If You're Interested

Lauren Gersick
Director of College Counseling

Elizabeth Harris
Associate Director of College Counseling

Susan Lee
Associate Director of College Counseling

Leslie Schaffer
College Counseling Associate

Planning for College by Grade

Urban’s College Counselors work closely with students and families as they navigate the college admissions process, and is designed to optimize both the students’ experience in high school and their options for college. Our objective is to ensure that each student has the preparation and the confidence to choose the college or university that best matches their goals, aspirations and talents. While some programming begins earlier, the College Counselors begin working individually with students in their Junior year. Please look through this guide to gather information and to explore the resources as you plan for the college admissions process. 

Freshman Year

Freshman Year is All About Urban!

We encourage Freshmen students to get settled, work hard and get involved in the life of the school! College application time is still a long way away. While it is important to educate yourself about the college admissions process, the way to open doors to most colleges and universities is to have a successful high school experience. Challenge yourself both in and out of the classroom. Your teachers and advisors will be partnering with you as you explore your strengths, work to overcome what seems difficult, and discover your passions.  

Resources for Freshmen families:

Urban School Curriculum Guide
Urban School College Profile

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year Focuses on Exploration

Sophomores should strengthen and deepen what you started Freshman year. Keep exploring, but also think about getting more involved in the activities that you have come to enjoy the most.

Over the next two years, you will be taking some practice tests to determine what is right for you. We offer the pre-ACT in spring of Sophomore year and the practice SAT, called the PSAT, in the fall of Junior year. These two practice tests will help you choose which exam may be right for you when and if you need to take it for college admissions. 

Use the summer after your Sophomore year in a constructive way. Consider working, volunteering, enrolling in an enrichment class, or taking the time to more deeply pursue a passion.

Resources for Sophomores:

Testing Information 
College Board

Junior Year

NEW! Audio from Junior College Forum 1 (October 10, 2019) featuring Joe Bagnoli, Vice President for Enrollment, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, at Grinnell College.

Juniors: Starting the Process in Earnest!

Junior year is when the College Counseling process formally begins. During the second term of your Junior year, the College Counselors will work individually with you and will continue to do so until you select a college.

Our best advice: stay focused on and continue to make the most of high school. Perform as well as you possibly can with your challenging Junior year courses, get even more involved in your activities, become used to your role as the leaders in the school, and find time for your passions. It is a busy year and one in which you will probably grow significantly, both in and out of the classroom. 

Planning Calendar


  • Take the PSAT in October.  When the results come back, use the detailed analysis to help you prepare for the SAT. 
  • Attend the evening College Forums for junior parents and students. The first meeting will be an outside professional - usually a college admissions director or dean. The second meeting will be a nuts and bolts workshop about the college admissions process.
  • Attend grade level meetings, advising discussions and workshops related to the college admissions process.
  • Begin to look at guidebooks and websites.


  • Sign up for and attend an individual family meeting with your College Counselor.
  • Consider doing SAT/ACT preparation.
  • Begin doing the SAT Question of the Day
  • Register for the March, May or June SAT Reasoning test and the May or June SAT Subject tests.
  • Consider registering for the ACT in April or June.
  • Register on Naviance, a web based program that is individualized to help you search, research and apply to college. Attend workshops during lunch or E period on how to use Naviance.
  • Plan/visit colleges over interblock and/or Spring Break. Here is a list of questions to ask on your visit.
  • If interested in playing sports in college, begin contacting coaches. Read Urban School's College Planning Guide for the Student Athlete.


  • Attend the Bay Area Case Studies and College Fair program.
  • Take the SAT Reasoning Test/ACT once and at least two SAT Subject Tests.
  • Meet individually with your College Counselor.
  • Develop a preliminary list of colleges and actively research those colleges.
  • Talk to seniors about their recent experiences.
  • Begin to look into financial aid. Attend workshops at Urban if applying for financial aid.
  • Plan a constructive summer.


  • Take advantage of summer opportunities.
  • Complete and return the College Counseling questionnaire.
  • Narrow down college list based on junior year GPA, testing, research and visits.
  • Begin working on essay.
  • Register and begin Common Application.

Resources for Juniors

General Information and College Search



Senior Year

Welcome to Senior Year!

This year promises to be a thrilling one – the culmination of many years of exploring, challenging yourself, growing, working hard, having fun, making friends and learning about you, both in and out of the classroom. Yes, college is looming, and it is something that will take up time and energy this year. But, remember to look around at where you are now, enjoy what you are doing, and appreciate all you have done to get here. Make the most of your last year at Urban! 

You are most likely seeking to get into a “good college.” Whether a good college is one that nurtures your personality and style, one that has a strong classics program, one where you can follow your passion for dance, or one where you love the location, the opportunity is yours to attend a good college.

A good school should be defined differently for every student. Your explorations, preparation and the choices you make this year will open the doors to a number of colleges where you will be able to learn, make friends and consider all kinds of possibilities for your future.  

No doubt, there is pressure. Media, peers, parents, tutors, aunts and uncles… everyone seems to be an expert when it comes to college and there is no shortage of opinions and “facts.” Applying to college will be extra work on top of an already busy schedule. And, you will be asked to present yourself to strangers in intimidating formats. 

But, you do have help. Everyone in your class is going through what you are going through and at the same time. Your parents can be wonderful resources and assistants in the process. Your teachers have years of experience helping students make this transition. And, your College Counselors are here to provide information, give you reminders, and hopefully be a voice of reason during what can be a confusing time.    

In the end, you will have a sense of accomplishment and pride in all that you have done.


Senior Parent/Guardian Meeting - September 19, 2019: Slides and Audio (Quicktime)

Senior Parent/Guardian Meeting - Financial Aid for College - October 3, 2019: Slides

Planning Calendar 

Summer Before Senior Year


  • Attend college workshops at Urban. We will have an evening meeting with parents. Lunch, advising and “E” period meetings will focus on topics that will help you with applications. In September, we will have a special schedule when seniors attend an essay workshop and participate in guided work on college applications.
  • Meet with your College Counselor.
  • Continue to narrow down the list of colleges that you are planning to apply to. Enter your final list in Naviance by the end of October.
  • Register and take a second set of SAT’s in October, November or December; consider taking the ACTSAT and ACT dates and deadlines.
  • Attend meetings with college reps who visit Urban.     
  • For private colleges, work on the Common Application; organize supplements. Download and work on applications that are not on the Common Application.
  • If you are applying Early Decision or Early Action, applications are often due early in November. Testing should be completed by October and scores should be sent by the testing agency. Discuss your plans with your College Counselor and teachers by early October so they have time to write your recommendations and send transcripts.
  • Work on the University of California and California State University applications. UC applications need to be submitted in November; CSU applications should be submitted between October 1 and November 30.
  • Ask teachers to write recommendations for you. Provide them with necessary forms.
  • Work on essays. Seek advice from teachers, counselors and advisors. They will help you do your best work. For UC essay suggestions click here.
  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center for Division I and II athletics. For other information specific to student athletes, click here.
  • If you are applying for Financial Aid:
    -- Familarize yourself with the financial aid process: Finaid and the College Board are good resources.
    -- Attend the Financial Aid workshop at Urban
    -- Gather information that will help you fill out financial aid forms.
    -- Complete CSS Profile for each private college that requires it.
    -- Begin working on the FAFSA.
  • Request that scores be sent to each college to which you are applying. You will save money if you do this when you register for your last SAT.
  • Contact colleges to arrange local interviews (not all colleges provide interviews.)
  • Complete all applications by January 1.


  • If applying for Financial Aid
    -- Complete and submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile (for schools that require the Profile)
  • Complete and submit the Cal Grant GPA Verification form before March 2
  • Make sure all of the colleges to which you applied have a complete application.
  • Keep working and staying involved.
  • Wait for decisions…this can be difficult!  
  • Most colleges will notify students about admissions decisions between March 1 and mid April.
  • You will need to make your final decision by May 1.
  • And finally, graduation!

Resources for Seniors

College Search/Information
These sites are those that Urban students have found most helpful in their college application and search process.

College Application Organizing



College Athletes

College Planning Information for the Student Athlete

For students wish to compete in college athletics or to propel their skill into financial assistance, we have prepared the Urban School Planning Guide for the Student Athlete to assist you in the college recruiting and admissions process.

NCAA Eligibility
Please click here to review the NCAA website and learn how about college eligibility, as well as recruitment guidelines for coaches and prospective student-athletes. All prospective student-athletes must complete the NCAA amateurism certification questionnaire.