Senior Year - The College Application Process

  • Class of 2022


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    August 1, 2021: The Common Application for 2021-22 will open on this date. Here is the link to open an account with the Common Application: If you opened your account prior to August 1st make sure to "refresh" or "rollover" your information to the 2021-22 application year. For more info go to the following Common Application video at:

    August 1, 2021:  The UC application will open on 8/1 for students to work on, but the window for submission is 11/1 - 11/30. For more information go to the UC Application 
    August 2021: Senior College application meeting hosted by the OPHS Counselors and the C&CC. The information is posted at the top of this page.
    Early Action/Early Decision deadlines vary from as early as October 15th to as late as February 1st for some Colleges. Most "Regular Admission" deadlines are set from Nov. 30 to Jan. 15 (although some colleges have even later deadlines). For more details click here: Early Action and Early Decision
    October 1 - November, 2021: The window for submitting the CSU application opens on 10/1. The deadline to submit to most CSU's this year is 12/15. For more information go to the CSU Application web page 
    October 1, 2021: Federal Financial Aid applications (FAFSA’s) may be submitted after beginning this date. For more information go to our Financial Aid & Scholarship$ page.  The link for filing the FAFSA is: Some schools also require the CSSProfile which can be accessed at the following link:
    October 30, 2021: Senior College appointments with their Counselors should be completed. Each Counselor makes their own appointments. Students should reserve their appointment by 10/30/2020. 
     November 1 - November 30, 2021: The UC application will open on 8/1 for students to work on, but the window for submission is 11/1 - 11/30. For more information go to the 
    November 19, 2021: Last day to request a letter of recommendation from any OPHS teacher.
    February 2022: Some colleges also require the CSS Profile, found online at; complete the CSS PROFILE before your earliest college or program priority filing date. At the very latest, you must submit your PROFILE Application by February 15.
    Mid-March, 2022 is when most UC and CSU schools begin notifying applicants of admission or denial. Berkeley and UCLA are the last to send notices. 
    May 1, 2022: Commitment Deadline!   Students must formally confirm acceptance or declination of an offer of admission by this date.
    May & June 2022: are critical months for seniors because last semester grades do count!   Spring semester classes (that were listed on the student’s admission application) that are dropped or not passed with at least a "C" may result in a college rescinding its offer. Most competitive universities expect seniors to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in the senior year. 

    "Fit over Rankings" a white paper from Stanford's Challenge Success program about why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity

    Naviance Student

    What do students need to do to prepare for the College Application process BEFORE scheduling an appointment with their Counselor must complete the 39 Counselor's Tasks that have been assigned in Naviance and mark them complete. You can access the Counselor's Task List by clicking on the 'About Me" Tab and then clicking on the "task" link. 

    College Options

     The college application process can be broken into three categories:

     1. The (UC/CSU) systems: The University of California deadline and the Cal State University deadline is November 30th. For UC's, there are NO exceptions! Most Cal State’s use the same (11/30) deadline but some will stay open if they have not filled all of their freshman spaces.  If you apply by this date for all UCs and Cal States, you are safe. The online application for the CSU opens on 10/1, and the UC application opens on 8/1, but students cannot submit until the 11/1 - 11/30 window. For more about the admission process at the UC & CSU systems please refer to the following page on our website: UC & CSU Admissions

    2. Private/Independent/Highly Selective & Out-of-State: This diverse group of schools uses many types of applications that can be either unique to their school or they may use the Common Application, the Coalition Application, the Universal Application, or CollegeNet. Deadlines are typically between November 1st and January 15th.For more information on the admission process at these types of schools please go to the following page on our website: 
    3. Colleges with their own unique applications. (i.e. MIT, Georgetown, UT, Austin, International Colleges and many Art/Music schools). Students should review the application procedures for these schools very carefully because the submission of documents (i.e. transcripts, letters of recommendation and portfolios) is much different than other schools. They may require you to "invite" recommenders via their application system, and/or to upload documents in a unique way (i.e. not through Naviance). In some cases, it may actually be necessary to mail things to them via USPS. So, don't "assume" that everything can be submitted electronically through Naviance/Parchment. Students need to read the application procedures carefully.
    A-G Course ListBoth the UC & CSU systems use what is known as the "A-G" list to establish what their course requirements are for admission purposes. Click Here for more information about the "A-G" requirements.
    University of California
     The (UC) University of California system has established a comprehensive website for all application and admission information for the UC system. It also contains hotlinks to all UC campus websites, High School “a-g” lists as well as Junior College Transfer Agreements. You must disable your "pop-up" blocker to use the application feature. You can access it at the following link:  
    The California State University
    The (CSU) California State University system has established a system-wide homepage that provides hotlinks to all CSU campus homepages. School comparisons by region, SAT/ACT scores, major, and GPA are available.  CSU applications are also be submitted through this site! You must disable your "pop-up" blocker to use the application feature. It can be accessed at: 

    Ivy LeagueMichiganUSCNYUNotre Dame
    Private & Independent Colleges differ from public schools like the UC & CSU's significantly in their admissions application processes. Generally speaking, they will have the same subject requirements as the UC/CSU's "a-g" subject pattern. However, students should check the home website of the college in question to be certain. Where the UC & CSU systems do not require letters of recommendation or even transcripts with their applications - private and independent schools will typically want all of these things as part of their application process:
    click here Click here for more information about Private, Independent, Out-of-State & Highly Selective Colleges.

    Common app The Common Application has been in existence for more than 20 years and is accepted by over 900 colleges and universities. Many schools accept it as the sole application document, while others may still require a supplemental form of their own to complete the application process. The concept is simple: Students complete one Common Application and submit it to any of the participating colleges. The procedure simplifies the college application process and eliminates duplication of effort. In fact, it has become the preferred method of submitting applications to most Ivy League schools. You can access it directly from the internet at:  Many member institutions have their supplements linked to this website and will also accept the common application itself online! If a school has signed the Common Application agreement, then they have agreed to accept and process this applies equally to their own form. If you have any doubts about whether a school you’re interested in accepts the Common Application you may check the aforementioned website. It should be noted that the CSU & UC systems do not subscribe to the Common Application. 
    "Rollover" your Common Application
    If you created your Common Application prior to August 1st, 2021 you will need to "refresh" or "rollover" your application to the Fall 2021-22 application cycle. If you fail to do this, colleges will think you're applying for Fall 2021admission.
    Naviance Video
    Click here for more information about "refreshing" your Common application account.
    Matching You Common Application with Naviance
    Naviance gives Oak Park High School's Counselors and Teachers the ability to submit your transcripts and letters of recommendation to your Common Application schools electronically. However, before we can do this - you must match your Common Application account with your Naviance account.
    Naviance Video
     Click here to view a training tutorial video on how to match your Common Application with your Naviance account.
    The Coalition Application
    The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success was developed to improve the college application process for all students as they search for and apply to their perfect college. The platform provides a single, centralized toolkit for students to organize, build, and refine their applications to numerous institutions. It can be accessed at:
    Counselor recommendation The OPHS Counselors recommend that students use the Common Application if it is an option because our teachers are not familiar with the Coalition Application process. Plus it requires them to create an additional account with the Coalition Application instead of using Naviance. 

    Electronic Documents
    Electronic Submission of College Application Documents
    Most college applications, as well as transcripts and letters of recommendation, are submitted electronically these days. Parchment Exchange is the electronic documentation service that Naviance uses to submit documents to multiple application systems and schools (i.e. the Common Application, the Coalition Application, UC, CSU, etc...).
    click hereClick here for more information about electronic document submission

    Essays/personal insight statments ESSAYS/PERSONAL INSIGHT STATEMENTS: 
    essays/personal insight statementsFor more information about writing strong essays/personal insight statements please go to essays/personal insight statements

    Financial Aid & Scholarship$Financial Aid & Scholarships:
    Please go to our Financial Aid & Scholarship$  page to get more information on this profile and other resources to help you fund your education. Many Private Schools require financial aid information in the form of a CSS/Financial Aid Profile 
    FAFSAThe link for filing the FAFSA is:
    click hereAlso click here to learn more about the Cal Grant 
    GPA A student's high school GPA is one of the most misunderstood topics that we encounter. This is because there is no single GPA formula that applies to all students, in all situations. Every high school has the freedom to assign weighted grade points to their GPA's - or not, as they see fit. Furthermore, depending on who (or which institution) is viewing a student's transcript, they all have differing views on how to calculate the GPA, what classes to include in the GPA, and whether to assign weighted grade points. The most important thing to understand is that colleges do not use a high school's GPA formula for their admission decisions! For more information please refer to the GPA  page on our website.

    GPA & CLASS RANKClass Rank Oak Park High school does not Rank! Many private/independent universities and scholarships want to know how a student has performed within the context of their school. In the class of 2020 alone there are 22 OPHS seniors with perfect 4.0 GPA's and 85 more with unweighted GPAs of 3.75 or higher. At Oak Park High School an outstanding GPA of 3.75 does not even place a student in the top 10% of their class! Furthermore, we have an additional 73 seniors with cumulative unweighted GPA’s between 3.50 and 3.75 that would only rank them in the top 30% of their class. At a high performing school such as ours, it is a challenge to adequately give recognition to so many outstanding students. As a result, we chose six years ago to delete a student’s class rank from our transcripts. This practice is gaining wide acceptance at the country's most prestigious college preparatory high schools. Accordingly, whenever a class rank is requested, we simply respond “Oak Park H.S. does not rank.”  For more information please refer to the Class Rank page on our website.

    Letters of RecommendationsLETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:
    Procedures for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation:
    1. Do NOT attempt to assign recommenders via the Common Application!
    2. Determine how many Teacher Recommendations your colleges require.
    3. Speak to the Teacher(s) in person to confirm that they will be willing to write you a recommendation.
    4. Confirm your request by submitting it to the Teacher(s) in Naviance via the "Letters of recommendation" link in the "Colleges" section of Naviance.
    letters of recommendation For more information click here to jump to our Letters of Recommendation web page.

    printClick here to print out instructions on how to use the "letters of recommendation" request feature in Naviance.

    Naviance Video 
    Click here to view a Naviance training video on how to request letters of recommendation. 

    For students who are interested in playing collegiate sports, the first step is to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at the end of their Junior year. In addition to filling out all of the NCAA's registration materials, students must submit either their SAT or ACT scores and a transcript with their grades through the end of 11th grade. If they do end up being recruited students will need to make sure they have completed the necessary NCAA course work by the end of their Senior year, and submit a final transcript at the end of their Senior year. Click here for more information.

     SAT/ACT Score Reporting
    How are students supposed to report their scores? 
    1. Students are responsible for self-reporting their scores in each of their college applications. This also includes the NCAA Clearinghouse as well. 
    2. Students are responsible for sending official score reports (from either the College Board or the ACT) to all the schools they're applying to.
    FYI - these scores are not posted on the OPHS transcript! 
    score reportingFor more information go to our Score Reporting page  

    Wait Lists, Deferrals & Appeals
    What can students do? Many students frequently find themselves in the unhappy position of having been deferred or waitlisted at their first choice school. The following information should be helpful both in terms of what to do, as well as what the chances are of still being admitted in these situations. To learn more about each of these topics please refer to the following link on our website: Wait Lists, Deferrals & Appeals

    California Community Colleges THE JUNIOR COLLEGE OPTION:
    More and more students are enrolling in community colleges across the nation, even as media attention focuses mostly on selective four-year colleges. Why are students choosing community colleges, and should you consider a community college as a part of your college search? For more information please refer to our Junior College webpage.

    Check the “colleges I’m applying to” page in Naviance to determine what kind of document transmission format your school(s) prefer.
    Common App This is a Common App school and will require a mid-year transcript. All transcripts will be transmitted electronically to these schools. Please indicate (ED) on the order form next to the schools/destinations that will be sent electronically.
    Electronic School This is an electronic school. If they require a transcript or any other supporting documentation it can be transmitted electronically via Naviance eDocs. Please indicate (ED) on the order form next to the schools/destinations that will be sent electronically.

    Print-mail This is not an electronic school. If they require a transcript or other supporting documentation it must be mailed via USPS. If your school or destination is not on the Naviance eDocs list then you may either provide a stamped pre-addressed envelope to the Registrar, or we will put the transcript in a sealed envelope for you to pick up and mail yourself. Please review the items at the bottom of the page for this option. pasting. Please indicate (PA) or (H) on the order form next to the schools/destinations that will require transcripts in sealed envelopes.

    (PDF) Please indicate (PDF) with the instructions to email the transcript to you. PDF copies of your transcript are for any organization/program that is asking for a PDF copy of my transcript. PDF transcripts are unofficial, so you should always discuss this option with your Counselor before ordering it.
    If this transcript is for the NCAA please make sure you list the NCAA on our Transcript Request form and provide your Clearinghouse registration number.
    arrowTranscript Fees - to be paid at the OPHS Student Store:
    $2 for an unofficial transcript
    $5 for an emergency official transcript unofficial transcript (requests ready within 48-72 hours)  
    $5 for an official transcript – all current students & alumni (with 2 weeks’ notice)
    $10 for an official transcript (with less than 2 weeks’ notice)
    click herse For questions please contact our Registrar, Kim Randall at:

    Do's & Dont's 
      Do's and Dont's of the Electonic Application Process
    Do… take the online tour. Before you start your application, walk through each step of the application on the virtual tour most online application sites now provide. When available, it's also a good, idea to download a PDF version of the application to use as a worksheet before inputting your application online.
    Do… create a username and password that you’ll remember easily. Record it and keep it in a safe place. If you lose your password, most application websites allow you to create a new one, but if you forget your username, as well you may have to start a new application. 
    Do... disable pop-up blockers in order to view the online instructions that will be displayed in pop-up windows.
    Do... make sure that your internet browser is set to accept "cookies." This is one of the key features that allow both Naviance and college application websites to have an interactive experience with you.
    Do… use the correct browser. Most online applications function only with Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher when using a Windows operating system. Or for Apple users: Mozilla/Firefox, Safari or Chrome. These online applications are highly secure; so older browsers are not usually equipped to handle the necessary level of encryption. 
    Do... enable JavaScript. Most online applications also use JavaScript web page functionality.  Make sure JavaScript is enabled on your browser.
    Do... check your e-mail service's spam or junk mail settings. Make sure that you have set your e-mail service so that it will not block e-mail from the colleges you are applying to!
    Don't... use an overly cute or suggestive e-mail name. You want them to think of you as being intelligent and mature!
    Do... be very cautious about what you have posted online (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, blogs etc.... Colleges and employers now routinely review these as part of their background checks!
    Do... provide your Social Security Number. In spite of concerns about identity theft, college application websites are very secure, and they use SSN's to make sure they don't confuse your application with another student with a similar name. 
    Do… follow directions and complete all steps. On each page and in every pop-up, scroll to the bottom to avoid missing any information.
    Don’t… forget to save your work. You usually have no more than 40 minutes per Web page before you’ll be timed out. Whenever you save an entry or move to a new page, your work is automatically stored, but if you plan to leave your application for any length of time — to go grab a snack or answer the phone — use the save/logout feature to store your application, then log back in.
    Don’t… compose your personal statement online. Take time to compose it in a word-processing application, such as Microsoft Word, save it as a text file, and then copy and paste it into the appropriate boxes in the online application. 
    Do... print out copies of your personal statement to cross-check your work with your parents, counselor or an instructor.
    Do... carefully review the summary page. Look for any instance where it says, “no information added,” and if you didn’t intend to leave that area blank, click “modify” to return to the step where you can fill it in.
    Don’ afraid to ask for help. If you have technical difficulties, don't be afraid to ask the "Help Desk, " "Technical Support," or "Contact" links.
    Do... click “Submit Application” when you’ve finished. Your application won’t be sent to the University until you do.
    Do... print out your receipt and keep it so you will have a record of your application id number and a complete summary of your application.
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Last Modified on May 17, 2021