Public Affairs

LISTEN: Early Planning and Applying Essential During Tight Budget Times

Stephan Williams, college counselor at Eagle Rock High School






(5:04 min)

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[ Music ]

Teresa:  Hello, I'm Teresa Ruiz with the California State University. And today we'll be discussing how students can better prepare for the application process at the CSU. Joining us is Stephen Williams a college counselor at Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Stephen.

Stephen: It's my pleasure. Thanks for asking us.

Teresa: Let's start by talking about some of the obstacles students may face when applying to a CSU campus.

Stephen:   Yeah. You know, kids ‑‑ this is a place where they're gonna face a huge major decision. People telling them it's one of the biggest decisions, and they're scared that they're just gonna become a number in the process and find themselves alone in the college. And they're afraid that everything's gonna be too expensive. And they're afraid of selecting the wrong place and finding themselves some place they don't want to be.

Teresa: How do you help students overcome these obstacles to apply?

Stephen: The Cal State provides a much more personal interaction with professors and other personnel that brings a personal quality to the experience. With the financial concerns which is everybody's worry we talk about Cal States as how much they are. We divide the tuition ‑‑ the yearly ‑‑ by ten and as soon as the kids see that it's going to be about 450 a month plus their books, they're very excited because that's a much lower figure than they've been led to believe. And we explain that getting a degree is the important thing a bachelor's degree, you know, has a stronger earning power over the lifetime than mere high school graduation. And we say that the CSU campuses are among the most affordable in the entire nation especially if you're a California citizen or resident, and you can certainly do lots of things with a Cal State bachelor's degree.

Teresa: And when do you advise students begin planning for college?

Stephen: Well, we'd love to have planning start as early as possible well before the senior year. We want students to have enough time to take care of their required classes, master the skills they need, and take the exams. The reality is that some kids get that and some kids don't. And so we keep having to hammer that home each year. And it's even more important now that the universities are starting to enforce deadlines and they're trying to reduce enrollment because of the finances. And if a student hesitates or misses a class, misses a required course, they could be excluded from this process. We want to avoid that. And that's another reason that having a backup plan is important. If a student's applying to an impacted campus where they've got more students than they have chairs, it might be wise to pick a couple of others that you wouldn't mind attending.

Teresa: Lastly, can you provide some insight as to what resources students should try to find if they have questions about applying for college?

Stephen:  We recommend that students, you know, get into the college or the counseling office on their high school campus and find the people who have the knowledge and ask questions. It's the most ‑‑ single most important thing because all of the huge barrage of information that's coming needs some kind of person to focus that. And your college counselor's probably the best person to do that. And almost every campus has admissions and planning tools, you know, that they offer online. The CSU Mentor is an example of a website that provides, you know, system-wide information, and kids can get on that as early as 9th grade and begin to fill in their classes and they can see where they're going and how they're doing as far as getting ready for college. And as a counselor if other counselors or parents ask for information, there's a lot of wealth of it at the Chronicle of Higher Education, the College Board website, and the NACAC, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. They all have parent resources, student resources, and counselor resources. And we use that information to help provide advice to students.

Teresa: Good. I'm sure that's very helpful for our students and parents listening as well as counselors. I'd like to thank you again for taking time to speak with us and sharing your knowledge about the application process.

Stephen: Thank you. It's been my pleasure.

Teresa: If you'd like more information about applying to the CSU including admissions requirements and the campuses still accepting applications, please visit


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