college counseling

College Prep’s college counseling process is individualized and introspective and our college counselors are eager to guide and cheer on our students as they consider their future.
The college counseling process begins in junior year and is an opportunity for students to learn more about themselves as thinkers, campus citizens, and young adults. Our students take responsibility for meeting deadlines, researching colleges, registering for tests, and completing applications. We actively support students and families as they learn about and navigate their college options.

While keeping our focus on the student, it is important for all of us—students, parents, and counselors—to work collaboratively throughout the process. Honest communication, an open mind, patience, and positivity enable a smooth, healthy process.

Our goal is to ensure that our students take their enthusiasm for learning, engagement with community, and academic and life skills with them on their next adventure.

– Martin and Ali

what to expect each year

List of 4 items.

  • Freshman Year

    Students become accustomed to the rigor and rhythm of their classes, pursue interests that invigorate them, get to know their peers, and enjoy College Prep. College counseling is not necessary for freshmen.
  • Sophomore Year

    Students focus on building their academic skills and excelling in their classes. Students are also encouraged to participate in activities that bring them joy and inspiration. This is a good year to practice balancing coursework and play. College counseling is not necessary for sophomores.
  • Junior Year

    College counseling begins this year. Toward the end of the fall, junior parents are invited to a presentation that outlines the specifics of the college counseling process. A subsequent private meeting between parents and the college counselors ensures that each family has an opportunity to communicate openly. During the spring semester, the students work closely with the counselors in both small groups and one-on-one settings. They receive individualized help with research and essay writing to ensure that their college search is substantive and productive. Over the summer, counseling continues; students respond to feedback on their application essays and, perhaps, visit prospective colleges.
  • Senior Year

    Students benefit from the work that they have done during their junior year. They finish their essays, finalize their list of prospective colleges, and file their applications. By winter break, the majority of our students have many of their applications completed and await news. This is an especially apt time to feed them delicious food.

College Financial Aid

List of 4 items.

  • Overview

    Please take a look at the general information below:
    • Substantial financial aid is available.
    • Students should apply for financial aid even if they aren’t certain they’ll qualify. Financial aid certainly will not be offered unless an application is submitted, and often students and families are surprised by what they may qualify for.
    • Most financial aid is awarded on the basis of need (this is called "need-based aid"). Academic scholarships get the most publicity, but the bulk of financial aid goes to students who can demonstrate "financial need": financial need is simply the difference between the amount your family can pay—as calculated from the financial information in the application—and the cost of attendance.
    • Family income is not the only factor used in determining how much a family can pay. How much the family can pay depends partly on family income, but other factors such as family size, number of children in college, and other expenses also are considered.
    • Students should not eliminate any college from consideration based on costs alone. Because eligibility for aid is determined by subtracting the amount the family can pay from what it costs to attend the college, the amount a family can pay stays the same regardless of how much a college costs. A student usually will be eligible for more aid at a higher-cost college.
    • Colleges expect both students and parents to contribute toward college costs. Financial aid is intended to supplement, not replace, a family’s own resources. Families should be prepared to help themselves and should start planning to meet their share of college costs well in advance.
    • Students may receive different amounts or types of financial aid from different colleges. Even colleges that cost about the same may offer a student different types and amounts of aid, usually because their policies for awarding financial aid differ.
    • The college that offers the most aid, or whose award letter arrives first, may not be the best one for the student to attend. Educational, not financial, considerations should remain central factors in selecting a college.
    The most important things to remember are: 1) even if you don’t think you are eligible, consider applying for aid; and 2) the definition of financial need is simply the difference between what you and your family can afford and what the college you wish to attend costs. This means the net cost of attending an expensive private college or a lower cost state university may end up being about the same.
  • Financial Aid Information

  • General Scholarship Sources

  • How to Apply for Financial Aid

    Regardless of how a college awards its financial aid, whether by need alone or need and merit, most colleges will expect that you will file at least one form: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is produced by the US Department of Education and processed by Federal Student Aid Programs. This form must be filed every year and includes such information as income and asset information from both students and parents. (Typically the form asks for parent income information on the parent who provided the most financial support during the previous 12 months.) It also asks for a list of the colleges that you would like to receive your financial information; up to six colleges may be listed on the initial form, and additional schools may be added by phone (1-800-4FEDAID) once the FAFSA has been processed and you have received your Student Aid Report (SAR).

    Since these forms help to determine financial need and are based on total cost of attendance, it is suggested by most financial aid offices that you list these schools in order of expense starting with the most expensive, regardless of preference. This form is available in the Student Center and online and may be filed after January 1st. In addition, there is a state form that must be filed to determine whether students are eligible for California State Grants; this form is called the Cal Grant Program Grade Point Average Verification Form, which must be submitted to the College Counseling Office for calculation of GPA before March 2nd. Many private and independent colleges will request at least one additional form. Some will have their own two or four page Institutional Financial Aid Form that may come with the application for admission. Some will require that you file a form known as PROFILE. It is produced and processed by the College Scholarship Service (CSS), a division of the College Board (the SAT people).

    This form is available in early fall and typically asks for more specific information about assets and home equity. The individual institutions may then send an additional list of questions specific to their criteria for determining financial aid eligibility. These forms should be filed as soon as they are available!Both forms will be available in the counseling office beginning in the fall. Check with each institution to see which forms are required and what the deadlines are. Be sure to keep copies of each form you submit for your own reference and in case there are any problems.

resources & links

List of 4 items.

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Martin Bonilla

    Martin Bonilla 

    Director of College Counseling
    510-652-0111 x254
  • Photo of Lisie Harlow

    Lisie Harlow 

    College Counseling Assistant/Academic Data Manager
    510-652-0111 x247
  • Photo of Ali Underwood

    Ali Underwood 07

    Associate Director of College Counseling

College Visit Request

During the 2022-23 school year we are offering the option of in-person, on-campus visits or virtual visits. Please go to RepVisits to request either type of visit. Search for The College Preparatory School among the available high schools and select your desired appointment date and time.
In the event the dates and/or times available online do not match your availability, please contact Lisie Harlow at

Our seniors look forward to connecting with you!

mens conscia recti

a mind aware of what is right