Palo Alto High School

What three things should rising seniors be doing over the summer?

As we head off into the summer, we asked our experts what rising seniors should be doing this summer. As usual, they've got some great advice about how to rest, recharge, and prepare for a couple of steps in the college application process so you'll hit the ground running -- and avoid feeling overwhelmed -- in the fall. And don't forget, two of the most important and best things you can do this summer are rest and read, read, read... Nothing will prepare you better for senior year. Enjoy all of it!


Mai Lien Nguyen
College and Career Center Coordinator
Mountain View High School
Mountain View, CA


“Having fun” and “preparing for college applications” aren’t phrases you normally hear in the same breath.  But the summer before senior year could be the golden opportunity to make this happen.  Let’s see how:


What is the best advice for juniors on researching colleges?

In our latest feature, we're asking high school college counselors, independent counselors, deans of admission and other experts, such as financial aid officers and psychologists, to respond to our questions about all things college admission. Then we're bringing you their advice on the subject of the moment -- from essays and scholarships to interviews and extracurriculars -- including words of wisdom, mistakes to avoid, resources such as websites and books and advice on how to handle it all on a day-to-day basis. 

So… "The Question of the Month" for November is:

What is your best advice for juniors on researching colleges?

Alice Kleeman
College Advisor
Menlo-Atherton High School
Atherton, California

My best advice for juniors beginning their college research is not to come to a screeching halt the minute they see the college's posted Cost of Attendance (COA), or “sticker price.” Students might be merrily clicking through a college website, intrigued by engaging course offerings, fun clubs and organizations, and tempting housing options. Suddenly, at the sight of the sticker price, juniors throw up their hands: "Guess I didn't really want to go to that college after all."

Palo Alto High School's Sandra Cernobori is our Counselor of the Month


College Advisor Sandra Cernobori was sitting at her desk in the College and Career Center of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California, when a parent came in to talk to one of her colleagues. She was not a parent at the school, but had some questions about college admission. A few minutes into the conversation, the visitor said to Cernobori’s fellow advisor, “Let me go get my son, I want him to hear this.” Whereupon she brought into the office her 18-month-old child. Yes, you read that correctly, her 18-month-old child.

Welcome to the world of college advising in the heart of Silicon Valley where the college learning curve -- and the pressure -- starts early for some.  Founded in 1894, Palo Alto High School, known as Paly, is nationally known for its academically rigorous environment. Its campus, which serves more than 1900 students, sits across the street from Stanford University. “Our students are often from families that are highly educated or highly value education, so expectations are high,” says Cernobori. “But we also have families where the parents have not attended four-year colleges.”

Thank you, thank you

Thank you to the students, parents, and counseling staff of Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School in northern California! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with all of you about everything from college visits and extracurriculars to AP's and financial aid. And it's great to hear what is on the minds of students and parents when it comes to college admission!