Chance me! 3.95, 1520, biology or biochemistry [pre-med], CA resident


  • US citizen
  • State/Location of residency: Los Angeles, California
  • Type of high school: public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: female, Taiwanese-American
  • Other special factors: nah lol

Intended Major(s)
Biology, Biochemistry, or something pre-med related! Public health would be sick as hell too!

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.95
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): It’s over 4.0, I know that. But, I know that colleges will count some courses and not count others for points so I don’t quite know how weighted GPAs work… help would be appreciated!
  • Class Rank: School does not do class rank because everyone is too competitive. They got rid of it two years before COVID started.
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1520 SAT, did not take ACT

10 total APs if senior year is considered. But if not, then 5 APs.
AP Chem 4, AP Bio 4, APENG Lang 5, AP Calc AB 5, APUSH 3 (we don’t talk about that)

  • Currently doing AP Calc BC, AP CSP, APENG Lit, AP Physics, AP Comp Gov

I’ve also been in the school orchestra for the entirety of my highschool career.

not much: AP Scholar with Distinction, research volunteer award, piano and cello MTAC awards, csf, tri-m

  • am a UCLA research volunteer: I have two published papers and some abstracts
  • i also volunteered at the lab over the summer
  • i work as a teacher’s aide and teach english and math to K-8 graders
  • cello section leader
  • youth orchestra for 4 years now; played with the LA opera
  • licensed scuba diver
  • AED certified

did not start on commonapp essay yet (I am panicking)
letters of rec: my english teacher is writing me one and I’m on good terms with her, so this one will be pretty good
for my stem letter of rec, both my stem teachers my junior year retired so I’m getting my current calc bc teacher to write me one
I also have my UCLA professor writing me one! Very excited haha.

Cost Constraints / Budget
Unlimited budget apparently. That’s what my parents said. lets just say 60k


  • Safety: GWU (I love this school), UC Riverside, UCI, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis
  • Match: Case Western Reserve (EA), Occidental, University of Michigan (EA), UCSB
  • Reach: MIT (EA), USC (EA), Cornell (ED), Georgetown, UCLA, BU, UC Berkeley, WashU, Pomona

definitely missing some schools, but this is all I can remember rn
im going to apply to Cornell (ED) and a bunch of EAs and all of the UC schools.

Congrats on your achievements! I would move Michigan to the reach category (not because you are not qualified).

Your parents said that you have an unlimited budget and then you indicated $60,000 a year. Many of the schools on your list are approaching $90,000 a year. Will your parents pay that much for college? This does not include medical school or any other degree that you may get.

While it is very possible that your budget is unlimited, I would sit down with them and look at the costs of Cornell before you ED. You can use the NPC.

Good luck!


Look up your HS here: University of California A-G Course List

Some, but not all, of your HS honors courses will be considered UC honors. If they are, they will have a star next to them.

Figure out which of our classes are A-G. PE and some electives may not be A-G and aren’t used in the UC GPA calculation. Use the number of UC honors courses (and APs) from summer after 9th grade until summer after 11th grade. And plug your values into the calculator here GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub


Hi thanks for replying! I did review costs with them and they said we could afford it even without financial aid. Speaking of aid, can I apply for need-based even if I probably don’t qualify? And, how do scholarships work? Is FAFSA required for that?

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Yes you can. Each school will make its own determination regarding whether you qualify for any aid.

Barring a couple of exceptions, no. FAFSA and CSS will not be required for non-need based merit aid. The process to qualify for merit aid varies by school so you need to read the rules. At some places it’s automatic, at others there are additional requirements including essays and/or interviews.


Anyone can apply for need based aid. If you complete a FAFSA, you will be able to take out a Direct Loan in your name ($5500 for freshman) if needed.

For merit aid, the financial aid applications are usually not required, but you need to check your colleges to see.

MIT, Cornell, Georgetown, Wash U, Pomona don’t give merit aid awards. Check Pomona…I’m not sure about that one.

Merit awards at MIchigan and USC are highly competitive. Same with GWU.

Just FYI….

You have the UCs on your list, and have a good chance at some. UCLA and Cal…are not givens but you already have them listed as reaches.

If you “love” GWU, then why are you applying ED to Cornell?

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Oh I was trying to signify that GWU is my top safety school lol. I’d be very happy going there.

And remember for California schools, there are also Cal Grants, the Middle Class Scholarship, etc. They are through this website:

And those exceptions are some of the UCs…I can only speak for UC Berkeley (not sure how the others handle it), but for the Regents scholarship, their primary merit aid scholarship, there is $2,500 baseline grant (totally merit), but then it can go much higher than that based on need (determined by FAFSA). So it is essentially a mixed-type scholarship - awarded based on merit, but final amount awarded is based on need.

Medical school may cost from $70k to $100k per year (and you would be lucky to get one admission, so you are unlikely to be able to choose a cheaper one, so let’s just say $100k per year). Will your parents cover $400k of medical school plus whatever undergraduate costs?

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If I’m not mistaken, these are two separate components? The “honorary” Regents Scholarship which is purely merit based and does not require a FAFSA, and then as you mentioned, an additional need-based Regents Scholarship that requires FAFSA.
In other words someone can not submit FAFSA and still receive the $2,500 honorary (merit only) scholarship, right?

Yes, that is correct. But you have the possibility of a much higher amount if you submit the FAFSA (I think all the way up to full cost). But if you don’t submit the FAFSA, then it is $2500.

Getting the scholarship is 100% based on merit, but the final amount is based on need, with $2500 being the minimum if you demonstrate no need (or don’t file a FAFSA).

Thank you so much! I did not know about this.

Yes. Not going to divulge everything, but I will be fine haha.

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The value of the Regents Scholarship is different at each UC. Regardless, students who receive the award are in the top 1-2% at each school. It is extremely competitive.

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It is competitive, but how “top 1-2%” is actually defined by each school is not totally clear. It’s definitely not all about stats as students with relatively lower stats sometimes get the award.

And, for example, our neighbor’s daughter - who was rejected outright by UC Irvine and waitlisted then rejected by UC Berkeley - but got Regents for UCLA. So each campus seems to be looking for something different, and it’s not always clear what (and that goes for both admission in general and Regents).

(Or, for that matter, my D who got Regents at UCB but waitlisted at Santa Clara.)

Others have asked my questions. I’d love Oxy to safety/likely, CWRU to reach, and for GW - make sure you demonstrate demonstrate demonstrate interest.

If you like it, where are NYU/BU ?

Good luck.

Congratulations on all your accomplishments. I would make some changes to your school categorizations. Based on the admit rate data below:

Safety: UC Riverside and UC Merced
Match/Target: UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis
High Target/Low Reach: UCSD,UCSB and UCI
Reach: UCB and UCLA

2022 admit Rates

Campus Biology Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
UC Berkeley 12.9% for College of L&S 14.8% for College of Chemistry
UC Davis 45% for College of Biological Sciences 45% for College of Biological Sciences
UC Irvine 23.7% NA for Freshman applicants
UCLA 10% for College of L&S 10% for the College of L&S
UC Merced 93% Major not available
UC Riverside 66% 87%
UC San Diego No major specific data but estimated <20% No major specific data but estimated <35%
UC Santa Barbara 27% for College of L&S 27% for the College of L&S
UC Santa Cruz 52% 55%

I am sure she will plenty of wonderful options from which to choose. Best of luck to her.

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Unlimited budget apparently. That’s what my parents said. lets just say 60k

If this student can pay $60,000 a year for college…would they likely qualify for the Calgrant or Middle Class Scholarship? The student would need to answer this for themselves.

@ucbalumnus can tell the income limits for these two awards and the OP can determine if they are eligible.

But as an instate resident of CA, it would seem that all of the UCs and CSUs would be well within budget without any aid at all.

“The Middle Class Scholarship is for undergraduates and students pursuing a teaching credential with family income and assets up to $217,000.”

wait omg i didn’t know about this!
Thank you so much!!!