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College & Career Planning

Getting into a college is like approaching any other goal in life that’s important: it takes hard work, commitment and attention to dates and details. The resources on this page are designed to help students navigate their post high school options, with information on college admissions testing, the college application process, choosing a college and possible major, career research, alternative post high school options and more.

Applying to College

Four Year College


Students must meet eligibility requirements according to the CSU Index Table. 


Students must meet minimum UC requirements in order to be eligible for admissions. 


Private colleges and universities typically require an application, essays, test score reports, teacher recommendations, secondary school and/or mid-year reports, and possibly more.  Since requirements may vary, please visit the college's website for more detailed information. 

  • Common Application - a uniform college application used to make the process much easier without having to complete individual college application forms
  • The Coalition - application platform accepted by 140 colleges
  • www.aiccu.edu - Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU)
  • The Guide - AICCU handbook
  • Western Undergraduate Exchange Program - a program in which students who are residents of WICHE states may enroll at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state at a reduced tuition rate.

Some college and programs may require students to include supplemental information in addition to the application forms. Please review the college websites for further instructions.

College Admissions Testing


PSAT/NMSQT stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT Reasoning Test. It also gives you a chance to enter National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs.

The PSAT/NMSQT measure critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills, and writing skills

The NMSQT portion uses the scores from the math, verbal reasoning, and writing to find the top 1% of the nation's juniors for eligibility in participating in Merit and Achievement programs.

The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are:

  • To receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
  • To see how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
  • To enter the competition for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (grade 11).
  • To help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.
  • To receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service.

The PSAT is administered on the FUHSD campuses once a year in October. Talk to your guidance counselor to find out how to sign up for the test at your school. For more information about the PSAT, click the link below.


These are four, 35-60 minute tests in academic areas of English, mathematics, social studies, reading and science reasoning. Scores range from 1 (low) to 36 (high) for each of the four tests and the Composite. The Composite score is the average of the four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. There is an optional writing assessment which is required by certain colleges; check the ACT website or the college website to determine if you will need this section.

For more information about the ACT and how to register, click on the link below.


The SAT Reasoning Test is a college admissions test comprised of a verbal, math and writing section. The SAT assesses the critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college—skills that students learned in high school. The SAT is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. It tells students how well they use the skills and knowledge they have attained in and outside of the classroom—including how they think, solve problems, and communicate.

Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, with two writing subscores for multiple-choice questions and the essay. It is administered seven times a year at various sites off campus. Students can register though The College Board.

For more information about the SAT and how to register, click the link below.


Subject Tests (formerly SAT II: Subject Tests) measure your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, and your ability to apply that knowledge. These are one hour tests and students may register for up to three tests on one date. The SAT subject tests are usually offered on the same days as the SAT, but there are exceptions. Check the calendar carefully to make sure the test you need to take is offered on a particular date. Not all SAT subject area tests are offered every test administration.

Many colleges use the Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. 

Subject Tests fall into five general subject areas:

  • English literature
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History

Most students take Subject Tests toward the end of their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year.

Take tests such as World History, Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics as soon as possible after completing the course in the subject, while the material is still fresh in your mind. For foreign language tests, you'll do better after at least two years of study.

SAT subject tests are not required by the University of California system. However, some campuses make certain recommendations.

For more information about the SAT Subject Area Test, visit the following website: 


AP tests are placement tests taken after completing a college level course. These are high school examinations based on college level courses. AP exams are given once a year in May. The scores are primarily used for college placement, credit or advanced standing. The most highly selective colleges may also consider AP scores as part of the admission decision. Universities grant either advanced placement and/or credit with qualifying score. Tests are administered in May to students completing appropriate courses.

Unlike honors courses, students may earn college credit, depending on their AP test scores and the colleges' requirements. To find out more about AP tests, click HERE


TOEFL is a college admission/placement test to evaluate English proficiency of students whose native language is not English. It's generally required of undergraduates seeking a first degree and graduate students seeking an advanced degree. The TOEFL is offered at over 300 test centers around the world and the computer-based test may be scheduled at the convenience of the student.

To learn more about the TOEFL test and how to register for the test, visit the following TOEFL website.

Test Prep Information

College Search Information

Frequently Visited Sites




College Search Engines

These search engines to help students identify or narrow down their college lists based on specific school characteristics (campus size, surrounding area, student body, etc.).


College Majors & Career Information


Selecting a major does not mean you will limit the career choices available to you after graduation. If you choose a major that you intrinsically enjoy, you are more likely to excel academically, you will be more motivated in the classes you take, and when it is time to start looking for a job or applying to graduate school you will be able to explain with enthusiasm why you chose your major and what you gained from doing so.  When choosing a major it is beneficial to understand your strengths and your interests. Consider taking one or more of the self-assessment instruments offered through Naviance.

Self Assessments
Major Information


Specialized Programs





Visits, Tours and Fairs


Throughout the school year, many college/university representatives visit the Tino campus. At a college/university visit, students will learn more specific information about the campus, application deadlines, requirements, and much more! This is a great opportunity for Tino students to connect with college reps and find their right college/university fit.

Please refer to Naviance and for scheduled visits from college/university representatives. 

Please note, in order to attend a college/university visit, students must sign up on Naviance two days prior to the college visit and pick up a visit pass  in the College and Career Center. In addition, students are also required to obtain their teacher's approval/signature. 


College visits give students an opportunity to soak in the college atmosphere, sit in a class, check out the facilities, talk to other students, and much more.  The sites below provide some suggested activities when you visit a campus. 


Most colleges offer free tours for students and families interested in learning more about their schools.  Please contact their undergraduate admissions or community relations offices for more information. 


College fairs provide students with an opportunity to talk to many prospective colleges in location.  These are great opportunities to talk with college representatives and ask more probing questions than what may be available from a viewbook or website.  Please visit the websites below for navigating a fair and suggested questions. 

Work, Internships and Volunteering



Students can create their own unique resume with Naviance's Resume Builder. For more information about this great tool, see Mrs. Amick in the College and Career Center.

Community Service Log

Although community service is not a district graduation requirement, students can keep track of their community service participation with the District community service log.

Community Service Award for Graduating Seniors

The Board of Trustees wishes to recognize those students who, during their senior year in high school, provide service to organizations within our community. This recognition will take place as a part of the Senior Awards ceremony, and the student may wear his/her award at the graduation ceremony.

Students must complete 80 hours of volunteer service to a non-profit community organization(s) between June 2, 2018 and May 1, 2019. 

Print out the community service form from the FUHSD Community Service Award webpage, fill it out and return to the College and Career Center by May 1, 2019.

Summer Programs

Recommendation Process

For current students who are interested in applying to summer programs requiring counselor recommendations, please follow the steps below:

  1. Must submit requests at least two (2) weeks before due date.
  2. Complete a Summer Program Personal Information Sheet
  3. Provide copies of PSAT and SAT scores if needed for the program.
  4. Provide an addressed and stamped envelope if mailing of recommendation is necessary.

Please note, if a teacher(s) recommendation is required, please consider the process above, but check with the individual teacher promptly.

Informational Websites

The inclusion of a program in this listing is not an endorsement nor recommendation by Cupertino High School. Students and their parents should investigate thoroughly any programs they are considering. For more information, check the listings on the Petersons website. Many schools have January or February deadlines, so it’s a good idea to get started in early December.

Programs with Rolling Deadlines

Alternative Post High School Options

The Gap Year


Maybe you're tired of the academic grind. Maybe you're not sure why you're going to college or what you'll do when you get there. Maybe you yearn to explore far-away places or a career that interests you. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is the time to consider taking a year off between high school and college. While there is significant peer pressure, parental pressure, and school pressure to go right on to college, the adventurous few who take time off are richly rewarded, says David Rynick, executive director of Dynamy Internship Year (MA). Taking time off before college gives you the gift of time to learn about two essential things: yourself and the world around you.  Of course, if your time off consists of nothing but watching soap operas and eating potato chips, all you'll have at the end is a wasted year. But with research and planning, you can design a semester or year that is both a great learning experience and a lot of fun.


The essential component of successful time off is planning. There are plenty of resources for students, including books, Web sites, and your high school counselor (see below). At your school or public library, look through a guidebook or two on travel, internship, volunteer and other opportunities for high school students. What types of programs appeal to you?  Once you have an idea of what opportunities are available, think about goals you should have for your time off. Do you want to travel abroad? Learn a new language or improve your foreign language skills? Help others, either at home or abroad? Explore career interests? Challenge yourself in the outdoors?  Have something meaningful that you want to pursue, says Shaun McElroy, director of college counseling, Escuela Campo Alegre, The American School in Caracas Venezuela, who took a year off between high school and college.

What are my options?

There are thousands of options for time off, as well as infinite combinations of activities. Some students participate in year-long programs. Others may combine two or more short-term programs, or plan a trip on their own or with friends. Here are some common ways to spend your time off:


Many organizations offer programs with an emphasis on traveling or living abroad. Or, you may wish to plan your own adventure.


Spend some time working in a career field that interests you. If you enjoy it, you'll have even more incentive to succeed in your chosen college major. If it's not the field for you, you'll still have plenty of time to explore other career opportunities.

Volunteer work

You can find volunteer programs both in the U.S. and all over the world. You could build houses, work with children, work on environmental projects, or a host of other activities.


Students who are not pleased with their high school records might consider a postgraduate (PG) year. The goal for a PG year is to strengthen your academic record in the hope of gaining entry to a better college.


Whether you find a job at home or away, a year of work can give you extra funds to pay for college, plus valuable, real-life experience.


Once you've decided to take time off, it's tempting to chuck the whole college search until next year. But that's not a good idea, for a number of reasons.  First, the college search and application process is much easier while you're still in high school. You have easy access to your school's college resources, your guidance counselor and teachers, and several modes of communication. You don't want to be filling out applications and trying to get counselor recommendations while you're working in the rainforests of South America.  Second, having your college plans in place can go a long way toward convincing your parents that you will go back to school after your time off. My parents were scared that I would never go to college, but by applying I demonstrated my seriousness, remembers McElroy.  So go ahead and complete the college admission process. Then contact the college you plan to attend and ask that your admission be deferred for a semester or a year. Most colleges are very receptive to students who want to defer their admission. Admission people across the country encourage the idea of time out before matriculation, says Bob Gilpin, owner of Time Out Associations (MA).  All of this can make you even busier than your classmates senior year.  Taking a year off is actually more work because you should apply and get accepted to college as well as figure out what you are doing for the next year, says McElroy.


Rynick lists these questions for students to consider when planning their time off:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • How much structure do I want or need?
  • Where in the world do I want to be?
  • What kinds of things do I want to do?
  • What will I do when things get very difficult?
  • What is my emergency plan? 

Another big factor is your budget. Talk to your family about your plans and about what you can afford. Some programs cost very little; others can be very expensive. Don't forget to plan for living and travel expenses as well as program fees. Students on a limited budget could consider working full-time for a summer or semester to pay for a semester-long program later in the year.  As you research and plan, don't limit yourself too much. Take a risk, says McElroy. Living outside of your comfort zone is an important factor in growth.  A year off is an adventure, says Rynick. Don't expect it to be easy. Welcome the new challenges you encounter as you enter into the ongoing process of creating the life you want to lead. The real question of life is beyond college credit.



Cupertino High School’s Guidance Department maintains a scholarship list in Naviance. Contact your Guidance Counselor or College Career Advisor via e-mail if you need your log-in.  

  • Naviance - under the College tab => Scholarship List
  • Fastweb - National database of scholarships
  • College Board - Big Future Scholarship search