College Admissions Tools for California Schools

Posted on September 2, 2007. Filed under: Education, North America, Opportunities |

There is a lot of information for students who wish to pursue college, but many do not know where to begin. At least from my experience I did not know, but it was all about trial and error. So I am going to try to make it a little bit easier for all of you. At least for students in California.

  1. In order to go to a 4 year institution you must be a High School graduate or must have passed the General Education Development exam (a.k.a. G.E.D.) Below are the California (CA) H.S. Requirements:


California High School Requirements


English: 4 years

Social Studies: 1 year of World History, 1 year of US History,1 year of Government/Economics

Math: 2 years

Science: 2 years

Health: ½ year

Applied Technology: 1 year

Physical Education: 2 years

Fine Art or Foreign Language: 1 year

Electives: 65 credits


High School Exit Exam

  1. Private/Public/Community Colleges – Once you finish your H.S. requirements, you look into your options. There are Private Universities and Colleges, State Universities, and Community Colleges. EVERYTHING HAS A DEADLINE!

Website with all Universities/ Colleges:

Website with all Community Colleges:

    1. Private Institutions are fairly more expensive. Yet, they have fewer people in classes and get that one-on-one attention from the professors.

i. Their deadlines vary.

ii. Most require essays.

iii. Application Fees (some may have application waivers. RULE OF THUMB: the less your family income the more money you may get from the government).

iv. Remember to look into housing.

    1. State Universities ( are more adequate priced. Classes are greater in size, but it is doable.

i. University of California (, UC, has 10 universities in their system and admits the top 12.5% of HS graduates. If you have a 3.0 g.p.a. for Fall 2007, meet the A-G requirements (, take the SAT Reasoning or ACT with writing and SAT Subject Test, and complete all for essays, you must be accepted into one of the UC schools. It may not be one of your choices, but you are in, most likely into UC Merced since it just opened in Fall 2006. There is one application that is due between November 1- 30th. There are fee waivers that only waive 4 UC schools.

ii. California State University (, CSU, has 23 campuses and admits 33% of HS graduates. You must have a 2.5 g.p.a., meet the A-G requirements (, take the SAT/ACT, there is no essay required, most competitive CSU’s must have applications in between October 1 – November 30, other CSU’s have an open enrollement. They also have a fee waiver for 6 CSU schools.

    1. Community College (, CC, are usually for students who have a lot going on, did not meet the requirements for other universities, or graduated H.S. and they must begin in a community college in order to transfer into a 4-year institution to finish their last two or three years. There are no standardized tests required, normally they make you take a placement exam for English and math.

  1. Standardized Tests – For those who are going to a 4 year institution you must take standardized tests. These can include the PSAT (practice only), SAT Reasoning, SAT Subject, or ACT.

    1. PSAT ( Most students can take the Practice SAT beginning 8th – 11th. When they sign up you should ask for a fee waiver, it covers a small portion, but you still need to pay a little something. The PSAT is proctored in October. And in 11th grade you can qualify for a National Merit Scholarship ( The test is 2 hours and 10 minutes and consists of Two 25-minute critical reading sections, Two 25-minute math sections, One 30-minute writing skills section.
    2. SAT Reasoning Test ( measures critical reading, math, and writing. The total possible points are 2400 and it is a 3 hour 45 minutes test. There are up to two fee waivers if you qualify, you can not have more than two.
    3. SAT Subject Test ( you can take three tests, you choose which subject areas you wish to take them in (ex. English, history and social studies, mathematics, science, and languages). Each test normally takes up to one hour. There are up to two fee waivers if you qualify, you can not have more than two.
    4. ACT ( measures English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning and is a 3 hours test.

  1. Financial Aid this is probably the most dreaded part of going through the college process. Determining if you can go to an Ivy league school with the Financial Aid they offered. Alas! Information that can help you!

    1. The First Step – FAFSA ( Fill it out online! This is how the government determines if you qualify for Financial Aid. They give you a confirmation and in that confirmation it gives you an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), if you have a zero, then you shouldn’t pay anything from your pocket, but are more likely to get a federal loan. You DO NOT pay for the FAFSA
    2. CSS Profile ( – You may need to fill out a CSS profile for a private school or college. They use this form to generate a more accurate EFC, where they look into Income, Assets, and Equity.
    3. You will receive a Financial Aid Award Letter – it may contain Grants, Scholarships, Government Loans, and/or Private Loans.

i. Grants:

1. Cal Grant ( – FREE money given to students by the state of California. Click the link to see if you are eligible. It is a financial based grant. Max. you can receive is $9807

2. Pell Grant ( – FREE money given to a student by the federal government. The maximum a student can receive is $4050

3. SEOG ( – FREE money reserved for students who have financial need. The maximum a student can receive is $4,000.

4. ACG ( – you must be a US citizen, graduate from H.S. after January 1, 2005, completed a rigorous coursework in H.S. (, receiving a Pell Grant, enrolled full-time 1st or 2nd year student in a 2 year or 4 year degree program.

5. SMART ( – you must be a US citizen, receiving a Pell Grant, enrolled as a full-time third or fourth year student in a baccalaureate degree program, 3.0 cumulative g.p.a., currently enrolled in an eligible major in one of the following categories: Computer Science, Engineering, Critical Foreign Languages, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Technology, or Multidisciplinary Studies (

ii. Scholarships – this is also FREE money that you must apply for. A good place to look into is FASTWEB ( Sometimes schools have their own University Scholarship. Check the schools website to see if they have any. And Apply!

iii. Loans:

1. Federal Stafford Loan ( fixed-rate, low interest loans available to undergraduate students attending accredited schools at least half time.

a. Undergraduate Students – first year they get $3,500; second year $4,500, third and fourth year $5,500. Those who are considered independent can get additional loan, first and second year $4,000 and third and fourth $5000.

b. Graduate Students – can get $8,500 in subsidized Stafford loan and $12,000 in unsubsidized Stafford loan.

c. NOTE: subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you are in school. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while in school. Try to get as much subsidized loan.

2. Perkins Loan ( a low interest (5%) loan for undergraduate and graduate students with “exceptional” financial need. After you graduate and if you work with “at-risk” students or community part of your loan can be forgiven.

3. Private Loan(s) – there are many other alternatives if you do not have the means to pay the rest of that balance. Try to avoid private loans as much as possible. Interests are much higher because they are not regulated by the government and accrue while in school. Let this be your last resource.

Remember talk to your Financial Aid Counselor if your parents separated and it created a financial hardship. Your budget can be increased if you purchase a computer or rent is above what the school calculates it to be.



Post Author: Raquel Michel

I am a 25 year old Latina who resides in Los Angeles, CA. Earned my B.S. in Business Administration, but once I graduated I realized that working with students was my passion. I worked for the Upward Bound Program for two years helping at-risk youth prepare for college, then I decided to pursue my M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and gradute in Spring 2008. I was faced with adversities, but I continue overcoming those obstacles and look forward in helping students achieve their educational and career goals.



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Good content input and nice design layout.

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