How much will a C in AP Calc BC impact my chances for some UCs?

So I took AP Calc BC this year as a junior and struggled pretty badly. It’s looking like I’ll be getting a C this quarter. How will this affect my admissions chances to some UCs (Davis, Irvine, SD, SB)? I got an A and a B along with a 5 on the AP Calc AB exam last year.

Other stats:
33 ACT

  • Planning on completing 8 AP classes + a few more honors classes in total throughout HS.
  • Decent ECs, mostly sports-related
  • Thinking about majoring in Environmental Engineering but otherwise would just go in as an undecided major

Unfortunately, UCs really do love their GPAs. If I were you, I’d avoid applying engineering, as that is usually even more GPA-heavy. However, I’m just a senior finishing up their own cycle, so take my words with a grain of salt.

You need to calculate your UC GPA’s first to see where you stand since they only use 10-11th grades.

My UC GPA will be 3.95 capped/weighted at the end of this quarter.

I will give you the admit rates from last year based on the UC capped weighted GPA but not specific for Engineering. Under a 4.0 will be a tough admit for Engineering and for these UC’s overall. Going in Undeclared for several of the schools can be problematic if Engineering is your goal. If you do not get a direct admit into the College of Engineering, it can be difficult to switch majors later.

I would definitely first find some safety schools like your local Cal State for instance or UC Merced. Then work on your college list from the bottom up.

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.80-4.19 capped weighted and not major specific:
UCB: 14%
UCLA: 8%
UCSD: 39%
UCSB: 40%
UCD: 55%
UCI: 38%
UCSC: 82%
UCR: 90%
UCM: 97%

2020 UC capped weighted GPA averages along with 25th-75th percentile range:
UCB: 4.22 (4.13-4.30)
UCLA: 4.25 (4.18-4.31)
UCSD: 4.16 (4.04-4.28)
UCSB: 4.15 (4.03-4.27)
UCI: 4.11 (3.96-4.26)
UCD: 4.11 (3.97-4.25)
UCSC: 3.94 (3.71-4.16)
UCR: 3.88 (3.65-4.11)
UCM: 3.68 (3.40-3.96)

Your GPA is within range for some of the UC’s, below the 25th percentile for most and since the UC’s and CSU’s are test blind, the ACT score will not help your chances so they will rely on your GPA and grades in your science and math classes if you are targeting Engineering.

UCSD admits into the University first and then into the major. They do consider alternate majors but changing into Engineering from another non-Engineering major or Undeclared is not guaranteed.

UCI admits similar to UCSD but changing majors can be accomplished by a specific GPA and pre-req courses but not always guaranteed.

UCSB admits directly into the College of Engineering, they do consider your alternate major if it is not an Engineering major but changing into Engineering is not guaranteed.

UCD admits into the College of Engineering, they rarely consider your alternate major and changing majors within the College is easier than from Undeclared or from another College such as Letters and Sciences.

I have seen plenty of applicants with less than 4.0 Capped weighted GPA’s get shut out of the UC’s this year so I would probably concentrate more on the Cal States which also have good Engineering programs.

And also do not overlook UCR and UCM if they have suitable majors (both have environmental engineering).

Thanks for the responses.

I was under the impression that the UCs were only test blind this year and then for fall 2023 applications and onward. I’m currently a junior so I’ll be applying for fall 2022 enrollment.

Also, how would applying as an undeclared major affect my admissions chances? I haven’t really set my mind on a specific major/career and I’m open to pretty much anything.

I am not sure if being undeclared will have any impact on your chances for admissions but the issue is there is no guarantee you will get accepted into the major you ultimately choose, especially if its highly impacted and competitive. You will need to maintain a certain GPA and then apply for the major.

Some majors at UCs and CSUs are filled to capacity (“capped” or “impacted”). Some such majors admit by direct admission as frosh; those not directly admitted as frosh need to fulfill secondary admission requirements while in college to declare the major (the most popular majors can be extremely competitive to get into by secondary admission). Each campus may have its own policy as to whether an applicant for one major may be admitted to a second choice major if not admitted to the first choice major.

with a sub 4 UCGPA, UCM and UCR are going to be your best shots as far a UCs. All of the CSUs except SLO are likely to admit you.

Apply really broadly - smaller schools probably offer more flexibility to explore different fields of study. Many CSUs offer honors programs that are also worth a look. Chico and Sonoma are certainly worth a tour.

good luck.

… unless you try for something like CS at SJSU, or (pre-)nursing anywhere that is much more selective than most majors at most CSUs.

fair point - there are certainly some selective programs at many of the CSUs that are probably out of reach.

The OP said she plans to major in Environmental Engineering or Undeclared which is what I based my comments on.

UC’s are test blind through 2024 and the CSU’s will be test blind for 2022 and may follow the UC’s lead and continue test blind.

All the CSU’s admit into the major directly, but some campuses are easier to switch majors than others. For the impacted campuses such as SDSU, Cal Poly SLO, Cal Poly Pomona, SJSU, CSU Fullerton etc… going from Undeclared to a competitive major like Engineering cannot be guaranteed. If you have a specific major, then you should apply with that major.

I listed in the above post how UC’s admit so again you need to target schools where you have the best chance for a direct admit. As long as the school is ABET accredited for Engineering (Most Cal states included), you will get a very good education in your major.

You can check the ABET accredition for each school of interest here: APS

My younger son attended SDSU for CS and has had no problem finding well paying jobs post graduation and works along side UCSD, UCB, UCLA, UW grads in his current job.

Engineering is a very marketable major so school name is not as important in doing well and taking advantage of the resources available at the school.