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Scholarship Central


Most scholarships have on-line applications, so follow the web links below.  They also require letters of recommendation, so ask your teachers and counselors ahead of time and make sure you provide them with a copy of your Senior Profile.  Deadlines come quickly, so don’t delay.  

How do I find out more about scholarships:


Scholarship Scams!

  1. Fees: You shouldn’t have to pay to search for or apply for scholarships. Check out the free scholarship search at
  2. Credit card or bank account information needed: You should never have to give credit card or bank account information to award providers.
  3.  Scholarship guarantee: No one can guarantee that you’ll win a scholarship because no one can control scholarship judges’ decisions. Also, be wary of “high success rates”—they usually do not refer to actual award winners.
  4. No work involved: You can’t avoid putting in time to fill out a scholarship application.
  5. No contact information: Legitimate sponsors should provide contact information upon request. If the sponsor does not supply a valid e-mail address, phone number and mailing address (not a PO box) after you’ve asked for one, that could the sign of a scam.
  6. Unsolicited scholarships: If you are called to receive an award for which you never applied, be alert—it’s most likely a scam.
  7. Pressure tactics: Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into applying for a scholarship, especially if the sponsor is asking for money up front.
  8.  Claims of “exclusive” scholarships: Sponsors don’t make their scholarships available through only one service.
  9. Sponsor goes out of their way to sound “official”: Scammers sometimes use official-sounding words like “national,” “education” or “federal” or they display an official-looking seal to fool you into thinking they are legit. Check with your school if you question a scholarship provider’s legitimacy.
  10. Your questions aren’t answered directly: If you can’t get a straight answer from a sponsor regarding their application, what will be done with your information or other questions, proceed with caution.


Financial Aid Resource for Students

Scholarship Search Engines:<--- BEST LINK.  Very Comprehensive!

Scholarships                                                                                                                                                                                         (Hispanic Scholarship Fund)                                  (African American)

Scholarships for African American Students:

Scholarships for Latino Students:

Scholarships for Asian & Pacific Islander Students:

Scholarships that Don’t Require Social Security Numbers:

Financial Aid Guide for College-Bound Undocumented Students:


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make sure that I am eligible for a 4-Year University?

To insure eligibility to a 4-year university you must complete the A-G requirements  with a 2.0 or greater for California State Universities and with a 3.0 or greater for UC’s.  You will need to take either the SAT or the ACT exam (see Eligibility Index).  Also note the UC’s do a comprehensive review of your college application so it is important to get involved with school activities, clubs, sports and do volunteer work in our community.  Please note the each Private University may have slightly different requirements, so check with that individual university’s website.

What do colleges want to see from me? 

GRADES.  The first thing that the college admissions evaluator will assess is your academic record.  They want to see if you chose to take a rigorous set of classes and how you did in your classes (i.e. have you tried to take an AP and/or Honors course?  Are you choosing to take extra years of Math, Science and Foreign Language?).  The evaluator will compute your Grade Point Average (GPA) both weighted and un-weighted (your weighted GPA takes into account the bump you get in your GPA for Honors and AP course). Your academic record is the first things that a college admissions evaluator will see and use towards determining acceptance.  Remember you can always work on improving your GPA! And senior year grades do matter!!!  Upon submitting your transcript the universities will not have your senior year grades (since you submit in the fall of your senior year), however your acceptance into college is also tentative based on your senior year grades. 

EXAM SCORES. You must take either the SAT or the ACT to be eligible for a 4-year university (see attached ACT vs. SAT sheet).  Once you submit your scores the university will use your score(s) as a determining factor for your admission.  It is recommended that you take either the SAT or ACT in the spring of your junior year so that you can decide to retake the exam (to improve your score) in the fall of your senior year.  Please note that some universities will accept the SAT II exam as an added assessment tool with your college application. 

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. It is important to get involved with your school and your community!  UC’s and Private Universities are looking for well-rounded students who are motivated, have leadership skills and who show a commitment to their school and community. You can show your dedication by your participation in clubs, sports, athletics, leadership roles, community service and notable achievements.  Intensive participation in a few activities or projects usually is more significant than lesser involvement in a larger number.  When reporting your activities on college applications be specific and detailed about your role/involvement. 

RECOMMENDATIONS.  Many private universities require Counselor and teacher recommendations (UC’s and CSU’s do not have this requirement).  It is important that you investigate each college that you are applying to and learn if they require a recommendation.  Note that your Counselor will be receiving a high volume or requests for recommendations so make sure you DO NOT ask for a recommendation last minute. 

PERSONAL STATEMENT/ESSAYS. UC’s and Private Universities will require that you write a personal statement and/or an essay(s) to highlight a specific life experience.  An ill-composed essay may end your candidacy at a given college.  Your essays should be your best work and give the college a sense of who you are and who you want to become.

How can I get involved with school activities?

Try out for a sports team or join a club on campus. You can also try out for a school play or musical, become a Peer Leader, run for school office, or start your own club!  

How can I become a volunteer in my community?

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, learn about a career, get some work experience and help build your college application.  Volunteering should be fun so pick something that you will enjoy! You can become a volunteer by contacting local organizations to see about volunteer opportunities.


Website for College Students with Disabilities

We Connect Now is dedicated to uniting people interested in rights and issues affecting people with disabilities,

with particular emphasis on college students and access to higher education and employment issues.

College Center

College Center At A Glance

Check out the different college access programs we offer!


JCYC Educational Talent Search


JCYC Educational Talent Search (ETS) is a federally funded TRIO program, administered by JCYC. We serve low-income high school students who will be the first in their family to attend college. JCYC ETS offers year-round intensive services such as academic tutoring, college campus field trips, career exploration, college and financial aid advising, SAT prep, SAT/ACT waivers, and more! For more information on JCYC ETS, please visit the JCYC College Access website.


Contact Information:

Arthur De La Cruz

Monday - Thursday 9-5:30pm


JCYC Upward Bound


JCYC-UB is an intensive program that works with students from the beginning of high school through enrollment in college. We assist with every step of preparation and application to college. We provide close one-on-one academic advising/support, group workshops, weekly tutoring, mentoring, and college field trips. As well as an intensive, fun, and educating six-week summer program at local colleges where students will have the opportunity to take classes and experience college life


Contact information:

Fatima Albowyha

Monday - Thursday 8-4:30pm


SF STEM Academy


SF STEM Academy provides youth with the opportunity to explore the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The SF STEM Academy's mission is to support students who are interested in STEM fields but have barriers to employment and accessing higher education. During after school hours & on occasional Saturdays, students participate in:

  • STEM Career Exploration
  • Job Readiness training
  • Supplemental Instruction in Math & Science
  • College Prep Advising

Based on participation, students are also eligible for a monthly stipend! In the summer students are placed in a paid 7-week STEM related summer internship!


Contact Information:

Greg Pancho

Monday - Thursday 9-5:30pm



uAspire works to ensure that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to – and through – a postsecondary education. uAspire advisors work with high school students and their families through the financial aid process by providing workshops and one-on-one advising. Through our work, students have the support and knowledge they need to overcome financial barriers and succeed in college.


Contact Information:

Carmen Chan

Monday and Thursdays 9-4:30pm 


10,000 Degrees


10,000 Degrees works to provide peer college advising, on-site high school support, financial aid management, as well as family outreach and awareness. Our program at Balboa High School focuses on matriculating seniors who are community-college-bound, specifically City College of San Francisco. We provide community-college-bound seniors with follow-up support during the summer and throughout their first year at City College.


Contact Information:

Ana Anguiano

Monday - Thursday 9-5:00pm




College Room Presentations

Visit to see those presentations!


Topics Include:

Affording College (uAspire Presentation)

College 101: Basic College Information for Juniors (JCYC ETS Presentation)

College Application Workshop (JCYC ETS Presentation)

UC Presentation (College Room + Counselors Presentation)

CSU Presentation (College Room + Counselors Presentation)

The Personal Statement (JCYC ETS Presentation)

Sending SAT/ACT Scores to Colleges (JCYC ETS Presentation)

CSU Application Guide (JCYC ETS Presentation)


Financial Aid Information

FAFSA: Complete if you are a US Citizen OR Permanent Resident

Online application: CLICK HERE

Students must complete the FAFSA every year to be eligible to receive federal and state aid. Schools use the information reported on your FAFSA to determine your financial aid package. Your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) will be based on several factors including:

    • Annual family income and household size
    • Number of dependents attending college
    • Family assets
    • Other forms of income

California Dream Act: Complete if you are AB540         

Online application: CLICK HERE (for CA colleges only)

  • There are tons of scholarships that do NOT require applicants to be citizens or legal residents. For more information about scholarships, AB 540 and the Dream Act application, visit the College Center. Go to E4FC or MALDEF for more information.


Types of Financial Aid:


1. Grants: Money that does NOT need to be repaid…FREE $$$$



Need and merit based, state funded CA schools only

Cal Grant A:

• 3.0 or higher high school GPA and financial need

• Up to $12, 192 for UC, up to $5,472 for CSU, up to $9, 223 for privates.

• Renewable for up to 4 years (can be put on hold during community college)

Cal Grant B:

• 2.0 or higher high school GPA and financial need

• Year 1: Up to $1,473 living allowance

• Year 2: Up to $1, 473 living allowance PLUS Cal Grant A

• Renewable for up to 4 years (can be put on hold during community college)

Cal Grant C:

• Vocational programs (career based programs)

• Up to $574 for books, tools, etc., fees waived

• Renewable for up to 2 years

How to apply:

1. Complete FAFSA or Dream Act by March 2nd

2. GPA verification: SFUSD will send automatically

3. Create a Web Grants Account (click here to create) to check your Cal Grant eligibility and FAFSA status.




Need based, federally funded, two or four-year universities

  • Award amount: $650-$5,645
  • How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd


Based on admission to school’s EOP program

  • Award Amount: $100-$1000
  • How to apply: Student must be considered low-income and be among the first in his or her family to complete college in the United States.
  • CSU: There is an additional EOP application (deadlines vary by campus) you must file ASAP after you have submitted your admission application.

Access EOP Application Here


Need based, federally funded, 4-year school

  • Award amount: $100-$4,000
  • How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd


Need and merit based

  • Award amount: Varies by school
  • How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd


For foster youth or former foster youth

  • Award Amount: Up to $5,000
  • How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd

2. Loans: Borrowed money you must repay.



Subsidized (does not accrue interest until after college. Fixed 5% interest rate)

Loan Amount: Up to $3,000/year

How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd



May be subsidized or unsubsidized (Interest accrues while in college. Not fixed interest rate)

Loan amount: $5,500-$7,500/year

How to apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd


3. Work Study: Financial assistance earned by student through on-campus employment.

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • How to Apply: Complete FAFSA by March 2nd and indicate interest in work study

4. Scholarships: FREE money awarded to students based on merit, need, interests, etc.

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • How to Apply:
    • Visit the BHS College Center website for a comprehensive list of available scholarships
    • Make an account on,


2016-2017 How to apply to California Community Colleges

Requirements to get into a community college: 18 years of age OR High School Diploma or GED


5-step matriculation process (How to enroll in a Community College):

Create an account on

  1. Fill out the application for "Fall 2017" online and submit (
  2. Take Math/English placement exams
  3. Attend a New Student Orientation (The college you apply too when let you know when this is)
    • The Orientation will focus on test score interpretation, enrollment procedures, and information about educational programs and support services that you need to know to become successful.
    • Upon completion of the orientation you will:
      • Be able to interpret your test results
      • Learn the importance of balancing your school, work, and other personal time
      • Understand what it means to be on academic or progress probation status
      • Learn the importance of meeting with a Counselor and developing an education plan to meet your academic goals
      • Learn the difference between the College Catalog and Class Schedule and how to read them
      • Learn how to add/drop and withdraw from classes
      • Get an overview of services and resources available to students
      • Get an overview about graduation and transfer requirements
  4.  Meet with a counselor to help set up your class schedule (You will meet with a New Student counselor after you complete your online or in-person Orientation)
    • You will briefly review your educational background and goals and the math/ English placement test results with the counselor and select your first semester classes.
  5. Register for your classes
    • Now that you have finished Steps 1-4, you can use the registration appointment given to you when you submitted your admission application once you turn in your completed Matriculation component card.

 Do well on your Math/English placement exams:

  • Scoring well on the placement exams will prevent you from taking remedial courses.
    • Taking remedial courses will definitely lengthen the time it takes for you to transfer from community college to university.
  • For retaking exams – you can take the exams three months after the first sitting if you HAVEN’T enrolled in a course. It will take you six months after the first sitting to retake the exam if you have already enrolled in a course.

 Transfer Center:

  • Each community college has a transfer center that provides service for all students transferring to a university after community college.
  • This is a good place for you to find which universities the college has transfer agreements with.
  • At transfer centers, you can find out whether that college has a transfer agreement with a particular university. You must fulfill certain requirement such as follow a certain curriculum and maintain a certain GPA to be admitted - check with each community college Transfer Center to see if they have an agreement at a particular institution.
  • Student Transfer Information System:

College Checklist by Grade & College Resources

9th Grade Checklist

  • Research and visit colleges and programs that interest you
  • Take on leadership positions at school and in your community & Continue to get involved!
  • Find out about AP classes offered at Balboa and see your counselor to enroll (Spring)
  • Join a pre-college outreach program (AACE TS, AACE UB, PACT Inc.) in the College Center Room 114 

10th Grade Checklist

  • Research and visit colleges and programs that interest you
  • Take on leadership positions at school and in your community & Continue to get involved!
  • Find out about AP classes offered at Balboa and see your counselor to enroll (Spring)
  • Join a pre-college outreach program (AACE TS, AACE UB, PACT Inc.) in the College Center Room 114
  • Start making a list of colleges you may be interested in (at least 9)
  • Do good in your classes! This will boost your GPA and set you up for success! 

11th Grade Checklist

  • Take SAT/ACT Prep Courses (Fall)
  • Sign up to take the SAT/ACT (Spring)
  • Make up any D’s or F’s from your A-G Classes
  • Decide if you will be applying to Early Decision or Early Action for any colleges (Spring)
  • Start a“College Application Fund”
    • UC Application Fee: $70
    • CSU Application Fee: $55
    • Private  School Application Fee: Varies, Usually $50-$90
  • Create a College List (8-12 schools)
    • At least 3 Top Choices (Most competitive)
    • At least 3 Middle Choices
    • 2-3 Safety Schools (Least competitive)
  • Start working on your Personal Statement Prompts (Summer after 11th)

12th Grade Checklist

  • Take the SAT /ACT again by the end of November!
    • December is the LAST chance to take these tests for Seniors, but some CSU’s don’t accept December tests! (Deadline to sign up for December SAT is November 6th!)
    • SAT II is no longer a requirement, but HIGHLY recommended by some programs and colleges (check college/university website) 
      • Students applying to UC's and Private schools are encouraged to take at least 2 subject tests. 
  • Make up any D’s or F’s in your A-G Classes
  • Application Period for UC/CSU: UC app opens August 1st and CSU App opens: Oct. 1st. DEADLINE is: Nov. 30 - Plan to submit your Applications EARLY, not the day its due!!
  • Most Private Schools are due by January- Check with each school for Deadlines because deadlines vary from school to school.
  • Check email frequently! Schools use email as the primary source of communication
  • Apply for Scholarships! Apply to AT LEAST 10 throughout your senior year: 
  • Apply for Financial Aid! FAFSA filing period is January 1st- March 2nd

Resources & Websites

College Center  Room114: Monday-Thursday 9:00AM-5:00PM

- Gina Aragon (AACE TS):

-Shaina Steinberg (PACT INC.):

-Jessica Burleigh (AACE UB):

College Admission Requirements

Community College 


Deadline: In the Spring

  1. Must be 18 or  a High School Graduate
  2. Have transfer agreements with many colleges and universities
    • Guaranteed Admission


California State University (CSU)


Apply October 1st - November 30th

Deadline: November 30th!


  1. Meet A-G Subject Requirements with a “C” or better each semester
  2. Have a minimum 2.0 GPA in A-G courses
  3. ACT or SAT1
    • Competitive Admission


University of California  (UC)


Application opens August 1st, but cannot start submitting until November 1st.

Deadline: November 30th!

  1. Meet A-G Subject Requirements with “C” or better each semester
  2. Have a minimum 3.0 GPA in A-G courses
  3. ACT or SAT1 
  4. SATII – not required, but highly recommended!
  5. 1,000 word personal statement (essay)
  6. Honors/AP/Activities
    • Competitive Admission



Private College/University


Deadline: Varies

  1. Different requirements for every campus- be sure to contact college
  2. Usually if meet A-G subject requirements will qualify
  3. ACT or SAT sometimes SATII
  4. Essay
  5. Teacher/Community Member Recommendations
  6. May recommend Interview
  7. Honors/AP classes/ Activities Recommended
    • Competitive Admission







  1. Different requirements for every college- be sure to contact
  2. Take A-G courses
  3. ACT or SAT, sometimes SATII
    • Competitive Admission



Vocational or Technical


  1. HS graduate or GED
    • Guaranteed Admission
    • Many Community Colleges offer same programs at a lower cost


2016-2017 College Essay Tips & Prompts

Think about these questions:

  • What is important to you?
  • Did you grow up in a small town or large city?
  • Are you the only child or do you have a large family?
  • Do you identify with one or more cultures?
  • Are you the first person in your family to attend college?
  • What qualities/characteristics define you?
  • What is a specific story or experience that has allowed you to showcase your best qualities/characteristic

University of California (UC) Prompt


Answer 4 of 8 Questions. Each answer should be no longer than 350 words.


1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.  

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities? 

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  

Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  

Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few. 

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?”

6.  Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

Things to consider: Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place — like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Things to consider: Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Even if you don’t think you’re unique, you are — remember, there’s only one of you in the world. From your point of view, what do you feel makes you belong on one of UC’s campuses? When looking at your life, what does a stranger need to understand in order to know you? 

What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better? We’re not necessarily looking for what makes you unique compared to others, but what makes you, YOU.



Private School Prompts (

Instructions: The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn.

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again

4. Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.



  • Get Organized! How many essays do you have to write? Is there overlap?
  • Think about what the reader is looking for before you start writing & keep the largest audience in mind.
  • Read the prompt carefully à Brainstorm/outline à Draft à Get Feedback à Revise à Proofread
  • Get good feedback from advisors, teachers, counselors, and mentors!


  • Be thoughtful and honest: A good personal statement is reflective
  • Remember that the focus of the essay is YOU
  • Strive for DEPTH not BREADTH: Don’t just list your accomplishments!
    • Think QUALITY not QUANTITY
  • Transform negatives into positives: Don’t Complain, instead show how you overcame an obstacle
  • Show Confidence! You don’t want to brag, instead show that you can be successful despite obstacles!
  • Answer the question!
  • Things to avoid
    • Don’t repeat information elsewhere in your application
    • Don’t look outside yourself
    • Don’t complain
    • Don’t compare yourself to others
    • Don’t choose a heavy topic
    • Don’t reveal superficial motivations (like $$ or college rank)- instead highlight your love of learning J
    • Don’t rely on gimmicks or clichés
    • Don’t use words you wouldn’t normally use
    • Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to write “the perfect essay”
    • Don’t wait until the last minute! Start NOW!

2016-2017 UC Freshman Application Tips and Tools

Please CLICK HERE for the 2016-2017 UC application tips and tools! 


Please CLICK HERE to apply for UC schools.

2016-2017 Instructions on Completing the California State University (CSU) Application

1. Bring a copy of your Current transcript


2. Bring your Current Parent(s) 2015 Income information or from 2014. 

      Answer the following questions:

  •  How much they earned last year (Adjusted Gross Income)?
  •  How many people live with you and your parent(s)?


3. Bring your Social Security Number (SSN) and if you have a Permanent Residency (Green card number).

If you don’t any of these, ask the College Center (room 114) or your counselor for help with the application


4. Go to


5. Click on “Create an account" **Remember/write your username & password!!!**


6. Click on “Apply Online” and then click on “Undergraduate Admission Application” and then click on “Fall 2016”


7. Select a CSU campus, click on “Start New Application” and then click on “Begin Undergraduate Application for…” at the bottom of the page.

***IMPORTANT: Only work on and complete ONE application first. After you submit that, then start your other CSU applications. All your answers from the first one will automatically fill screens 2-12. You will need to select your intended major for each campus.


8. Follow these instructions for each section:


Enrollment Information:

i.Term: Fall 2016

ii.Entry Status: Graduating high school senior with/without college credit (if you scored 4 or 5 on AP test(s), or took did concurrent enrollment, you would be considered a graduating senior with college credit.)

iii.Previous Application/Attendance: Never applied

iv.Campus Authorization Number: Leave blank

Name and Address: This is self explanatory, BUT make sure your email is accurate!

Personal Information:

i.Social Security Number: If you have this, YOU MUST provide it. If not, ask College Center staff for assistance

ii.CA Statewide Student ID (SSID): On your transcript

iii.Military Information: Answer no UNLESS you/your parents are in the military

iv.Family Education, Income, and Size Information: You MUST answer this accurately. This determines application FEE WAIVER and EOP status. Fill in Dependent Students section if you live with your parent(s)


vi.Miscellaneous Information: Answer YES or NO if you want to play sports for the college teams (if they have them)

CA Residency Information:

i.You need your parents help with this page! Ask them for the info!

Demographic Information:

i.Answer each section in here. DO NOT “decline to state”.

High School Information:

i.Current or Last High School Attended: Add Balboa High School, Term Type: Semester

ii.High School Graduation Date: 05/2016

iii.Other High School(s) Attended: Only add if you attended high schools before Balboa

iv.Test Information: Provide all SAT/ACT scores you have

1.If you do not have your scores yet, input the date you took/will take the test and leave the scores blank. You will need to send the scores  when they are available through collegeboard/actstudent. Ask your advisor how to send scores.

2.TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic: DO NOT FILL OUT if you have attended school taught in English for 3 or more years

College Information:

i.Current, Previous, and Planned Colleges Attended: Only add if you attended community college courses at CCSF/other community colleges


Advanced Standing Credit: Check off only (AP) if you have taken/will take AP tests.

High School Preparation 1/2:

**Add all A-G classes ONLY and grades from 9th – 12th Grade. Make sure to check off the classes you took in the proper academic years!

**DO NOT include PE, Health, College/Career, Drivers Ed, JROTC, Leadership, CAHSEE, Study Skills, etc.

**Honors & AP Credit: Apply Honors/AP status for Spring and/or Fall for these courses

**Class That Count for Honors (NO OTHER ONES COUNT): Amer Dem H, US History H, Amer Lit H, Pre-Calc H, Chem H, Bio H, all Foreign Languages 5/6 H

**Senior Year Classes: Fall Semester should be “IN PROGRESS”, Spring Semester should be “PLANNED”

**Example: Modern World History 1/2 (Grade level: 10, Term type: Semester, Fall grade earned: A, Spring grade earned: A)

i.Social Science: Add Modern World, US History, American Democracy (Amer Dem, ONLY put Fall Semester: In Progress, Spring Semester blank! Economics will be listed as a second semester class under COLLEGE PREP ELECTIVE.)

ii.English: Add all English courses you’ve taken (add highest ELD course), 9th Gr Eng, 10th Gr, Eng, Amer Lit, Euro Lit, etc)

iii.Mathematics: Add all math courses (Alg, Geom, Adv Alg, Alg Fin Math, Pre Cal, Stats, AP Stats, AP Calc, etc)

iv.Biological Science: Add all biological science courses (Biology, Physiology, AP Bio, etc)

v.Physical Science: Add all physical science courses (Environ Sci, Chemistry, Physics, AP Chem, AP Physics, Astronomy, etc.)

vi.Language Other Than English: Add all LOTE courses (French, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish. If you are waived from this requirement, ask College Center staff for help)

vii.Visual/Performing Arts: Add all Media Arts, Animation, Band, Guitar, Orchestra Art, Drama, Vocal Music, Drawing, AP Art classes etc)

viii.College Prep Elective: Add classes as Pre-Law, AP Psych., Ethnic Studies, ECONOMICS, etc here (for Econ, ONLY put Spring Semester: Planned, leave Fall Semester blank!)

ix.High School GPA: Have a College Center staff person calculate your CSU GPA (this GPA is not on your transcript)

x.Additional Non-A-G Courses: You can add courses as Leadership, JROTC(NOT Health, Drivers Ed, College/Career)

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP):

i.A support program for low-income, first generation students (whose parents did not get a bachelor’s degree in the US). Provides one-on-one advising, tutoring, scholarships, summer programs, and professional development workshops. After you submit your CSU application, A SEPARATE EOP APPLICATION is required (they will email it to you). Find this under the “Apply Online” tab on

Application Fee Waiver:

i.Say YES you want to apply.

ii.Make sure your parents’ income and household size are correct because you only have ONE CHANCE to apply for this by clicking NEXT.

iii.If are GRANTED the fee waiver, you can apply to 4 CSU’s for FREE

Review Your Application:

i.Before submittinghave Arthur, Jennie, Jeff, Arman, or your counselor review your application.


9. When you submit the application, make sure to print the confirmation page and give it to Arthur, Jennie, or Jeff.



  • Application begins October 1st and Deadline is November 30th
  • Minimum 2.0 GPA and complete A-G subject requirements to apply, No D’s or F’s!
  • Start and complete ONE CSU application. Once you finish that completely and have it reviewed and submitted, then you can start any other CSU app (screens 2-12 will be prefilled with your first answers). You just need to enter your preferred major and submit.
  • Submit a CSU application to San Francisco State University as a backup!
  • CSU’s that will guarantee admission for minimum eligibility:
    • SF State
    • CSU East Bay
    • CSU Dominguez Hills
    • CSU Stanislaus
    • CSU Bakersfield
    • CSU Channel Islands
    • Cal Maritime

2016-2017 Guide for the Common Application (Private School Application)


The first 4 pages of the Common Application require information you can usually answer off the top of your head, but you also have to know a few special things.

  1. Your Social Security Number 
  2. Your high school’s address and zip code
  3. Your high school's CEEB (College Board) or ACT code and zip code 
  4. The month and year you started high school
  5. Your high school counselor’s full name and position, telephone, and fax number
  6. Parent information (degrees, universities attended, dates of attendance, occupation, employer)



As you get started on the Common Application, do your best to remember all your significant achievements and activities. Keep certificates, awards, and other documentation of your accomplishments, both academic and extra-curricular. Ask your parents to help you remember forgotten triumphs!


Academic Honors

In this section, list all significant academic honors and awards beginning with ninth grade. Examples of such honors are: Honor Roll, AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar, High School Scholar-Athlete Award, National Latin Exam Silver Medal, National Honor Society Member, Student Bio-Tech Expo Finalist, Seattle Public Library Writing Contest Winner, National Young Leadership Conference attendee, etc. You may also include your AP grades here.

Write the name of the award, date received, and a brief description if it is not a well-known honor. Do not include honors and awards received prior to 9th grade. If your school does not award any academic honors until late in the senior year, you may say so in this space.



On the Activities Chart on Page 4, list activities (including summer activities) in order of their depth and importance. Provide details to explain the nature of your participation. Space is limited, so you will have to be careful in your choice of words, and clever in your use of abbreviations.  

Avoid stock descriptions and try for unique phrasing instead. For example, instead of providing a dry label for your position (“hospital volunteer”) tell what you accomplished (“organized hospital Meals-on-Wheels”). 

Students often have difficulty estimating the hours per week or weeks per year spent on each activity. Sometimes participation varies a great deal over the course of the year, or an activity is short-lived but very intense. Just do the best you can, and as long as you are honest and do not overstate the total hours of your participation, you will be fine. 

Do not worry if you cannot fill all the rows. Colleges would rather see students commit to a few activities in depth than dabble in a bunch of different activities.

As the instructions on the Common Application emphasize, even if you plan to attach a resume, you should fill out the Activities Chart as completely and effectively as you can. If you submit your application online, you will need to mail in your resume. You can also upload it in the Additional Information section of the online Common Application.


Work Experience

This section asks you to list significant jobs in reverse chronological order. Not every student will have an entry for all three rows. Students often have little paid work experience, so do not worry if this section is not very full.




Short Answer

The first prompt on the writing page, the Short Answer, asks you to elaborate briefly on one of your activities. You should talk about the depth and duration of your participation and what you have gained from it. Take advantage of this additional opportunity to showcase excellent writing skills, and present yourself as a real person who is more than a list of activities, a GPA, and some test scores!

The Short Answer is limited to exactly 1000 characters and spaces, or about 150 words. Just make sure that when you print/preview your application, the “Short Answer” fits into the space provided. Make every word count! Do not write a generic description of an activity and lessons learned. This is the first piece of your writing admissions officers will see. Make it interesting and memorable, and as personal and experiential as possible.


The Personal Essay

The online Common Application asks you to write an essay of at least 250 to 650 words on one of several topics. Whereas most of the information you supply to colleges is crammed into tables that are too small, entered in tiny boxes one letter at a time, mailed from testing companies, or written by others, the personal statement provides an opportunity to speak with your own voice about something that is important to you. If you apply online, there is no specified word limit, but I would recommend an essay that fits on one page, single-spaced (to conserve paper), Times Roman, size 12 font.  You upload it as a Word document into your online application.

You can start writing your personal statement your junior year. It’s the one part of the application that is the most difficult to do in a hurry, yet it is also the task students are most likely to put off until later. Experience shows that having a good, solid version by the time you finish your junior year makes the application process much easier when fall comes.

Do you have to know what schools you are applying to before you start writing? Not at all, because you will probably use the Common Application to apply to one or more schools, and the Common Application topics are general enough to be used for many non-Common applications as well. The Common Application lists the following 5 choices:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family

Some selective colleges pride themselves on their creative and unusual topics, like “How do you feel about Wednesday?” or “If you could balance on a tightrope, over what landscape would you walk?” Thankfully, these are the exceptions. 

You will benefit in the long run if you think carefully about the subject of your personal statement before you start writing. It is not unusual for students to throw away their first attempt, but this is more often due to poor writing than to a poor choice of topic.


Additional Information

Sometimes students have to use this to explain a weakness or a problem, but others can use it to present additional personal qualifications or relevant experience. In either case, use the space to create a positive and affirmative case for your readiness for college. This information can be either entered into a sizeable text field, or uploaded as a Word document.   With the Additional Information option, you can:

  •  Explain a blemish in your school record, and what you learned from it (it is best if your account is backed up by the counselor).
  • Talk about a learning disability that has affected your academic or test performance. Do not send diagnostic test results, but do talk openly about the general nature of your disability and the ways you have learned to succeed in spite of it. (If you can, research or visit the learning support center for the college, and talk about the ways you plan to utilize this important resource.)
  • Explain unusual circumstances (study abroad or community college during high school), and how they have enhanced your readiness for college.
  • Talk about a well-defined academic interest and your plan for pursuing it in college.
  • Write in some depth about an additional activity of importance to you, especially if it relates to planned studies in college.
  • Upload a resume. This can take the form of a standard academic resume, or a set of thumbnail descriptions of several significant activities, including what you have learned from them.

2018-2019 Test Dates and Registration Deadlines

 2017-2018 SAT Test Dates:


Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)


August 26, 2017


July 28, 2017

August 15, 2017


October 7, 2017


September 8, 2017


September 27, 2017


November 4, 2017


October 5, 2017

October 25, 2017


December 2, 2017


November 2, 2017


November 21, 2018

March 10, 2018

February 9, 2018

February 28, 2018


May 5, 2018


April 6, 2018


April 25, 2018


June 2, 2018


May 3, 2018


May 23, 2018




2017-2018 ACT Test Dates:


Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)


September 9, 2017


August 4, 2017

August 18, 2017

October 28, 2017


September 22, 2017


October 6, 2017


December 9, 2017


November 3, 2017


November 17, 2017


February 10, 2018


January 12, 2018


January 19, 2018


April 14, 2018


March 9, 2018


March 23, 2018


June 9, 2018


May 4, 2018

May 18, 2018


College Admissions Testing

SAT, ACT and PSAT Information:

Most comprehensive four-year colleges require students to submit assessment scores for admission. For the majority of these colleges, students have a choice between the SAT Reasoning and the ACT. In addition, private universities and some out-of-state public colleges require students to complete 1-3 SAT Subject tests. **The UC system is no longer requiring SAT Subject tests, but subject tests will be recommended for certain majors.


Recommended Testing Timeline

Freshman Year (9th) No testing - focus on transitioning successfully into high school. Study hard and join clubs, sports teams, and participate in school & community activities.
Sophomore Year (10th) *  Take the PSAT in October and/or mock exams when offered
*  SAT Subject test in May/June if you complete a course you feel confident about
Junior Year (11th) *  Take the PSAT in October and/or mock exams when offered
*  Take the SAT Reasoning and/or ACT exams in spring (both offered several times from January through June)
*  SAT Subject test in May/June if you complete a course you feel confident about
Senior Year (12th) *  Most colleges accept test scores through December of senior year, but some require testing completed by October - check their websites
*  Use the fall to retake tests to improve scores if necessary





Test Description
ACT The ACT Test is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college.
PSAT The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.
SAT Reasoning The SAT provides a trusted, nationally recognized indicator of your academic readiness for college. In a way, the SAT is the bridge between the hard work you’ve already done and the college that is the best fit for the future you are about to create.
SAT Subject Tests Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. These are the only national admission tests where youchoose the tests that best showcase your achievements and interests.


Official Exam Preparation
ACT SAT Reasoning
PSAT SAT Subject Tests

There are various companies that offer test preparation courses for the SAT Reasoning, SAT Subject Tests and ACT.  There is more information about these programs in the College and Career Center.  None of them are official Balboa HS programs.

Company Offerings Cost Description
Private Test Preparation
ACT Practice Exams ACT Practice Questions Free exists to provide the best possible information on ACT exam practice tests.
Cognitive Advantage ACT, PSAT, SAT Per session tutoring Cognitive Advantage was founded to fill a need for increased performance on tests, and in school.
Kaplan Test Prep ACT, PSAT, SAT $299-$999 Established in 1938 by Stanley Kaplan, Kaplan provides higher education programs, professional training courses, test preparation materials and other services for various levels of education. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company.
Neeyaa ACT, SAT Free to per session tutoring is an educational networking platform. Neeyaa helps students, tutors, and parents interact. It provides the ability for students to set up goals, for tutors to monitor progress and assign tasks, and for parents to be involved. Neeyaa also provides tools for tutors to conduct online tutoring sessions with students anywhere in the world.
Number2 ACT, SAT Free's online test preparation courses are totally free! By creating an account you can access a customized course that includes user-friendly tutorials, practice sessions that dynamically adapt to each student's ability level, a vocabulary builder, and more.
Princeton Review ACT, SAT $169-$2800 Founded in 1981, The Princeton Review has long been a leader in helping college and graduate school–bound students achieve their higher-education goals through our test-preparation services, tutoring and admissions resources, as well as through online courses and resources and print and digital books.
Shmoop SAT Free Practice tests and information.
US News and World Report Information on SAT, PSAT, ACT Free Articles and information about test prep.

College Applications and Resources


Beyond the monetary savings, there are a number of other benefits to attending community college for two years. Set your plan in motion, and you may gain entrance to a top-tier university currently out of reach and earn your degree at a fraction of the price.

CSUs are a high-quality, accessible, student-focused higher education. With 23 campuses, almost 427,000 students, and 44,000 faculty and staff, they are the largest, the most diverse, and one of the most affordable university systems in the country. Create an online account and then begin completing the application. Even though students have only 1 CSU mentor account, students must start a 'new application' for each of the CSU campuses they wish to apply

UC’s ten campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara provide exciting environments that foster world-class educational and research opportunities and generate a wide range of benefits and services that touch the lives of Californians every day. Create an online account and begin completing the application for Fall 2015.

Most college now prefer (or require) students to apply electronically. Many of these colleges use either the Common Application or Universal Application.  Check to see if a college accepts one of these applications before completing the university specific app.  You are able to apply to multiple colleges at once instead of creating an individual application to each college with these two application forms. ALWAYS make sure you know if a university requires a "supplement," which are generally listed on the applications' sites. 



Subject Description
Writing the College Application Essay A selection of articles on admission essays by the College Board (SAT)
Writing the UC Essay Quick introduction to the UC Essay via UC Berkeley
Interview Basics Information on college interviews by the College Board (SAT)
Recommendation Basics Introduction to getting the most out of recommendations by the College Board (SAT)

College Eligibility and Planning Links


In order to enroll as a full-time student in a California Community College, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent, or be at least 18 years old.



Students must complete the A-G course sequence and meet eligibility requirements established by the UC and CSU system. 



Search Engine Description
Cappex They offer a slightly different approach to the college search which includes college matching, scholarship matching and visual admissions scattergrams.
College Board's College Search Big Future by the College Board that offers an extensive college search.
CollegeData College matching with search options for scholarships, majors and financial aid.
College Prowler A search engine created by students with recommendations. NOTE: take recommendations (good and bad) with a healthy bit of skepticism.  The student could be very bitter or the school could be posting the note as a student.
College Reality Check

For any school within the US, find out the average of how much you can expect to pay given your family’s income level, how many years it takes students to graduate, how much income students make in their first year after graduation, and how likely they are to default on their student loans.

CollegeView Search Search tools for a number of areas.
IPEDS College Search The National Center for Educational Statistic show you how a university performs by the numbers.
Peterson's CollegeQuest The no-fee side of the for-profit company offers extensive search options.
Princeton Review A rankings-based site of the test prep company.
Student Lingo (Foothill) A free site with videos on the college admission or selection process.
U.S. College Search A free resource covering all the colleges and program offerings in the US with occupational guides, financial aid resources and FAQ’s on all the different programs.

These search engines to help students identify or narrow down their college lists based on specific school characteristics (campus size, surrounding area, student body, etc.).



Since individual colleges and universities have different admission requirements, visit each colleges website for more information. The links below are provided to assist in the research process.

  • California Colleges - Learn about admission requirements, how to apply, and more for all higher-education segments in California.

  • The Association of California Independent Colleges - You will find college applications, financial aid information, virtual campus tours, and much more.

  • Colleges of Distinction -  Which colleges are the best places to learn, to grow, and to succeed?  You’ll find both prominent names and “hidden gems” on our list. What they have in common is their excellent reputation among high school guidance counselors and education professionals, not to mention employers and graduate schools. 

  • Colleges That Change Lives - In an era when college rankings and name-brand recognition seem to drive the search process, many students, parents and counselors may be left questioning the options for a good college match. Inspired by noted education reporter Loren Pope, Colleges That Change Lives helps families change the way they think about colleges and the college search.



Type of College/University Description
Automotive School Search - California We want to make it easy for you to find the the automotive schools that are most important to your future in helping to evolve and improve the auto industry. Whether you’re just looking to attend a technical school to get your ASE Certification or whether you want to get deep into an automotive engineering degree we will guide you to the schools that fit your need. For those that want to see what you would learn in an automotive class at school we provide detailed breakdowns of the different types of courses & training you could go through.
Aviation Colleges These colleges specialize in pilot training, aeronautics, and many other flight related disciplines.
British Universities England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are home to some of the world’s top universities. Many of them are less expensive than the average four-year private American university – and many accept US financial aid. NOTE: you will most likely have to take an extra year or series of additional exams to enter a UK university.  
Canadian Universities Canada’s public system of richly funded research universities means the tuition fees international students pay are much less than for comparable universities in the U.S.A.
Religious Colleges Religious colleges have an affiliation with a specific religion, such as Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, etc.  They have varying levels of religiosity of campus with some being religious in name only to some having theology required.
SAT Optional Colleges Listing of colleges and universities that do not require the SAT.
Technical Schools Guide A free resource covering all the technical schools and programs in the US with career guides and resources to  help people discover career paths that 

College Major and Career Research


Selecting a major does not mean you will limit the career choices available to you after graduation. If you choose a major that you intrinsically enjoy, you are more likely to excel academically, you will be more motivated in the classes you take, and when it is time to start looking for a job or applying to graduate school you will be able to explain with enthusiasm why you chose your major and what you gained from doing so. 

When choosing a major it is beneficial to understand your strengths and your interests. 


Self Assessments


Major Information



Website Description
California Career Zone A non-profit website with self assessments and career "family" explorations.
CareerOneStop Sponsored by the US Department of Labor for students, job seekers, businesses.
College Board's Career Descriptions The SAT creator's website with self assessments, college information and career guidance.
Green Career Search (Think Green) Green job employment has grown more than twice as much as any other California industry for the period 1995 to 2009. Sustainability and green sector education is offered by no fewer than 88 schools in California. These programs range from certificates through doctoral degrees.
JobStar Central Scroll down to the bottom half for the real information, rather than ads.  It explores different career opportunities with career associations.
My Cool Career A site of links to searches and assessments.
MyRoad The College Board's site for assessments and searches. You will need a code from the PSAT to access an account.
O*Net Online Career Exploration and Job analysis
Online Occupational Outlook Handbook The US Bureau of Labor Statistics guide to careers and career fields.
Planning Your Career Planning for college, financial aid and careers.
Vault Company rankings, career outlook and searches.  Get the inside scoop on top occupations from working professionals who give their take on ups, downs, career path, qualification, compensation and more.

Alternative Post-HS Options




Site Details
Automotive School Search in California We want to make it easy for you to find the the automotive schools that are most important to your future in helping to evolve and improve the auto industry. Whether you’re just looking to attend a technical school to get your ASE Certification or whether you want to get deep into an automotive engineering degree we will guide you to the schools that fit your need. For those that want to see what you would learn in an automotive class at school we provide detailed breakdowns of the different types of courses & training you could go through.




Group Age Requirement Description
AmeriCorps 17+ AmeriCorps is an opportunity to make a big difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. It’s a chance to apply your skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.
California Association of Regional Occupational Center and Programs 16+ More than 3900 ROCP career technical education courses are offered in areas such as information technology, agriculture business, culinary arts, healthcare, construction and auto technology. ROCPs offer tuition-free courses.  ROCP course offerings are based upon current and future local labor market demands.
California Conservation Corp 18-25 The California Conservation Corps is a state agency that puts together young people and the environment, to the benefit of both






Program Age Requirement Details
CalApprenticeships 18+ The Registered Apprenticeship system of training is unique in that it is the only formal, structured, and nationally recognized education and training program available that combines the two most common forms of career and occupational learning: classroom instruction with on-the-job training.
California Department of Industrial Relations 16+ Apprenticeship is a system of learning while earning, and "learning by doing." It combines training on the job with related and supplemental instruction at school. Today, it is utilized chiefly in the skilled crafts. Each program operates under apprenticeship training standards agreed to by labor and/or management in accordance with State and Federal laws, under which a person works with a skilled worker and gains on the job skills and "know-how" and in turn becomes an important part of the occupation and industry.
US Department of Labor - Employment and Training Administration 16+, (18+ for hazardous jobs) Registered Apprenticeship programs meet the skilled workforce needs of American industry, training millions of qualified individuals for lifelong careers since 1937. Registered Apprenticeship helps mobilize America's workforce with structured, on-the-job learning in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing, as well as new emerging industries such as health care, information technology, energy, telecommunications and more.

The Gap Year or Year Out


Maybe you're tired of the academic grind. Maybe you're not sure why you're going to college or what you'll do when you get there. Maybe you yearn to explore far-away places or a career that interests you. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is the time to consider taking a year off between high school and college.

While there is significant peer, parental and school pressure to go straight into college, the adventurous few who take time off can be richly rewarded.

Taking time off before college gives you the gift of time to learn about two essential things: yourself and the world around you.  Of course, if your time off consists of nothing but watching soap operas and eating potato chips, all you'll have at the end is a wasted year. But with research and planning, you can design a semester or year that is both a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

Check out the resources below for more information on working, traveling and volunteering after high school and before college.


Planning is essential in a gap year. There are plenty of resources, including books, websites, and your high school counselor (see below). Look through a guidebook or two on travel, internship, volunteer and other opportunities for high school students in the CCC or at the local public library.

What Are My Options?

There are thousands of options, as well as an infinite combinations of activities. Some students participate in year-long programs. Others may combine two or more short-term programs, or plan a trip on their own or with friends. Here are some common ways to spend your time off:

Travel: Many organizations offer programs with an emphasis on traveling or living abroad. You may also plan your own adventure.

Internships: Spend some time working in a career field that interests you. If you enjoy it, you'll have even more incentive to succeed in your chosen college major. If it's not the field for you, you'll still have plenty of time to explore other career opportunities.

Volunteer work: You can find volunteer programs both in the U.S. and around the world. You can build houses, work with children, work on environmental projects, or a host of other activities.

Academics: Students who are not pleased with their high school records might consider a postgraduate (PG) year. The goal for a PG year is to strengthen your academic record in the hope of gaining entry to a better college.

Work: Whether you find a job at home or away, a year of work can give you extra funds to pay for college, plus valuable, real-life experience.  There are many work and study programs out there.



Once you've decided to take time off, it's tempting to chuck the whole college search until next year. But that's not a good idea for a number of reasons. 

First, the college search and application process is much easier while you're still in high school. You have easy access to your school's college resources, your guidance counselor and teachers, and several modes of communication. You don't want to be filling out applications and trying to get counselor recommendations while you're working in the rainforests of South America. 

Secondhaving your college plans in place can go a long way toward convincing your parents that you will go back to school after your time off.

So go ahead and complete the college admission process. Then contact the college you plan to attend and ask that your admission be deferred for a semester or a year. Most colleges are very receptive to students who want to defer their admission.

All of this can make you even busier than your classmates senior year.  Taking a year off is actually more work because you should apply and get accepted to college as well as figure out what you are doing for the next year.



The following six questions are important for students to consider when planning their time off:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • How much structure do I want or need?
  • Where in the world do I want to be?
  • What kinds of things do I want to do?
  • What will I do when things get very difficult?
  • What is my emergency plan? 
  • Can my family and I afford it?

Talk to your family about your plans and about what you can afford. Some programs cost very little; others can be very expensive. Don't forget to plan for living and travel expenses as well as program fees. Students on a limited budget could consider working full-time for a summer or semester to pay for a semester-long program later in the year. 

As you research and plan, don't limit yourself too much. Take a risk. Living outside of your comfort zone is an important factor in growth.  A year off is an adventure. Don't expect it to be easy. Welcome the new challenges you encounter as you enter into the ongoing process of creating the life you want to lead. The real question of life is beyond college credit.



USA Gap Year Fairs - great resource for finding reputable programs
Company Type Programs Offered In ...
AFS-USA International Community Service, Culture Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Oceania
Africa and Asia Venture (AV) Non-profit volunteering Africa and Asia
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corp (think Peace Corp for the US) USA
CIEE - Gap Year Abroad Culture and Language Asia, Europe, Latin America
Draper University Entrepreneurship Silicon Valley
Youth for Understanding USA Academics, Culture and Language Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania

Important Websites

List of California State Universities (CSU)

List of Universities of California (UC)