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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bubble in Chinese Housing in the US?

The recent prices for houses in Arcadia and San Marino amaze me. A 1522 sq ft house in Arcadia is going for $960,000.  In San Marino, a 963 sq ft house for $1.2 Million. San Marino has one of the top school districts in CA, and Arcadia is not far behind. And top school districts are a big attraction for ethnic Chinese. And Arcadia and San Marino are in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley, that has a huge Chinese infrastructure - Chinese bakeries, restaurants, banks, etc. Which is why Beverly Hills that also has excellent schools, does not have a large Chinese population.

Chinese buyers are focused on Los Angeles, San Francisco, Irvine, New York, Las Vegas, Detroit, Seattle, Miami, Orlando, Boston Anderson SC, Chicago, Houston, San Diego. Yes, I know, Detroit?

My understanding, is a lot of Chinese are investing in the US as a safe haven, as well as for environmental reasons for their family. The question is if there is a $50,000 limit per year for taking money out of China, how were these housing purchases being made? What I read recently, is some Chinese banks had a special program for sending money out of the country for real estate purchases. CCTV did a recent expose on this, and the program was temporarily stopped. Per the WSJ the program will probably be restarted. A more negative view - Did China Just Crush The US Housing Market? My wife's comment, is Chinese have a lot of relatives, so there is going to be little impact on Chinese buying houses in the US.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

College Admission Tips from a recent Graduate's Parent

College Admission Summary:

My daughter graduating, I have become a bit retrospective to see what we did right and wrong. It's been a huge learning experience, and I am very happy with how my daughter turned out. The one big thing I did not realize, until it was too late, was how competitive getting into a top colleges is. I view the college admissions application process as an arms race, and many Northern Asian parents are fueling it.

By the time I figured out the college admissions game, having just starting around the beginning of her junior year, it was a bit late. Luckily, my daughter ended up at an A+ school that she was able to finish in 3 years, no student debt, and got an amazing job she starts in a few weeks. I was surprised hearing about other of her classmates and where they were admitted, and rejected from. My impression is a bit random (crap shoot), and unless your child stands out from the pack, your rolling the dice. An example is I heard of a student accepted to UC Berkeley, but turned down by UC San Diego that is a much lower ranked school.

My daughter's best friend in Kindergarten family started in middle school preparing to be a top candidate for college applications, hired a big name college admissions consultant, and it worked! Her friend is now attending one of the top colleges in the US.

Which College?

The important item with choosing a college, is focusing on the major, then the college, and look at value.

Value Includes: 

  • Graduation rate 
  • Job hiring rate - if it's hard to find, that tells you something, and try to drill down by major.
  • Hiring Salaries
  • Total yearly cost to attend (her yearly college cost about 50% of a UC, and about 25% of an Ivy League). 
  • Party reputation. Your child is going to college to get skills they can use after they graduate. There are also lists of top party schools you can find, being on this list was a huge negative to me.
  • Average number of years to graduation is good to know. If it takes 6 years to graduate, the total college cost is now 50% more than if you expected graduation in 4 years.

College Admissions Tips:

  • Make it so your child is not the typical Chinese American applicant.
  • Get Leadership stuff, and start early. Leadership is one of these nebulous terms. My take on it is being a class officer, and in leadership positions in clubs. 
  • The college tour is a tour de force of marketing, and the student guides are coached -  and yes, the walking backwards is planned and rehearsed. Many colleges now even have Chief Marketing Officers!
  • Many colleges try to get as many applicants as possible, to make them look more selective in the admittance.
  • Think about who is going to be scanning your child's application, and what they are looking for. Avoid stereotypes, and make your child's image unique that stands out in a positive way from the crowd. Most schools are not looking for another Asian musical genius.
  • Get some type of non profit stuff. If you can, start your own! That got one of my daughter's classmates into Yale, and another a Gates Scholarship and into Stanford.
  • Keep the grade up, and the GPA is more important than the classes you take. In other words, if a hard class is going to kill your GPA, skip the hard class.
  • IB - International Baccalaureate - It was a great experience for my daughter that built useful skills that will remain with her forever. Unfortunately, I feel it did hurt her GPA and may be part of the reason some top colleges did not admit her. I am glad she did IB and I wish the college admission process would give the premium completion deserves.
  • The admission essay makes a huge amount of difference
  • Getting college admissions help is smart. Or at least study up on it. I suggest do this at the beginning of middle school.
  • The Ivy League is biased against Asian applicants. What this means if your want your child to get in, you need to have your child stand out from the competition.
  • Have your child take up a sport. Some sports seem to help more than others to get admitted to the right college.
  • Good teachers help a lot. Not all K-12 schools are created equally. Who your child associates with, makes a difference. If they are going a school where the norm is going to a great college, your child will have a higher chance of going. This is why so many Chinese parents will pay a premium for a house in a great school district.
  • College admissions will just spend a few seconds with your application to screen it (think job resumes), so write it accordingly.
  • SAT Prep classes make a difference
  • Have your child take a college level class at a local Junior College or in High School. Junior College classes are usually easier than the usual AP classes, but colleges for some reason think more of them. And no, this does not make sense to me.

Future of Education:

There is some very exciting things happening with online education, that may change drastically. The entire higher education model in the near future. My daughter finished her college before this happened, but I expect huge changes in the next 5-10 years. Many colleges may fail, due to the short comings of the current higher education model with costs that are increasing super fast, students coming out with lots of student loans, and the education quality is wanting. We live in interesting times. The positive is now you can take a lot of college classes online for free! Is a top college worth $62,000 a year?

Wow, I did not realize I had so much to write about college. It's been a huge focus for my family for the last 7 or so years. I have this habit of becoming an expert on areas that interest me. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

State Bans NATIVE CHINESE SPEAKER From Teaching Chinese Over American-Made Test

Amazing, but true!

  1. The test uses Pinyin and Simplified Chinese
  2. The teacher from Taiwan, that does not use Simplified Chinese and Pinyin.
  3. The schools are using Bo Po Mo (also called Zhuyin). They are phonetics done using Characters, instead of the romanization. There are arguments about which one is better for an excellent Chinese accent.  Taiwan uses Bo Po Mo mostly.
  4. A licensure consultant said she had to stop teaching Mandarin, till she was certified. My guess this is from No Child Left Behind, that has pushed that all teachers be licensed / certified.
  5. Her husband is President of the Local School Board.


Reader's Watchdog: Test bars would-be Chinese teacher - The Des Moines Register

State Bans NATIVE CHINESE SPEAKER From Teaching Chinese Over American-Made Test - Daily Caller


Chinese use of Nanny's in the US

Many ethnic Chinese use Nanny's in the US. There is a supply of recent Chinese immigrants in the US, legal and not, who are willing to be live in Nannies. The rate varies depending on the experience, and where the person is from. A person from Taiwan with the same qualifications, usually charges more than a person from China. The duties include cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Some Nannies for older children, also include dropping and picking up from school the children.

This recent saga, shows some of the potential issues of having an unknown person as a Nanny, live in your house.

There is a lot of rules for hiring a Nanny proper in the US, as Zoë Baird found out with the Nannygate scandal.

The 'nightmare nanny' who came to stay and now won't leave: Family's fight to kick out carer who refused to work... and now wants to ban THEM from their own house - Daily Mail, UK

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China's Growing Military Capability

China Military is growing, and I am not sure the US has adjusted. The Nuclear Treaties SALT etc. do not have as a party China. China's military is becoming more effective with a growing Chinese economy funding a growing Military budget, a focus on increasing the effectiveness of the Military Leader, and understanding that improvements will take decades. This is going to increase the assertiveness of China with dealing with other countries. An example of assertiveness is in the South China Sea. China has been more assertive since 1974 in the South China Sea. And this is combined with a huge change since the end of the Cold War, with more and more countries becoming nuclear armed and growing economies, makes for a much more challenging world that is not split into two factions, but many. The US is in for interesting times.

Some recent related articles:

Chinese Military Creates High-Level Cyber Intelligence Center - Washington Beacon

China's Missile Forces Are Growing: Is It Time to Modify the INF Treaty? - The National Interest

China’s Leadership Arrests General, Bans Ramadan Fasting - The American Interest

China Displays World’s Largest Conventional Submarine - The Diplomat

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Asian Quotas in Schools? Ivy's, UC's, NYC Schools, and ?

I am surprised that even with the Asian percentage of the US college age population doubling, the amount admitted to the Ivy League has stayed the same. This sounds very suspicious, and similar to the Jewish Quotas that were done in the 1920's. And it seems very similar tactics are being used, where instead of relying on exam scores the application process has gone into a holistic approach. NYC in their top schools uses an exam only for admissions, and there is pressure to change this since a huge percentage of students at the top schools are Asian. The key with a holistic process, is it's easier to hide discrimination. Sports, Leadership, hardships are ways that I have seen as part of the holistic process.

The danger of a holistic approach, is admitting students who are unable to compete academically. This results in a higher drop out rate, or the student changing to a less demanding major. If the student had gone to less challenging school, the student would do better academically. And by going to a college better suited for their academic ability, you actually have a higher overall graduation rate for African American and Hispanic students in UC's. In California, Asian's have about 3X more students, than their share of the population per this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Holistic applications are used as a way around requirements of race neutral application processes. UCLA has done this, where they have made the application process favor some races over others. The result is a poor Asian student at UCLA, with the same grades, SAT, and other factors has 50% the chance of admission, to a rich African American student.

Ron Unz has an excellent article about how the Ivy League is withholding data, so it's hard to prove what is going on. Asian Quotas in the Ivy League? “We See Nothing! Nothing!” - The Unz Review. The We see nothing, nothing is a reference to Sgt Schultz from Hogan's Hero's signature line, I see Nothing. I grew up watching that show.

My 2 cents on College Admissions:

  • Admissions to College should be Color Blind. All students should have an equal chance, based on their academic performance.
  • It would be great if somebody did something like Google is doing for employees, and find out what makes a successful college graduate.
  • There is a problem with schools, where many schools turn out students who are unable to compete academically at top schools. I view this problem as a huge issue for having a good society that everyone can perform to their full potential, and I hope it gets solved.
  • The amount of space at UC's should be increased, to correspond with the increase in California's population. over the past 50 years.
  • The California College Master Plan needs to be revisited  If you need proof, just ask any student attending a California community college on their experience getting classes...
  • The cost of a top education needs to be reduced. $62,000 a year for a top private school such as Duke with Room and Board does not make economic sense.
  • Online Education should be used, when appropriate by colleges, as a way to reduce overall costs.

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Versailles Treaty & China - Fallout Continues

Excellent must read to understand the origins of modern China. The WWI era and it's impact on China is one I did not know a lot about. Germany had a possession in China, that was taken over by Japan. At the Versailles Treat negotiations, China had an excellent case, unfortunately due to interests on perpetuating the imperial system, France and UK did not want to help China. If the UK and France had helped China, it would have thrown into doubt the morals of keeping their colonial possessions at the time. The US did not want to help, since per the article Japan had put into the treaty, a sentence about all races being equal. And at the time, unfortunately and shamefully, the US had a segregated society. The deal was to get rid of the sentence US President Woodrow Wilson, an idealist that wanted to prevent future wars by forming the League of Nations, backed Japan's interests, over China.

The Fateful Deception Behind a Century-Long Grudge Match - The American Interest


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