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College 101

How do I get to college?

In the state of California, higher education opportunities can be realized by attending one of the 116 community colleges, 33 public universities (CSU and UC),  83 private/independent universities and many more technical, trade, and art schools.  To be eligible to attend a community college, one must be 18 years of age or possess a high school diploma. 

Eligibility requirements for the California State University and University of California public systems require completion of the minimum A-G course sequence with grades of C or higher and submission of  ACT or SAT college admission tests results. *Important changes to the standardized test requirements are available on the college links to the left.  
Private/Independent university eligibility requirements vary from institution to institution, but follow closely with the University of California A-G course sequence.  To learn more about each individual institution, it is recommended that students log onto the prospective school websites to explore majors and schools in California and nationwide.

For more information on applying to community colleges, California State University, University of California, or private/independent universities, please refer to these pages on the navigation bar to the left.

Anatomy of the College App Process

College Application:  Universities prefer that admissions applications be completed online.  You can access CSU and UC applications through their prospective websites.  To complete an admissions application to private universities, you will need to  go directly to the school website.  Websites can be found through a search online, or in the SJHHS Guidance Office/Career Center.


College Application Fee:  Application fees will vary per institution, and will be due upon submission of your application.  Some universities offer fee waivers for those who qualify.


High School Transcript:  To complete your CSU or UC application, you will need an unofficial copy of your high school transcript for self- reporting your classes and grades.  Once you have been accepted to a CSU or UC campus, that particular campus will prompt you to have an OFFICIAL transcript sent from CUSD directly to them upon graduation from high school.  If you are applying to a private university, however, an Official transcript will be required as part of the application process. To review the most up to date information to order your high school transcript please click on the following link to be directed to the CUSD website:  Ordering Transcripts 


College Admissions Exams/Tests:  As part of the application process, students will be required to submit the results of college admissions exams:  ACT or SAT I;  SAT II for UC and some private universities.  For more information regarding these exams, please see College Admissions Testing on the navigation bar to the left.


College Essay or Personal Statement:    Private/Independent Universities as well as University of California will require a written response to a prompt. A college essay will not be required for applications to the California State University.


Letters of Recommendation: Most private university and scholarship applications will require that students submit letters of recommendation.  Some will specify who the recommender should be (teachers, employers, coaches, community and church leaders); others simply indicate how many recommendations are required.  Letters of recommendation give evaluators and selection committees' alternate information about you the person.  Keep in mind that these individuals will already have objective information - your grades, classes and test scores - they want to know about your character and who you are outside of the classroom, more appropriately, how others see you!! Letter of Recommendation Request


Tips for letters of  recommendation

  • Aspire to make good connections with teachers and other adults on campus so that when it comes time to request a recommendation, you have many options.
  • Choose adults who know you well; those who can write about not only your academic skills, but also your talents and abilities.
  • Choose recommenders who will write specific statements about you - not remarks that could apply to any student.

Steps to securing letters of recommendation

  1. Ask teachers, coaches, administrators, academic advisors, counselors, employers, community and church leaders who know you well and who will write you a personalized and positive letter of recommendation.  If this person is a teacher, it is preferable that you are currently in his or her class or were a student of theirs the previous year.
  2. Plan ahead!  Make an appointment to speak with the person you are asking for a recommendation from no less than 3 to 4 weeks prior to the deadline.
  3. Provide your recommenders with important information that they may need to write a letter that truly represents your good qualities, character and outstanding skills.  Providing your recommender with a copy of your student resume, student profile and college essay will assist them in writing a more precise and thorough letter.
  4. Provide your recommenders with the following: 1. Name and address of the school or scholarship you are applying to/for and a stamped addressed envelope if the school or scholarship committee requires that the letter be sent directly to them by the recommender (be sure to provide a manila envelope if the recommender is required to send additional documentation such as a copy of your transcript, etc.  2. Deadline or date that the letter needs to be submitted 3. A copy of your high school transcript, student resume, and a student profile (if available).
  5. Follow-up by thanking the person(s) who provided you with a recommendation.

Being Prepared and Organized will allow your recommenders to write an outstanding letter of recommendation!!


Other Helpful Links

Tesoro School Code
This is the Tesoro School Code that you will use for college admissions as well as SAT and ACT registration


Application Resources

FAST Workshop Presentations

Extra Curricular Activities

Do They Matter?

Students and parents are always concerned with the importance of extracurricular activities for college admissions.  Here are some helpful links to begin your research.


US News

College Board