Preparing for College
Getting ready to choose, apply to, and attend college can be both exciting and daunting. The College and Career Center is committed to helping our students (and families!) navigate the process. Please follow the links on this and other pages in this section for more information.
- Concentrate on academic preparation and continue to develop basic skills and extracurricular interests
- OPTIONAL: Register for the PSAT (this is for practice and not used by colleges)
- Sign up for extracurricular activities
- Participate in community service
- Take the PSAT, if appropriate
- Stay on top of your academics
- Attend College Night at the College of Alameda
- Receive results from PSAT in December
- Develop learning strategies/plan for taking SAT and/or ACT in junior year
- Keep your grades up
- Continue with community service
- Explore summer internships and jobs (The College/Career Center may be able to assist you)
- Sign up to take summer classes at a nearby college, if appropriate
- Volunteer or work over summer, take classes or enrichment programs
- Visit College Career Center to check resources
- Sign up for college visits in SCOIR
- Take challenging classes, when appropriate
- Continue with community service during school year
- Take the PSAT (sign up at the AHS Banking Office)
- Make sure you are meeting the “A-G” course requirements for UC/CSU
- Attend the AUSD College Night at the College of Alameda with your parents Continue attending college admission officer visits in the College & Career Center
- Use SCOIR to explore colleges and careers that interest you. Start putting colleges into your college you are "Following" tab
- Visit local college(s) over Thanksgiving break (Mon–Wed)
- Sign up for AP exams in May
- Develop art portfolios, or music/drama audition ideas
- Plan a strategy for getting the SAT and/or ACT scores you want (study booklet, preparation course)
- Continue community service
- Register for the SAT Reasoning Test, and/or ACT (based on what your target schools require) www.collegeboard.com www.act.org
- SCOIR! Use it!
- Make a list of your top 15 colleges and begin investigating them
- Plan college campus visits for your spring break
- Explore careers/majors more in depth—visit College Career Center
- Meet with your counselor to review transcripts, senior classes, etc.
- Visit colleges (especially California colleges)
- Research and sign up for summer internships
- Take the SAT or ACT
- Keep your grades up
- Visit colleges
- Take SAT or ACT
- Review test results; decide whether to take preparation course, if re-testing
- Volunteer or get work experience
- Brainstorm ideas for writing college personal statement—draft statement
- Discuss college finances with parents - Access the "Net-Price Calculator" on college websites
- Take test preparation class, if appropriate
- Continue developing art/music/drama portfolio, if appropriate
- Visit more colleges during the summer
- Register with NCAA Clearinghouse by end of junior year if you want to play competitive sports in college (Division I or II)
- UC Application is open August 1st - Begin working on your UC App.
- Check transcripts to make sure they are complete and there are no errors
- Complete your resume (helps teachers with recommendations, and you with applications) .
- Begin searching for scholarships
- Attend college visits of schools you are interested in, at AHS or regionally
- Create a separate email account for all college info—check it daily
- Make a list of people to ask for recommendations
- Meet with your counselor to turn in letter of recommendation requests, and mid-year report forms for private and out-of-state colleges
- Make a list of colleges you will apply to and their deadlines
- Give teachers recommendation forms
- Online application opens for Cal State Universities on October 1st; remember to check each individual campus for deadlines
- FAFSA application goes LIVE on October 1st; apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Create an FSA ID for student and one parent
- CSS Profile - an additional Financial Aid form some Private schools only. Check deadlines!
- Submit UC Application and CSU Applications by November 30th
- Register for CSS profile (for financial aid at private schools)
- Begin researching scholarship opportunities and check each college's website for alumni other scholarships
- CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!
- Every UC & CSU will email you about setting up your school Portal accounts. This is how you will check your admissions status and where you can see if you are missing anything for each school.
- Keep checking deadlines—most private college applications will be due sometime in January
- Send thank you notes to teachers and counselor for recommendations
- Keep checking with colleges to be sure all applications are complete
- Call financial aid office at colleges and make sure parents have completed paperwork
- If you were admitted somewhere by early decision, you must withdraw all other applications
- Most priority deadlines for CSS Profile are in Feb.
- Cal Grants deadline March 2nd - Submit your FAFSA to qualify for a Cal Grant
- Preview programs and visit colleges for an overnight
- Review all financial aid award packages and your FAFSA Student Aid Report
- Send Intent to Register, and then notification to colleges you are not attending. (Deadline for Intent to Register is usually May 1). If deferring for a Gap Year, notify the college in writing. The UC campuses do not have Gap year programs
- Check for any other deadlines (e.g. housing, scholarships)—some deadlines will be in early May
- Send deposit for housing
- Send AP scores if appropriate
- Indicate where you are enrolling in SCOIR
- Make sure you have updated SCOIR so your official final transcript will be sent to the school you are attending - This is done in SCOIR!!!
Letters of Recommendation
College Preparation Tools
Types of Tests
PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test)/NMSQT
WHO: Recommended for Juniors. Optional for sophomores, not recommended for those who have not completed Geometry.
WHAT: Good prep for the SAT test. Test results show right and wrong answers and can be used as a study tool. It is also the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program when taken in 11th grade
WHEN: Given only once a year in OCTOBER
WHERE: Offered at Alameda High School
HOW: Information regarding fees and registration announced at the end of September.
Scores are also available online in December.
Scholastic Assessment Test
WHO: Recommended for Juniors. Please note that the UCs & CSUs will not be looking any testing when considering admissions.
WHAT: The current SAT contains 2 sections: Reading/Writing and Math. (Each section 800 points, for maximum score of 1600 points)
WHEN: Recommended to be taken in Spring of Junior year and possibly retaken in Fall of Senior year. Test dates are: Aug/Oct/Nov/Dec/March/ May/June. December of senior year is the last test date accepted by most colleges.
WHERE: Offered at various high schools in the area. AHS is no longer a testing center.
HOW: Sign up on-line at www.collegeboard.com Test results mailed directly home to student and to our school. It is the student's responsibility to request test scores from the College Board be sent to colleges/universities that require them. Official scores are only sent directly from College Board.
For resources to register for the SAT, SAT Registration Guide
ACT (American College Test)
WHO: Recommended for Juniors. Please note that the UCs and CSUs will not be looking at any testing when making admissions decisions.
WHAT: Alternate test accepted all schools. It includes four sections: English, Math, Reading and Science Reasoning.
WHEN: Given seven times a year (Sept, Oct, Dec. Feb, April, June, July) and scheduled on a different weekend than the SAT
WHERE: It is available at several Bay area schools but not given at AHS (closest locations are in Oakland)
HOW: Sign up at www.actstudent.org . Test results mailed to student and school.
AP Tests (Advanced Placement)
WHO: Recommended for students taking an AP Course in the subject
WHAT: Some colleges may give college credit for AP test scores of 3, 4, or 5 (check with college).
WHEN: The AP tests are given only once a year in May and follow a nationwide schedule.
WHERE:The tests are given during the school day at AHS.
HOW: Sign up for test in spring at AHS School Bank.
Early Assessment Program
Early Assessment Program
WHO: All Juniors, especially those who plan to apply to Cal State University system
WHAT: This test of college "readiness" (as defined by the CSU System) is embedded as part of the Smarter Balance Testing (CAASP) required of all juniors. All sections of the EAP test must be completed in order to determine college readiness.
WHEN: Given during the Smarter Balance testing in April.
WHERE: Alameda High School
HOW: Be sure to complete all sections of the English and Math sections of the Smarter Balance test and authorize release of your scores to the CSU system.