COURTESY IMUA 'IOLANI
In considering where to go to college, a large majority of 'Iolani seniors are attracted only to schools along the West Coast and in the Northeast. Here, seniors Codi Nishimoto and Kelsi Hirai work on applications in the college counseling office.
Seniors rarely consider schools in the Midwest and South for their higher education
Bo Wen aspires to attend a prominent institution like Columbia, Dartmouth or the University of Pennsylvania. He also wouldn't mind going to UC-Berkeley, UCLA or USC. Wen is willing to travel to either coast to receive a high-quality education.
563 Kamoku St.
1,297 (grades 7-12)
"It's kind of like why I go to 'Iolani even though I live in Mililani," Wen said. "I want to challenge myself at the highest level, even if it means traveling far away."
However, when asked about colleges in the Midwest or South, the 'Iolani senior mentions only Northwestern.
"Those regions lack prestigious schools and don't have what I'm looking for in terms of cultural and ethnic diversity," Wen said. "The weather there isn't the best, either."
Wen would rather stay near the coast, where he is more comfortable and familiar with his surroundings.
Wen admits some his views are flawed, though: "I guess I'm a victim of stereotyping. Most people think that the Midwest is very dry and full of tornadoes. I don't know if that's true."
For years, most 'Iolani students have mapped out their college sights on the mainland and have left gaping holes across the Midwest and South. When prospective students decide to move away from home, a large majority are only attracted to schools along the West Coast and in the Northeast.
"Students think about going to the East or West and see all the area in between as fly-over country," said Todd Fleming, 'Iolani's director of college counseling. "The Midwest is just an area to traverse to them."
He feels this is likely due to a lack of marketing by universities in the area. Only a few colleges, like Washington University in St. Louis, have worked to increase their visibility and selectivity.
Statistics from a list of college selections from 2003 to 2006 show that more than 45 percent of 'Iolani alumni currently attend schools in California, Washington and Oregon. Students in the Northeast account for 18 percent, while only 15 percent of 'Iolani graduates attend schools in the 36 other mainland states.
Darren Choy, a freshman at UC-Irvine, focused mainly on schools in California during his college search last year. He is one of more than half of the class of 2006 that decided to stay along the West Coast. A few of his college choices were USF, USC and UC-Irvine, while Boston University was his only prospective school in the East.
"I stayed in the West because the East is too cold and far. I think students like the West Coast because it's similar to Hawaii, while others go east to attend the most challenging schools they can get into," Choy said.
Brandon Yim is a sophomore at Northwestern University outside Chicago. After not getting into Stanford, he ended up attending Northwestern in part because his father and brother went there but mainly because of bad planning: "I just applied to six schools that everyone else was applying to. I didn't really plan it out well."
Observes Fleming, "Port cities are large population centers that have been around a while in the Northeast and West. They create more jobs and great schools near them along both coasts."
He still hopes students see past the stereotypes about the Midwest like those that say it is all farmland and only inhabited by Caucasians.
Fleming does not expect great changes in the number of students heading to the Midwest or South, but he wishes to change perceptions about these feasible areas. He believes what is most important is that students choose a school that is the right fit for them.
BACK TO TOP
Project allows learning via telecommute
Students from other schools can benefit from 'Iolani's courses
Imagine waking at 9 a.m. to a nice, sunny sky, taking in the glory of the late morning with your trusty laptop resting quietly on your desk, waiting for you to begin your day.
You meander over to the computer, eyes wide open and refreshed from a solid 10 hours of REM cycles, and you're finally ready to get to school. Luckily for you, there is no gridlock in the morning commute to bog you down, or any need to put on a sweater as a quick fix for dress code, because you, my friend, are going to 'Iolani School via the Internet.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? For 'Iolani students, it is. However, beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, students in grades 11 and 12 at schools other than 'Iolani will be able to take the school's Advanced Placement courses online. The project, known as 'Iolani eSchool, is intended not as a service for 'Iolani students, but for students from other schools.
"I think most students have heard the message that colleges like to see students challenging themselves," said 'Iolani college counselor Todd Fleming. The College Board reports students took 2.1 million AP exams worldwide last year, a 12 percent increase from the year before.
Most 'Iolani students will take at least one AP class during their high school years. 'Iolani offers 23 Advanced Placement courses in 15 subject areas. This private school yields more than a third of the state's National Merit Semifinalists each year.
With the cost of tuition rising every year and greater competition for openings at 'Iolani -- there are currently seven applicants per opening -- headmaster Val Iwashita thought that online courses would reach a wider variety of teens. Courses such as AP Biology, AP European History and others will be available online for outside students to earn AP credit.
The classes will be taught and run by 'Iolani faculty members, and coursework will be approved by College Board, the organization that runs the AP program. After student demand and needs are examined, other courses might be added, such as writing tutorials and 'Iolani's popular PSAT and SAT prep courses.
Technology is not only affecting 'Iolani's reach beyond its campus, but on campus as well. To help transition into the digital age, many classrooms are being equipped with Smartboards. In addition, two courses at 'Iolani, AP Physics and Pre-calculus Honors, are using digital textbooks for their course work for the first time. This program is still in the testing phase.
'Iolani has a strong athletic program and several well-known teams, including the boys' varsity basketball team. However, the school's true forte has always been academics. The emphasis on learning is evident when visitors walk through the halls. Virtually 100 percent of 'Iolani students will continue on to college, and college counseling is a mandatory part of the curriculum.
'Iolani has always profited from the tight-knit community of teachers, alumni and students. School administrators hope the eSchool will help expand this community.
Established in 1863 as a school for boys, the student body includes 1,800 girls and boys today in grades kindergarten through 12. The school is divided into two campuses: a lower school, for kindergarten through sixth grade, and an upper school for middle and high school students. Because of 'Iolani's Episcopal roots, all students attend chapel once a week. Although times have changed since the school began, the standards remain as high as they have ever been.
Lance Sakamoto also contributed to this article.
BACK TO TOP
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
"To create fire and burn anything I want."
"The power to control time."
"I would fly and read super-fast."
"To be invisible."
"Chuck Norris powers!"
"Teleportation, so I can save time and get sleep."
"The ability to read minds."