Academic Counseling

Jonathon Molnar, Dean of Academics


The Dean of Academics is one aspect of each student’s team, which also includes: student, parent, and Class Advisors. Each student has the opportunity to plan their high school coursework that will lead not only to a high school diploma, but also to shaping their future path at the same time. This team also assists students to excel in current coursework, but sometimes difficulties arise. When this happens, whether it be social, emotional or academic, the team can meet to discuss and brainstorm options that will support each student. Students’ Class Advisors’ contact information are available upon request.

Graduation Requirements & Expectations

Bitney Prep High School has two graduation requirements: (1) completion of the subject requirements (see table below) and (2) completion of 150 hours of Community Service (less for incoming Junior and Senior transfers). The requirement to pass both sections of the California High School Exit Exam has been suspended indefinitely by the California State legislature.

Graduation Requirements

Subject AreaBitney’s
UC/CSU Eligibility Requirement
World History10 creditsHistory / Social Science (“a”) 2 years required
Two units (equivalent to two years) of history/social science required, including: one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history; or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of civics or American government.
U.S. History10 credits
Government5 credits
Economics5 credits
English/Language Arts40 creditsEnglish (“b”) 4 years required
Four units (equivalent to four years) of college preparatory English composition and literature required, integrating extensive reading, frequent writing, and practice listening and speaking with different audiences. Students may only use 1 year of ESL/ELD English.
Mathematics30 creditsMathematics (“c”) 3 years required, 4 years recommended
Three units (equivalent to three years) of college-preparatory mathematics (four units are strongly recommended), including or integrating topics covered in elementary algebra, advanced algebra, and two-and three-dimensional geometry.
Life Science10 creditsLaboratory Science (“d”) 2 years required, 3 years recommended
Two units (equivalent to two years) of laboratory science are required (three units are strongly recommended), providing fundamental knowledge in two of the following: biology, chemistry, or physics.  Interdisciplinary science courses can also fulfill all or part of this requirement.
Physical Science10 credits
Foreign Language20 creditsLanguage Other than English (“e”) 2 years required, 3 years recommended
Two units (equivalent to two years, or through the second level of high school instruction) of the same language other than English (three units recommended).
Visual/Performing Arts10 creditsVisual & Performing Arts (“f”) 1 year required
One unit (equivalent to one year) required, chosen from one of the following categories: Maker Space, dance, music, theater, or visual arts (e.g., painting, web/graphic design, film/video, inter/multimedia arts).
Computer Technology10 creditsN/A
Physical Education20 creditsN/A
Health5 creditsN/A
ElectivesEnough credits to earn a total of 230 credits overall.College-Preparatory Elective (“g”) 1 year required
One unit (equivalent to one year) chosen from the “a-f” courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements of the “a-f” subjects, or courses that have been approved solely in the elective area.
Total230 credits15 ‘a-g’ courses with a grade of ‘C’ or better. At least 11 of these courses must be completed prior to senior year.

College Prep Expectations

In addition to its Graduation Requirements, Bitney has expectations for each year that relate to students being prepared for entry into 4-year universities.

  • 9th Grade – Each student is required to visit one 4-year school. This visit can be anywhere in the country, or even the world, and does not necessarily need to involve an official school tour. The school visit must be verified by a parent or school tour guide.
  • 10th Grade – All student participate in a 2-day College Trip, which takes place in late Fall or early Spring. Students visit colleges, universities, trade schools and other learning opportunities.
  • 11th Grade – All students take the PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, in October. This exam often takes place during the regular school day, but can also take place on a Saturday depending on Bitney’s school schedule.
  • 12th Grade – As part of its Senior Seminar course, students are required to take the SAT exam at least once (it is common for 11th grade students to take it in the spring as well), apply to one 4-year school, and complete the financial aid process.

Course Planning

Planning students’ courses can happen several different ways. Student are advised by their Advisors as to which courses are needed to both fulfill graduation requirements as well as to prepare for future goals. Students should always seek to challenge themselves with as rigorous of a course load as they can. They should also fulfill categories such as Computer Technology and PE through their selection of Electives courses, which takes place just before each semester. The following is a traditional course sequence, though of course this will vary based on Math or Science placement and a student’s particular path through high school.


  1. English 9
  2. Algebra 1 (or Geometry, or Algebra AB)
  3. Biology
  4. Spanish 1
  5. Health/PE
  6. Study
  7. Elective (Computer Technology)
  8. Elective (PE)


  1. English 10
  2. Geometry (or Algebra 2)
  3. Chemistry (or Environmental Science)
  4. Spanish 2
  5. World History
  6. Study
  7. Elective (Computer Technology)
  8. Elective (PE)


  1. English 11
  2. Algebra 2 (or Pre-Calculus, etc.)
  3. Physics (or Environmental Science)
  4. Spanish 3
  5. U.S. History
  6. Study
  7. Elective (If needed)
  8. Elective (If needed)


  1. English 12
  2. Calculus
  3. Senior Seminar
  4. Government/Econ
  • Internship
  • Sierra College course(s)

Students should also look into the following opportunities to supplement high school courses:

Sierra College

Located a mere 10 minute walk away. Sierra College courses are a great way to begin building a college transcript with transferable coursework and take classes that are not offered at Bitney. The application/registration process can take a fair amount of time, so students should start the process early in one semester in preparation to take class(es) the next semester. It is possible to limit Bitney classes if a student is taking any Sierra classes.

Online coursework

Students can fulfill some coursework online. Currently we recommend that students use BYU – Independent Study as their online course-provider, though there are many to choose from. Courses must be pre-approved by Bitney’s Dean of Academic in order to ensure that credits will transfer into Bitney’s subject requirements.

Independent Study

With pre-approval from the Independent Study Coordinator, students can fulfill some coursework independently. Students seeking this option must have proved themselves to be dependable and able to work independently with minimal involvement by the Independent Study Coordinator. Typical courses completed this way are PE, Computer Technology-related courses, and courses needing to be made up for whatever reason.

Internships/Work Experience Education

An Internship is essentially an on-the-job, real-life learning situation. It is a job, though typically students are not paid. However, students seek an Internship where they would otherwise not be able to secure employment due to age and/or lack of experience. Recent sites include, but are not limited to, a veterinary clinic, television station, high tech broadcast company, non-profits, and many more. Students earn up to 10 credits each semester for their Internship. For more information, contact Bitney’s Internship Coordinator.

Community Service

The graduation requirements include 150 hours of community service. Please see the Community Service page for details.

College and/or Career Readiness

There are a number of things that students should do in order to be preparing for life after high school. It is not unusual for students to not know what they want to do and how to prepare, but generally the most conservative, and wisest, strategy is the prepare as if one were going to attend a 4-year University straight out of high school. Of course, there are many more routes, but this is the path that requires the most preparation.
Here are some tips for each grade level:

9th Grade

  • Take as challenging a load of courses as you can handle and get good grades!
  • Start researching schools and various options for after high school. Be aware of any particular course requirements they may have.
  • Have a life! We always have the opportunity to discover our interests and skills and then do something with them. Not that this should be your motivation, but college admissions offices love to see young people doing something with themselves that is dynamic, interesting and even life-changing. If you do not play an instrument, start. Always wanted to learn to program? Do it. You don’t need a high school class to do this, either. Find your passion and start doing it now!
  • Carefully consider your summer well in advance. Get a job, an internship, a hobby. In general, be as interesting and interested in the world as you can.

10th Grade

  • Continue to take as challenging a load of courses as you can handle and especially get good grades. Though your 9th grade year “counts,” your 10th and 11th grade years factor with more weight with regards to both college admission and financial aid. Your ability to take a Sierra College class, get a car insurance discount, obtain a Work Permit, and gain the good favor of parents and grandparents hinge upon your academic success.
  • Consider taking the PSAT. It is intended for 11th graders, but 10th graders are able, and encouraged, to take it as well.
  • Continue to be the interesting person who you are, and in tangible ways.
  • Don’t just consider doing something interesting for the summer, do it. Job, Internship, travel. You are also able to take a Sierra College class provided you meet the other criteria)

11th Grade

  • Continue to take as challenging a load of courses as you can handle and especially get good grades. Though your 9th grade year “counts,” your 10th and 11th grade years factor with more weight with regards to both college admission and financial aid.
  • Take the PSAT. Consider taking the SAT (or ACT) later in the year and then try to improve upon your score next year.
  • Seriously look into schools and even pay visits. You will be applying in a matter of months and, considering that a college education can set a direction for you life for some time to come, you may want to do this in an educated way.
  • Your summer should be jam-packed with friends, work, learning, service, adventure, sports, and maybe even an Internship. It is great for your resume, college admissions, but most importantly for your life!

12th Grade

  • Do not be lured by the notion that the senior year is the time to ease up. Continue to challenge yourself, including with your high school classes.
  • Take a Sierra College class. There are many courses that the community colleges can offer that we cannot, so take advantage. You will earn 3 times the credit, have a great-looking transcript, be around adults, and have credit that will almost certainly transfer to a 4-year university.
  • Take the SAT. Typically the last administration that will count towards Fall admissions of the next year is the December administration.
  • Apply to many schools, including a few “Match” schools, a few “Stretch” schools, and a few “Safety” schools. The timeline for applications begins October 1st typically and ends just after Thanksgiving in November. Some schools accept applications year-round, but these fall months are generally the best time-frame to go by.
  • Remember to ask your Teachers and Counselor early enough for their recommendations to give them plenty of time.
  • Apply for Financial Aid. The two main components are to (1) complete the FAFSA and (2) make sure that we submitted your GPA for the Cal Grant.
  • In the spring, review your acceptance letters and financial aid offers and consider paying another visit to schools of real interest.
  • If community college is an option, apply in the spring for the following fall.
  • Graduate

You can also find great guides online. One great one is from California Colleges and another is at College Board.There are a number of different ways to make your high school career as dynamic and interesting as possible. This could include outside programs, such as a Study abroad program. Here are a few to consider:

  • Woolman Semester – A semester-long residential program right here in Nevada City.
  • Finding The Good – Also a semester-long program based her in the Nevada City area. However, some of the semester takes place on the North San Juan ridge, and the bulk takes place in Mexico.
  • Cultural Homestay International – There are many foreign exchange programs, though CHI is the one that we are most familiar with. Students can spend a semester or a year in many different countries across the world.