Palo Alto High School's Sandra Cernobori is our Counselor of the Month


College Advisor Sandra Cernobori was sitting at her desk in the College and Career Center of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California, when a parent came in to talk to one of her colleagues. She was not a parent at the school, but had some questions about college admission. A few minutes into the conversation, the visitor said to Cernobori’s fellow advisor, “Let me go get my son, I want him to hear this.” Whereupon she brought into the office her 18-month-old child. Yes, you read that correctly, her 18-month-old child.

Welcome to the world of college advising in the heart of Silicon Valley where the college learning curve -- and the pressure -- starts early for some.  Founded in 1894, Palo Alto High School, known as Paly, is nationally known for its academically rigorous environment. Its campus, which serves more than 1900 students, sits across the street from Stanford University. “Our students are often from families that are highly educated or highly value education, so expectations are high,” says Cernobori. “But we also have families where the parents have not attended four-year colleges.”

Juniors: Preparing for the SAT or ACT


This marks the first in our weekly reminders for juniors starting the college application process. Each week, we'll be providing information, checklist items and advice on applying --  testing, researching colleges, first college visits and more.

First up?

Keep your eye out for an opportunity to take the PSAT or PLAN. The best preparation for the SAT and ACT is to challenge yourself with rigorous courses in the classroom and read, read, read.  But familiarity with the tests and practice can increase scores up to a point. The PSAT, offered by the College Board, and PLAN, offered by ACT, are practice tests meant to prepare you for the SAT and ACT. Your answers and the correct answers are available with the score report -- good feedback that will show you where you need to improve. The PSAT is offered every October by the College Board, but you register through your high school.  The PLAN is administered at the discretion of the high school or school district. Stay alert for announcements about the PSAT and PLAN and follow up. If you haven't heard of anyone taking these tests at your school, check with your guidance counselor about them.