College Chances - :(


I’m currently a sophomore (going into junior year) attending High School in California. I’m currently very worried about my college chances due to my slump in second semester sophomore year. Almost the whole semester, I had only 1 B and 5 A’s, until the end during finals week, where I ended up with 4 B’s and 2 A’s in the semester (out of 6 classes) :frowning:

I’m an asian male intending to major in CS. I am not aiming for the top tier ivy level schools, but I am aiming for any UC or CSU, as well as other good cs colleges. My GPA trend is:

Freshman 1st sem: 3.5 UW

Freshman 2nd sem: 3.83 UW

Sophomore 1st sem: 3.67 UW and 4.0 W

Sophomore 2nd sem: 3.33 UW and 3.67 W :frowning:

My EC’s include: Taekwondo, summer job, 100+ hours of volunteering, nonprofit organization teaching kids how to code.

My stats aren’t perfect, but at this point, I am simply curious as to my chances at colleges such as Georgia Tech, UCI, UCSD, UCSB, UCSC, and UWashington. If I get a 4.0 throughout high school, I can achieve a 3.8 UW and a 4.2 W, which is an improvement. Does an upward GPA trend really help that much? Is there a chance I can get into those colleges, and if not, can I get into other decent CS programs around the country (or is community college the only option) ?

Thanks to anyone who helps.

Certainly there are PLENTY of options besides community colleges - as long as you do the research.

There are others on these boards who know more about the UC schools than I do, but I understand they are very competitive. I do know Cali community colleges can be a great gateway into the UC schools. My own town’s community college (not in CA) has expanded exponentially over the past 10-15 years and has practically brand new, state-of-the-art facilities and classrooms that actually surpassed a top-in-CS-ranked college I toured recently with DD. Plus it now offers a Promise scholarship, so kids who meet some fairly low requirements can attend free. But I digress…

You didn’t mention your approximate class rank or percentile or your test scores or even what classes (and levels) you are taking and have taken.

Your GPA appears to be a match for University of Washington, which a great CS school and a big recruitment hub for Microsoft. Just don’t let the GPA slip at all, take the most challenging physics and math classes you can. Out of state residents will pay more, so run the calculators on the school’s web page.

Best of luck to you!

You still have a lot of time left, the key thing is to not let these things happen in the future. You were doing great until finals week, try and maintain those grades through finals. You still have junior and the first semester of senior year to go through so try and build an upward trend.

I think that this is a minor setback. We all have minor setback’s in life. The important thing is to do better next time.

Fortunately for you, this happened sophomore year rather than junior year. I think that you goal at this point is to pull up your GPA significantly for next year. I don’t agree with “take the most challenging physics and math classes you can”. I think that you should take the most challenging physics and math classes that you can get an A in. However, make sure that you take math classes for which you are properly prepared.

If you do well for your junior year of high school, then you will still have many very good choices for university. Also plan to do very well for your senior year of high school. I don’t know the UC system all that well (we live in an opposite corner of the US), but at other schools in other parts of the country I have seen students with weak freshman or sophomore years and strong junior years being asked for their mid-term grades senior year. It looked to me as if the admissions folks were trying to make sure that the strong junior year was not a fluke.

Work hard next year, and yes an upward trend really can help you a lot.

For CSU’s and UC’s, they only use 10-11th grades in their GPA calculation for the a-g course requirements. An upward grade trend Junior year will help so until you complete Junior year, there is no way to chance you at this point. Also test scores are needed so keep working hard, continue to challenge yourself, enjoy HS and at end of Junior year see where you stand.

Don’t let the extremely competitive culture at your high school distort your perspective. You will have plenty of options.

I don’t recommend you think very seriously about UW-Seattle. Getting into CS there is crazy-competitive. Getting direct-admit to CS as a freshman is difficult even for Washington residents, and UW heavily advantages in-state applicants for CS Direct Entry. If you get into UW and then apply to CS, you’ll need essentially a perfect GPA in the lower-division “weeder” classes to even apply. Nobody needs that kind of stress and a 70% chance of being shut out of your desired major.

Community college isn’t necessarily a bad option at all - De Anza and Foothill both have the Computer Science AA-T which will flow seamlessly into a CSU computer science program; and both schools have Honors programs that provide a more direct pipeline to UC.

For UC’s, as Gumbymom says, it depends how your junior year goes. But be aware that CS is more competitive than admission in general at most UC’s. (And it’s very hard to switch into if you don’t get into the major initially.) Santa Cruz has a terrific CS program, and Merced’s is good too, so maybe focus on those for now and then you can always look at the even more competitive programs if your stats trend upward and your standardized tests go well.

Likewise, the most competitive CSU CS programs, like Cal Poly SLO, are devilishly hard to get into. But there are also fine programs at CSU’s that you’re almost certain to be able to attend, and many of them have a great residential experience on offer. Look at Humboldt State, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands for starters. More competitive but entirely possible depending on your stats would include Sonoma, Northridge, and Fullerton. SJSU, Long Beach, and SDSU are getting tough to get into, but you may be qualified when the time comes - press on and see how it goes!

I’m not suggesting less-competitive schools to discourage you; I want you to see that even in what your hyper-competitive school might portray as the “worst case scenario,” you can go to college, have a great experience, get the degree you want, and end up working side by side in tech with your overachiever classmates. If you start by looking at program that you know will be an option, and see that there’s nothing wrong with those options at all, then perhaps you can breathe and enjoy high school a little more. Doing your best is important, but life is too short to torture yourself over the prestige arms race!

To give another example… have a look at Portland State University. You would have no trouble getting in, and they have a great computer science program. They’re located in a fun city with great public transit. One of my d’s best friends fell in love with PSU, applied there in September, got in two weeks later, and enjoyed a happy senior year while the rest of her friends freaked out about college admissions. She loves it there, has great friends, loves the city, and it going to be an RA next year. The WUE rate makes it a great financial deal too.

My point is… your mission at this point is to identify AT LEAST one safety school where you know you could be happy to go. If that’s De Anza/Foothill, that is fine. If it’s one of the non-impacted CSU’s, great too. If it’s a less-competitive WUE school like PSU or Northern Arizona or U of Hawaii or Eastern Washington, also great. (Search WUE schools by major here: ) You just need to defuse the false sense of doom that schools like yours can induce - if you want to go to college, you can and will go to college! (And CS is a field where the name of your school matters much less than your skill-set.)

There are many private colleges and universities, as well as public ones outside of CA and the WUE states, that will be possible too, admissions-wise, but the range of options will depend on your financial situation as well as your stats. To begin with, you have plenty of public U’s to look at in CA and the western states. Try to visit a few of the “sure bet” and likely-admit schools and experience proof-of-concept that all will be well at schools you know will be on the menu. With that assurance in your pocket, give junior year your best shot and then see where things stand. :slight_smile:

Current information about CS admissions at Washington can be found here:

Last year, the CS website stated, “For 2017, over 5,000 freshmen applicants indicated Computer Science or Computer Engineering as their first choice major. Of these applicants, around 150 students were offered direct admission. These admits have an average unweighted GPA of 3.97 and are mostly Washington state residents. Average test scores are: ACT 34, SAT math 764, SAT verbal 758."

Given the continued (and increasing) demand for the CS major, it is not clear whether the expansion of direct admission will significantly affect the academic profile of CS direct admits. The average unweighted GPA for Washington’s entire enrolled freshman class is around 3.8, which is your target. Perhaps you could revisit the UW CS website in a year or so to see how the expanded direct admission in playing out and decide whether it is worth pursuing at that time.

Good luck!

I agree with the consensus above, you have lots of school left so, it is too early to rule anything out. That said, a sub-4 GPA will make CS a tough admit at most of the UCs. (UCR think 3.8+ and UCM, perhaps 3.6+). But, there are lots of non-UC options you should consider as your academic credentials continue to bake

Here’s a cool tool UC publishes, you can find any CA HS and see how many people it sent to a specific UC, and the GPA of those admitted.

Do your best and know that you will have many viable options open to you - even if your GPA doesn’t improve a bit.

Enjoy next year and good luck with the process.

Yeah I agree. I’m a junior and I had a similar “slump” in sophomore year first semester. But junior year I was able to get much better grades and AP classes definietely helped increase my grades (and remember a B in an AP class is an A for your GPA :slight_smile: ). So definitely do not give up and just keep doing your best!

also know that there is a program called TAP for CCs. Basically if you are a CA resident and you complete certain requirements of courses during your two ish years at a CC, you get automatic acceptance into a UC! Ik for a fact UCD has this but I would double check for all the other UC’s to see if they have it. (But im pretty sure they do.)

That’s not to say at all that one semester is confining you to CC, but it is definitely a stress reliever. There is more than one way to get to a UC!

Good luck next year! You’ll do great !:slight_smile:

@amd2019 and @Sunny1235: The CC transfer program that @amd2019 was referring to is TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) where 6 UC campuses participate: UCM/UCR/UCI/UCSC/UCD and UCSB (not for CS/Engineering) where if you meet the UC Transfer GPA and course requirements, you are guaranteed admission into one of these UC campuses.

TAP (Transfer Alliance Program) is for UCLA and UCB. It does not guarantee admission like the TAG program but it can give you a boost.

For UCB:
A highly successful academic advising and enrichment program serving more than 1,000 underserved students at 31 California community colleges. Participants receive support services designed to facilitate their transfer to the University of California and other baccalaureate-granting institutions.

The Transfer Alliance Program is a collaboration between the Honors/Scholars Program at California community member colleges and UCLA College in conjunction with Undergraduate Admission. The program is designed to foster academic excellence at the community college level and to promote diversity and retention in the UCLA transfer population. Member colleges provide enriched general education curricula emphasizing critical thinking, writing, and research through their Honors/Scholars programs.

Community college students work closely with faculty and receive on-going academic advising from counselors assigned to their school’s Honors/Scholars Program. TAP Faculty Directors and Counselors meet twice a year with UCLA colleagues to stay abreast of admissions issues and programmatic developments at UCLA.

Students who have completed the Honors/Scholars Program at their community college receive priority consideration for admission to UCLA College. Admitted TAP students are eligible to apply for scholarships reserved for the Transfer Alliance Program.

With CS degrees, it really makes no difference where you graduate. The degree is going to be employable either way. Also, most employers are smaller/midsize companies that hire locally and regionally. It’s more cost-effective for them to recruit entry-level applicants from the area. It’s a lot cheaper to go to ASU or UNLV on the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Not only is it more affordable than GA Tech, you’ll have a job placement right in the city you’re in, with a much cheaper cost of living than California.

“For CSU’s and UC’s, they only use 10-11th grades in their GPA calculation”

@Gumbymom, I am curious, what if a student takes a gap year after high school and applies during their gap year? In that case, do they use GPA from grades 11 and 12?

@DadTwoGirls: The UC’s and CSU’s would use 10-12th grades if a student takes a Gap year but will still only cap the extra honors points at 8 semesters for years 10-11th so in a way a possible dilution of the CSU/UC GPA vs 10-11th grades only.