Jill Haley: What are the A-G requirements for college? | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: What are the A-G requirements for college?

Jill Haley
Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

It’s that time of the year again! College application time. Just when high school seniors are looking forward to seeing their friends at the Nevada County Fair, they should also be thinking about filling out their applications to attend college in the fall of 2020.

While it might seem early to you, colleges have been pushing up their application start dates for a few years now.

The University of California (UC) application opened its portals on Aug. 1. Most private colleges are already open through the Common Application online system.

For high school students in grades 9-12 it is important that they are enrolled in the right classes. The University of California and California State University (CSU) colleges require high school students to complete 15 UC A-G approved courses. In the UC A-G plan, 11 of those courses should be complete by the end of the 11th grade.

What is A-G? It refers to a pattern of college prep courses a student must take while attending high school. At a minimum, this means four years of English, three years of social studies, two years of a laboratory science, two years of foreign language, one year of a visual or preforming art, math through intermediate algebra and one additional approved elective. Students would need at least a B average to be UC/CSU eligible.

For more competitive colleges, and this includes most of the UC campuses, students should plan on taking additional classes beyond the minimum A-G requirements.

Completing these requirements could mean a difference between attending a four-year college and a community college. Many of these requirements require starting them in your freshman year to be able to complete them all by the graduation. It is important to know ahead of time and plan your classes accordingly.

Most private colleges have similar requirements, so completing the a-g pattern of courses makes a student eligible to attend colleges in the UC, CSU and most private college systems.

In addition to taking the right classes, most students take college entrance exams. These exams are the SAT and the ACT. Colleges will take either exam and they should be completed by November of a student’s senior year in high school. Taking the test(s) twice often results in a higher score.

While grades and test scores are still important, many colleges look at other aspects of a student. Called holistic review, the UC’s and private colleges look at a wide range of factors. Some of these are extra-curricular activities, employment and community service.

If you are a high school student who plans on applying to a four-year college, you should begin early to enroll in the right courses and begin participating in activities that will make you a good candidate for admissions. Starting early will ensure that you will have no surprises come application time.

There will be a free workshop on financial aid for college at the Madelyn Helling Library’s community room on Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m. Email Jill at jillncca@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.

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