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College Planning Center

There are dozens of private universities in California, hundreds nationally, and thousands globally. Private & Independent colleges differ from public schools like the UC & CSU's significantly in their admissions application processes. Generally speaking, they will have the same subject requirements as the UC/CSU's "a-g" subject pattern. However, students should check the home website of the college in question to be certain.


Where the UC & CSU systems do not require letters of recommendation, or even transcripts with their applications - private and independent schools will typically want all of these items as part of their application process.  Additionallly private universities may still require an ACT or SAT exam score as part of their appllication process. 


Almost 500 private colleges and universities have joined a network called




Its mission is to encourage the use of "holistic admission" a process that includes subjective factors gleaned from essays and recommendations alongside more objective criteria such as class rank and standardized testing. If a school has signed the Common Application agreement, then they have agreed to accept and process this application equally to their own form. If you have any doubts about whether a school you’re interested in accepts the Common Application you may check the aforementioned website. It should be noted that the CSU & UC systems do not subscribe to the Common Application.


The Universal College Application is a new alternative to the Common Application. It has been adopted by many highly selective universities such as: Clark, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Washington University in St. Louis and many more.


For more information go to: 



Most Private/Independent & Out-of-State colleges will require transcripts at the time of application. Most will also want "mid-year" transcript updates after the fall semester senior grades have posted!


Most Private/Independent & Out-of-State colleges will require a form to be completed by the PHS Counseling Office. These forms are called a variety of names (i.e. Secondary School Reports, School Reports, Counselor Reports, Counselor Evaluation, etc...) Student must download these forms and give them to their Counselor no less than 3 weeks prior to their deadlines!


CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®The PROFILE is required by many private schools (in addition to the FAFSA) in order to register for Financial Aid. These deadlines are often quite early (October or November) - so check to determine if your schools will require the Profile! 


RIGHT GOLD ARROWFor more information on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE


Students must arrange to have their SAT and/or ACT scores sent to them directly from the College Board or American College Testing Inc.


Early Action/Decision If you are applying to a private school, especially many use the “Early Action/Decision” process. The dates are very early (September or October). So you need to be ready to act quickly! Go to the PHS RIGHT GOLD ARROW Early Decision web page to find additional information about how these programs work.