Like all UC's, UC eligibility is firmly placed at the 3.0 line.
Merced however admits some under this line, but don't bank on it. Your best option is to go to community college for two years, try your hardest, and transfer into any UC you wish, and Cal/UCLA are options.
Not to be mean Cowbell, as I really like what you are doing - talking about the school and being a great informer for those interested, but that statement does not have much substance.
First of all, admission percents don't mean much. If 100 random people applied to Harvard and then also applied to UCSC. Do you think that 80 would get into to Santa Cruz and 25 into Harvard. Well thats what the admission percent says! To me, admission percents means that those who think they have some chance will apply to UCSC and UCSC will take 80%. Likewise, Harvard only accepts 25% of people qualified for an Harvard education.
The only thing to rely on when comparing schools, is score averages and GPA averages. Clearly Merced is on the lower spectrum in this respect as you hear about people having a below 3.0 getting in. This year you are lucky to get into UCSC with a 3.4 and good SAT scores.
Thanks, I try to be unbiased about this place....but nontheless I find some fallacies in your argument.
Likening UCSC to Harvard is fundamentally wrong. The two are no more alike than I am to Bill gates, or a pebble is to Mt. Everest. UCSC and UC Merced have VERY similar applicant pools, basically everyone who does not believe they will be accepted to the "better" UC's. To say that UCSC is more selective than UC Merced would be to imply that they have different standards (as you argued UCSC=Harvard, while Merced=...while Merced) This argument cant be just in the context of admissions in the UC system, because BOTH UCSC and UC Merced will admit ANYONE who is quilifies for a UC education, which is pretty simple seeing how you just need to take 2 years math, art, etc. in highschool. People get into UCSC with >2.8's, lets not kid ourselves....
With all that said (sry I may even be slightly rambling...its 2 am) the difference between UCSC and Merced is negligable with respect to prestige, difficulity, and student body.
I have found fallacies in your statement, like you did for me.
You stated that UCSC accepts all UC eligible students. This is not true. The only schools that accept all UC eligible students are Merced and Riverside. If you check the UCSC forums, several people with 3.4 GPAs and 1700-1800 SATs were rejected from UCSC, as that was the borderline.
I was not physically comparing UCSC to Harvard, I was simply stating the admission percents mean absolutely nothing, which you were trying to state as a plus for Merced.
In the past, yes UCSC was easier to get into, but a year like this one, with a 15% increase of apps in the case of UCSC, they had to deny admission to many people, and just being UC eligible did not grant you admission. Riverside and Merced still go by this code though.
As far as prestige goes, you could argue that the two schools are around the same. But you would also have to argue that UCSC = Davis as far as prestige goes. Sure it is arguable, but the fact of the matter is that UCSC ranks nationally in the top 100 universities (number 80 or so) whereas Merced does not. This does not mean that some day (10-20 years from now) it will still be where it is today, but schools take time to develop and Merced has not had that chance yet.