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College Planning


In the state of California, higher education opportunities can be realized by attending one of the 116 community colleges, 33 public universities (CSU and UC), 83 private/independent universities and many more technical, trade, and art schools. For specific information related to each area, please see the menu on the left. For general details, please see below.
  • To be eligible to attend a community college: one must be 18 years of age or possess a high school diploma. 
  • To be eligible to attend a California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC): public systems require completion of the minimum a-g course sequence with grades of C or higher. UC and CSU campuses no longer use the SAT or ACT for admission purposes. 
  • To be eligible to attend a Private/Independent University: requirements vary from institution to institution, but follow closely with the University of California a-g course sequence.  To learn more about each individual institution, it is recommended that students log onto the prospective school websites to explore majors and schools in California and nationwide. Private or out-of-state colleges may require an SAT or ACT test score. 


College Application: You can access CSU and UC applications through their prospective websites.  To complete an admissions application to private universities, you will need to go directly to the school website.  
College Application Fee: Application fees will vary per institution, and will be due upon submission of your application.  Some universities offer fee waivers for those who qualify. 
High School Transcript: To complete your CSU or UC application, you will need an unofficial copy of your high school transcript for self reporting your classes and grades. Unofficial transcripts are available via the parent portal. Once you have been accepted to a CSU or UC campus, that particular campus will prompt you to have an Official transcript sent from CUSD directly to them upon graduation from high school.  If you are applying to a private university, however, an Official transcript will be required as part of the application process.  To order your official high school transcript please visit Parchment to place your request.
College Admissions Exams/Tests: UC and CSU campuses no longer use the SAT or ACT for admission purposes. Private or out-of-state colleges may require an SAT or ACT test score. For more information regarding these exams, please see College Admissions Testing on the navigation bar to the left.
College Essay or Personal Statement: Private/Independent Universities will require a college essay as part of their application process.  The college essay is written in response to a prompt given to the student in the application. A college essay will not be required for applications to California State Universities.
Letters of Recommendation: Most private university and scholarship applications will require that students submit letters of recommendation.  Some will specify who the recommender should be (teachers, employers, counselors, coaches, community or church leaders); others simply indicate how many recommendations are required.  Letters of recommendation give evaluators and selection committees information about you as a person.  Keep in mind that these individuals will already have objective information - your grades, classes and test scores - they want to know about your character and who you are outside of the classroom.
Service Hours/Extra-Curricular Activities/Volunteering: Students are not required to do service hours as a condition of graduation from Capistrano Unified School District. However, most universities will, as a part of their application process, ask students to document service hours, extra-curricular activities and volunteer hours.  The general rule of thumb is to get involved in an activity that you are passionate about and can commit to for a length of time.  Universities will ask what types of activities you were involved in, how long you were committed to the activity and what skills you developed or how it affected you personally.