Category Archives: CSU Mentor

Don’t Panic

But the deadlines for college applications are approaching.

This does not mean that you should stop reading this and go submit your application.

This does mean that you should:

  • Gather your transcripts.
  • Have a trusted college guidance counselor offer feedback on your personal statement(s) (not the day before, but now).
  • Ask your counselor and teachers for letters of recommendations (before you write their information down. If you need guidance, check here)
  • Carefully fill out your application and have a trusted college guidance counselor review for common mistakes.
  • And then click the submit button.

So now that you have been reminded, don’t procrastinate! The online applications will get more and more crowded as the deadlines get closer. If you’re applying to California State University (CSU/Cal State) or University of California (UC) schools, word to the wise: the website will crash frequently during the final days.

And if you need a reminder on the application sites: CSU, UC, Common Application (for many private colleges and universities). If the school you are applying to can’t be found here, Google is your best friend. Find the school’s website and look for their “Apply” tab/button/page.

Again – Don’t Panic. But do get a move on. The worst rejection from a college or university is the one you give yourself by missing the deadline.

So get your app in gear and get ready to submit!

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Filed under Applications, Cal States, Common App, CSU Mentor, Nicholas Academic Center, Seniors, UCs

Final transcripts

“What do they mean by ‘final transcripts’?”

This seems to be the question of the year this spring. California State Universities, and other schools, require students to send in their transcripts after their grades post for the fall semester of their senior year. They make this requirement unclear by asking  for final transcripts mid-year.

Do not wait to send your transcripts from the end of your senior year. They want your final grades from the first semester. Which means, by this time, your school has the final transcripts the schools are looking for.

Which is convenient since they need the copy of your final transcripts now.

So if you have been waiting until you take those last final exams of your High School career to send your schools your final transcripts, don’t. Go into your counselor’s office as soon as possible and request that they send the colleges your official transcripts.

Seriously, go. Now. Quick.

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Filed under Cal States, CSU Mentor

Application 101

How do I apply to colleges?

For Cal States, you will log on to www.csumentor,edu and create an account (write down your username and password! Don’t assume you’ll remember it). From there, you can fill out one application and submit it to multiple campuses. For the UCs, it’s very much the same: you fill out one application, and then you can submit it to multiple campuses. For privates, many (but not all!) schools use the Common Application. Log on to, create an account, fill out the application, and then submit to the schools of your choice. However, don’t think you’re done there! Most of the schools require you to fill out “supplemental information,” such as writing an additional paragraph or answering a specific question. Each school requires different info, so be sure you double check what they need from you.

When are college applications due?

The filing application period for Cal States is October 1st to November 30th. For the UC system, it’s November 1st to the 30th. For the private colleges, it varies. Some schools are as early as December 1st and others are as late as March 15th. If you’re planning on applying to private schools, their websites should tell you when the deadlines are.

How do I pay for the applications?

This depends. If you qualify for the Free Lunch Program, you can typically receive a fee waiver to apply to up to four Cal States and four UCs for free. If you apply to more than four Cal States and more than four UCs, you will need to pay for each additional school. Just to give you an idea, it cost $55 to apply to a Cal State last year. For private schools, you can also receive up to four fee waivers (if you qualify for the Free Lunch Program). To receive these waivers, ask your counselor.

What is the difference between Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision?

Early Decision means that you apply earlier than other students, but you also find out earlier. However, if you do get in, the school expects you to commit to their college, pay a deposit, and withdraw all of your other applications. This is a good option if, let’s say, Harvard is your dream school, and you’re 100% positive that you want to go there. Like Early Decision, Early Action also means that you apply early, and that you find out early. However, if you get in, the school doesn’t require you to commit to it and you don’t have to withdraw your other applications. This is an excellent choice option because you’ll typically find out your status in January or February, and some of the pressure and anticipation will be eased. Regular Decision means that you apply when everybody else does, and that you find out when everybody else does. Of these three, I think Early Action is the best option. You have the advantage of knowing what schools you got into early in the year, you don’t have to commit to one school. In other words, you can relax in April when everybody else is freaking out.

What schools require personal statements?

Cal States do not require a personal statement (yay!). UCs require not one, but two personal statements (boo!). Most private colleges also require one (sometimes two).

When do I start writing my personal statement?

Now! You want to start and finish your personal statements during the summer between your Junior and Senior years. This allows you to make multiple revisions (trust me, you will need to make revisions. If Shakespeare were to write a personal statement, he would have to make revisions). Also, while all your fellow students are juggling filling out their applications, studying for the SATs, doing their homework, AND writing their statements, you’re already ahead of the game. (By the way, talk to Sean, Danny, or Chandra when you’re ready to start writing it. They have Master degrees in English for a reason!)

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Filed under Applications, Cal States, Common App, CSU Mentor, Privates, UCs