College Counseling

Our school culture celebrates the diversity of individual choices and the stories they reflect.

The excellence of our educational program is evidenced by the success of our alumni. International High School students have a distinct advantage when applying to various schools, in part because colleges and universities appreciate the challenging nature and unique value of the International Baccalaureate and the French Baccalauréat. Colleges know that International students come already prepared for the upper level thinking, sophisticated writing, global mindedness, and independent research skills that lie ahead.

Applying to colleges and universities appears complicated and daunting. In part, it is, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for self-examination and thoughtful planning. By beginning the formal process in Grade 11 with preparation in Grades 9 and 10, and with advice and support from our College Counselors, the application process can be relatively smooth and free of worry.

Our students report a high rate of satisfaction with the process and with their college decisions, and our school culture celebrates the diversity of those individual choices and the stories they reflect. We also excited by their adventurous spirit; our alumni are currently enrolled in institutions of higher education around the world and across the United States.

College Office

Ashley Rochman
Co-Director of College Counseling
(415) 558-2073 

Alex Trempus
Co-Director of College Counseling
(415) 558-2072

9th Grade

Parents first meet in March, during which we discuss our program, the college admissions climate, provide advice, and answer questions. We do not yet involve students during their Grade 9 year. It is important that they learn to become good high school students first—scholars who are also learning to develop a passion, talent, skill, or interest outside of the classroom.

10th Grade


We distribute the PSAT practice guide at the beginning of the school year and advise 10th graders to review it and to take the practice PSAT.


Counselors meet with the 10th graders in early in October to review test-taking skills and to register them for the PSAT. We administer the PSAT during the third week of October of 10th grade.


Counselors meet with students in January to distribute PSAT results, advise them on score result interpretation, and ask us to meet with us for any additional questions. They also advise them on developing their interests outside of the classroom, and send messages to parents offering to meet with them if they have questions or concerns about the PSAT or about their children. 


Counselors meet with 10th grade parents in late February to discuss our program, the college admissions climate, provide advice, and answer questions.

11th Grade


We distribute the PSAT practice guide at the beginning of the school year and advise 11th graders to review it and to take the practice PSAT. We meet with the 11th graders in mid-September to review test-taking skills and to register them for the PSAT. We also give 11th graders advice about when to take the SAT for the first time (December, January or March of 11th grade).


We offer the PSAT again during the third week of October of 11th grade.


We offer a mock ACT test for students to compare the PSAT/SAT with the ACT tests, so that students can decide which test suits them best.


As soon as possible early in January, counselors begin their intensive process of working with the 11th graders on the transition to applying to college. In early January, they meet with Grade 11 students to distribute PSAT results, discuss score interpretation, and assign each student a college counselor.  They give all students log-in information on Naviance, our on-line program for college selection research and application organization help. Counselors also provide training on the best ways to use Naviance to research and organize during lunchtime training sessions. In addition to the SAT preparation offered in classes, we offer an SAT preparation course for interested students.

January - April:

Counselors meet one-on-one with each student. After the initial meeting, they provide each student with a preliminary list of colleges as a springboard for further research. They give detailed, individualized advice on all standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests. After they meet with the student one-on-one, counselors hold individual family meetings with each student and his or her family. Counselors have these meetings with students and families as many times as the student and/or family deems necessary or helpful. They also discuss college financial aid at these meetings.


Counselors meet with Grade 11 families as a group to discuss the college selection and application process. They distribute our College Application Survival Kit, our guidebook to demystify the process. They meet with all Grade 11 families as a group to go over additional information regarding applying to college in greater detail, and also give all families the College Application Survival Kit.  This publication also contains the essay questions for the Common Application and UC Application. We also provide an introduction to college financial aid, including resources on scholarships.


All 11th graders should arrange to take the SAT for the first time. All students will take the SAT more than once! The redesigned SAT was released in March 2016.


Counselors host a college fair with other independent schools in San Francisco at St. Ignatius. The NACAC college fair, a large city-wide college fair, also takes place in April.


Counselors have a meeting with all 11th graders during an advisory period during which they go over essay writing and advise students to draft essays in the relative quiet of summer. They also check in regarding additional standardized testing concerns; they also request that students take at least two SAT subject tests by May or June. Each student has received detailed, individualized advice on which SAT subject tests to take. Students interested in attending engineering school should prepare to take Mathematics level 2 and Physics subject tests. Counselors give advice about other college application tasks that should be done over the summer, and give all students a college questionnaire which students should complete over the summer.

Counselors send a message to parents with a list of activities we ask students to do over the summer, including doing additional work on college selection and essay writing. It is suggested that each student take each standardized test that they will need for their college applications at least once by the end of 11th grade! The summer should be used to get a head start on the college application process.

12th Grade

August 1:

The Common Application and UC applications become live on this day. Please open accounts and begin completing applications.

Early September:

Counselors have a meeting with all 12th grade students to discuss college application deadlines, instruct students on asking teachers for recommendations, work with them on finalizing a college list to which students will ultimately apply, discuss early application activity, and more. They ask for the return of our college counseling questionnaire, and for students to provide them with essays for review. Counselors continue with additional individual meetings with students and families, and review both the Common Application and UC application.


We host an international college fair through the Council of International Schools, with more than 70 college representatives in attendance.


We have nearly 80 college representatives visit our 12th graders on our campus during the day. We also host many evening and weekend programs.


Students use the October SAT date to take the test again. Counselors review all application materials for those students applying early with November 1 or November 15 deadlines, and are available during Fall Break for additional help.

October 15:

This is the deadline to apply to Oxford, Cambridge, medical and veterinary schools in the UK, as well as to apply with an arts supplement to Stanford.


Counselors write detailed and powerful letters of recommendation for each 12th grader and review all teacher letters of recommendation. They coordinate every part of the application process, and send documents, including letters, required forms, and transcripts in support of the nearly 1,500 total applications our 12th graders submit each year. Counselors continue to review and revise essays and other parts of the application for each 12th grader, and also help with specialized applications, including art portfolios, and music audition pieces.

November 1 or 15:

If a student is applying to a private university early, the student will have a November 1 or 15 application deadline. Student financial aid documents must also be submitted by this deadline. Students will sometimes use the November SAT testing date.

November 1-30:

Counselors offer intensive workshops to provide one-on-one help with the UC application. We review every page of each student’s UC application. The UC application must be submitted during the month of November.  They continue to advise students, review essays, answer financial aid questions, and more, through each and every part of the application process.


The last SAT testing date available for 12th graders.

January 1:

This is the major college application deadline for students applying to private colleges and universities in the United States.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) becomes available January 1.

January 15:

This is the major deadline for applications to universities in the UK, Canada, and some private colleges and universities in the US.

March 2:

The Cal Grant GPA verification form must be submitted by March 2.


Students receive decisions from colleges and universities. Counselors keep track of this information, and advise students on their options.

April 15:

All students will receive decisions from all colleges and universities by this date.

May 1:

National deposit deadline. Students must choose which university to attend by this date. Congratulations!

Notes: Our timeline of activities is similar to the timelines at other independent schools in the United States, including our peer schools in the Bay Area. January of Grade 11 is the perfect time developmentally for the student to understand and to participate in the college application process. Since the student is the heart of the process, the student needs to be ready to understand and to participate in that process.