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Academic & College Counseling Corner » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are the most frequently asked questions by students and parents in our Academic & College Counseling Office. Please read through each Q & A to learn more. We hope this will help answer some questions quickly.


Q: When is the Academic & College Counseling Office open?
A: Monday -Thursday 7:30am – 2:45pm   
   Friday 7:30am – 1:10pm   

Q: When can I come in to request a schedule change, ask about tutoring, get help with my college applications or ask other college/career related questions?
A: Students of all grade levels are encouraged to email their counselor with questions.
Schedule Changes happen within the first two weeks of each semester. Students must have a valid reason for the change. The Academic & College Counselors do NOT make changes for period or teacher preference.

 If a student needs to change a class after the two week period, they will need to email their counselor and complete the necessary paperwork with signatures from their parents, the former teacher, the future teacher, the head academic and college counselor, their counselor and the vice principal before the class can be changed.


Q: How do I make an appointment with my counselor?

A: All students can sign up in the Academic & College Counseling Office to see their counselor. Counselors will call them out of class to answer their questions. Students may also stop by the Academic & College Counseling Office to see if their counselor is available right away. Often times, the counselor is able to set aside a few minutes to answer questions. Academic & College Counseling Counselors often meet one-on-one with students starting the spring semester of junior year in preparation for the college application process. For a more direct and quick response, students are encouraged to email their questions to their counselor. The counselor should be able to return and answer the email within a 24 hour inquiry.

Mrs. Dunn: 9th Grade Academic Counselor cdunn@bmhs-la.org       

Ms. Pazmino: 10th-12th A-Fe apazmino@bmhs-la.org             

Mrs. Schubert: 10th-12th Fi-Ng lschubert@bmhs-la.org           

Ms. Adams: 10th-12th Ni-Z cadams@bmhs-la.org                                                                  


Q: What is the CEEB code for Bishop Montgomery?
A: 053-512

Q: I have no idea what Early Action/Early Decision are or what a "Profile" is. How can I find out what all the terms colleges use mean?
A: Educationplanner.org came out with a comprehensive glossary of admissions terms that should help you learn the language college admissions people use. Senior Parent Night is another valuable resource where the counselors give an in depth presentation about the college process. You can find the powerpoint from this presentation in the senior section of the counseling corner


Q: How do I access my transcripts?
Transcripts for scholarships or any colleges that need a hard copy, please follow the Parchment instructions located in the Registrar and Transcripts page.: How do I send my transcripts?


A: Counselors send transcripts with the students' secondary school reports if they're applying through common app. Remember, CSU's and UC's do not need a transcript unless they ask for it. It is important NOT to request them through Naviance. Transcripts for scholarships or any colleges that need a hard copy, please follow the Parchment instructions located in the Registrar and Transcripts page.


Q: How do I find out what my rank is in my graduating class?
A: Bishop Montgomery does not rank students (many high schools do not). You can put "NA" (not applicable). 

Q: How many students are in the Class of 2022?

A: As of September 1, 2021, there are 215 seniors in the Class of 2022. 

Q: What grading scale does Bishop Montgomery use? 
Bishop Montgomery uses a 4.0 scale. 

A=100-90              B=89-80                 C=79-70                 D=69-60                 F=59 and below


Q: How do I find out if I qualify for fee waivers for the SATs/ACTs and college applications?

A: If your family's income is less than the numbers below, you should qualify for testing and college application fee waivers. You must also be receiving financial aid from BMHS in order to obtain one of the ten we receive. Please see Ms. Pazmino as soon as possible if you believe you qualify.

Number of People                                   Total Annual Income

in the Household                               (in the preceding calendar year)

           2                                               $27,214

           3                                               $34,281

           4                                               $41,348

           5                                               $48,415

           6                                               $55,482

For each additional family member over 6 people add $7,067.


Q: When should I take the SATs/ACT?
A: We suggest that most students take their standardized tests officially for the first time after they have completed their last PSAT in October of their junior year. Either test can be taken as early as November, but at least one time by June of their junior year. If you are in AP classes, the best time to take the SAT Subject Tests would be in May when you're already studying for the AP exams. If you aren't in AP classes, you can take the SAT/ACT in June when you are studying for finals. 

The UCs will no longer require the SAT Subject Tests starting with the Class of 2021, although some specific majors within the UCs and other colleges still want you to take them. Be sure to look for this during your college research.

Most colleges will take test scores through the December test date of your senior year except for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Diego State University, so you should have plenty of time to re-take the tests if you need to. The most common exception would be for those of you who plan to apply Early Action/Decision or to those colleges who specifically state that they want your tests completed earlier. In most cases, you still will be able to take at least the first test in the fall. 

Q: Should I take the SAT Reasoning Test and ACT with writing several times?
A: Again, you should take each test at least once, preferably in the winter/spring of junior year. Once you decide which test you like more and score well on, stick to that test. It's better to focus on one to try to improve your score instead of splitting your study time between the two. All the colleges will take either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT (you should take the ACT with writing). The writing portion is not optional; almost all colleges want it. 

To see whether your SAT or ACT score is higher, click here. You can also go to convertyourscore.org.

Q: How can I prepare to take the SATs and ACT?
A: There are many ways for you to prepare to take both tests. The freshmen will take the new 8/9 test and sophomores take the PSAT 10 test, which is practice for the PSAT/NMSQT that all juniors will take a complete in October of their Junior year.

In a joint effort with Kaplan Test Prep, Bishop Montgomery does offer full length practice exams for the SAT and ACT each semester. Kaplan also offers courses throughout the year to help prepare for both SAT and ACT. There are many local testing prep centers who offer classroom settings and individual or group sessions. Choose the style that is best for you.

You can also order copies of your tests and your answers. For the ACT, if you order and pay for Test Information Release (TIR) and test at a national test center on a national test date that offers this service, you will receive a list of your answers, a copy of the multiple-choice test questions used to determine your score, the answer key, and scoring instructions. (If you took the Writing Test, you will also receive a copy of the writing prompt, the scoring rubric, and the scores assigned to your essay by two readers.) Information about ordering a photocopy of your answer document (including your essay if you took the Writing Test) for an additional fee will be included with your materials.

The TIR fee for the 2021-2022 test dates is $22.00. If you took the ACT at a national test center on one of the national test dates, you can order TIR when you register or during the three-month period after your test date. This service is not offered on any other test dates or for any non-national administrations (e.g., International, Special).


Q: How do I sign up for the SATs/ACT? How do I send my SAT or ACT scores?
A: To register for the tests or to send scores, go to sat.collegeboard.com for the SATs and www.act.org for the ACT.

Q: What if I can't show up to the SAT or ACT test date I registered for?

A: Contact the College Board or ACT to let them know you'd like a test date change (an additional fee is charged).


Q: I'm not a very good standardized test taker. Are there colleges that will still accept me?
A: Over 815 four-year colleges and universities across the U.S., acting on the belief that "test scores do not equal merit," do not use the SAT or ACT to make admissions decisions about a substantial number of their incoming freshmen classes. These institutions range widely in size and mission. Instead, they use other means to evaluate their incoming class. There are some great schools that are test optional including Pitzer College, College of the Holy Cross, Colorado College, Franklin & Marshall, Hampshire, Sarah Lawrence, Middlebury, NYU, Providence, and Wake Forest.

To find a more extensive list of colleges, go to www.fairtest.org.

Q: How do I register with the NCAA or NAIA Eligibility Centers if I want to play sports in college?
A: Go to Eligibilitycenter.org to get registered with the NCAA. Those students who are planning to play at the Division 1 or 2 level need to register preferably at the end of junior year. You will also need to send in a transcript to the NCAA.  Please see Mrs. Mitchell to send your transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center. 

To find out which colleges offer each sport, go to the Student Section of the NCAA Eligibility Center.

As of September 2010, students who wish to compete at NAIA schools must also register with the NAIA Eligibility Center. You will also need to send your transcripts to NAIA. Please see Mrs. Mitchell to send your transcript to the NAIA Eligibility Center.


Q: What are the benefits of taking AP classes? Is it better to take a regular level class and get a high grade or take the AP class and get a lower grade?
A: Colleges like to see students take the most rigorous courses that they can be successful in. Most schools will tell you it's better to get a "B" in an AP course than an "A" in a college prep level one. 

About.com has a good article on the benefits of taking AP courses and if a high GPA or challenging courses are better. To access the article, click here.

Q: I have no idea what I want to major in or what colleges would be a good fit for me. How can I get suggestions on potential careers and colleges?
A: The Naviance Student website, we have available for students, is a very comprehensive College and Career Planning tool that will help you throughout the college admissions process.

Some of the information on Naviance Student that should benefit students includes:

-A College Matching section to help you find schools that are the right fit for you.

-A current list of scholarships available.

-A Career Interest Profiler to help you find the majors and careers you might like.

-Surveys to complete that will help the Guidance office serve you better.

-A scattergram that will show you the likelihood of being accepted to specific colleges based on past Bishop Montgomery students. (*This is only accessible with your counselor)

-A section to list the schools you are interested in and are applying to so that you get reminder emails letting you know when those colleges are coming to Bishop Montgomery. 

These are some of the great uses for the Naviance software. To access the Naviance Student website, go to  https://student.naviance.com


Q: When should I start applying to colleges? 
You really should fill out as many of your college applications as you can in the summer before senior year. Some schools have their applications available as early as July 1st. There are over 400 colleges and universities that now accept the Common Application which opens August 1st every year.  The UC has announced that they too will open their application filing period on August 1st, but submission of the application will take place between Nov. 1st-Nov.30th.

If the application for the school you're applying to isn't available to be filled out, you can contact the college to at least start working on your college essays. Some schools list their essay topics on their website or you can call or email the undergraduate admissions office to get them. Also, check each school’s website for any supplemental essays. Otherwise your application might be incomplete.

You shouldn't wait until the fall of senior year to work on your applications. You want to be able to spend that time increasing your test scores, continuing to get good grades, and enjoying your last year of high school! The goal is to complete the majority of your applications by the time school starts in the fall. 

Q: How many colleges should I apply to?

A: For most students, 6-12 schools is a good number of schools to apply to, but it is certainly up to the discretion of the parents.

You should have:
1 - 2 "Reach" schools - These are the ones where the average GPA and test scores for the incoming class are higher than yours or those schools who have a very low acceptance rate (e.g. the Ivy League, Stanford, Notre Dame, etc). 

3 - 4 "50/50, Good Fit, Match" schools - Your GPA and test scores fall right into the middle of their averages.

1 - 2 "Likely/Safety" schools - The incoming freshmen at these schools have a lower average GPA and test scores than you do or you meet the minimum requirement to be accepted. For example, at Arizona State, they may list their average GPA as a 3.4, but you only need either a 3.0 in the courses they require, a 24 on the ACT or an 1110 on the SAT and you are automatically admitted. 

Q: Do you have any tips on writing an effective college essay?
A: There are many sites that will give you great ideas on how to write essays. Here are some of the links:


Tips on the Common Application essay - collegeapps.about.com/od/essays/a/EssayPrompts.htm

Our very own AP Language and Composition Teacher, Mrs. Rudder, also offers tips on writing effective college essays offered in the months of September and October during a lab day. Listen for PA announcements or read the bulletin for further information.


Q: What should I be looking for in a college and what questions should I be asking the Admissions reps?
 If you aren't sure what kinds of things you should be looking at when exploring schools read About.com's excellent article on what to look for in the search for a perfect college.

Collegeweeklive.com also has a great handout with questions you can ask Admission reps. Collegeweeklive.com also offers virtual college fairs, video and text chats with college admission representatives and online webinars covering various college admissions topics. It's a great way to find out about colleges even if you aren't able to visit the schools. 


Q: I want to apply to the UCs, but I'm not sure what to do. 

A: The UCs came out with a website to help walk you through the application process. You can access it here. Make sure that you print out the application checklist or requirements for all the schools you are applying to so that you don't forget anything.

UCSB also put together an http://admissions.sa.ucsb.edu/connect/webinars with the most frequently asked questions about the UC application answered. The webinars goes step by step through the UC application. Students can fast forward to the parts of the application which they need help understanding. 


Q: What is my CA SSID?
A: You don't have a SSID. That is a number given to PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS ONLY

Q: Do I need to send my official test scores through College Board or ACT to the colleges?
A:  YES for most colleges, you will need to send your SATs directly from the College Board or your ACTs from ACT. Please go to their websites to send your scores.

For the Cal States and UCs, you can send your scores to one school in each system or to one code and it will go to all the schools within that group. 

For Cal States' testing policy, click here.

Q: What is a secondary school report and how do I get one?
A: A "Secondary School Report" (SSR) is part of the counselor recommendation. You must ask your counselor (and teachers) to write your recommendation based on the guidelines set by the Academic and College Counseling Office. When asking counselors for recommendations, you must also have completed your Senior Student Questionnaire in Naviance. No one (counselor or teacher) will be able to complete a letter recommendation or evaluation for you until this has been completed along with your list of schools in Colleges You’re Applying to list in your Naviance account.

Counselors will now be submitting recommendations online for colleges that accept the Common Application. Please check the Common App/Private School Guidelines for detailed directions on how to get your recs completed. If the college you are applying to does not accept the Common Application but they still require a Counselor recommendation or Secondary School report, you must print out the necessary form for your counselor to complete and send on your behalf.  

Q: What do I need to do to get teacher recommendations?
A: You need to ask your teachers to write your recommendations at least 2-3 weeks before the application due date. Teachers will fill out the teacher evaluation and load a letter of recommendation for all Common App schools through Naviance. If a college or university not listed on the common app list requires a letter of recommendation, you will need to ask the teacher to submit the evaluation and letter of rec hard copy by mail or contact the admissions office for a name and an email address to which they will be able to email their evaluation and letter of recommendation by pdf. If they will be submitting it by mail, you will need to provide them with stamped envelopes addressed to each of the schools you will be applying. 

Most colleges will want a recommendation from at least one academic course (usually Math, Science, History or English). Often times, they prefer a junior year teacher or a senior year teacher whom you've had before. Since they should be addressing your performance in the classroom, it would help if you also gave the teacher a copy of some graded work so that they can pull comments straight from there to add to your recommendation. It is in your best interest to ask a teacher that knows you best and can write a glowing letter on your behalf. 


Q: I'm confused. Each college requires different things for their applications. How can I keep it all straight?
A: For each college you are applying to, you should print out their "Instructions to Apply" or "Application checklist". Each college will have different requirements, so it's important to be clear on what each school wants (for ex. extra year of science, no letters of rec, etc)

Q: I'm thinking about attending a Community College when I graduate, but I'm not sure what to do or which ones are good for what I want to study. Where can I get information?
A: The California Community Colleges came out with their own website that gives students all the information they will need to attend a community college. You can also fill out applications for most California Community Colleges there. You can find the website at www.cccapply.org

Q: I applied Early Action/Decision to some schools and got deferred. What do I do now to improve my chances of being accepted?
A: About.com has an excellent article on ways to increase your chances of getting accepted with the regular pool. It also includes sample letters you can send to the colleges. To access the article, click here.

Q: I've been waitlisted at the college I want to eventually attend. What should I do?
A: If you've been waitlisted at a college, there might be a chance that you'll be accepted after May 1 (this is the date when colleges find out how many of their accepted students confirmed their spot in the incoming freshmen class). Please understand that some schools have extremely long waitlists (one school's list has over 4,000 people on it!). 

Be sure to read the letter the colleges sent you to see what their process is for their waitlists. Make sure you also make other plans and commit to another college where you were accepted. If you are taken off the waitlist, you can always rescind your commitment to the school you deposited to.


Come in and speak with your counselor on how to best strategize your next move in regards to being waitlisted. In the mean time, here are some good tips on what to do if you've been waitlisted at your first choice college:

Q: I got denied from some colleges, but I want to appeal. What can I do?
A: If you would like to appeal your admissions decisions, be sure to find out what the process is at the specific college. In order to appeal their decision, you should have new information that wasn't included in your original application (asking them to appeal just because you really, really want to go won't help you). Make sure you also make other plans and commit to another college where you were accepted. If you are taken off the waitlist, you can always rescind your commitment to the school you deposited to.

Below are some articles that will help you when appealing college admission decisions. 

Q: I'm not sure if I can afford to pay for college. How can I find out how much financial aid I'll receive?

A: Last year the federal government mandated that each college put a "Net Price Calculator" on their websites so families will get a general idea of what their financial aid packet will look like if they attend the school. To access the Net Price Calculators at the college you're interested in, go towww.NetPriceCalculator.com.


Q: What do I need to do to get financial aid?
A: The US Department of Education has updated the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on the website for the 2021-2022 school year at www.fafsa.ed.gov The FAFSA is the application for federal and state student financial aid. FAFSA applications for the 2021-2022 year will be accepted starting October 1st. However, you should be able to complete the information once you’ve created an account.

California’s Cal Grant program requires the FAFSA to be filed by March 2nd.  In addition, to receive Cal Grant award consideration, a student must have a school certified Grade Point Average (GPA) submitted by March 2nd. (Bishop Montgomery submits this for you, so you do NOT have to do anything for the GPA verification). Colleges will have their own scholarship and financial aid filing deadlines, sometimes earlier than March 2. Students should check on-line with every college under consideration for the school’s scholarship and financial aid deadline. To see the income guidelines for Cal Grants, click here.

Although a student’s final financial aid eligibility will be based on final 2016 year tax figures, students are encouraged to file their FAFSA as early as possible after October 1st.  Students and parents should complete the FAFSA by the earliest school deadline using estimates of their 2020 federal taxes. Not having final tax figures is not an accepted reason for missing a school or state filing deadline. If you want to see ahead of time what may be required of you, fill out the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.

Questions on completing the FAFSA can be made to the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243. 

Students with Cal Grant questions can call (888) 224-7268.

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) came out with a great financial aid checklist chart for Juniors and Seniors. To access it, http://www.csac.ca.gov/


Q: I filled out the FAFSA. Now what?

A: Verify that all the data on the SAR (Student Aid Report) is accurate. Submit updates at www.fafsa.gov. Revise student and parent SAR data with final 1040 tax numbers, if necessary. After you've verified your SAR, check with the campus financial aid office to make sure that all relevant application paperwork is complete. Students may be requested to submit tax forms for verification purposes.

After filing the FAFSA, students should establish a WebGrants for Students (WGS) account. Using WGS, students can see their Cal Grant application status, confirm and update their postal and e-mail addresses, provide the required high school graduation confirmation once they graduate and change their college of attendance.

WGS can be accessed 24/7 and is an easy and efficient way for students to stay on top of their application and, if awarded, their Cal Grant award. To establish a WGS account, students should go towww.webgrants4students.org and follow the instructions!


Q: How can I get help filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?
A: Each year we have a financial aid officer from one of the local colleges come do a presentation on how to fill out the FAFSA form. Our Financial Aid presentation for this year is TBD. The presenter will go through the FAFSA line-by-line and will answer any questions you may have. You can also get more information from the Federal Student Aid website.


Q: I got my financial aid award letter from the college I got accepted to, but I don't know how to read it. What does it all mean?
A: . Time 
provides a video and a break down of things to look for in your financial aid letter click here.

Q: How do you apply for the Cal Grant?
A: Your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application is also the application for Cal Grants. Bishop Montgomery sends all seniors' grades electronically so you don't have to do that. 

Students must qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, meaning their "Expected Family Contribution" or EFC must be below $3,850. For most of our students, they can mark "Meets the California A-G requirements" for the "Recognized Rigorous Secondary School Programs of Study". If you don't meet the A-G requirements (which are the same ones needed to qualify for Cal States or UCs), check the website for other ways to qualify.

Q: Someone told me that the UCs will pay for your fees if your family income falls below a certain level. What does your income have to be and what else does it cover?
A: The UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will cover educational and student services fees if you are a California resident whose family earns less than $80,000 per year and you qualify for financial aid. Blue and Gold students with sufficient financial need can qualify for even more grant aid to help reduce the cost of attending college. For more information, click here.


Q: If I'm part of a military family or am interested in joining the military? What are the steps?

A: For information about ROTC, please click here and get started on the following steps

West Point, Annapolis, Coast Guard, Air Force Academy, and ROTC programs have unique procedures

  • Each offers a free education in exchange for service in a branch of the Armed Forces
  • Begin the process early! Do your research, talk to the reps who come to campus, and get knowledgeable about what to expect.
  • Contact your local Congressional district office
  • Appointments are very competitive; leadership experience during high school is an important criterion. Get involved! 


Q: I didn't get a lot of financial aid from my college. How else can I get money to go?
A: There are many scholarships out there for all students. Some are based on your ethnic background, community service, writing an essay on a topic, or even on your hobbies. They aren't just for the "super smart or low-income" people like many people believe. The best place to see a list of scholarships we get sent to us at Bishop Montgomery is in the "College" section of the Naviance website (look for "scholarship list"). You can also check out our Scholarships page for a list of additional websites to find all kinds of scholarships.  The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) also came out with their own helpful handout on more ways to pay for college. You can also see Ms. Sabol for more information.

Do NOT wait until senior year to start applying for scholarships. Some awards are even given to students as early as 7th grade!


Q: Should I take an interview if it’s offered?

A: Absolutely! Admissions reps or alumni reps will often grant students an opportunity to be interviewed as part of the college process. If it is offered, it is highly recommended that you should take it! This is a chance for the rep to put a face to the application they’re reading.  Remember to thank them for the opportunity to meet with them and send them a personal thank you note a few days later to make an even longer lasting impression.


Q: What kind of questions will they ask me during an interview?
A: Princeton Review has a great advice on the college admissions interview. They even give you tips on how to answer questions you might be asked https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/college-interview-tips To see 10 Common Interview mistakes, https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-admissions-playbook/2013/12/30/avoid-these-top-college-admissions-interview-mistakes 

Ms. Adams also has other materials and tips for the college interview process. Stop by the Academic and College Counseling Office and ask her about it. There’s no need to be afraid of the interview…remember, the reps want to learn more about you!

Q: I got accepted to my top colleges, but I can't decide which one I want to attend before the May 1st deadline to deposit . Is it okay to send a deposit to both schools until I decide?
A: Students CANNOT double deposit (i.e. send a deposit and Statement of Intent to Register) to more than one college. By sending your deposit, you are telling the college that you are taking a place in their freshmen class (and taking away a spot from another student). If the colleges find out you double deposited, they can rescind your acceptance from both schools. 


Q: I’ve heard talk about a Junior College Project. What is it and how is it helpful?

A:  In effort to help our students to the best of our ability, the English Department Junior Teachers and counselors collaborate to help give the juniors a head start on the college application process. This portfolio is part of the curriculum. Students will be asked to:

Ø  create a list of 10 schools minimum in the “Colleges I’m Thinking About” tab in Naviance.

Ø  complete the Senior Student Questionnaire

Ø  research private schools, out of state schools, CSU, and UC schools

Ø  complete a hard copy of the Common Application, CSU, and UC application

Ø  create and complete a sample personal statement or common app essay


The Academic/College Counseling Office encourages parents’ active involvement especially in the college application process; however, students should be the first to take the lead when researching, asking questions, and applying. Parents are most welcome to email their questions regarding their student’s college application list etc as they arise.