Posts by ccrdommer

Questions for Campus Visits

Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Questions for Campus Visits

Questions for Campus Visits

These are just ideas . . . . see what you are interested in and make a plan to ask some questions on your visits.


  • Do you have a learning community or other freshman experience?

  • Do you have a required core curriculum?
  • How much interaction, if any, will the typical undergrad have with tenured professors?
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Maximizing your College Visits

Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Colleges & Visits, Juniors, Parents | Comments Off on Maximizing your College Visits

Maximizing your College Visits

17 things you can do to Maximize your College Visits

* to review our 30 minute talk click here and start at minute 11.

6 things to do BEFORE you visit

  1. Research the school and major options
  2. Email local Admissions Counselor or Regional Representative to personalize your visit with a class visit or interview
  3. Contact coaches, departments, professors or current students
  4. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask
  5. Schedule time to sit in on a class or department specific tours
  6. Look at last year’s supplement questions

6 Things to do ON your visit

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Understanding YOUR GPA

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Understanding YOUR GPA

Understanding YOUR GPA

Most students will have a GPA summary box similar to this on their transcript. Each GPA is interpreted by colleges and universities in different way. While some universities and colleges take your GPA on your transcript into consideration when reviewing your application, such as the UC’s and CSU’s, other schools will recalculate your GPA based on their needs. This may mean the college omits PE, Dance, Religion or Art classes from the GPA to focus in on the core academic classes. Many colleges and universities will not re-calculate your GPA, but will also  look carefully at the strength of your coursework and number of courses of college prep, honors, AP, and IB courses taken while evaluating your application. Your School Counselor submits a school profile with your application so that the admissions officer fully understands the grading scale of your school, as well as the rigor of coursework your high school offers.

Cumulative GPA (Weighted)– This GPA includes grades from all of the courses listed on the transcript.  Weighted means that any course that is IB, AP, or Honors level is awarded an extra point.  For example, AP Biology would be weighted out of A=5pts, B=4pts, C=3pts. Regular College Preparatory classes are unweighted and are valued at A=4pts, B=3pts, C=2pts, D=1pt, F=0pt.

Cumulative (Unweighted)-This GPA includes grades from all of the courses listed on the transcript grade 9-12.  Unweighted means that all courses are considered equal in weight regardless of AP, IB, or Honors level.

CA Cal Grant GPA: The Cal Grant GPA uses all academic course work for the sophomore year, the summer following the sophomore year, the junior year, and the summer following the junior year. This high school GPA excludes physical education (PE). Failing grades must be included in the GPA calculation unless the course has been retaken. Only include the most recent grade for any course repeated by the student. It does not take AP, IB, or Honors into account.

Weighted 10-12 A-G GPA: This is the GPA that will be used by the UC/CSU system.  This GPA includes a student’s grades from 10th and 11th  grade in A-G approved courses. To determine if your course is an A-G approved course, you can login to UC Doorways to determine UC eligibility.

If you would like to understand how to calculate your UC/CSU GPA, please use this tool

How to report your GPA on the Common Application?

When you report your GPA on the Common Application, you should report the weighted GPA if your school includes the weighted GPA on your transcript.


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How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

Posted by on Jul 8, 2017 in Application Process, Juniors, Parents | Comments Off on How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

College Calm’s class of 2017 received aid offers of over 1 MILLION dollars in merit aid per year- over 4 million dollars over 4 years.

We want to give you important information regarding college financial aid. Too often families wait to talk about college costs and finances until the end of the process. We at College Calm think it is important to begin to talk about college finances in conjunction with building a college list that reflects your family values. Clear communication is important so when a student is looking at colleges so everyone has  an idea of what is feasible for your family. Below we talk about the changes in the FASFA, need based aid, merit aid and ways to cut college costs. At the bottom you will find a student checklist for July. We hope you are having a wonderful summer.

First Steps

Now is the time to start thinking about how you and your family will deal with financial aid. Start by reading Lynn O’ Shaughnessy’s article,” Your Crucial 1st Step.”  She recommends that you start by determining your family’s expected contribution. You can go to the financial aid website for any of the schools on your list and use the net price calculator. It is now mandatory for every college to have a calculator for families to estimate financial contributions. The information requested usually mirrors questions asked on the FASFA and CSS Profile. Sometimes the net price calculator can be hard to find on a school website so the easiest way to locate it is to google the school name and “net price calculator.” Here are a few examples: Santa Clara, CAL, Tulane and USC. Lynn’s website, the College Solution is a great resource for college financial information. In addition, most high schools sponsor a school or district financial aid night right after winter break (or earlier). It is a good idea to attend.

Changes in the FASFA

There is a new acronym in financial aid that is dominating the conversations- PRIOR, PRIOR YEAR or PPY. Beginning in the fall of 2016, the FAFSA now opens for families to complete in October, rather than  the following January. This means that the FASFA will be asking for data regarding your 2016 tax return, rather than estimates of your 2017 return. Students and families will be able to fill out the forms earlier which will result in colleges being able to send financial aid packages out earlier. We recommend that students research each school on their list and add to their spreadsheet the deadlines for the forms required. If a student plans to apply early, many schools will need the CSS Profile or FASFA or both by early action/decision date in October and November.

Merit Aid

This year there were some colleges that awarded significant scholarships to College Calm students. Some of the most generous were: Tulane, U of Arizona, Chapman, Gonzaga, U of Puget Sound, Fordham, Connecticut College, TCU, UC Boulder, U of San Diego and U of Denver.

College Calm’s class of 2017 received aid offers of over 1 MILLION dollars in grants, scholarship and merit aid per year- over 4 million over 4 years.

For more schools that offer Merit aid, visit The New York Times useful and  interactive list of colleges that offer merit aid. You can sort the list by clicking on the column headings.

Western University Exchange (WUE)

If you are interested in out-of-state public institutions in the West, make sure to check out the Western University Exchange (WUE). WUE is a regional tuition reciprocity agreement between states that results in students paying a reduced out-of-state tuition. WUE students pay no more than 150% of the in-state tuition. Participating states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming. Montana and Nevada automatically offer WUE to CA residents, but for other states  students need to apply to become a WUE student. Some schools participate on a very limited basis (U of Oregon and U of Arizona) and other not at all (Boulder and Arizona State). To learn more visit

Questions to ask Financial Aid Offices

If you are visiting colleges and want to discuss financial aid options, the Huffington Post article, “ 8 Financial Aid Questions You Must Ask,” is a great place to start.

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Completing your UC Application

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Completing your UC Application

Completing your UC Application

Steps to Completing your UC Application:

Materials You Need: You will need a copy of your transcript, test scores, social security number (optional), CA statewide Student ID (for public HS students) and a credit card. In addition, we recommend going to the UCOP Doorways website  to see the course listings for your school. This will help you determine which classes should be entered for each A-G requirement and if the class is considered honors. You can also look at at the 2017/18 Freshman Application Tips and Tools for information, links and advice.

Understanding Comprehensive Review: Every UC school participates in Comprehensive Review, which means the admissions offices evaluate students on multiple factors. If you are interested in how each campus reviews applications and the factors they are considering, look on the Comprehensive Review Page for campus wide information and then click on each campus on the right-hand-side to see the specific information for each school.

Transcripts, Test Scores and SAT 2 Subject Exams: You do not need to send a transcript to any UC schools. When sending your test score to the UC schools, you only need to send your scores to one UC campus. The campuses share SAT/ACT information between campuses. While SAT Subject Tests are not required, students vying for slots in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency. Click here for the majors at each school site that strongly recommends subject exams. Please make sure we talk about the issue of SAT subject exams when you come to your session and DO NOT SEND any SAT2s until we talk about your options.

Designating a Major: Every year students stress over designating a major or choosing “undecided” on the UC application. The good news is students can choose different majors at each campus to which they apply. The bad news is that each school in the UC system deals with major selection slightly differently.  We highly recommend reading the UC Campus Policies and Procedures for Reviewing Freshman Applicants to gather information about designating undeclared, SAT subject exams and notification dates. The best thing students can do is go to the website of each individual campus to determine what role major plays in admissions. The school names below are hyperlinked to individual school websites for information. Below we have copied the wording regarding selecting a major from each individual campus for students and families to review.

BERKELEY UC Berkeley is among the more selective universities in the country, becoming more competitive each year. Due to student demand, selectivity varies among Colleges, and—in the College of Engineering—among majors; for example, it is more difficult to gain admission to the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences major than to the Mechanical Engineering major.

For applications to the College of Letters and Science and Natural Resources no consideration is given to the indicated major in the review process. However, for the professional colleges of Chemistry, Environmental Design, and Engineering demonstrated interest in the major is also taken into consideration. Furthermore, in the colleges of Chemistry and Engineering, Berkeley faculty in these disciplines have asked that readers place added emphasis on sustained achievement in mathematics and science, and have indicated a preference that these applicants take the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test and a science test (Biology, Chemistry or Physics) that is closely related to the applicant’s intended major. Major options at UCB

Admission decisions are made based upon the qualifications of the applicant pool and the number of available spaces within each academic area:

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences admits by college
  • College of Biological Sciences admit by college
  • College of Letters and Science admits by division within the college (Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; Mathematics and Physical Sciences; Social Sciences)
  • College of Engineering admits by academic department

Students applying as “undeclared” or “undeclared/exploratory” are considered within the college/division to which they applied. Major options at UCD

We also recommend that applicants indicate first and second choice majors when they apply.  If UC Irvine is unable to offer admission to all qualified applicants in their first-choice major, students who have indicated a valid alternate major may be offered admission in that major. Not sure what you want to major in? If you are a freshman applicant, you can apply as an undeclared major within a specific school or as undecided/undeclared if uncertain about choosing a particular field. After enrolling at UC Irvine, students who wish to change their major must submit a Change of Major Petition. Major options at UCI


For the College of Letters and Science, the applicant’s major is not considered during the review process. The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science admits students by declared major, with more emphasis on science and math programs. The School of Nursing also places more emphasis on science and math programs and requires the submission of an additional supplemental application. The School of the Arts and Architecture and the School of Theater, Film and Television admit students by declared major (within the school), and put more emphasis on special talents through a review of portfolios and/or auditions, which are the most significant admission factors for these schools. Major options at UCLA

 Major is not a factor in admissions for UC Merced. Major options at UCM

Does not discuss the use of major in the admissions process. The website does mention that students applying to majors in the Bourns College of Engineering and the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences are strongly encouraged to take SAT subject exams in Math Level 2 and either Chemistry or Physics. Major options at UCR

The campus does not select students on the basis of academic major or choice of UCSD undergraduate college. Major Options at UCSD

 Choice of major is not considered in selection to the College of Letters and Science. The exceptions to this rule are dance and music performance majors. Both majors require applicants to complete an audition in late January or early February.College of Engineering students are selected by major for all engineering and computer science majors. Only applicants with a solid background in advanced high school mathematics will be considered for admission to engineering. This includes high grades in all math courses through grade 11 and enrollment in pre-calculus or higher in grade 12. A student not selected for their first choice major will be reviewed for admission to an alternate major outside of the College of Engineering if one was selected. Applicants to the College of Creative Studies submit a supplementary application in addition to the general UC Application, which is reviewed by Creative Studies faculty. Students are selected within Creative Studies majors only. Applicants not selected for Creative Studies will automatically be considered for admission to the College of Letters and Science. Major options at UCSB

SANTA CRUZ While all freshman applicants are considered for admission to the UC Santa Cruz campus under the campus selection criteria previously described, acceptance into engineering majors is based on high school GPA, courses completed in mathematics and sciences, scores on standardized tests, and/or the personal statement. Major options at UCSC


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