California schools and non-academic factors in application review

which CA schools would have non-academic factors weighted higher? i have twins - one who has a higher GPA (~4.6/4.7) and another @ 3.9… it seems the UCs are very focus on GPA as the gating factor first and then the factors - is that right? does the major they apply to have a determining factor in getting in?

In general, any school that does a holistic review of applicants will weight non-academic factors more in determining an applicants fit than just using academic stats.

All schools are going to use GPA as a gating factor, but even the UC’s consider special talents, achievements, leadership qualities, community service etc… The issue with the UC’s is that each campus is given free rein to determine how each of these areas are weighted in their application review so UC decision results vary greatly.

Private universities tend to be more holistic by requesting specific essay topics and letters of recommendation in addition to normal application information: Grades, EC’s, Awards etc…

Major can also play an important part in determining which schools to consider and also how they admit into the major.

Some schools admit directly into the major. Others do not admit by major but may require a competitive secondary admission process to declare a major. Some admit into the University and then the student is free to explore their interests and then declare a major. Some schools are a combination of direct admit for some colleges within the University especially Engineering and then have a College that does not admit by major.

My advice is apply widely to a variety of colleges. Start at the bottom and find 2 Likely/Safety schools that are affordable, guarantee admission and your students are willing to attend. Then you can branch out to find some Match and Reach schools.

If you are a California resident, consider your local Cal state as a Likely.

Budget, major and type of college experience will help narrow your choices.


Most of the UCs get more than 100k aps each year to fill perhaps 10k seats. Most of them are reasonably well qualified so, they have to have some pretty frim standards like GPA, and # of a-g classes as screening criteria or they’d never get to the bottom of the stack.

CSUs also have really rigorous course requirements (a-g) if you miss one, the rest of the ap isn’t even reviewed. The popular ones also get over 100k aps

The less selective privates have much more flexibly to find a diamond in the rough (Redlands, Chapman, CalBaptist, UOP, LMU for example.

Surprisingly OOS publics are much more flexible about required classes.

tell us about your situation for more specific info