College & Career Center
- About the College and Career Center
- C&CC Staff Bios
- Meeting with College and Career Advisors
- Post High School Planning
- Standardized test information
- What if I don't want to go to a four year college after Paly? (Community College, Gap Year)
- Community Service / Work Experience
- Fee Waivers for SAT, ACT, AP, & College Applications
- Students: Attend College Representative Visits at Paly
- Volunteering in the College and Career Center
The Paly C&CC is located in the southeast corner of the library complex (500 building), next to the Guidance office.
The doors are open whenever school is in session, usually 8:20 AM - 3:35 PM.
Seniors (and juniors, in second semester) can schedule appointments with college and career advisors during the school day. Student of any grade are welcome to drop by the CCC during brunch or lunch.
The front desk is staffed by Karla Larson who can help with all aspects of C&CC activities. Contact the reception desk by calling (650) 329-3818.
College advisors, career advisors and parent volunteers are in the C&CC to help students and parents. A staff member is always available to help answer questions and to help find information.
Reference Materials and Web Resources
Books, catalogs, brochures and other materials are available.
The Viking College and Career Planning Guide is a great source of information. The guide is revised yearly in April.
Materials may be used in the C&CC or checked out for one week at a time.
Use web resources in the C&CC
Students and parents can use the C&CC computer (or any web-enabled computer) to access web sites such as Naviance for researching colleges, financial aid, testing organizations, internship and employment opportunities, career interest surveys, summer programs, and community service options.
Ms. Sandra Cernobori joined the C&CC in April 2006 as College Advisor at Palo Alto High School. She meets individually with second-semester juniors and seniors (last names A - K), to discuss the college selection and application process. In addition, she serves as the Chair of the Paly Community Scholarship Committee. A graduate of Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, Ms. Cernobori has a background in education, having taught English for eight years at San Mateo High where she implemented a Peer Mediation program for students. During a hiatus from teaching, she worked as a software technical writer while pursuing her Master's degree in Counselor Education, and her Pupil Personnel Services credential, from San Jose State.
Ms. Janet Cochrane joined the College and Career Center in Fall of 2020 as a College Advisor at Palo Alto High School. She supports the programs of the C&CC as well as meets individually with second-semester juniors and seniors (last names L - Z). Ms. Cochrane earned her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara, Masters degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a professional certificate in college admissions counseling from UCLA. Before joining the Palo Alto High School staff, Ms. Cochrane was an independent college counselor and also provided extensive college counseling support at Half Moon Bay High School.
In addition to 4-year college preparation, Ms. Cernobori and Ms. Cochrane support students pursuing community college, considering a gap year, and those exploring career/vocational programs. They also work closely with Teacher Advisors and School Counselors.
Mrs. Crystal Laguna joined our Guidance Department in the Fall of 2012 as an Outreach Counselor and 9th grade Advisor. As of Fall of 2015, she is the College Pathways Counselor and collaborates more closely with the C&CC to provides extra support for our first-generation college-going students and Spanish-speaking parents. As of 2022, Mrs. Laguna also acts as school counselor for students whose last names begin with the letters A - BE. Mrs. Laguna received her B.A from UCLA and completed her Masters in Education, with an emphasis in Counseling, from SJSU.
Ms. Ann Deggelman is Co-coordinator of the Teacher Advisor Program (with Susan Shultz, Paly Guidance Counselor). She coordinates Paly's portion of college application materials for students as well as supports the Teacher Advisors. Ms. Deggelman brings a unique perspective to the job: not only has she worked in Paly's attendance office and in other support roles at Paly, she is also product of the Palo Alto public school system as are her children; she has served on various committees at different levels-from Site Council to PTSA and more.
Ms. Karla Larson began working for the Palo Alto School District as a second-grade classroom aide at Nixon Elementary in 2006. The following school year she started working at Paly in the attendance office and quickly immersed herself in the Paly spirit. After acting as assistant coach for the JV softball team for six years, she hung up her cleats to spend more time with her family. Karla is excited to join the C&CC as of the fall of 2015 as a Guidance Tech and Career Voc Ed Assistant; she is an assistant to the college advisors, coordinating the notation of community service hours (and the Presidential Service Award program) and the Career Speaker series, as well coordinating the Paly Community Scholarship Program and helping families with Naviance.
Ms. Merilyn Tonga is the high school Registrar for Palo Alto High School. She processes all student transcript requests.
The College and Career Center is staffed by approximately 40 parent volunteers who work in weekly two-hour shifts during the school day in the fall. Volunteers provide support in all phases of C&CC activities. Michelle Baldonado and Sonya Hanna are the Volunteer Co-coordinators. They provide administrative and technical support to both the C&CC and its parent volunteers. More information about volunteering can be found by expanding the Volunteering link on this page.
Students in any grade can drop by the College Center during brunch or lunch to chat with a College Advisor.
After attending C&CC orientation with their US History classes in January, juniors may schedule individual meetings with college and career advisors.
Since the months of April and May are very busy in the C&CC, it is advisable to make an appointment soon after orientation.
What can students expect from the first individual appointment with a college advisor?
Getting to know the student. The Post High School Planning Survey is important for the advisors to have in advance, to prepare for the meeting; it serves as a springboard for discussion. We will have a copy of the student's transcript and PSAT scores.
We will discuss course selection for senior year, college eligibility requirements, including testing plans, and discuss the student's out-of-classroom pursuits and college preferences to direct him/her to resources for researching potential schools. Meetings may lead to some concrete school suggestions and/or recommendations for further exploration.
We will never tell a student not to apply to any given school but will be honest about how to use tools to gather information to estimate the likelihood of admission based on some admissions data.
We often distribute handouts relevant to points of our discussion (but avoid redundancy with what was given at orientation). Each student and his/her advisor gets a copy of a Follow Up checklist, a summary and/or to-do list from our meeting.
Students are encouraged to come in with an open mind to possible choices.
In the fall, appointments are reserved for seniors; juniors have priority in the spring. Students can meet with College Advisors during their prep period, during Tutorial, or after school.
To request a first appointment, seniors must first complete and submit the Post HS Planning survey in Naviance. You can access Naviance directly from your ID portal by clicking on the "Clever" icon. Once the survey is submitted, you may sign up for a college advising appointment with your assigned College Advisor, using Calendly:
- If your last name begins with the letters A - K, your Advisor is Ms. Cernobori - https://calendly.com/scernobori
- If your last name begins with the letters L - Z, your Advisor is Ms. Cochrane - https://calendly.com/jcochrane
- Students in College Pathways, your Advisor is Ms. Laguna - https://calendly.com/claguna
WARNING: If your Post High School Survey has not been submitted 48 hours before the scheduled appointment, the appointment will be canceled.
First appointments are for students, only. Parents should still contact their student's Teacher Advisor (TA) as the first point of contact at Paly; the TA will direct parents to us, if they need to loop us into the conversation. Parents are welcome to participate in subsequent appointments their student schedules.
PLEASE do *not* schedule more than one appointment at a time; doing so may result in cancellation.
The following PDF is a copy of the front cover of a folder given to juniors during C&CC orientation (in January). If you are the parent of a junior or senior and cannot read the attachment, please check with your student: Paly Post High School Planning folder
List of college planning resources
Viking College and Career Guide, updated each March.
As of March 2019, student Naviance accounts are now part of the ID portal.
- Click on the Clever icon in the ID portal.
- On the Clever page, click on Naviance.
- Note: If you are used to logging into Naviance using your email address as your username, and want to continue logging in that way, you may continue to click on the Naviance link in the ID portal and log in as usual. If you are having trouble using your old Naviance username to log in, please try using the Clever login method. If you still have trouble, go to the Paly tech office in portable P-2.
- Visit Naviance
- If you have never registered before, click "I'm new and need to register!" Parents create their own Naviance accounts using access codes provided by the Guidance Department. Please email Karla Larson if you need an access code.
- Typical Naviance usernames are email addresses as entered by the user when activating the account.
- If you already have a Naviance account but don't remember your password, click "Parent or Guardian," and then "Forgot password?" on the Naviance login page.
- If you still cannot log in, or if you have never had an account, please contact Karla Larson in the Guidance Office for assistance.
Standardized test registration materials and practice booklets in the C&CC include PSAT (a National Merit Scholarship qualifying test), SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT tests. Practice books for many of these tests, as well as AP tests, are available for students to use in the C&CC or to check out for a week at a time.
For more detailed information, please see the College Entrance Standardized Testing page.
The C&CC can help you explore options such as Community College, Gap Year, Vocational Training, or joining the military.
Wonderful opportunities for students who want to learn something specific or for students who want to transfer to four year schools who may need the financial benefit of community college or who need more time at home or need to improve their academic record.
- Certificate programs: Programs prepare students for careers such as Dental Assistant, Fashion Design, Commercial Music, Graphic Design, Fire Technology, Engineering Technology, Auto Tech, nursing, x-ray tech, Etc. Students often complete a certificate program and then can work at higher paying jobs to finance the rest of their education.
- Transfer Agreements: Each Community College has transfer agreements with four year colleges and universities. Students meet with counselors, sign and agreement, and find out which classes are required by which college and follow the prescribed curriculum for the college of their choice. Then if the students take the required classes and get the required grades, they are guaranteed a spot at that college for their junior year. Learn more:
A "Gap Year" refers to a gap in education between high school and college. The value of the precollege experience is that students can acquire life skills and strategies that result in increased success in college. Often students need the time to re-charge and/or mature before starting their higher education studies.
Taking a Gap Year Colleges it is quite common practice in Europe. And, colleges and universities look favorably upon this option; they find students who matriculate after taking a gap to be more mature, focused, and better able to articulate observations and opinions. Colleges want that students taking advantage of the gap-year opportunity do something productive during their break from school.
Kinds of Gap Year Programs
Students may wish to pursue one or more of the following kinds of gap experiences, none of which actually needs to be done for an entire year (a combination of activities might be more enjoyable):
- Service projects (domestic and international)
- Environmental study projects
- Programs that promote leadership skills and personal development
- Work or internship opportunities
- Travel and exploration
As you can see from the list above, it is not always necessary to pay to participate in a Gap Year program.
When to Apply to College if You're Taking a Gap Year
If you're planning to take gap year, we recommend that you still apply to college during your senior year-and then, after you've been accepted to college, submit your intent-to-enroll (SIR) and request to defer your enrollment at the college of your choice. The college application process is time-consuming and requires interaction with many people on Paly's campus; this is difficult to achieve when you're busy off-campus during the Gap Year.
Be sure to inquire if your financial aid award carries over if you defer your admission!
UC/CSU Caution: the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) systems do not grant deferments, as a rule. If you want to attend one of these colleges, you will need to apply by November of your Gap Year.
Deferral Caution: by submitting your SIR to a college and requesting a deferral of your enrollment, you are not permitted to apply to other colleges during your gap year; doing so will jeopardize your admission. Ask for explicit permission from the college you have committed to attend if you can apply elsewhere; it is unlikely this will be allowed.
Earning College Credit During Your Gap Year
Many organized Gap Year programs grant students the option of earning college credit for courses/experiences they offer. Private and public colleges may accept such coursework.
UC/CSU Caution: If students earn college credit beyond the summer after graduation from high school, the UCs and CSUs will no longer view them as Freshmen. The UCs and CSUs accept very few lower-division transfer students. Students who earn college credit in the academic year after high school and want to attend the UC or CSU after their Gap Year will have a better chance of being admitted if they attend community college to complete their general education requirements (generally completed in 2 years), then transfer to a UC or CSU as a Junior.
- Gap Year Association
- USA Gap Year Fairs
- "A Case for Gap Years" - The following piece was written by Jake Stern, a former Paly Voice reporter and Palo Alto High School Class of 2011 graduate
Vocational Training Programs
In addition to vocational training programs available at community colleges, there are private vocational schools, too. These are usually focused in a specific industry.
Job Corp. is a no-cost, education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Students can also learn to master a trade or receive advanced career training. There are residential and online programs available to young adults aged 16-24.
PAUSD offers an Exploratory Experience course where students research and explore industries and careers and a Work Experience course where students learn about the world of work and gain experience. To learn more, please see Work Experience Education. In addition, PAUSD maintains a job/internship bulletin board. Contact Rachel Kaci with questions.
Enrollment in the Free and Reduced-Meal Program qualifies students for fee waivers for:
- SAT test registration (Reasoning and Subject tests)
- ACT test registration
- College applications
- Official test scores report orders
- Official transcript orders
Please see a College Advisor to request a fee waiver for the items above. For fee waivers for AP exams, please contact Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.
The school site doesn't receive a list of students who qualify for the program so it's important that you send your Notification Letter of Approval of Free and Reduced-Price Meals to your School Counselor. We ensure confidentiality in this matter; your privacy is important to us.
Learn more about Free and Reduced-Price Meals and find the application.
|Students must obtain prior permission from their teacher, to miss class to attend. Attendance capacity is limited due to COVID restrictions; seniors and juniors need to register well in advance and no later than 24-hours before the visit.|
Directions to students:
- You must register in Naviance to attend a college-rep visit hosted during the school day, 24-hours in advance.
- To request permission to miss class to attend a college-rep visit, email the teacher whose class you want to miss--at least 24 hours in advance--using the template found at the end of this notice.
- You may only miss class to attend the college-rep visit if your teacher grants permission. You must make up the work you missed, as directed by the teacher. Do not request to miss a day with a scheduled quiz/test unless you discuss an alternate plan with your teacher prior to missing class.
- Attendance will be taken.
Email template to request teacher permission; fill in the information prompted in parenthesis:
Dear Mr/Ms ___(last name of teacher)___
I would like to attend the Paly college rep visit __ on ___(day of week)___, ___(date)___ during ___(number)___ period.
Example: I would like to attend the Paly college rep visit on Tuesday, Sept. 8 during 2nd period.
I understand that if I am granted permission to attend, I am responsible for making up the work I miss when I'm not in class according to the timeline and requirements you set.
To inform the C&CC of your approval, please submit this Google form so they can track attendance: https://forms.gle/wPGsAqNUPmP8xaYL7
Please respond to my email, to let me know if I'm allowed to attend this rep visit. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.
___(first and last name, student number)___
The College and Career Center relies on parent volunteers to support our college and career advisors by performing administrative tasks (i.e. special projects) and acting as college-rep hosts during fall campus visits. To keep things running smoothly and seamlessly from year to year, we rely on returning volunteers for experience in helping the C&CC run efficiently.
Registration & Training - 2022 - 2023 school year
All returning parent volunteers are *required* to come to the Returning Volunteer Meeting on Thurs. Aug. 11th at 9:00 AM in the C&CC conference room (517).
Parents of 10th, 11th and 12th graders who would like to become new college rep hosts or work on special projects *must* come to a New Volunteer Meeting on Fri., Aug. 12th at 9 AM in the Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Available positions will be assigned on a lottery basis with priority given first to 12th grade, then 11th grade, and then 10th grade parents; parents whose oldest student is in 9th grade aren't eligible to volunteer in the C&CC. Parents who work on special projects will have priority for open college-rep visit host positions the following year.
As of 6/2/22, we currently have the following openings:
- College-Rep Visit Hosts
- TUESDAYS (3 positions)
- 10:40 am - 12:25 pm
- 2:30 pm - 4:15 pm (2)
- WEDNESDAYS (2 positions)
- 8:50 am - 10:40 am (2)
- THURSDAYS (3 positions)
- 2:30 pm - 4:15 pm
- 12:50 pm - 2:35 pm
- 8:50 am - 10:40 am
- TUESDAYS (3 positions)
Hospitality (1 position open)
Team of 4: Make ~ 200 treat boxes for college reps visiting Paly from Aug. – Nov. and ~ 125 treat bags for college fair October 10.
Parent Liaison for Career Speaker Series (1 position open)
Team of 2: Meet with Career Speakers student committee (dates TBD) and help organize 2-week Speaker Series that is held late February/early March; coordinate work with staff leads Beth Martin and Karla Larson.
Scholarship Data Entry & Publicity (1 position open; year-long, virtual)
Team of 2: Enter scholarship opportunities into Naviance database to make available for Paly families and send summary to the PalyLink and InFocus to publicize them. Sandra will forward emails; you work from home.
Enrichment Program Data Entry (1-2 positions open; year-long, virtual)
Team of 2-3: Read brochures/emails to enter basic program and application information, as well as URL, in Naviance database. Several opportunities are received each week throughout the school year but more in Nov. – Feb. Sandra will forward emails; you work from home.
College Interview Notes Data Entry (1 position open; Aug. - Dec., virtual)
Team of 4: Enter notes from college rep visits in Fall (notes will will be accessed via Google Drive) into the Counselor Notes section of Naviance. The team will rotate week by week from Aug. - Dec. with each member responsible for one week each month.
College-rep Visit Form Prep (1 position open; daily M-Th Aug-Dec, virtual)
Team of 2: Copy template in Google Docs to create a specific college-rep interview form; add student registrants. Up to 7 forms to create the night before each day with visits; alternate weeks with partner. Will take ½ hour daily late Aug – late Nov.; can be done from home.
College Visit Data Entry & Publicity (1-2 positions open; year-long, virtual)
Team of 2: Verify the college rep visits scheduled in Naviance; synch with the palycollegecenter Google calendar published on paly.net/college; enter any off-campus local college visits/fairs/info sessions in Naviance; send announcements to the PalyLink & InFocus. This work can be done from home.
Available shifts will be assigned on a lottery basis with priority given to 12th grade, 11th grade, and 10th grade parents. Attendance at the training is required in order to be eligible to volunteer in C&CC.