Counseling FAQs

      • How do I meet with a counselor?
        • Students - come by before school, tutorial, lunch or after school. If your counselor is not available, leave a note or send an email
        • Parents - email or call to set up an appointment and have questions answered. And be sure to read our FAQs below to see if your question is on there!
      • How to change a class?
        • Students may request a change from one course to another through the first two weeks of school. Requests can be either approved or denied by school officials depending on circumstances. Year long classes cannot be dropped at the semester. Additionally, AP and Honors classes are a year long commitment.  
      • How to drop a class?
        • Meet with your counselor to discuss options, classes dropped after 6 weeks will receive an automatic Withdraw “F” on a student’s transcript.
      • Repeating classes for Ds/Fs?
        • If a student receives a D or F in a college prep (A-G) course, that course can be repeated to earn a higher grade for college eligibility. Options can be in class, online, or through outside programs/schools. Keep in mind that credit can only be given for the repeated course. Talk with your counselor for more information.
      • Grading terms - progress grades versus semester grades.
        • Progress grades are given every six weeks and are used to determine academic eligibility for athletics and work permits. Colleges do not see progress grades and these grades do not earn students credits.
        • Semester grades are final and are posted on transcripts and are a part of a student’s permanent record.
      • How to take a SRJC class?
        • Create a SRJC account online
        • Look at the online schedule (updated each semester)
        • Complete a concurrent enrollment form
        • Get appropriate signatures and review with counselor
        • Turn the form into SRJC (in person or fax)
        • Take any placement tests needed (English, Math and Language)
        • Enroll on registration date
        • Show counselor proof of enrollment
        • Please note that SRJC classes can be used for dual enrollment - meaning a student can earn both college and high school credits. A 1.5 unit class is equal to 5 high school credits. A 3 or 4 unit class is equal to 10 high school credits. Keep in mind that junior college classes go on a student’s permanent college record. Talk with your counselor about what classes are right for your student.
      • What are A-G requirements & college prep classes?
        • A-G requirements are the minimum requirements a student must meet to be eligible for a CSU or UC college. Students must receive grades of Cs or higher in all A-G coursework and it must be completed by a student’s senior year. College preparatory courses are designed for academically proficient students to prepare them for their post secondary education. For a current list of Petaluma High School’s approved A-G courses, visit the UC Doorways website.
      • Earning credits/grade level designation
        • Semester grades of A, B, C or D earn five credits. Grades of F do not award any credit and core courses must be repeated to earn credits. The following credits are recommended by the end of each school year:
          • Freshman: 60+ credits
          • Sophomore: 120+ credits
          • Junior: 160+ credits
          • Senior: 220 credits needed for graduation
      • How is GPA determined?
        • The GPA computation is based off a grading system of A = 4 points, B = 3 points, C = 2 points, D = 1 point, and F = 0 points. Advanced Placement (AP) and some Honors courses earn a grade bump, A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 1. These courses are indicated with a + on the transcript.
      • When and how can a student have an off period?
        • Students must be enrolled in a total of six classes during their 9th, 10th, and 11th grade year. In 12th grade, a student may have an off period if their credits are in good standing and must get permission from parent/guardian, counselor, and administrator. Seniors must be in at least five classes in the first semester, and at least four classes in the second semester.
      • What are AP & Honors classes?
        • Petaluma High School offers a wide variety of Advanced Placement and Honors courses. The courses are designed to help enrich a student’s learning experience and in the case of AP classes, gives the student a chance to earn college credits if they take (and pass) the AP exams given in the spring through College Board. All AP classes receive a grade bump and certain Honors classes receive a grade bump as well. Students interested in taking multiple AP/Honors classes in the same school year are advised to talk with the teachers, parents, and their counselor on the rigour and time commitment of multiple courses as they are year long commitments. All students who meet course prerequisites shall have equal access to Advanced Placement courses.
      • How can I use a PE Waiver to exempt from PE?
        • Starting with their sophomore year, students can waive a semester of PE (to be replaced with elective credits) for each season of a PHS sport that they play. In order to apply for a waiver:
          • Student athletes must have taken and passed physical education in grade 9 with a grade of “C” or better.
          • Student athletes must score in the “healthy fitness zone” in five of the six fitness areas tested in grade 9 as measured by the FITNESSGRAM.
          • Student athletes must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA (Total GPA), for each grading period during the period of exemption.
          • The exempted physical education course must be replaced with another course, which cannot be an unscheduled (free) period, and student athletes must maintain a full class load, during the period of exemption. Students may only replace the exempted physical education course with Independent Work Experience (IWE) under special circumstances with administrative approval.
          • For each full season of sport completed in grades 10 and/or 11, student athletes will be exempted from physical education for one semester.
          • During the annual course registration window, or upon new enrollment, a student athlete must notify his/her counselor of his/her intent to apply for a Physical Education Exemption Based on Interscholastic Athletic Program Participation, so that the student athlete is scheduled appropriately.
          • At the conclusion of each season of sport the student athlete must complete this application, which has been signed by the student athlete, and his/her parent/guardian. The athletic director will confirm completion of the season of sport and sign the application. Completed forms should be turned into the athletic secretary for review.
      • Athletics
        • Students that want to participate in athletics at PHS must complete medical clearance and must maintain a 2.0 GPA.
      • NCAA
        • Student considering participation in NCAA college level sports need to register with the NCAA clearinghouse to establish eligibility. It is recommended that they start this by the end of their sophomore year. For more information visit:
      • CAASPP/EAP:
        • The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System will have a direct impact on the California State University's (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP).
        • The CAASPP test is used by community colleges and the CSU to determine readiness for college level coursework.  Students who do well on the CAASPP can avoid taking placement exams.
        • The EAP was developed by the CSU in collaboration with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education and is accepted by participating CCC campuses as well as the CSU. All grade eleven students who participate in the English and mathematics CAASPP examination will achieve a performance level that will be used for the EAP.
        • All students who are identified at achievement level 4 in English or Math are ready for college level work and can register in college bearing courses upon entering a CSU or California Community College.
        • All students who are identified at achievement level 3 in English or Math are conditionally ready for college level work and will need to take an approved English class (ERWC, AP English 12 or outside college course) or Math class (Math Analysis Honors, AP Statistics, or AP Calculus) to be exempt from placement testing after admission to CSU. Upon completion of these courses with a “C” or higher, students can enroll in college level courses at CSU or CCC.
      • AP Testing
      • College Entrance Exams (SAT & ACT)
      • PSAT
        • The PSAT is tightly aligned with the SAT, these exams provide students and educators a chance to check on student programs. It is recommended that sophomores and juniors take this test in October. It is proctored through PHS each year on the National Test Date chosen by College Board.
      • When will my student complete a four  year plan?
        • Counselors will work on four year plans with all freshman in the fall semester in small groups. These documents are made on Google documents so students have the opportunity to revise and revisit them.  It is recommended to review them each year during the course registration timeline (January-February).
      • What are the PHS graduation requirements?
        • English - 40 credits or 4 years
        • Mathematics - 20 credits or 2 years (minimum of Math 1 must be completed)
        • Life Science - 10 credits or 1 year
        • Physical Science - 10 credits or 1 year
        • World History - 10 credits or 1 year
        • US History - 10 credits or 1 year
        • American Government - 5 credits or 1 semester
        • Economics - 5 credits or 1 semester
        • Physical Education - 20 credits or 2 years
        • Foreign Language or Visual Performing Arts or CTE a-g - 10 credits or 1 year
      • What is the Petaluma High School code?
        • 052460
      • Financial Aid
      • Transcripts
      • California Scholarship Federation (CSF):
        • Students can start applying to be a member of CSF in their sophomore year. Previous semester grades determine membership. Applications must be completed in the first 4 weeks of each semester.
      • What is NHS?
        • The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Membership is based on the previous semester’s grades and discipline record. Membership is for one semester only.  You must reapply each semester!
        • How do I become a member?
          • To join National Honor society at Petaluma High School you must meet the following criteria:

        • Have a GPA of 3.0 for the semester.

        • Have no suspensions or discipline contracts active during the semester.

        • Be prepared to complete 10 hours of community service during the upcoming semester.


    • What is CSF?
    • The California Scholarship Federation (CSF) is a state-wide organization that honors outstanding high school students.  The purposes of CSF are to foster a high standard of scholarship and to give recognition to academic excellence.  Membership is based on the previous semester’s grades in specific required courses. Membership is  for one semester only.  You must reapply each semester!
    • Life membership (seal bearer status) is awarded to students who have qualified and joined CSF for 4 semesters during the 10th -12th grades, including one semester in the senior year.  At graduation, life members receive an honorary gold cord, CSF pin, CSF certificate, & the CSF seal on their diploma with recognition on their transcript. 100% members must have qualified and become a CSF member for all six semesters during grades 10-12.  In addition to the seal bearer awards, 100% members receive a gold tassel to wear at graduation.
    • How do I become a member? To qualify, the student must have at least 10 points, A’s counting 3 points, B’s one point, and C’s no points.  (A’s & B’s in honor classes receive 1 extra point – 2 points maximum).  D’s and F’s disqualify a student from membership.  There is a list of qualifying classes on the back of the application form. PE or IWE grades do not count.  Second semester freshmen and first semester sophomores may become Associate Members with full membership privileges, but this membership does not count towards the awards.


    • Types of schools:
      • Community colleges
      • Private colleges
      • CSU
      • UC (top 9% and ELC)
      • Technical & Business Schools
      • Apprenticeship
    • Alternative Schools:
      • If a student finds that PHS is not the right fit for them, they should meet with their counselor to discuss options. In Petaluma City Schools, alternative high schools are: Carpe Diem HS, Sonoma Mountain HS, Valley Oaks HS, and San Antonio HS. Once a student discusses with their counselor and their parents, the student should make an appointment to meet with the principal of that high school.  Transition meetings where transfers are approved or denied happen once a month.
    • Community Service:
      • Eight (8) hours of community service are required for freshman taking human interaction. Students that complete 100+ hours of community service in high school will be recognized at graduation. See college and career center for more information.
    • Work Permits:
      • All students under age 18 must have a valid work permit to be employed (including vacations and summer break). Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. Work permits are issued for one year and expire every August. Work permits may be revoked at any time if attendance and graduation requirements are not being met.
    • Golden State Seal Merit:
      • To be eligible to receive the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma upon graduation, students shall complete all requirements for a high school diploma and shall demonstrate a mastery of at least six subject areas, four of which shall be mathematics, English language arts, science and United States history, with the remaining two subject areas selected by the student.
    • How to send ACT/SAT scores to colleges: 
      • Scores must be sent directly to colleges from the College Board or ACT. Neither you, the student, nor Petaluma HS, can send an official set of scores – it must come directly from the testing service.


        1. When you register for your last SAT, request that your scores be sent to four colleges. When you register, you receive four free reports – this will save you $44.00.

        a. You will be asked which of your SAT scores you would like to have sent to schools.



        2. If you apply to more colleges, request that a report be sent to the other colleges to which you plan to apply.

        • If you take another SAT after you request your score reports, you will need to send your scores again. So, be sure to send your scores after registering for the LAST SAT you will take (Reasoning or Subject Tests).

         You can request score reports:

        • Online: at
        • Telephone: (866) 756-7346 (extra fee charged for this option)


        Choose your highest score and request that report to be sent to the colleges. (THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM THE SAT PROGRAM.)  If you took the ACT multiple times and your highest sub-scores are split between multiple tests, we recommend sending both (or all) of your ACT scores, even though this will result in a higher fee.


        Same process as above. If you request scores to be sent to four colleges when you register, you will save $44.00.

        You can request scores reports:

        • Online at:  
        • Telephone: (319) 337-1313 (there is an extra charge for this option)


        If you are applying to the University of California:

        Remember that they require an SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT with Writing. SAT Subject Tests are not required, but may be helpful in admissions, so they should be sent to UC if you have taken them.

        • They will accept scores through the December test date if there is no delay (ie. late registration, changes between registering and the test date)
        • If you check the box on Step 8 of the UC application authorizing release of your records, when you go to the ACT & SAT websites you should send your scores to only one UC campus. Checking the box in step 8 allows UC’s to share scores, and your scores will be seen by every UC you are applying to. This will save you money if you are applying to more than one UC.


        If you are applying to the CSU’s:


        Remember that they take the highest sub-score for each test. It is to your advantage to send ALL scores for every test you have taken.

        • You may send SAT scores to all CSU’s by sending them to CSU Mentor at code #3594 on the send scores link on the Collegeboard website. Sending scores to this one code allows all CSU’s to receive the scores.
        • For ACT scores, you must first send scores to one CSU campus through the ACT website. Once scores have been sent to one CSU campus, you may then follow instructions on the ACT Score Manager link on CSU Mentor to send scores to other CSU campuses for free.


        For more information on sending scores, go to the following web pages: