible courses while in community college. I chose courses with transferrable credit and transferred a full 90 units to UCLA.

I benefitted greatly from developing my interests and study habits at a community college so that I could really excel by the time I got to UCLA.

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Posted by Panelist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

*typed on my itty bitty iPhone keyboard, so forgive the spelling mistakes!

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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Thanks to all the panelists who came out to speak to the parents and students. It was a great evening and I would also like to thank the organizers as well for putting together such an event. I hope they can do it again next year. I am also glad that some light has been shed on junior-college experiences regarding transferring to four-year institutions and getting fully credited for all the JC units. JC is a great way to save money during your first two years of college. I believe that five out of eight of the panelist attended junior college and they were all successful in their careers in college as well as Kin the workforce. I wish that all of the high school students in our district had the opportunity to attend such a panel!!

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