It may be helpful to make a list of potential schools and narrow that list down even further to the ones the student will apply for. The application process varies among the various colleges and each student must ensure that all the necessary applications and supporting documents are submitted on time. In addition to applying to the college, be sure to also apply to campus support programs, like EOPS and Foster Youth Support Programs (see College Success section).
Applying to a Community College
- Apply to the college - this is free and can be done online
- Complete an orientation (may be optional)
- Complete the placement tests - contact the Placement/Assessment Testing Center
- Meet with a counselor
- Register for classes - this can be done online
- Complete the financial aid paperwork - check the status of your financial aid and be sure to turn in all required paperwork
- Access any programs that are applicable (ex: EOPS, DSPS)
- Buy books for school (estimate $100/class)
Applying Directly to a University
While preparing for a four-year college, know that many of the universities may require the following:
- Application - students can usually apply online to a school of interest. The average application fee is around $35, however some are higher than others. Many colleges do offer fee waivers for low-income individuals.
- High School Transcript - the student must request this and the form is filled out by an official of the high school as an official transcript. As part of the application process, a student will have to request transcripts be sent to each of the schools he or she has applied to.
- Admissions Tests Scores - many 4 year universities require SAT, SAT Subject Test, or ACT test scores. These tests are a standard way of measuring a student's ability to do college-level work.
- Letters of Recommendations - many private colleges ask that a student submit one or more letters of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or other adult who knows the student well.
- Personal Essay - some schools require a personal essay as part of the college application which also gives the potential student a chance to show the selection committee why he or she should be at their school. The essay should showcase personal strengths, academic success and include any extracurricular activities.
- Interview - some schools require or recommend this and foster youth may find it beneficial to seek help from their ILP educational advocate with interviewing skills, appropriate attire and pointers.
Most important: meet all deadlines for applications plus any documents like transcripts and payments of fees.
Please refer to the resources section for specific information on the college(s) of interest.
A typical application schedule for a California State University (CSU)
During senior year in high school:
- Early September: Register for the October SAT I or ACT. UCs require additional SAT or ACT testing, so taking the tests during junior year is the best idea.
- October-November: Apply online. The application deadline is November 30, unless otherwise noted. Submit an application fee waiver. Apply to a few local campuses. Complete an EOP application. A student should work with a counselor and/or education advocate. Foster youth may apply for foster youth program, if available at the school.
- January-March: Apply for financial aid (FAFSA, Cal Grant and Chafee). The deadline for priority is March 2 for the FAFSA and Cal Grant.
- March-May: Register for the CSU's placement exam (unless you are exempt), which is required prior to enrollment in the CSU. Submit housing application and fee.
- Late spring: Students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes should take the AP exams. College credit can be earned for AP courses if a student scores well on the test(s).