College Admission and Research

Some students ask where to begin when thinking about college. In general, do well academically in the classes that you are in. For intellectual curiosity, take rigorous courses which you can commit to and earn A's and B's in. Practice academic integrity and stay true to your morals and ethics. Participate in extracurricular activities that will allow you to grow personally, socially, athletically, creatively, etc. Practice leadership, teamwork, organization, communication, and time management skills, as well as perseverance, diligence, empathy, kindness, and good sleep hygiene. Be respectful in your social media posts. Try not to over-schedule both academically and in extracurricular activities, which can lead to stress and burn out. Have fun and make the most of your time in high school.

More specifically, you should have been or can be doing some planning to reach your academic goals each year in high school and working with your school counselor (assigned by your last name) on the Four Year Plan toward college admission eligibility. Do follow their recommended calendars. Here is the list of WHS elective courses available to choose from. Specifically for seniors: 12th Grade electives

Then, regularly make sure you are on track to graduate from Washington High School/FUSD. Here is the link for the graduation requirements.


If you are aiming to be eligible for admission to the Cal State University or University of California systems, you should meet/exceed these CSU requirements or UC requirements (see "A to G" Course List and "A to G" Requirements) depending on how impacted your intended college major is. As you can see here in the UC Information Center, the competition is tough, especially for certain majors such as STEM and business, so prepare a Plan A and Plan B. For many private colleges and universities, meeting the UC recommended requirements will suffice, but the more selective private schools will expect beyond these requirements, such as additional rigorous or higher level courses and extracurricular achievements.


Click here for the school's Career, College & Counseling Presentation.


See admissions testing guidance here related to the SAT or ACT for the CSU testing requirements and UC testing requirementsAs a rising senior based on your planned major or program of study and the colleges you will apply to and you have decided to take the standardized tests, it might be a good idea to take the SAT and ACT at least once each and see which exam you score better at. Ideal exam dates are in August, September and October of your senior year, so you will have the summer free to study and before senior year courses/classes ramp up. There are many helpful and free resources to prepare with from the College Board, Khan Academy, YouTube, past exams, etc.


Q&As between a WHS sophomore and the College/Career Specialist:

1. Is taking the SAT a good idea since most colleges don't require it currently, or does it come down to a personal decision?

Public universities such as the UC and CSU systems in CA do not require it any longer. If you plan to apply to some out of state or private universities, then taking either the SAT or ACT at least once might be helpful just in case you might need the score, especially if you are a good test taker, in accelerated math classes, and don't have to invest a lot of time or money to prepare for the exam. Some colleges will allow the option of using the score for math or English course placement once you have enrolled there.


2. If I were to take the SAT for the first time during my junior year when should I sign up for it? And when will the test be taken?

For students who want to do well on the PSAT/NMSQT in the October of junior year so that they can qualify for the distinction as semifinalist or finalist as well as for the $2500 scholarship, they will start preparing for it this summer before junior year. It makes sense if you are in the double-accelerated math track. Otherwise, you will have to learn many new math concepts just for the exam.

Generally, preparing for the actual SAT or ACT exam the summer before senior year is fine and then sitting for the exam either in August, September, or October is best, or in November if you are not applying early action or early decision to a private university which would need scores earlier on the application.

Any SAT exam offered at our school you will hear about from school officials, and you will have to register in advance by a few weeks. Otherwise, offsite exams are found here, and the deadlines to register are also here:


3. Is it possible to retake the SAT? If so how many times?

Yes. Usually, it's best not to take it more than 3 times.


4. Do you happen to know where the location of the SAT test will be held? And if so, what time?

Yes. They are listed here on College Board:


5. Since many colleges don't require SAT scores on the application, will that rule of not requiring to have SAT scores change instantly or will students be notified a year before the changes are made?

I think that colleges will give some advance notice. Depending on the college, they may give a couple of school years or less of advance notice. It's best to check their website which will have the most up to date testing requirements for freshman applicants.


(Permission to publish the questions was given by the student.)


Furthermore, based on the colleges and universities that you have heard of and are interested in, use their websites (especially for curriculum, program, major and course information) and these databases below to do more research, and visit the schools virtually or in-person, if possible.

College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics

College Scorecard (



BigFuture | College Board


College Tours and Free Classes

The College Tour

The College Tour - Free Classes



Colleges and universities all over the country produce their own Common Data Set (CDS) every year. The CDS is a uniform document about 30 pages long and a tool for you to find statistics about specific colleges and universities. Just Google the term and the name of the school for the following data:

  • Average financial aid award
  • Break down of loans versus grants in average financial aid package
  • Percentage of financial need met for typical student
  • Amount of merit money for students who don’t qualify for need-based aid
  • Number of students who receive merit money
  • Academic profile of freshman class
  • Criteria for admission (including section C8: SAT and ACT policies)
  • Undergraduate class sizes
  • Faculty/student ratio
  • Cost of institution
  • Academic offerings and policies
  • Degrees conferred
  • Transfer admission

(Source for the above excerpt on CDS:


Consider the following four general categories when researching and applying to colleges that fit a student:

1) Academic fit (majors, programs, co-ops, internships, study abroad, honors, faculty expertise, etc.),

2) Physical fit (geography, distance and ability to commute from home, weather, city/campus size, city location, class size, faculty to student ratio, etc.),

3) Social fit (culture, arts, athletics, fraternities/sororities, demographics, clubs, etc.), and probably most importantly,

4) Financial fit (public v. private tuition, cost of attendance, loans, net price or cost, expected family contribution, need-based aid such as Pell, Cal and institutional grants, non-need based aid such as institutional grants and scholarships, etc.) See the return on investment (ROI) by college: Ranking 4,500 Colleges by ROI (2022) - CEW Georgetown. Learn more about financial aid and the net price calculator.

(Source for the above excerpt on college fit mostly from Dr. Sally Springer's book: Admission Matters)


Finally, when you are ready to apply to college as a rising or current high school senior student, use these common college applications or platforms. The UC application for you to enter as a college freshman in the next fall (2023) came out on August 1st, while the CSU one went live on October 1st. You can pay the fees and submit the applications during the filing period of October 1st through November 30th, 2022 only, especially for the UCs and most CSUs. There is no advantage to filing early, but do not wait until the last week prior to the deadline. One of the most common mistakes on the CSU and UC applications in the Academic History section is not matching the area A to G requirements properly or not fulfilling them, especially for Math, Lab Science, and Language Other Than English. Here is the eligibility matrix comparing the two public university systems. There is no need to calculate your CSU or UC GPA within the applications, which the university does itself. If you are curious about how the UC GPA is calculated, see here: UC GPA Calculation.


More to Consider:

There are CCCs (116), CSUs (23), UCs (9), WUE colleges (160+), and many private and out of state colleges and universities (thousands). The point is you have many college options.

However, if you intend to major in Business or a STEM field, especially Computer Science or Engineering, you may have to apply to a longer and more diverse list of colleges* since the acceptance rate is low and can be unpredictable at the UCs, unless you are fine to attend a community college for two years first.

The transfer rate for junior applicants is reasonable and even higher in some majors from a community college, such as Ohlone College, to UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and UC San Diego, than when applying as a freshman applicant (again, see Transfers by major | UC). Although the social experience will be different as a junior transfer, the best reason to attend a community college first is you'll save a lot of money, whether or not you qualify for need-based financial aid.

(* Average cost of attendance (COA) per year for CA residents at the CSU is $28k, while at the UC is $42k. For CA residents at out-of-state public universities: Arizona State (WUE) $32k, Oregon State (WUE) $34k, Purdue $42k, Missouri S&T $47k, Georgia Tech $49k, New Jersey IT $52k, UW-Madison $57k, UW-Seattle $58k, CO School of Mines $62k, etc. Private universities have a COA between $70-80k, but they might give you more financial aid, so check their net price calculator before you apply to save yourself time, effort and money on application fees.)

The CSUs are public pre-professional universities and great for these majors or professions: Teaching/Education, Nursing, Psychology, Sociology, Public Admin./Safety, Business Admin., Accounting, IT, Computer Science, Engineering, etc. See CSU Labor Market Outcomes here by campus & major: Labor Market Outcomes ( Many of our Fremont students can/do save tens of thousands of dollars by attending and commuting to CSU East Bay and San Jose State, instead of attending the UCs.


Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) of public colleges and universities are great options for our California students. Use the WUE Savings Finder to search among hundreds of undergraduate degrees offered at the WUE rate of 150% of resident tuition (or less) by 160+ public colleges and universities across the West. Find the school and program that fit your geographic and educational goals and save an average of $9,000 a year. Popular WUE schools for our California students are Arizona State University, Oregon State University, University of Nevada at Reno, Washington State University at Pullman, and University of Hawaii at Manoa.


On the financial note, see this page for more details: Financial Aid for College.

Estimate your federal student aid with the Federal Student Aid Estimator.

Use the UC financial aid calculators for each campus Estimate your aid | UC Admissions.

Calculate the net price or cost for private (and public) colleges before applying Net Price Calculator Center (



Additional Resources:

CSU Admissions Handbook 2022-23

Applying to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign