College & Career Center Staff
(from left to right: Sandra Cernobori, Stephanie Mendoza, Crystal Laguna)

C&CC Reception desk: (650) 329-3818

Hours: Odd Days 8:20 am - 3:50 pm, Even Days  8:20 am - 2:55 pm

Paly's school code is: 052-350


This dynamic calendar is updated as visits are scheduled, changed, and/or canceled.  Please check frequently-- but, note that Naviance has the most up-to-date listing of college visits.  Also, note some of the entries in the calendar are off campus info session or interview opportunities; click on the college name to expand and see partial details; full details are listed in Naviance. Students who list their favorite colleges in Naviance will receive emails as those visits are scheduled.

All on-campus visits are 45 minutes long and require students to obtain prior permission from their teacher, to miss class to attend. Students must present an Admit to Class form (available under "Students: Attend College Representative Visits at Paly" below) signed by their teacher to the visit, get it signed by the CCC during the visit, and return it to their teacher when they next have class.

About the College and Career Center

The Paly C&CC is located in the southeast corner of the library complex, next to the Guidance office.


The doors are open whenever school is in session, usually 8:20 AM - 3:35 PM.
Seniors (and juniors, in second semester) can schedule appointments with college and career advisors during the school day.  Student of any grade are welcome to drop by the CCC during brunch or lunch.

Front Desk

The front desk is staffed by parent volunteers who can help with all aspects of C&CC activities. Contact the reception desk by calling (650) 329-3818.


College advisors, career advisors and parent volunteers are in the C&CC to help students and parents. A staff member is always available to help answer questions and to help find information.

C&CC Staff Bios

Ms. Sandra Cernobori joined the C&CC in April 2006 as College Advisor at Palo Alto High School. She meets individually with second-semester juniors and seniors (last names A - F), to discuss the college selection and application process.  In addition, she organizes parent information evenings, works closely with Teacher Advisors, and serves as the Chair of the Paly Community Scholarship Committee. A graduate of Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, Ms. Cernobori has a background in education, having taught English for eight years at San Mateo High where she implemented a Peer Mediation program for students. During a hiatus from teaching, she worked as a software technical writer while pursuing her Master’s degree in Counselor Education, and her Pupil Personnel Services credential, from San Jose State.

Ms. Stephanie Mendoza joined the College and Career Center in Fall of 2016 as a College Advisor at Palo Alto High School. She supports the programs of the C&CC as well as meets individually with second-semester juniors and seniors (last names G - P). Ms. Mendoza earned her Bachelors of Arts in Social Welfare and Minor in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. In addition, she received a specialized certificate in college counseling from UCSD.  Before joining the Palo Alto High School staff, Ms. Mendoza was the College Completion Coordinator at College Track, a non-profit organization in East Palo Alto that empowers students from underserved communities to graduate from college, while also working as a parent liaison in PAUSD.

Mrs. Crystal Laguna joined our Guidance Department in the Fall of 2012 as an Outreach Counselor and 9th grade Advisor. As of Fall of 2015, she collaborates more closely with the C&CC as a Community College & Career Advisor. Mrs. Laguna also provides extra support for our first-generation college-going students and Spanish-speaking parents. Mrs. Laguna received her B.A from UCLA and completed her Masters in Education, with an emphasis in Counseling, from SJSU.

Ms. Ann Deggelman is Co-coordinator of the Teacher Advisor Program (with Susan Shultz, Paly Guidance Counselor). She coordinates Paly’s portion of college application materials for students as well as supports the Teacher Advisors. Ms. Deggelman brings a unique perspective to the job: not only has she worked in Paly's attendance office and in other support roles at Paly, she is also product of the Palo Alto public school system as are her children; she has served on various committees at different levels-from Site Council to PTSA and more.

Ms. Karla Larson began working for the Palo Alto School District as a second-grade classroom aide at Nixon Elementary in 2006.  The following school year she started working at Paly in the attendance office and quickly immersed herself in the Paly spirit.  After acting as assistant coach for the JV softball team for six years, she hung up her cleats to spend more time with her family.  Karla is excited to join the C&CC as of the fall of 2015 as a Guidance Tech and Career Voc Ed Assistant; she is settling into her new position as an assistant to the college and career counselors, coordinating the notation of community service hours (and the Presidential Service Award program) as well as helping families with Naviance,

Ms. Merilyn Tonga is the high school Registrar for Palo Alto High School. She processes all student transcript requests.

The College and Career Center is staffed by approximately 40 parent volunteers who work in two-hour shifts during the school day. Volunteers provide support in all phases of C&CC activities. Michelle Baldonado and Jennifer Seto are the Volunteer Co-coordinators. They provide administrative and technical support to both the C&CC and its parent volunteers. They can be contacted by leaving a message at the Volunteer desk, 329-3818.  More information about volunteering can be found by expanding the Volunteering link on this page.


Meeting with College and Career Advisors

Students in any grade can drop by the College Center during brunch or lunch to chat with a College Advisor.

After attending C&CC orientation with their US History classes in January, juniors may schedule individual meetings with college and career advisors.

Since the months of April and May are very busy in the C&CC, it is advisable to make an appointment soon after orientation.

What can students expect from the first individual appointment with a college advisor?

Getting to know the student. The Post High School Planning Survey is important for the advisors to have in advance, to prepare for the meeting; it serves as a springboard for discussion.We will have a copy of the student's transcript and PSAT scores.

We will discuss course selection for senior year, college eligibility requirements, including testing plans, and discuss the student's out-of-classroom pursuits and college preferences to direct him/her to resources for researching potential schools. Meetings may lead to some concrete school suggestions and/or recommendations for further exploration.

We will never tell a student not to apply to any given school but will be honest about how to use tools to gather information to estimate the likelihood of admission based on some admissions data.

We often distribute handouts relevant to points of our discussion (but avoid redundancy with what was given at orientation). Each student and his/her advisor gets a copy of a Follow Up checklist, a summary and/or to-do list from our meeting.

 Students are encouraged to come in with an open mind to possible choices.

Scheduling Appointments

To request a first appointment, juniors must first complete and submit the Post HS Planning survey in Naviance.  You can access Naviance directly from your ID portal by clicking on the "Clever" icon.  Once the survey is submitted, you may sign up for a 45-minute advising appointment with your assigned College Advisor, using Calendly:

  • If your last name begins with the letters A - K, your Advisor is Ms. Cernobori: 

  • If your last name begins with the letters L - Z, your Advisor is Ms. Mendoza

  • If your primary interest is community college, your Advisor is Ms. Laguna

WARNING: If your Post High School Survey has not been submitted 48 hours before the scheduled appointment, the appointment will be canceled.

First appointments are for students, only.  Parents should still contact their student’s Teacher Advisor (TA) as the first point of contact at Paly; the TA will direct parents to us, if they need to loop us into the conversation.  Parents are welcome to participate in repeat appointments.

PLEASE do *not* schedule more than one appointment at a time; doing so may result in cancelation.

Calendly will automatically assign the Zoom meeting ID url to use to join the appointment.  Be sure to keep the confirmation email you receive after booking the appointment as it contains the Zoom meeting ID.  YOU MUST LOG INTO THE PAUSD ID PORTAL BEFORE YOU CAN CONNECT TO ZOOM!


In the fall, appointments are reserved for seniors; juniors have priority in the spring.

    Any student can drop in at brunch and lunch or any Advisory that's not for their grade-level to ask advisors questions.

    During the first meeting with a college advisor, it is preferable to meet with just the student (parents might want to attend subsequent meetings).

    Students can meet with College Advisors during their prep period, during Tutorial, or after school.   Students interested in community college (for career/vocational training, Associates degrees, or preparation for transfer) will meet with Mrs. Laguna.

    For the first appointment, students must complete the Post High School Planning Survey in Naviance, print it out, and bring it to the C&CC to schedule your meeting.   

Post High School Planning

The PDF below is a copy of the front cover of a folder given to juniors during C&CC orientation (in January). If you are the parent of a junior or senior and cannot read the attachment, please check with your student.

Paly Post High School Planning Handout to Juniors in Advisory

Reference materials and web resources

Books, catalogs, brochures and other materials are available.

The Viking College and Career Planning Guide is a great source of information. The guide is revised yearly in April.

Materials may be used in the C&CC or checked out for one week at a time.

Use web resources in the C&CC

Students and parents can use the C&CC computer (or any web-enabled computer) to access web sites such as Naviance for researching colleges, financial aid, testing organizations, internship and employment opportunities, career interest surveys, summer programs, and community service options.

Students: Attend College Representative Visits at Paly


Throughout the fall over 225 college admissions representatives visit Paly. Visits with college representatives are a great way for students to get questions answered and to establish relationships with regional admissions officers (or staff of higher status!) who are often responsible for reading/advocating for our students' applications. Some colleges track students "demonstrated interest", so attending a visit with a college rep could be beneficial. Of course, it's not always feasible for students to miss class to meet with college representatives. If students can't meet with the reps of colleges they are especially interested in, they are encouraged to leave a note with the C&CC to pass on to the reps and/or stop by after the meeting to pick up materials.


You must have your teacher's permission one day in advance if you are missing class time to attend a college visit. Pick up a form in the CCC, or download it (see link below) . Complete the form and obtain your teacher’s signature at least ONE DAY BEFORE you are scheduled to meet with the college representative and bring the signed form with you the day of the visit. At the end of the meeting with the college representative, be sure to have a parent volunteer or college advisor sign this slip. This will be your admit to class. You will also sign the attendance sheet in the C&CC to ensure your absence from class is cleared and marked as an activity rather than as truancy.


  • You can view list of scheduled college rep visits on the calendar at the top of this page.  In addition, they are listed in Naviance.Use your Naviance login ID and password or login as a Guest with no password and click on the colleges tab at the top. They are also listed in the C&CC on the calendar behind the reception desk, the bulletin board in the Tower building near the main office, and announced in the student bulletin and Paly Link; students who “add” prospective colleges to their list in Naviance receive an automated email announcement as well.
  • Off-Campus Opportunities are college representative visits or open houses that take place at locations other than the Paly campus. Students interested in attending an off-campus event should consult that institutions's web site for further information and to RSVP if required.

Admit to class from College and Career Center - 1-up (fillable PDF)
Admit to class from College and Career Center - 2-up (fillable PDF)

Standardized test information
  • Forms for standardized tests are located inside the office door, near the front desk.

  • Standardized test registration materials and practice booklets in the C&CC include PSAT(link is external) (a National Merit Scholarship qualifying test), SATSAT subject tests, and ACT tests. Practice books for many of these tests, as well as  AP tests, are available for students to use in the C&CC or to check out for a week at a time.

What if I don't want to go to a four year college after Paly? (Community College, Gap Year)

The C&CC can help you explore options such as Community College, Gap Year, joining the military, or finding a career that does not require a college degree.

Community College

Wonderful opportunities for students who want to learn something specific or for students who want to transfer to four year schools who may need the financial benefit of community college or who need more time at home or need to improve their academic record.

  • Certificate programs: Programs prepare students for careers such as Dental Assistant, Fashion Design, Commercial Music, Graphic Design, Fire Technology, Engineering Technology, Auto Tech, nursing, x-ray tech, Etc. Students often complete a certificate program and then can work at higher paying jobs to finance the rest of their education.
  • Transfer Agreements: Each Community College has transfer agreements with four year colleges and universities. Students meet with counselors, sign and agreement, and find out which classes are required by which college and follow the prescribed curriculum for the college of their choice. Then if the students take the required classes and get the required grades, they are guaranteed a spot at that college for their junior year.  Learn more:


Gap Year

A “Gap Year” refers to a gap in education between high school and college. The value of the precollege experience is that students can acquire life skills and strategies that result in increased success in college. Often students need the time to re-charge and/or mature before starting their higher education studies.

Taking a Gap Year Colleges it is quite common practice in Europe. And, colleges and universities look favorably upon this option; they find students who matriculate after taking a gap to be more mature, focused, and better able to articulate observations and opinions. Colleges want that students taking advantage of the gap-year opportunity do something productive during their break from school.

Kinds of Gap Year Programs

Students may wish to pursue one or more of the following kinds of gap experiences, none of which actually needs to be done for an entire year (a combination of activities might be more enjoyable):
• Service projects (domestic and international)
• Environmental study projects
• Programs that promote leadership skills and personal development
• Work or internship opportunities
• Travel and exploration
As you can see from the list above, it is not always necessary to pay to participate in a Gap Year program.

When to Apply to College if You’re Taking a Gap Year

If you’re planning to take gap year, we recommend that you still apply to college during your senior year—and then, after you’ve been accepted to college, submit your intent-to-enroll (SIR) and request to defer your enrollment at the college of your choice.  The college application process is time-consuming and requires interaction with many people on Paly’s campus; this is difficult to achieve when you’re busy off-campus during the Gap Year.  

Be sure to inquire if your financial aid award carries over if you defer your admission!

UC/CSU Caution: the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) systems do not grant deferments, as a rule. If you want to attend one of these colleges, you will need to apply by November of your Gap Year.

Deferral Caution: by submitting your SIR to a college and requesting a deferral of your enrollment, you are not permitted to apply to other colleges during your gap year; doing so will jeopardize your admission.  Ask for explicit permission from the college you have committed to attend if you can apply elsewhere; it is unlikely this will be allowed. 

Earning College Credit During Your Gap Year

Many organized Gap Year programs grant students the option of earning college credit for courses/experiences they offer. Private and public colleges may accept such coursework.

UC/CSU Caution: If students earn college credit beyond the summer after graduation from high school, the UCs and CSUs will no longer view them as Freshmen. The UCs and CSUs accept very few lower-division transfer students. Students who earn college credit in the academic year after high school and want to attend the UC or CSU after their Gap Year will have a better chance of being admitted if they attend community college to complete their general education requirements (generally completed in 2 years), then transfer to a UC or CSU as a Junior.


Volunteering in the College and Career Center

The College and Career Center is located on the 1st floor of the Tower Building and is staffed by more than 40 parent volunteers (parents of current 10-12th grade students, only); they serve students and support our college and career advisors by performing administrative tasks and acting as the C&CC receptionist during a weekly 2 hour shift.

Opportunities to work as a substitute or on special projects might also be available. Parents who sign up and work as substitutes and/or who work on special projects, will have priority for open "regular" shifts the following school year. To keep things running smoothly and seamlessly from year to year, we rely on returning volunteers for their experience in helping the CCC run efficiently; returning "regular shift" volunteers have priority over all others.

Registration & Training - 2019 - 2020 school year

All returning parent volunteers are *required* to come to the Returning Volunteer Meeting on Wed. Aug. 14th at 9:00 AM in the library.

Parents of 10th, 11th and 12th graders who would like to become new volunteers, substitutes, or work on special projects *must* come to a New Volunteer Training Meeting on Thurs., Aug. 15th at 9 AM in the library.  We currently have 8 open shifts:
- Mondays 8:05 
- Mondays 9:45
- Mondays 11:30
- Tuesdays 8:05 (2 open spots)
- Wednesdays 1:30
- Fridays 9:45 (2 open spots)
...and the following special project positions:
● Scholarship Data Entry & Publicity (1-2 volunteers)
Enter scholarship opportunities into Naviance database to make available for Paly families and send summary to the PalyLink to publicize them. Will need to stop by the College Center once a week to pick up scholarship listings (often printed emails or flyers received via US Mail) but can do data entry at home.
● College Interview Notes Data Entry (1 more volunteer needed)
Enter notes from college rep visits in Fall, into the Counselor Notes section of Naviance, to make accessible for all Paly families. Pick up copy of college interview forms once a week and do data entry from home Aug. - Dec.
● Parent Liaison for Career Speakers Series (1-2 volunteers)
Meet with Career Speakers student committee and help organize two week Speaker Series that is held in the spring, late February/March; coordinate with staff leads: Beth Martin & Karla Larson (monthly Nov. - Jan.; weekly Jan. - Feb.; daily, 2 weeks of speaker series).

Available shifts will be assigned on a lottery basis with priority given to 12th grade, 11th grade, and 10th grade parents. Attendance at the training is required in order to be eligible to volunteer in C &CC.

New/resuming shifts begin the week of August 14th. For more information, contact C&CC Volunteer Coordinators: Michelle Baldonado  ( or Jennifer Seto  (

The C&CC holds an open house after each parent night in the Fall so there are other opportunities to get to know more about C&CC. There is also a wealth of information in Naviance.

Fee Waivers for SAT, ACT, AP, & College Applications

Enrollment in the Free and Reduced-Meal Program qualifies students for fee waivers for:

  • SAT test registration (Reasoning and Subject tests)
  • ACT test registration
  • college applications
  • official test scores report orders
  • official transcript orders

Please see a College or Career Advisor to request a fee waiver for the items above.  For fee waivers for AP exams, please contact Assistant Principal John Christensen.

The school site doesn’t receive a list of students who qualify for the program so it’s important that you bring your Notification Letter of Approval of Free and Reduced-Price Meals to Outreach Counselor, Ms. Crystal Laguna (in Guidance). We ensure confidentiality in this matter; your privacy is important to us.