Chances of Getting into UCLA, USC Mech Engineering

Hey all, I would like your input as to what my chances are of admission into UCLA, USC, and other like schools under Mechanical Engineering. I would also like input as to how I could improve. I go to an all boys Catholic liberal arts high school, so some things might appear strange. Stats go like this:

GPA: 4.13 weighted 3.8 unweighted (one B in APWH soph year and messed up first semester with B’s in HPreCalc and AP Physics 1)

SAT 1: 1420 (going to retake near future) 750 Math 680 English

PSAT: 1460 (does this score even matter?)

ACT: Not taken yet

SAT 2: Going to take Math and Bio; thoughts?

Number of AP Classes: 1 Soph 3 Junior (My school caps at 4 AP classes a year for whatever reason)

Planned Classes Senior Year: AP Calc AB (our school is strict with acceleration), AP Gov, AP Spanish (might change), AP English Lit, SportsMed (might change to AP Physics C or AP Chem), Honors Philosophy

Placement in Class:

Academic Achievements: National Hispanic Scholar, Principal’s List (4.0 and above, not much of an achievement as it is necessity)

Internships: One internship summer after soph year with the Department of Naval Research at SSC Pacific Point Loma in the Electrical Engineering Dept. doing research on software; it was rather competitive. It is called SEAP.

Extracurriculars: Youth Ministry Leadership Team, Boy Scouts (working on Eagle), Altar boy at Church, volunteer waiter at Church, campus ministry at school (helping with services and went on a mission/tourist trip to Guatemala where we built houses, stoves, and other things), tutoring in math (paid and volunteer for school)

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: Filipino/Mexican (Filipeno)

Applying for NROTC Marine Option and working on that

This is what I have to work with so far, and I plan on getting straight A’s this semester to fix my GPA and take the tests I need to take to stay in the running.

You are a competitive applicant. For engineering, you want slightly better stats. Aim for at least a 1480, preferably a 1500 on the SAT. The PSAT score is great and it should be high enough for National Merit scholar awards. Your ECs could use some strengthening. Try pursuing activities that relate to engineering to show admissions officers your interest. Join the Robotics club, or start one if your school doesn’t have a club for robotics. If you like building things, build stuff and perhaps this could be an interesting topic of an essay for college admissions. Your URM hook will probably help your application. Write great essays and you could get accepted to either of these schools

Any other opinions? Just an update I’m now one of the several founding students of our robotics team and we hope to compete by start of my senior year (our school is terrible at STEM so we had to start one). Also my GPA turns out to be 4.16, is there any difference there? If I get straight A’s this semester (which is necessary) it will rise to 4.25. Aside from great essays I see admissions for these schools are a crapshoot. Thanks.

Allocation, allocation. Consider the following variables that may improve or diminish your chances (outside of SAT/GPA):

  1. High school: how many better students are applying? This is easy, you know who’s academically better than you, and you know if they’re applying, just ask.
  2. City/Area: how many students from your geographical area? Harder to extrapolate.
  3. Your ethnicity: based on #1 and #2, there’s a limit to how many Asians/Hispanics/Whites can be accepted from any given school/geography, so they take the best of that group.

This is why it’s such a crapshoot.

You need to take the SAT subject tests for UCLA. When they say “recommended”, read that as “required”. The Math II is the math one you’ll need. Really, really, really focus on your essays and creating a cohesive application. You have the material to do that with your robotics participation and the internship. Max out your AP classes for senior year to show strong rigor. Both schools are extremely tough to get into, especially for Mechanical Engineering. Your test scores and GPA are currently on the low end of engineering acceptances at those schools, so really concentrate on the rest of the application. Good luck and apply broadly because engineering is super tough to get into.

@ZamoraTh Assuming you’re in San Diego because your internship was at Pt. Loma, see if there are any teachers at your school that are application readers for UCSD. If so, ask them if they would be willing to read your essays before you submit the application in November.

A little update, as of right now, I have secured the A in AP Physics I and feel I did fairly well on the AP. I take Math Level 2 this Saturday with high hopes (aiming for 750 plus, if not perfect). However, I am puzzled as to what I should do for the science subject test. I know physics is the most relevant for mechanical, but it goes over physics 1 and 2, and I only know 1. Is Bio E/M a fair alternative?
Thank you so much for the help by the way. And I will make the internship with SEAP a big part of the application, as it was not only competitive but also a major vehicle of my own personal growth.

I would also like to throw in a few other schools to the mix, UCSB, Villanova, and SLO. I go to an Augustinian school so Villanova is looking pretty safe. Other thoughts?
Just took the Math Level 2 and I am awaiting scores, I’m guessing around 720-750 this time around.

My UC GPA is 4.17 (got my 4th B in a heartbreaking 89.84). How screwed am I? Will high test scores still compensate?

UCs tend to weight GPA more than test scores, while USC tends to weight test scores more than GPA (but both are important to all of the schools).

25th-75th percentiles (GPA is unweighted):

UCLA admits: 3.88-4.00 GPA, 30-34 ACT
USC admits: 3.77-4.00 GPA, 31-34 ACT

UCLA enrolled: 3.81-4.00 GPA, 27-33 ACT
USC enrolled: 3.64-3.96 GPA, 30-34 ACT

Also, engineering majors may be more selective than overall, particularly at UCLA and other UCs.

Suggest applying widely including UCR, UCM, and CSUs (not just CPSLO) in order to have some more likely admits than UCLA and USC. (This is assuming California residency; if not, the public schools in your state of residency would probably be better choices for affordable likely and safety schools.)

Median UW GPA of Ucla Engineering admits is a 4.0. We admit by major separate from L&S. Race is not considered.

Understood. Where are the SAT stats? I only plan on taking the ACT for NROTC purposes, as I do significantly better on the SAT than the ACT (as far as I know from practice tests).

UCLA has SAT stats for the old three-part SAT in pre-2017 frosh profiles: . Perhaps they did not want to have to sort out a mixture of old and new SAT scores for the 2017 profile? USC does list SAT ranges in its 2017 frosh profile.

Concordance tables suggest that your 1420 SAT is like 31 ACT.

UC GPA is 4.21, I didn’t get the B after all. Does that help out much more than a 4.17?

Another update, I achieved AP Scholar with Honors since I got 4s on every AP I’ve taken (APWH, AP Physics 1, AP Lang, and APUSH).