Chance and reverse chance a CA junior!

ok hi everyone !! i know i’m basically doing this type of post once a month at this point but college app season is coming up and I’m getting increasingly anxious lol. so I’m back.


  • US citizen
  • State/Location of residency: California
  • Type of high school: large mediocre public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): female, Asian (first generation Chinese-American)
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): for some colleges I’m considered a first-gen (parents graduated from Chinese unis)

Intended Major(s) Poli Sci / International Relations (looking to go into journalism)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.95
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.1 (I think 1 pt for APs and 0.5 for UC honors)
  • UC GPA: 4.33
  • Class Rank: n/a, no percentages either
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1470 1st take (750 EBRW, 720 M). retaking in august


  • APs: taking AP Lang, APUSH, AP Chinese this year. presumably taking AP Spanish, AP Lit, AP Gov, AP Stats next year. no scores yet, obviously
  • By the time I graduate I’ll have 80 language credits (8 language courses, essentially). Also will have taken 4 years of math but only 2 years of science. not looking to go into STEM but probably a concern for top colleges?


  • QuestBridge College Prep Scholar
  • By the time I graduate, probably Seal of Triliteracy (English, Chinese, Spanish)
  • Regional Gold Key, Critical Essay - Scholastic Art & Essay contest 2020
  • Regional Honorable Mention, Critical Essay - Scholastic Art & Essay contest 2021
  • Los Condecorados - top honor for juniors in our school. not sure how many get this but I’m guessing around 20-30 in a class of 500-600, nominated by teachers over 3 rounds of deliberation

Extracurriculars (will include presumptive 12th grade positions)

  • Speech & Debate (9, 11 - general member [ did not participate in 10th grade due to personal circumstances ] 12 - probably will be event captain, maybe JV chair)
  • Red Cross (11 - general member, 12 - art chair)
  • FARMS: local student-run organization to feed local families + help in food drives (11-12 - English Outreach Coordinator)
  • AP Ambassadors: tutoring, basically (11-12 - Publicity/Communications Co-Chair)
  • Link Crew (12, I think I have a pretty good chance, results should come out within the next month)
  • Key Club (11 - general member, 12 - hopefully art chair? if not oh well)
  • School newspaper (12)
  • will represent my school at CA Girl’s State this summer, also waiting on results from QB-affiliated summer programs (YYGS, UChicago pre-college, Notre Dame pre-college, Pioneer research program)

I’m a pretty strong essay writer and I have great mentors so i’d guess an 7-9/10. depending on the prompt, some may not be as effective because my dad will be reading all my essays. hoping for strong LORs, already have a strong LOR lined up from my debate coach. maybe 8/10 for them collectively

Cost Constraints / Budget
need major aid. FAFSA EFC is roughly estimated to be no more than 2k. some (very very very roughly estimated) NPCs mostly just tell me to contribute by work-study, ranging from 2k - 8k in work-study. will calculate this a bit more specifically for more colleges.

will also be applying through QB next year.

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)

  • ASU (may use WUE and try to aim for scholarships)


  • Match

  • UC Irvine (any scholarships)

  • UC Davis (regents?)

  • GWU (huge maybe)

  • Reach

  • Stanford (my dream school, probably through QB)

  • UCLA (my ““realistic”” dream school, regents?)

  • UC Berkeley (regents?)

  • Georgetown (maybe)

  • Harvard

  • QuestBridge Schools

  • Stanford (the only definite one I have on my list right now)

  • others I’m considering: Boston University, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Northwestern, Northeastern, Rice, UPenn, Yale, Swarthmore.

ANY insight is greatly appreciated !!! let me know if I should consider any schools or reconsider my categorization. for QB schools, I have very little definite school choices since it’s binding but I may apply to most? some? of these if it comes to the RD round. another thing to note is that my dad is strongly opposed to LACs and any institutions that end in “College”. this may complicate my applications process but I’m not sure by how much. my debate coach has also nominated me for Posse but I’m not sure how that’s going to work out for me.

Try USC also, They would be a good school for your list.

hi :]] i’m not really interested in USC which is why I intentionally didn’t put them on the list. I live relatively near there and I’ve been on the campus. the vibe just isn’t for me and lowkey threw me off so i’m not considering it. thank you tho !

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Wow, okay! I’m super sorry to hear that! That makes sense though. Thank you for your politeness! I’m hoping to apply to USC but I live in Virginia. Best of luck to wherever you decide to go!

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omg best of luck to you !! usc is an amazing school but it is not the school for me. i believe in you :]]

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I don’t do change me threads, but I will offer this advice…nearly all lists these days are far to reach heavy, safety soft and not well enough researched for matches. Do as @thumper1 says…build from the bottom. Find certain and affordable admits that excite you and build from there. It’s much more challenging than naming a bunch of long shots. Good luck!


hello !! i recognize you from the “do i have any chance for ivies with 2 Bs” thread lol. i am trying to build from the bottom but the main issue is that my dad, I think, really looks at the numbers a lot. anything with a 50% or above admission rate is basically not acceptable. i also like to aim high myself (as my heavy reaches indicate) but I think this has left me a little aimless and not knowing where to start for safeties and even matches. i do think he’s slightly disappointed that my numbers and ECs are not well enough to make some more traditional “low-reach” schools my matches. so it’s a little disorienting for me. thank you for the advice though !! i appreciate it a lot.

edit: 50% or below → 50% or above


What Can and will your parents be able to contribute to your college costs each year?

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hi :)) i still need to run more accurate NPCs and EFC but while it’s not an EFC 0 situation, it’s pretty close. as i said, EFC is 2k with rough estimates and maybe 3k at the most if i get more accurate numbers. i think they’ve expressed in the past that they’re not able to contribute a lot. I will be applying to a lot of scholarships and honestly hoping for the best in QB. I also have twin brothers 2 years younger than me so it would complicate things.

Do you mean anything with a 50% or above acceptance rate is unacceptable?

If so, this is HIGHLY flawed thinking. Acceptance rate tells you one and only one thing, how popular a school is in the minds of the current applicant pool. It’s a self reinforcing metric. Students and families wrongly assume that if it’s hard to get in it must be good. Caveat Emptor is all I can say to that. Some of the highest ranked, lowest acceptance rate schools in the nation have giant classes, heavy reliance on TAs and generally poorly regarded undergraduate teaching. Some great schools let more than 50% in.

I know nothing about PoliSci/IR, but if journalism is your goal, you could do worse for a safety than the University of Missouri. They were the first J School in the nation and still well regarded. You’d get in and you’d likely get good money.


yes sorry i meant above LOL. overall you know, Asian parents are numbers-heavy. He views things more holistically than other parents I think but i’ve kind of imbued myself with a type of tunnel vision? if that’s the right word. I will definitely look for more less selective colleges. one thing I would like to avoid is CSUs… CSULA is 15 minutes away from my house and I have no intention of going there. I also don’t like CSU’s in general? so I guess I’ll look farther away.

journalism is my career goal but not my intended major. I’ve received a lot of advice on this and I think journalism as a major is not my path. I’m more heavily interested in poli sci / IR anyways so I think this is a win-win for me. thank you for the advice about University of Missouri !! a little iffy on the location (i’d prefer either West or East Coast, with the outlier of Rice LOL) but I’ll definitely look into it. thank you !

That’s a pretty sweeping generalization. Why?

no offense to any CSU alum and im aware this might come off as a bit… elitist? idk the word for it but i hope you get the idea. simply put, i have higher expectations for myself. in my mind, UCs are my baseline. im so sorry if this comes off as elitist or anything like that, i just like to think that i’m high achieving. also the fact that my local CSU’s (LA, even LB) have been my base impression of all CSUs and I just don’t like them vibe-wise. not sure if i’m explaining all this properly but i’d really rather go to a UC because i think i have a decent shot at them.

Granted it was for engineering, but my son could have gone nearly anywhere and he chose to go to Cal Poly from out of state. He didn’t apply to any UCs. He would have gotten in because he had classmates with lower stats get into both UCB and UCLA.

So the question is why? He felt that if he wanted to go to a school with giant lectures and heavy reliance on TAs he would have simply gone to Oregon State or a WUE public where they gave him a boatload of money. He paid no attention whatsoever to rankings (although CP ranked #2 in his major), but instead tried to vet what the teaching and student experience would be like. Cal Poly is not CSULA. The vibe is VERY different.

Again, not pitching Cal Poly or any CSU, but for PoliSci, CP usually expects over 1500 applicants for 77 slots. Assuming a 33% yield, that’s 15%. Not exactly a slam dunk. :wink:

One of his HS classmates went to an Ivy League school and is currently grossly under employed, while he works for a startup and not quite two years into his career is in the 90th percentile for salary.

I’m not saying that you should consider CSULA, or any other CSU for that matter, but painting with such broad strokes covers the nuances.

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If you are not within the CSULB local admission areas, then it is not a Safety but a solid Match school. When you look at # of Cal states within California vs. UC’s, the CSU’s graduate more highly productive students than the UC’s. CSU’s like San Diego State, Cal Poly SLO and even Cal Poly Pomona have majors that have acceptance rates lower than some of the UC’s, so your perspective is your perspective but a bit skewed.

Regents or any significant Merit scholarships for the UC’s make these Reach schools. Regular admission to UCI and UCD would put them in the Match category however. If your EFC is low, you should get a decent amount of need-based financial aid from the UC’s which hopefully will make them affordable. Definitely run the NPC’s.

I would agree that you need to work on your college list and if CSULB is not a school you are willing to attend, then do not add it to your list. A safety school has be school you are willing to attend no matter what.

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@Gumbymom knows this as well as anyone as she’s the UC/CSU forum champion. She sees families every year perplexed at getting into UCB or UCLA, but rejected at Cal Poly. They rejected more than 15,000 4.0+ (UC/CSU capped and weighted) applicants this year. CP’s admissions are not holistic, but rather algorithm driven, no squishy essays or subjectivity, just brute force data.

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Arizona State University offers WUE for programs and majors on campuses other than the main Tempe campus. Check the WUE list carefully before assuming that you can get it.

Also, check its scholarship estimator to see if it is affordable.


Make sure you put your intended major in as some schools offer WUE selectively by major.

It’s understandable that CSULB or CSULA might not be your cup of tea. There are lots of good affordable safety options. The trick is finding one that resonates with what you want out of a school beyond prestige.

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you will have lots of options I am sure. I’d probably add LMU, USD and Santa Clara as schools likely to offer significant merit aid.

i a curious though. what about the vibe of USC?

of course :]] i’ll try to get rid of some of my stereotypes but it’ll be hard lol. thank you !!