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 student Services Office. Please click on the Categories below read through each Q & A to learn more. We hope this will help answer some questions quickly.

Q: When is the Student Services Office open?
A: Monday -Thursday 7:30 am – 2:45 pm   
   Friday 7:30 am – 1:10 pm   

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, 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 Student Services Office to see their counselor. Counselors will call them out of class to answer their questions. Students may also stop by the Student Services Office to see if their counselor is available right away. Oftentimes, the counselor is able to set aside a few minutes to answer questions. Academic & College 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.


Ms. Flores: Last Names A-D: [email protected]
Mrs. Schubert: Last Names E-K: [email protected]                         
Mrs. Dunn: Last Names: R-Z: [email protected]       
Mrs. Kirmer: Last Names: L-Q: [email protected]           
Mr. Saucedo: Learning Specialist/International Students: [email protected]                                              


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

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

Q: How do I send my transcripts?
A: Counselors send transcripts with the student's 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 on 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 2023?
A: As of August 24, 2022, there are 224 seniors in the Class of 2023. 

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

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

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

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. Please see Mrs. Kirmer 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                                               $55,482For each additional family member over 6 people add $7,067.
Q: Should I take the SAT or ACT?

A: At this point, it is a personal preference. We encourage our students to take either test at least once to see what they score. If they are happy with the score and it can help with future placement in college, then it is worth it. If a student does not do well on the test, they do not have to send the scores in. The scores are only official if they are sent directly from the testing site. 

Q: Understanding test optional vs test blind and the SAT or ACT?
A: The SAT and ACT have become either test optional or test blind for colleges. Effective 3/22 Cal State Universities went test-optional, accepting tests NOT as part of the admission review process. However if accepted into the university, the test can be used for placement in either math or English. The UC system has adopted the test blind option. They will not accept either test for admission or scholarship awards. For International Students, the following tests will still be accepted: TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo (only through 2022).

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 and complete in October of their Junior year.

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

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 for the SATs and for the ACT.

Q: What if I can't show up for 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: 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: I have no idea what Early Action/Early Decision is or what a "Profile" is. How can I find out what all the terms colleges use mean?
A: 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: 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, which 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

Q: When should I start applying to colleges? 
A: 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 on 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 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 are a good number of schools to apply to, but it is certainly up to the discretion of the student and parents. What is most important is creating a college list in which the student loves every single school on the list. There should not be one school on there that the student would hesitate to attend! 

"Wild Card" schools - (1-10% chance of admittance) The Dream School but you don't tick all the boxes. 

"Reach" schools- (11-25% chance of admittance) You tick some of the boxes, but it's still hard to tell whether or not you'll get in. 

Maybe schools- (26-60% chance of admittance) You tick most of the boxes and have a good chance of getting in. 

Match/Safety schools-(61-100% chance of admittance) You tick all the boxes and are likely guaranteed admittance. 

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 -

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?
A: If you aren't sure what kinds of things you should be looking at when exploring schools read's excellent article on what to look for in the search for a perfect college. also has a great handout with questions you can ask Admission reps. 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 with the most frequently asked questions about the UC application answered. The webinars go step by step through the UC application. Students can fast forward to the parts of the application that they need help understanding.

Q: What do I need to do to get teacher recommendations?
A: Please ask your teachers in person and then request the recommendation through Naviance. 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). Oftentimes, 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 its 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 the 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

Q: How do I register with the NCAA or NAIA Eligibility Centers if I want to play sports in college?
A: Go to to get registered with the NCAA. Those students who are planning to play at 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 is a secondary school report and how do I get one?
A: A "Secondary School Report" (SSR) is part of the counselor's recommendation. You must ask your counselor 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 Junior College Project resume and questionnaire. No one (counselor or teacher) will be able to complete a letter of 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 send your counselor the link to the specific recommendation page to be filled out. 

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 stepsWest 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’ve heard talk about a Junior College Project. What is it and how is it helpful?
A:  In an 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:
  • create a list of 10 schools minimum in the “Colleges I’m Thinking About” tab in Naviance.
  • complete the Junior College Project and Academic Resume
  • research private schools, out-of-state schools, CSU, and UC schools
  • complete a hard copy of the Common Application, CSU, and UC application
  • 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. 

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

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 2022-2023 school year at The FAFSA is the application for federal and state student financial aid. FAFSA applications for the 2022-2023 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 online 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 2021 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 2021 federal taxes. Not having final tax figures is not an acceptable 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,

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 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 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 breakdown 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: 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 its own helpful handout on more ways to pay for college

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 great advice on the college admissions interview. They even give you tips on how to answer questions you might be asked To see 10 Common Interview mistakes, 

The Counselors also have other materials and tips for the college interview process. Stop by the Academic and College Counseling Office and ask 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 applied Early Action/Decision to some schools and got deferred. What do I do now to improve my chances of being accepted?
A: 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 meantime, 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.