Chance Me: Mech/AeroE Student from CA with pretty good ACT and EC's but average/bad GPA

Hello! It’s my first time posting here, so please let me know if I’m doing something wrong. If anyone can suggest a good college for me to apply to, please by all means let me know.


  • US domestic
  • State/Location of residency: CA
  • Type of high school Public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity Indian Male
  • Other special factors N/A

Intended Major(s): Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.7/4

For colleges that do not consider freshman grades, my GPA would be higher. I got a C and a bunch of B’s in freshman year, and I got 3 B’s total in sophomore and junior year.

  • Weighted HS GPA No Weighted GPA
  • Class Rank: N/A
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 35 ACT

Senior Year APs: Calc AB, Lit, Physics C, Stats, APES
Previous APs: CS, Physics 1

I took the most challenging courses available everywhere except math, where I got a C in frehsman year and a B in junior year, which didnt allow me to take multivar/Calc BC.

Multiple world records on robotics team last season (FTC)
Won prestigious international robotics invitational
FTC World Championship Semifinalist
FRC Quarterfinalists at rookie team’s first competition
Regional honor band, School district honor band (audition-based)

Robotics Team (FTC): Captain, internationally achieving team

Robotics Team (FRC): Build/CAD member, rookie community team

Robotics Outreach: Personally mentoring 15 robotics teams across the world, moderator for global robotics discord server with 9000+ members and creator of regional robotics discord server with 100+ members, taught at local schools and libraries

Involved in a collegiate initiative to build the world’s first student-built supersonic drone (helped with design/testing)

School 3D printing club: President, created a makerspace at school open to all students with multiple 3D printers and a laser cutter

School rocketry team: VP, made a stabilization system using an arduino to actively keep the rocket on a preset path

Marching Band: Section leader, guided members through virtual and in-person season

Music: French Horn, play solo and in band, got into honor bands in 9th and 10th grade

Essays: 7/10, i put in quite a bit of time into them over the summer

LORs: 9/10, one of them from my Physics 1 teacher whom I talked with a lot about robotics and showed a genuine interest in physics during the virtual school year. The second one is from my band teacher who has known me for 4 years and gave me the section leader role.

My counselor is new this year, so I don’t know about the quality of that one.

Applying to all UC’s, but my top choices are Berkeley, LA, SD, and Davis

  • Safety

  • Likely
    Purdue, UMD

  • Match
    UW, UIUC

  • Reach
    USC, GT, CWRU, UMich, Cornell, URochester, WUStL, Cal Poly SLO

What would be my chances for these schools? I feel like my GPA just bogs down the rest of my app, could someone affirm/refute this?

Thanks for reading.

Your GPA isn’t that bad. It’s just not high enough to get into some of the more competitive programs on the list. There are about 50 ABET accredited AE programs and over 400 ABET accredited ME programs.

You’ll land somewhere, but your list is out of balance. You’re likely looking at the admission statistics averages for the whole school, but engineering is tougher at most of them. Throw in a non-test year for CA publics and your at a further disadvantage.

@ucbalumnus and @Gumbymom are better equipped to comment, but I personally don’t think SJSU can be considered a safety for engineering, especially for AE or ME. They will also ask about your budget.

I think Purdue, UIUC and UW are probably reaches. The rest of your reaches are probably appropriate, with the exception of Case and Rochester. If they use test scores, you’ll probably be a match.

So, long story short, you’ve got way too many reaches, and too few safeties and matches.


Thanks! I already got accepted into ASU and am willing to go there if nowhere else, so that has kind of given me a bit of a cushion in terms of safeties.


Congrats! It’s a solid program! How does it stack up price wise? Did you get your financial package yet? What are your price constraints? Are you either/or on ME vs AE or is AE your top choice if the school has it? What is it that you want to do after you graduate? Are there any states that you just won’t go to for school?

I haven’t received my aid package yet, but the out of state tuition is 30k, which I would be able to afford. My price constraint is around 70k for tuition at the maximum. I am currently leaning more towards AE personal-interest wise, but ME is definitely more versatile of a degree. I have selected AE for my first choice for everywhere that it is offered, but am considering doing a dual degree/masters in one or the other. After I graduate, I am likely going to pursue a master’s, then into the job market. I don’t really have any preference on location, but I would go to the closer school if I had to pick between 2 schools that were otherwise similar.

Why no CPP? It would be about half the cost for you and AE earnings will be the same as ASU.

According to College Scorecard, there are only 4 schools where AEs make more than $74K at 2 years out, Cal Poly, USC, Virginia and MIT. Earnings for AEs will be similar no matter where you go. It doesn’t make a ton of sense on a pure financial basis to pay a lot for the degree. You could attend New Mexico State for example for about half of CPP and likely make the same money as you would at any school on your list. Just a thought.

BTW, I just saw your UC list too. With CA publics not using test scores, I think Berkeley, UCLA, Davis and Cal Poly are all reaches. @gumbymom would have a better idea on the remaining UCs.

Calculate your UC HS GPAs here: GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

Note: CSU HS GPA is the same as the UC weighted-capped HS GPA if you did not take any college courses during high school.

For SJSU, historical admission thresholds are posted here: Freshmen Impaction Results | Admissions . The calculation of the eligibility index used is described here: Impaction | Admissions

For UCs, see this table using weighted-capped HS GPA for historical admission:

Fall 2020 admission rates by campus and HS GPA range from Freshman fall admissions summary | University of California :

Campus 4.20+ 3.80-4.19 3.40-3.79 3.00-3.39
Berkeley 37% 14% 2% 1%
Davis 86% 55% 16% 7%
Irvine 60% 38% 9% 1%
Los Angeles 38% 8% 1% 1%
Merced 98% 97% 95% 88%
Riverside 97% 90% 65% 30%
San Diego 78% 39% 8% 1%
Santa Barbara 81% 40% 9% 2%
Santa Cruz 92% 82% 59% 26%

These are for the whole campus. Different divisions or majors may have different levels selectivity (usually, engineering and computer science majors are more selective).

Post all 3: Weighted, Capped Weighted and Fully weighted GPA’s using the Rogerhub calculator.

Are you local to SJSU? Did you calculate your impaction index?

Congrats! Have you applied to Barrett?

Hi! TYSM for the resource. Without freshman year, here they are from the rogerhub calculator:
unweighted: 3.86
weighted: 4.41
weighted+capped: 4.23

I am local to SJSU, but I’m not sure how to calculate my impaction index.

Nope, looking into Barrett right now! Thanks for the suggestion!


I hadn’t considered CPP before, but it seems like a smart choice. Will definitely apply.

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I have linked the impaction index calculation: Impaction | Admissions

Then compare your results with last year’s thresholds for AE or ME.
AE was 3280 (definitely a safety)
ME was 4180
Thresholds will fluctuate from year to year.

For the UC’s, UCB/UCLA would be Reach schools for Engineering.
UCI and UCSD probably a High Reach/Low Match
UCD and UCSB are target schools while UCSC/UCR and UCM are Likely/Safety schools.

Since test scores are not a consideration, it is really hard to predict the UC’s and since the 2021 admit rate information is not yet available, I like to error on the side of caution after seeing many 4.2+ capped weighted GPA applicants last year not get the UC results they wanted.

Best of luck.

Thanks so much! I will calculate the impaction and see how I stack up. What would you say about my chances for public OOS schools like GT, UMich, UW, and UIUC? Would they be hard reaches, or do you think I have a chance?

Ideally apply prior to November 1st.

I am not as familiar with the OOS options, but GT and UW would be considered Reach schools as an OOS applicant focusing on Engineering.

For the other 2 schools, I will leave them to the other knowledgeable posters.

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I live in the midwest and am pretty familiar with UMich, UW and UIUC and these are all pretty hard admits for engineering and for OOS kids. When we look at admissions stats as a whole it might seem like those are matches for you when in reality I would consider them all reaches for engineering and adding in that you are OOS makes them even more so.

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That’s better than a 3.7! Is that 9, 10 and 11, or just 10 and 11. Cal Poly uses 9th.

Remember that you can intuit one thing from this, popularity. It’s not a reflection on the quality of the degree or your employability after graduation. I’d certainly have SJSU on your list.

Again, particularly for AE, spending a bunch more money for an OOS or private degree will buy you a different experience, but very unlikely more money. Engineering, especially things like AE, ME and Civil is very egalitarian. Your wage will be more related to the state you work in than by the school you went to.

Good luck!

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Hmm ok, I hadn’t thought about it in that perspective before. This has definitely helped with my view of the financial ROI of an AE degree. So, it probably would not even be worth it to go to an expensive school, even if it was a reach (like CWRU, Rochester, Cornell, etc)?

(The 3.86 is for only 10 and 11, I messed up pretty bad in freshman year.)

If you want to keep doing marching and/or concert band in college, the band director at SJSU is fantastic; I’d consider the music opportunities there to be a big potential quality-of-life booster.