Timely Tips To Prepare H.S. Juniors for the Upcoming College Application Season

College Application season is officially over for our seniors. In my role as the executive director of College Match LA, I’m now beginning to prepare the new junior cohort to get ready to apply for undergraduate admission. We have about 11 months to get ready.

As we get our juniors ready, we cannot forget to continue reminding our seniors about the following:

  •         Financial Aid
  •         Scholarships
  •         Responding to admission inquiries
  •         And more Financial aid

Now is the time to make sure that our juniors become informed college applicants.  Applying to college is a full time job that needs to be broken down into manageable pieces.  Although college applications are not yet open for our juniors, there are many things they can do to be better prepared for the applications process.

1)   Get to know your transcript! By now, you have done most of the hard work. There are classes and grades you have earned. Get an updated copy of your transcript, and analyze it for yourself! Make sure that your transcript reflects everything you have taken and that the grades are correct. Calculate your UC and CSU grade point average. Make sure that you are on track to be eligible to apply to the California four year institutions. You still have time to make up grades and/or take classes you have not taken. Now is the time to plan for summer if you have to make up any courses. A-G requirements: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/hsgrtable.asp

2)   Get a College Board account! In order to apply to most four year colleges you will need SAT scores. The College Board offers the SAT reasoning several times a year. This year, the Los Angeles Unified School District will be offering the SAT at your high school. Find out when your SAT exam date will be (March or April). Since you will have an opportunity to take the SAT at your school site, prepare for it!  The College Board website offers some preparation, so does Khan Academy, you can also go to your local library for preparation.

3) Naviance — LAUSD and some charter school organizations have an online platform called Naviance.  Ask your high school administrator about Naviance and for your login information. This tool streamlines college research, the application and enrollment process, and family members can login as well.

4)   As you may know, it is tax time! Your parents are busy collecting their information to file their taxes. These are the income tax returns you will need to fill out your financial aid forms when you are a senior. Make sure your parent safeguards this information in a safe place. If your parent does not file taxes, make sure that there is a valid reason. In some cases your parent is required to file taxes, and they do not file out of fear. Colleges will require income tax returns from your parent unless they have a legal, valid reason for not filing taxes.

5)   Fill out a resume/ brag sheet — Assess your extra curricular activities. Have your actions demonstrated passion? Do you have a job? Do you volunteer? What activities are you so into that you can write about it at length? Also, assess what interests you can take to a deeper level and find a summer opportunity. If there is an interest you have not pursued, what can you do to pursue it? Make your upcoming summer count! For that, you need to start planning now.

6)   College Visits – We are lucky to live in Southern California. There are many colleges and universities at your disposal. All of these campuses offer tours and information sessions during the weekends. You will not know if you like a school until you visit it!  Make a list and pick a few Saturdays to go visit:


  • UCLA
  • CSUN
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Riverside


  • USC
  • Claremont Colleges (Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Scripps)
  • Loyola Marymount
  • Occidental College

Besides this being a great opportunity for you to find out what you like in a college, some colleges keep track of “demonstrated interest”. If you decide to apply, they will check that you a local student, took the time to visit them. So make sure you make it an official visit. Meaning you go into their admission website, fill out your name and then show up!

7)   Find local college fairs – After you visit a local college, you will have a better idea of what you are looking for. There are thousands of colleges & universities across the US. They are all looking for students in Southern California.  Go to the college fairs, and find out about other college options. Make sure you fill out their sign in forms. College Palooza is coming up:

College Palooza presented by LAUSD

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Los Angeles Trade Tech

College 2 Career Fairs

Wednesday, April 10, Santa Anita Park

Friday, April 12, The Cerritos Performing Arts Center

These fairs are geared toward high school students, educators and families. They feature 70 out-of-state and international colleges. Free busing is available for local high schools.

8)   Go into your high schools college center. Find out who your college counselor is. Introduce yourself. Make sure that she/he knows that you are interested in college and you want to stay updated on any opportunities.

9)   College Information sessions — many private college representatives visit your high schools.  Stop by during one of these information sessions.

10)   Create a folder of possible colleges! Look at their specific requirements. Start planning by June.

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Erica Rosales

Erica Rosales

Erica Rosales has been the program director of College Match for nine years, a college-access organization in Los Angeles committed to helping talented students from low-income families beat the odds by being accepted to and graduating from top tier four-year colleges across the nation.

Previously, Erica worked as an assistant dean of admission for Occidental College. She is also the founding teacher of Animo Leadership Charter High School, the first school in the Green Dot family.

Rosales is committed to ensuring equal access to higher education for all students. As a first-generation college graduate of Wellesley College and Garfield High School in East Los Angeles she appreciates first hand the transformative power of education. She also holds a master’s in education from University of California, Los Angeles.

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