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How should I go about a weak course load on applications?

I am applying in the fall (hs c/o 21), but I am wondering about my chances for UC schools like UCB and UCSB.

[so far] I have a 4.o UW and a 4.17 w, but I have taken relatively easy classes. All regular except for honors/ap English, accelerated math [calculus junior year], so how much will this hurt my application? I had some mental health issues during my first two years of HS and was anxious about overloading myself when it came time to choose classes. I will say that I have strong EC's, with a lot of community involvement and leadership roles.

Keep in mind that I go to a competitive private school, and the majority of my peers take 2 AP classes on average. I also plan on taking 3 AP classes my senior year (hoping that UC schools look at senior courses) in hopes of addressing the issue?

So how much will a weak courseload hurt if I still have all A's?
4 replies
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Replies to: How should I go about a weak course load on applications?

  • izrk02izrk02 Forum Champion American U. 1086 replies51 threads Forum Champion
    How many APs/honors does your school offer? It doesn't seem like they offer a lot if the average is 2 or 3 classes per year. Schools will review your application in the context of your school's course offerings.

    Also you should calculate your UC gpa: https://rogerhub.com/gpa-calculator-uc/
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 30503 replies414 threads Forum Champion
    HS course rigor is considered Very Important in the UC application review but as stated above, you will be evaluated in the context of your HS plus you have a compelling reason for taking a lighter load. You could address your lighter workload in one of your personal insight essays but I would refrain from specifically stating they were mental health issues (a big red flag for admissions).

    UC’s do consider your Senior courses in progress during their application review, so it will show that you are challenging yourself.

    Definitely calculate your UC GPA’s: Unweighted, Capped Weighted and Fully weighted since UCLA and UCB will consider all three.

    You can look up which AP/Honors classes are UC approved for the extra weighting in the UC GPA calculation and post your results.


    Unfortunately since the UC’s are going test optional, GPA and HS course rigor will have an even greater impact on admission chances.

    Consider UCLA and UCB Reach schools regardless of your qualifications and form a balanced college list with a couple of safety schools, several match schools and the finally a few reach schools.

    Some UC admit data below based on the Capped weighted UC GPA. Intended major will also play a large part in your chances since many competitive majors such as Engineering/CS/Biology/Psychology etc.. will have higher GPA thresholds.

    2019 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.80-4.19 capped weighted and not major specific:
    UCB: 12%
    UCLA: 7%
    UCSD: 33%
    UCSB: 32%
    UCD: 47%
    UCI: 35%
    UCSC: 72%
    UCR: 87%
    UCM: 96%

    2019 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 4.20 or above capped weighted and not major specific:
    UCB: 38%
    UCLA: 35%
    UCSD: 71%
    UCSB: 73%
    UCD: 84%
    UCI: 55%
    UCSC: 85%
    UCR: 97%
    UCM: 98%

    2019 UC capped weighted GPA averages along with 25th-75th percentile range:
    UCB: 4.23 (4.15-4.30)
    UCLA: 4.25 (4.18-4.32)
    UCSD: 4.16 (4.03-4.28)
    UCSB: 4.16 (4.04-4.28)
    UCI: 4.13 (4.00-4.25)
    UCD: 4.13 (4.00-4.26)
    UCSC: 3.96 (3.76-4.16)
    UCR: 3.90 (3.69-4.11)
    UCM: 3.73 (3.45-4.00)

    Best of luck.
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  • NCalRentNCalRent 6405 replies14 threads Senior Member
    you have straight As in a competitive school and in some challenging classes - nothing to apologize for. Due to all of the gap year kids and the UC defocusing on SAT/ACT, next year is going to be brutally competitive and really hard to game out - especially for LA and B.

    I strongly suggest you apply really broadly - include SDSU and a couple of privates, (maybe LMU and USD) who might make you an offer you can't refuse...

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  • AMCdadAMCdad 329 replies7 threads Member
    High school rigor is both the difficulty of the classes (Honors, AP, IB) and the amount of A-G classes taken. How many years of high school Math, English, Science, and World Language will you have once you graduate? How many years of Social Science and college prep electives?

    My daughter and her boyfriend both got into Cal Poly. She had twice as many Honors/AP classes than he did, but he had the same amount of A-G classes and a slightly higher GPA.
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