FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

1. What are an AA/AS degree and a BA/BS degree?

  • An AA/AS is an Associates degree and generally takes two years to complete at a community college.
  • A BA/BS is a Bachelor’s degree and typically takes at least four years to complete at a 4-year college or university.

2. What is the minimum GPA needed to go to a 4-year college right after high school?

  • To go to a California State University (CSU), a student must have at least a 2.00 GPA in all of their college prep classes.
  • To go to a University of California (UC), a student must have at least a 3.00 GPA in all of their college prep classes.
  • To go to a private or independent college, minimum GPA’s vary.

3. What college admission tests are required to go to college?

  • CSU’s require either the SAT or ACT.
  • UC’s require either the SAT or ACT + Writing 
  • SAT subject tests are required by some private colleges and recommended by UCs for some majors. 

 4. Will Bear Creek High School sign me up to take the SAT and/or ACT?

  • No.

5. Do I have to take the SAT or ACT to go to a community college?

  • No.

6. When should I take the SAT/SAT subject tests and/or ACT + Writing?

  • The SAT and/or ACT + Writing should be taken first in the spring of your junior year and then can be retaken in the fall of your senior year.
  • The SAT Subject Tests should be taken as soon as you finish the course you will be tested in.
  • You cannot take the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT Reasoning Test during the same test administration; but you may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on a single test date.

7. What if my family cannot afford the fees to take the SAT or ACT or to apply to college?

  • There are fee waivers you can apply for when registering to take the SAT or ACT and when you apply to college. Visit the Career Center for more information.

8. What if I earned a “D” in one of my college prep courses, do I need to retake the course?

  • If you plan to go directly to a 4-year college after high school, you need to retake the grading period in which you earned a “D”. Non-college preparatory classes do not apply to this rule.
  • If you plan to attend a community college after high school, you do not need to retake the class, but you would be better prepared for college level work if you did.

9. How many colleges should I apply to?

  • An average number of colleges to apply to are three to six. You could have one or two dream colleges, one or two moderate colleges, and you should always have one or two safe colleges.

 10. Should I apply for financial aid? And when do I do that?

  • YES, everyone should apply for financial aid regardless of GPA or family income level. Much of financial aid goes un-awarded because students do not apply. Financial aid is given for different reasons and can be used at all different types of colleges: 4-year, community and career technical. Students should apply for financial aid in January of their senior year of high school.

junior FAQs

Should I take the PSAT? Absolutely!  It’s good practice for the SAT and inexpensive.  It is offered only once per year in October. Sign up in early September at the Counseling Office. 
 

When should I take the ACT or SAT?  We recommend juniors take the exam(s) at least once in the spring of their junior year. Students applying to UC schools must take the ACT with writing.  Some UC departments/majors may recommend one or more SAT Subject tests (e.g. math and science for engineering or science majors) – check the university website or ask your counselor. 
 

How many SAT or ACTs should I take?  There is no magic number.  Look at the ‘Freshman Profile’ for the colleges you want to attend to see what the average scores are – this will give some guidance.  If feasible, take both. 

Do I have to take an ACT or SAT if I am going directly to the community college?  If you transfer as a junior, you will not be required to have SAT or ACT scores.  If you are not 100% sure, take one or more anyway.  What can it hurt?  Keep your options open.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply directly to a four-year university?  You will need to have completed the required ‘a-g’ Subject Requirements with grades of ‘C’ or better to meet minimum eligibility.  More competitive colleges will have higher expectations. Meet with your counselor to make sure you are on track and to seek guidance regarding how you can improve your chances of admission to your universities of choice.  Private universities may have different criteria (contact the Admissions office).

Will I have a better chance of getting into a prestigious college if I transfer from the community college as a junior? You may, depending on how strongly you performed in high school.  If you transfer as a junior, the university will consider your college performance. 

If I don’t need algebra 2 (or pre-calculus) to graduate, why should I take it?  Entering freshmen (community college and many universities) take a math and English exam for placement purposes.  If you do not score proficient at the intermediate (algebra 2) level, you will be placed in one or more remedial math classes which cost $$$, time and = no credit!  So, prepare while you are still in high school.

I’ve taken most of my challenging courses early so that I could relax in my senior year.  Is that a good idea?  NO! Colleges want to know that you challenged yourself up until the end of your high school career – a coach wouldn’t seek out an athlete who hadn’t been in training for over a year.  So, keep yourself in good academic shape.

When do I apply for UC, CSU or private colleges?  Between Oct. 1-Nov. 30 (CSU) and Nov. 1-30 (UC) of your senior year; private universities will have differing deadlines – check their websites.  Contact the admissions offices to get general information mailed to you.

Do I need letters of recommendation for college?  Not for UC or CSU schools. Private university and scholarship applications will typically require one or more letters of recommendation (check specifics).  Ask people who know you well, and give them at least two weeks notice.  Provide a resume or informational facts sheet to help secure a better recommendation.  You might consider asking your junior teachers, as they would have had the opportunity to work with you for one full term.  

When should I make campus visits?  Yesterday!  It’s not too early to begin checking out campuses.  Try to schedule tours when you are visiting family or during vacation.  Don’t wait until your senior year to cram in campus visits, applications, recommendations and essays.  Also, check out www.CollegeWeekLive.com for periodic virtual campus visits and college fairs online.

How do I find colleges that best fit my goals?  Utilize Naviance! Visit the career center or see your counselor. Explore www.californiacolleges.eduwww.collegeboard.org  and www.csumentor.edu  to start your search. 

What about scholarships?  Our Career Center posts scholarships on Naviance.  Most scholarships are offered to seniors, but a few are available for juniors (e.g. Discover Card, WalMart). Go to websites such as fastweb.com,  and TuitionFundingSources.com

When should I apply for financial aid?  Beginning January 1 of your senior year for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  You can get your FAFSA PIN (www.pin.ed.gov) in the spring of your junior year, if desired.

Will my AP test scores earn me college credit at every university?  For the state universities, most probably.  Private colleges may handle these in different ways.  To view AP credit policy by university, go to:  www.collegeboard.com/ap/creditpolicy.

What if I want to play sports at a Division I or Division II school?  Register with the NCAA at the beginning of your senior year – http://eligibilitycenter.org.  Meet with your counselor to verify that you are on track to meet the NCAA requirements!

Senior FAQs

  • Do I have to take an ACT or SAT if I am going directly to the community college? If you transfer as a junior, you will not be required to have SAT or ACT scores. If you are not 100% sure, take one or more of these tests anyway. What can it hurt?
     
  • Will I have a better chance of getting into a prestigious college if I transfer as a junior? You may, depending on how strongly you performed in high school. If you transfer as a junior, the university will consider your college performance.
     
  • If I don’t need algebra 2 (or pre-calculus) to graduate, why should I take it? Entering freshmen (community college and many universities) take a math and English exam for placement purposes. If you do not score proficient at the intermediate (algebra 2) level, you will be placed in one or more remedial math classes which cost $$$, time and = no credit! So, prepare while you are still in high school.
     
  • When should I apply to the community college? In late February or early March for fall; October for spring admissions.
     
  • When do I apply to 4-year colleges? Apply ONLINE October 1-November 30 for CSU (www.csumentor.edu). November 1-30 for UC (www.ucop.edu/pathways) ; private universities have differing deadlines – check their websites or call the admissions office for information.
     
  • When do I find out if I am accepted? For CSUs, the earlier you apply, the sooner you will hear back. UC acceptance letters are typically received in early March. Private universities will vary.
     
  • When do I have to make a final decision regarding acceptance? By May 1, in most cases. Read and respond to requests for information carefully when you receive your acceptance letters!
     
  • Should I live in the dorms or off campus? When should I look for housing? Typically, freshman will seek on-campus housing, if available (some schools require freshmen to live on campus). Living on campus gives you the opportunity to network with more students and have your meals provided for you!  Apply for housing when you apply for admission (if allowed).
     
  • Do I need letters of recommendation for college? Not for UC or CSU schools. Private university and scholarship applications will typically require one or more letters of recommendation (check specifics). Ask people who know you well, and give them at least two weeks notice. Provide a resume or informational facts sheet to help secure a better recommendation.
     
  • How many colleges should I apply to? Probably 3-4, unless you are planning to stay local: a ‘Dream” school, a couple of “probable admittance” and one “no problem”.
     
  • Should I make campus visits? Absolutely! It’s chancy to buy something without checking it out first (and you don’t want a four year ‘blind’ date). Try to schedule visits periodically throughout your high school career.
     
  • How do I find colleges that will best fit my major and areas of interest? Visit the career center, see your counselor and check out websites listed on the colleges link of the career center.
     
  • How can I find out about scholarships? Our Career Center posts scholarships on the BCHS website http://bearcreek.lodiusd.net/ and maintains a scholarship binder in the Career Center. Check weekly. Apply to the financial aid departments at the colleges you are seriously considering. Go to websites such as www.fastweb.com, and www.TuitionFundingSources.com.
  • When should I apply for financial aid? Get your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) PIN https://pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp in the fall of your senior year. Apply for the FAFSA between Jan. 1 and March 2. Make sure your social security number is filed with the College & Career Center for Cal-Grant purposes.
  • How many SAT or ACTs should I take? There is no magic number. Look at the ‘Freshman Profile’ for the colleges you want to attend to see what the average scores are – this will give some guidance. If feasible, take both.
     
  • Will my AP test scores earn me college credit at every university? For the state universities, most probably. Private colleges may handle these in different ways. To view AP credit policy by university, go to:www.collegeboard.com/ap/creditpolicy.
     
  • What if I want to play sports at a Division I or Division II school? Register with the NCAA at the end of your junior year – http://eligibilitycenter.org. Meet with your counselor to verify that you are on track to meet the NCAA requirements!
     
  • Will BCHS send my final transcript to my college? Not unless you fill out a ‘REQUEST FOR FINAL TRANSCRIPT’ with the registrar! You need to see Ms. Abel, in the Registrar's Office, and provide the information to the admissions office of the college you plan to attend.