At Impact, we understand that opportunities, incomes, and even quality of life can improve dramatically for those who earn a college degree. We also believe deeply that college should be accessible to ALL students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability or family background.
That is why we are serious about making sure that every one of our students graduates college-ready. Impact graduates have taken ALL OF the academic courses required by every 4-year university in the California State University and University of California systems (A-G approved courses). They have spent four years learning about college options, identifying their academic and career goals, and choosing the college that best fits them. As part of Impact’s curriculum, students visit at least one different college campus each year of high school. Our students also get ongoing help in preparing for the SAT and learning about other factors that will make them competitive applicants at numerous colleges. Before graduation, our students know that college is not just within their grasp, but is the logical next step and can be one of the most important keys to a successful future.
We also understand that the process of preparing for, applying to, and choosing a college can be difficult, confusing, and overwhelming. Our College Advisor works with students during all four years of high school, with more intensive counseling during their junior and senior years. From the lengthy admissions process, with various testing and writing requirements, to the task of exploring financial aid options and obtaining scholarships, Impact is committed to helping students and their families navigate all aspects of the process.
Preparing for College Timeline
9th and 10th Grade
Grades count! Do your homework and study hard. Grade Point Average is a deciding factor for colleges and you can start working on that the day you enter high school. Aspire to make a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Meet with your College Advisor to talk about your four-year plan for high school.
Stay organized! Strong organizational skills will not only help you keep your grades up in high school, but will also be essential during the college application process.
READ! Strong reading skills are essential for success in high school and college. As with any skill, reading frequently will help you improve.
Understand CAT’s graduation requirements and the requirements to get into a UC or CSU college.
Get involved in extra-curricular activities, both in and out of school. Consider joining clubs, running for student government, trying out for a sport or getting a job or internship. Extra-curricular activities look great on a college application, but remember that colleges would rather see real, long-term involvement in one activity than a loose connection to several activities.
Do community service. This looks great on a college application and can also help you build valuable skills. Try to find an activity that you love to do, or use community service as a way to explore new interests. Be sure to keep track of your hours of service.
Ask older students for advice about how to succeed in high school. If you know anyone who is attending or has recently graduated college, ask for their words of wisdom.
Keep a record of your academic accomplishments and extra-curricular activities. This will come in handy when you are ready to complete your college applications.
Research college and career possibilities. There is a lot of information online to get you thinking about matches for your skills and interests.
Begin saving money for college. It’s never too late to start a college savings plan, if you haven’t already. Every little bit helps!
11th Grade Timeline
Junior year grades are extremely important for college admissions. Grades also are used to determine scholarships and grants. Do all your homework, keep your grades up, and strive for at least a 3.0 GPA.
All 11th graders in Envision Schools will take the PSAT on October 17. Even though these scores will not be used for college admission, do your very best on the PSAT, because the scores may qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition and the National Achievement and the National Hispanic Scholars Programs.
Start talking to your family about your college preferences and the factors that might affect your choices, such as: cost, location, campus size, etc. Parents: if you are setting any specific parameters, now is the time to share them with your student, before they get their minds set on any particular schools.
Stay involved in extra-curricular activities at school and in community service. Take on leadership roles when possible.
Remember to keep a record of all that you do, and continue your activities into the summer time if possible.
Start researching options for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Talk to your College Advisor about good places to start your research.
In January, you should receive the results of your PSAT. Talk to your College Advisor about how you might improve on future standardized tests.
Begin to make a preliminary list of colleges that you are interested in attending. There is a lot of information on the Internet and also in the College Advising office at your school. Meet with your College Advisor to discuss your preliminary list of colleges and adjust your 4-year plan. Discuss whether your initial list of colleges meets your needs and interests (academic program, size, location, cost, etc.) and whether you are considering colleges where you are likely to be admitted. Discuss standardized tests that you will need to take and make a calendar of test dates for yourself.
Request admission literature and financial aid information from the colleges on your list.
Attend a college fair to get more information about colleges you are considering. Visit NACAC’s National College Fairs website for dates and locations.
If you work, save part of your earnings for college.
Begin visiting colleges. Seeing the college in person, taking a tour, and talking to students can be the greatest help in deciding whether or not a school is right for you.
If you plan to participate in college athletics, register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Make a list of teachers who you would like to ask to write letters of recommendations for you. Talk to them before the end of the school year to make sure they are willing.
In the end of your junior year, take the SAT. If you want to raise your scores, you will have more opportunities to take it again in the fall.
12th Grade Timeline
Create a file entitled College Admissions. In it, you should include a calendar of important deadlines, this web page to use as a to–do list, copies of or links to college applications, letters of recommendation, test scores, and college and financial aid information (as these items become available).
Register for the September ACT or other ACT testing dates if appropriate.
Revise your list of college choices, beginning to narrow it down to those you will actually apply for. Remember to include reach, match and safety schools.
Learn about admissions requirements at the websites of your top colleges. Make note of them in your file.
Continue visiting colleges during the summer before senior year.
Register for the October or November SAT.
Meet with your College Advisor to talk again about your top choice schools.
Speak with teachers and others about letters of recommendation. (If you are unsure who to ask, discuss it with your College Advisor.)
Continue visiting campuses and interviewing with college representatives.
Attend a regional college fair to explore those colleges and possibly others that might interest you. Visit theCollege Fairs section on NACAC’s website to view the schedule for the NACAC’s National College Fairs and the Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs.
Request applications from the colleges you have selected or download the applications from the colleges’ websites.
Create an account with The Common Application if the colleges you are interested in accept it.
Mark all college deadlines on your calendar. Make note of early decision and early action deadlines. Keep all of this information in your file.
Register for the October ACT exam if you have not signed up yet.
Focus on your studies and on building a strong GPA.
Take the SAT, SAT Subject exams, and/or ACT tests.
Register for the November SAT if appropriate.
Talk with your College Advisor and parents to narrow your list of prospective colleges to roughly 6 – 8 schools, including a few “safety schools.”
Take advantage of more college fairs.
Complete and submit your applications if you are applying early decision or early action.
Talk with your College Advisor about financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and research opportunities on the websites listed on our Links and Resources page.
Start writing your college essay. Share your draft with your College Advisor, your parents and a teacher.
Request your high school transcript and check for accuracy.
Stay organized! File all applications and deadlines information.
Register for the December SAT or ACT if you need to take the test(s) again or if you haven’t taken them yet.
Take the November SAT if appropriate.
Focus on your GPA. These are the last few months to boost that number!
Complete and submit your applications to colleges with November deadlines for early decision or early action, if applicable.
Keep researching scholarships. Apply for scholarships well in advance of deadlines.
December through January
Complete and submit your applications for regular decision admissions.
If you applied to any CSU campuses, sign up to take the ELM and EPT assessment tests.
Don’t delay applying to schools with rolling admissions or late deadlines — the available spaces can fill up quickly.
Send your SAT/ACT test scores to all colleges that require them.
Check in with recommenders to confirm the letters of recommendation have been sent. Ask for a copy for your file.
Write a thank you note to your recommenders.
Submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Aid) after January 1 for the 2013-14 school year.
Let your College Advisor know if you are accepted to a college through early decision or early action. Follow the college’s directions carefully. If you are accepted at a school to which you applied early decision, you must accept their offer unless they did not give you enough financial aid. In this case, talk with your college advisor about your options. Let other schools you applied to know that you have decided on another school.
Have midyear grades sent to colleges.
Keep researching scholarships. Apply for scholarships well in advance of deadlines.
February through March
You should receive the Student Aid Report if you submitted the FAFSA. Make sure there are no errors.
Contact colleges that did not send you a confirmation receipt for your application.
Note that most decisions are mailed out in April but you may receive acceptance letters in February and March.
If you are planning to attend a community college, apply online and sign up to take the math and English assessment tests.
Continue applying for appropriate scholarships.
Place in your file all acceptances, rejections, and wait list decisions.
If you have not received a financial aid package from each college where you were accepted, contact their financial aid office.
If waitlisted, think through your other options carefully. You may be accepted at that school, but you will not hear until after May 1. You must tell another school that you accept their offer by May 1.
May through June
Know what senioritis is and avoid it! Colleges can retract offers if grades are significantly lower in the senior year.
May 1 is the National Candidates Reply Date, by which applicants should let colleges know whether they plan to attend.
Your chosen school may have a deposit deadline. If so, a common one is May 1st. If this is a cause of concern, you might be able to request an extension.
Apply for housing if you are planning to live on campus.
Sign up for orientation and other campus events. Keep track of the deadlines to sign up and attend these events.
Talk to your College Advisor about having your final transcripts sent to colleges.
Send thank you letters to everyone who helped you in the application process. Let your mentors and recommenders know the results of your college search.
Notify your college if you receive any scholarships.
Graduate. Congratulations, you are off to college!
College Counseling Glossary
A-G Requirements: The A-G Requirements are a sequence of high school courses that are required by the California State University and University of California college systems to determine eligibility for admission. Impact students’ curriculum is A-G approved, meaning that any student who graduates from Impact has met the subject requirements for any college in the University of California and California State University systems.
ACT: American College Testing. The ACT Program is a standardized, multiple-choice aptitude test, which measures English, mathematics, reading, and science aptitude. All colleges and universities in the U.S. will accept scores from either the SAT or the ACT.
AP: Advanced Placement (AP) refers to college-level courses (designed by the College Board) that are offered in high school. Students may take an AP test upon completion of these courses. Students with high scores on these tests can be placed in upper-level college courses and may receive college credit for beginning-level courses.
Applicant Reply Deadline: May 1 is the universal National Candidates Reply Date for students to make a commitment to the college of their choice. This date is also the national deadline for submitting a deposit to one college.
College Board (collegeboard.com): A not-for-profit organization offering the SAT. Test descriptions and preparation materials can be found on its website. The web site also has information on many colleges in the U.S.
College Essay: Sometimes called a personal statement, many colleges require that students write an essay as part of the application. The topics and guidelines for the essay vary depending on the college.
Common Application (commonapp.org): A standard application form accepted by OVER 450 colleges. However, please note that many colleges have additional unique application requirements.
Deferral: An admissions decision that means the applicant has not yet been admitted or denied, but that the application will be reviewed again and decided on in March or April. A deferral may be received if a student has applied under an Early Decision or Early Action plan. This is different than being put on a wait list, which indicates that a student will only be accepted if enough currently accepted students choose not to attend.
Early Action: A phase of the admissions process in which students receive an application decision earlier during their senior year. November 1 and November 15 are the most common application deadlines for students applying under Early Action Plans. Colleges generally inform students of a final admissions decision by mid-December. Students often will not receive any other information from the school at this time, such as information about financial aid. Students typically have until the Candidates Reply Date on May 1 to choose whether to enroll.
Early Decision: Early Decision is a binding agreement between a student and a college. If a student applies under an early decision plan, they will sign an agreement that if admitted, they will attend that college and will withdraw all other applications.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money a family is expected to contribute towards a student’s college expenses. The EFC is calculated using the information provided on the FAFSA, and takes into consideration income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college. Typically, the lower the EFC, the more financial aid a student will receive.
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This free form is used by colleges to determine a student’s eligibility for Federal financial aid.
Fee Waiver: Students who can show substantial financial need may be permitted to submit college applications and test registration forms without the normally required fees.
Financial Aid: Funding that enables students to attend college. Both academic merit and financial need may be considered, depending on the college. Students receive these financial awards in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment opportunities. Need is determined through a combination of forms from the College Board CSS PROFILE, the FAFSA, and sometimes the college itself.
Gapping: A term used when a financial aid package does not meet a student’s need requirements. There is a “gap” between a student’s need and financial assistance requirements.
GPA: Grade Point Average. Represents the average grade maintained by a student when all countable/completed units are considered in combination. For example, an “A” average equals a score of 4.0, “B” equals 3.0, “C” equals 2.0.
Match School: A college where your academic credentials fall well within (or even exceed) the school’s range for the average freshman. There are no guarantees, but it’s not unreasonable to be accepted to several of your match schools, and it is highly recommended to apply to several.
Matriculate: To register or enroll in a college.
PROFILE or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: A financial aid application service offered by the College Board. Some colleges use this in addition to the FAFSA to figure out a student’s financial aid needs. Please refer to the College Board website for the most up-to-date list of colleges using the CSS PROFILE system.
PSAT: The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. It assesses skills developed through years of study in a wide range of courses. The PSAT/NMSQT has three parts: Verbal, Math and Writing Skills, and is taken by students during their sophomore and junior years.
Reach School: A college where your academic credentials fall below the school’s range for the average freshman. Reach schools are long–shots, but they should still be possible. Students should apply to a few reach schools that they like, but be realistic about their chances of getting in.
Regular Decision: This is the most common timeframe in which students apply for college and colleges make their acceptance decisions. Most application deadlines for regular decisions are in January or February, although some colleges and universities may have an earlier deadline (for example the University of California system).
Rolling Admissions: The policy used by many colleges to evaluate applications as soon as they arrive in the admissions office, making ‘admit’, ‘deny’ or ‘waiting list’ decisions within a few weeks of receiving the application.
Safety Schools: A college where your academic credentials fall above the school’s range for the average freshman. You can be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools, so even if they aren’t necessarily your first choice, it is good to apply to a few as a back-up.
SAT Test: Standard Aptitude Test. Administered by the College Board, it is the most widely used college admissions test. The SAT uses multiple-choice questions to assess verbal and mathematical reasoning ability, along with a short essay and multiple choice questions to test grammar and writing skills. College-bound high school students take the SAT during their junior and/or senior years.
SAT Subject Tests: Formerly called the SAT IIs, these are individual subject tests (such as Spanish, Biology, and Math) which may be required by particular colleges for admission.
School Code: A six digit number assigned by national testing agencies to each secondary school for identification purposes. Impact’s school code is 054255.
Senioritis: A decrease in motivation that some students may feel as they approach the end of their high school career. It is important to stay on track and motivated through the end!
Student Aid Report (SAR): An applicant’s Student Aid Report summarizes all of the information included on his or her FAFSA application and will be sent to the student once the FAFSA is received and processed. It includes the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Wait List: Rather than deny a student admission from the start, a college may put him or her on a wait list. If the college does not fill all spaces from its first round of acceptances, it will offer admission to some of the students on the wait list.
Yield: The percentage of accepted students in a college who enroll in the same college. If a yield is high, the competition is usually greater.