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How do I keep track of my applications?

Managing your college applications is a big project.  There are deadlines to meet, scores to send, folks to ask for letters of recommendations - the list goes on.

This simple spreadsheet may help keep you sane. Customize it to fit your needs.

Remember, you want to spread out your colleges in the following categories: Reach (25%), Target (50%) and Safety (25%).  Compare your standardized test scores and GPA to the freshman profile of each of your colleges.  Based on the comparison, slot you colleges into the R/T/S catergories.  (If your scores and GPA are higher than the college, it is a Safety.  If the scores and GPA are similar = Target.  If scores and GPA are lower than the college - this school falls into the Reach category.)

Using the spreadsheet, you will be able to sort your colleges in a variety of methods - by date, by application type, sending scores.  Also, print out a hard copy and put it on the frig for the whole family to see.  This helps keep everyone (including parents) in the loop.


College 101

I want to go to college! How do I get there?

In the state of California, higher education opportunities can be realized by attending one of the 110 community colleges, 33 public universities (CSU and UC), 75 private/independent universities and many more technical, trade, and art schools.  

  • To be eligible to attend a community college: one must be 18 years of age or possess a high school diploma. 
  • To be eligible to attend a California State University (CSU) or University of Californa (UC): public systems require completion of the minimum a-g course sequence with grades of C or higher and submission of ACT or SAT college admission tests results.  
  • To be eligible to attend a Private/Independent University: requirements vary from institution to institution, but follow closely with the University of California a-g course sequence.  To learn more about each individual institution, it is recommended that students log onto the prospective school websites to explore majors and schools in California and nationwide.  The following link will lead you to each college and university in the California system California Colleges.

For more information on applying to community colleges, California State University, University of California, or private/independent universities, please refer to these pages on the navigation bar to the left. 

Choosing a College

Utilize Naviance - All students should utilize Naviance-Family Connection as a way to connect academic achievement to post-secondary goals. 

College Navigator  - For students and families looking to narrow a search for colleges, one of the best resources comes from the National Center for Education Statistics. College Navigator organizes thousands of colleges according to a diverse set of metrics, providing a large amount of institutional detail in one location.  


Choose A College - cut out the various criteria and place them in order of importance on the grid on page 2.

Use this game to help you and your family identify criteria in your college.  Each member of your family should do this on their own.  Then get everyone together and compare notes.  You will not agree with each other and that is okay.


Anatomy of the College Application Process

College Application:  Universities prefer that admissions applications be completed online.  You can access CSU and UC applications through their prospective websites.  To complete an admissions application to private universities, you will need to  go directly to the school website.  Websites can be found through a search online, or in the CVHS Guidance Office.

College Application Fee:  Application fees will vary per institution, and will be due upon submission of your application.  Some universities offer fee waivers for those who qualify. 

High School Transcript:  To complete your CSU or UC application, you will need an unofficial copy of your high school transcript for self reporting your classes and grades. Unofficial transcripts are available via the parent portal. Once you have been accepted to a CSU or UC campus, that particular campus will prompt you to have an OFFICIAL transcript sent from CUSD directly to them upon graduation from high school.  If you are applying to a private university, however, an OFFICIAL transcript will be required as part of the application process.  To order your official high school transcript please visit and select “ordering transcripts” under Quick Links. 

College Admissions Exams/Tests:  As part of the application process, students will be required to submit the results of college admissions exams: ACT or SAT I; SAT II for UC and some private universities.  For more information regarding these exams, please see College Admissions Testing on the navigation bar to the left.

College Essay or Personal Statement:    Private/Independent Universities will require a college essay as part of their application process.  The college essay is written in response to a prompt given to the student in the application. A college essay will not be required for applications to the California State University.

Letters of Recommendation: Most private university and scholarship applications will require that students submit letters of recommendation.  Some will specify who the recommender should be (teachers, employers, coaches,community and church leaders); others simply indicate how many recommendations are required.  Letters of recommendation give evaluators and selection committees' alternate information about you the person.  Keep in mind that these individuals will already have objective information - your grades, classes and test scores - they want to know about your character and who you are outside of the classroom, more appropriately, how others see you!!


Being PREPARED AND ORGANIZED will allow your recommenders to write an outstanding letter of recommendation!!

Service Hours/Extra-Curricular Activities/Volunteering: Students are not required to do service hours as a condition of graduation from Capistrano Valley High School/Capistrano Unified School District, however, most universities will, as a part of their application process, ask students to document service hours, extra-curricular activities and volunteer hours.  The general rule of thumb is to get involved in an activity that you are passionate about and can commit to for a length of time.  Universities will ask what types of activities you were involved in, how long you were committed to the activity and what skills you developed or how it affected you personally. 

Download the CVHS Community Service & Volunteer Log  

Download the CVHS Community Service/Volunteer Hour Log Excel Spreadsheet  

Non-Discrimination Statement

The Capistrano Unified School District prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying in all district activities, programs, and employment based upon actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, color, religion, ancestry, nationality, national origin, ethnic group identification, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, pregnancy, age, physical or mental disability or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Reference: AR 1312.3, BP 1312.3 and BP 5183.

Rich Montgomery, Executive Director, Human Resource Services/Compliance
33122 Valle Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-9200

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