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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 many 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. Have fun and make the most of your time in high school.


More specifically, you should have been or 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.

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 minimum (CSU) or recommended (UC) requirements on the "A to G" Course List, depending on how impacted your intended major is. For the finer details between CSU and UC admission eligibility, see the comparison matrix of minimum eligibility requirements. For many private colleges and universities, meeting UC recommended requirements will suffice, but more selective private schools will expect beyond these requirements such as additional, more rigorous or higher level courses.


Click here for the school's Career, College & Counseling Presentation back in the fall of 2021.


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

College Database | CollegeData

College Scorecard (

College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics

Compare College Results Online

College Search - BigFuture | College Board


College 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 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

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


Finally, when you are ready to apply as a rising or incoming high school senior student, use these common college applications and platforms. The new applications for you to enter as college freshmen the next fall (2023) will come out on August 1st, 2022, but you cannot pay the fees and submit the applications until the filing period of October 1st through November 30th, 2022. Here are the various college applications and platforms that you can use:

CSU Apply - Freshman Applicants | CSU ( Use from October 1st to November 30th of senior year to apply to any of the 23 public Cal State University campuses. It may take a student from a few to several hours to complete the application, but no essay or activities list is required. You will need your unofficial transcript handy for this and can get it in Infinite Campus under "Documents". See here:  Common Questions About Applying to the CSU. Here is last year's CSU application guide that can still be helpful this fall: Freshman Application Guide 2022-23.

UC ApplicationUC Application Use from October 1st to November 30th to apply to any of the 9 public undergraduate University of California campuses. It may take a student tens of hours to complete the application, so plan ahead and manage your time well. There are 4 essays and an activities list, among other things, that are required. See here: Applying as a Freshman. Here is a student guide, 2018 UC Presentation for Freshman Admission, and almost all is still relevant except for page 29 on SAT/ACT/Subject tests. Here is the 2021 Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions created for school counselors, but students and parents might find it useful as well: 

Common AppApply to college with Common App Use from October/November to January/February to apply to any of the hundreds of colleges and universities, mostly private or out-of-state ones. This differs from Coalition App in some ways and partners with more colleges/universities. Register for an account early and take a look.

Coalition AppCoalition for College Use from October/November to January/February to apply to any of the hundreds of colleges and universities, mostly private or out-of-state ones. Register for an account early and take a look. Depending on which universities you are interested in, you may prefer the Common App or the Coalition App. Hopefully, you won't have to use both, which can be extra work. This organization hosts many live events and provides past event recordings about college admissions that you might find informative.

CCC Apply Use in the late winter and early spring of senior year to apply to one of over a hundred California Community College (CCC) campuses. This route can be a great plan A, B or C. If you don't get into a 4-year university of your choice as a freshman applicant, this is a strategic and economical back-up plan and then apply as a junior applicant. Also be familiar with the UC's TAG Program: Community College Transfers


More to Consider:

There are CCCs (100+), 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 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 would be fine to attend a community college for two years first. The transfer rate for junior applicants is reasonable and even higher into those 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 (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: 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.


The CSUs are public pre-professional universities and great for these majors or careers: Teaching/Education, Nursing, Psychology, Sociology, Public Admin./Safety, Business Admin., Accounting, IT, 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.

UC Personal Insight Question (PIQ) essay prompts for college applications (choose 4 out of 8 to submit with your application, and you may start writing them as soon as a rising senior in the summer): Personal insight questions | UC Admissions; new-uc-piq-worksheet-2022_freshman. Begin a draft in a GoogleDoc and save every version of it as a separate document, in case you would like to refer back and see your progress or copy and paste from older drafts.

Like the PIQs, the UC Activities List on the UC Application can also be started before the fall college admission process for seniors. Begin a draft in a GoogleDoc and include Hours Per Week/Weeks Per Year, Position and Organization Name (60 characters max with spaces), and the Description, including responsibilities, honors, and accomplishments (max. 350 characters with spaces) from any of these six categories: Award or Honors, Educational Preparation Programs, Extracurricular Activities, Other Coursework, Volunteering / Community Service, and Work Experience. Use action verbs and quantifiable data in the descriptions.

Source for the above excerpt on UC Activities List:


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 schools for our California students are Arizona State University, Oregon State University, University of Nevada at Reno, Washington State University, 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 (