Kid would rather go to CC and try to transfer to dream I nuts to even consider this?

So my kid was rejected to her dream school, UCSD but was accepted to several very good ones like UCI and UCD. She says she would rather go to community college and try to transfer into UCSD in 2 years. My initial reaction is she is nuts! While I admire her tenacity and focus there is no guarantee that she will make it into UCSD and there is a chance she wont even get admitted to UCI or UCD again. I dont know much of anything about the transfer process but I just found out there is something called the Transfer Acceptance Guarantee (TAG) that UCI and UCD are part of. Essentially, if she takes the required courses and maintains what seems to be fairly average GPA she is guaranteed admission. If I am understanding TAG correctly, it seems worst case my kid ends up at either UCI or UCD in two years and I end up saving a lot of money. Best case, she gets into her dream school. Is this idea absolutely crazy??? @Gumbymom is my understanding of TAG correct?

1 Like

It is a cheaper way of getting her degree. I think that if she was able to get into Irvine and Davis, she should go to one of them. I don’t think that she has any idea how much lower the standards are at community college, than at 4 yr colleges.

Her social life will suffer, if she goes to community college first, and I’m not talking about partying. I’m talking about meeting interesting people who are at her academic level. But if she is hell bent on this, it will just mean that you’ll pay less for her degree.


Totally agree with you. I believe that the experience of living on her own is just as important as the lessons she will learn in the classroom. Of course there is also the risk that she loses focus, gets caught up with the wrong crowd and ends up not getting into any good school. It’s definitely a gamble. As you said, perhaps she will struggle at community college and not be able to maintain the minimum GPA. I have no idea since I didn’t go this route myself.

Thankfully the cost of her attending a UC is not an issue but I would rather not spend the money if her heart isn’t into UCI or UCD and she just goes through the motions. She needs to really grasp this opportunity to maximize what she gets out of it and if this means trying it get into UCSD then she will need to understand what it will take.

1 Like

Hey, firstly congrats to her for getting into those amazing schools! She sounds like she’s being really mature about all this which is great. CC’s can be a good route and are definitely cost-effective + can build a good foundation for transfer. However, I think her specific motivation here is important. I’ve always thought the whole “dream school” concept is a bit unhealthy, and it’s never a good idea for a student to idolise a particular school. Things happen for a reason, and maybe she was meant to end up at UCD or UCI after all! I would strongly encourage her to really look into those two, do a lot of research etc. It would suck for her to put all her eggs into the UCSD basket, and then be unsuccessful again the second time around. Worse still, she could successfully transfer and then realise it’s not what she built it up to be. My advice would be for her to move on from UCSD and embrace the present reality. Not to say there’s anything wrong with community college - not at all! I just personally think it’s wiser and healthier to work with the great options she already has.


Depending on the community college, there may be a fairly significant cohort of students aiming for transfer to a UC (and who will eventually succeed in doing so). If that is the case as the community college she wants to attend, then that can mitigate the above mentioned social issue.

In terms of academics, what majors are of interest? Many common liberal arts majors have equivalent frosh/soph level courses widely available at community colleges, but some majors (e.g. engineering majors and CS) may have more specialized courses that are less available. See to check for course equivalency.

Another academic question would be whether she is advanced to the point that she may want to take upper division (junior/senior level) courses before junior year in college. Doing so is an option at a UC, but not at a community college, where she would have wait until after transfer to take upper division courses.

In other words, whether starting at community college is good or bad (other than being less expensive which is a good thing) depends on some details.


Not in California, but could a compromise be to start at UCI or UCD and then transfer to UCSD if she wants to? Won’t save you any money, but she might get a taste of UCI or UCD and make some friends and decide she wants to stay. Of course she may also decide that she still really wants to go to UCSD. If you decide to offer this I would be up front and matter of fact about trying on UCD or UCI for fit and seeing if she likes it. She needs to be open to the possibility of liking it and wanting to stay and you need to be open to the possibility of the transfer.

Otherwise, no problem with Community College. My oldest did a few classes at our local CC here in NC but did not make any friends (wasn’t trying to either). It can be a good path for many kids and can save a lot of money, too.


This. D19’s school (which has a very high rate of students going to 4 year colleges) actively promoted CC to UC for financial reasons. There were a few students who went to SBCC specifically intending to transfer to UCSB, and a handful at other CCS aiming at other UCs. SBCC sounds like it has a significant number of students planning to transfer to UCSB. I am sure it’s not the only CC like that.

I didn´t mean that she will struggle at community college. It´s so much easier than 4 yr college, that the only way that she would struggle is if she were to lose her motivation for school altogether.

1 Like

While this can be a viable option, the experience of starting at UCSD as a junior is not going to be what she imagines it to be as a freshman. Right now she is really disappointed at not getting into UCSD, but I would have her take a really hard look at UCI and UCD to try and get interested in those campuses. What is it about UCSD that made her want that over the other two? Hopefully, as the sting of rejection wears off, she will come to see the advantage of either UCI or UCD. Many kids learn to love their second (or third!) choices. Good luck!


I totally agree. Part of the issue is that both her mom and I went to UCSD and have been active supporters. We visit San Diego often and regularly attend cultural and sporting events on campus. Because of this I think she just built up this expectation in her mind. She even said, “UCSD was the school I was meant to go to.” I do hope she eventually realizes how great UCI and UCD are but at the end of the day, she needs to feel great about the decision. I cant force her to go to either school.

Thank you. I did check out the site and found the pathway for the lower division equivalents for her intended major (environmental science). Great resource!

I thought of this but UC to UC transfers are generally not preferred because priority is first given to CC transfers.

Got it and agreed. I always felt this a risk for all kids attending CC which is why I have always pushed my kids to go straight into a 4 year. Of course there are many kids to successfully transfer from CC to great 4 years but as you said, this will require focus and dedication.

1 Like

Another option to consider would be to take a year off and reapply (Gap Year). During that time she could do something to make her application look better if she knows where it might have been lacking. Just don’t take college courses.

Many students take Gap Years for oodles of different reasons. She wouldn’t be alone.

I would really be tempted to get in the car and spend a few days exploring both UCI and UCD. I realize neither is her dream, but both are great schools with so many wonderful things within a short drive of them.

My D19 is at UCD. It’s a warm, welcoming community with access to so many areas of Northern California for day trips and weekend getaways. My D is a an ME/AE major and has found the time to explore Point Reyes, Tahoe, and Yosemite with friends from school during her first two years. It may not be the experience your D dreamed of, but maybe a trip to the area might help her see herself there. Good luck! It’s an interesting year for us all.


We are from San Diego & visited UCI over summer. We were really impressed with the campus layout & the newer dorm buildings look really nice. Haven’t been to Davis in a million years, but I remember that being a great college town. UCSD is near the beach & our fav Torrey Pines Golf, but the layout is somewhat spread out and not super cohesive.

I would take the bird in hand and choose either school. I know many kids who were denied/waitlisted to the UCs and would love any spot! Revisit both schools over Spring Break?

1 Like

My kid is an environmental science/policy major so I think UCD would be ideal for this, not only from the standpoint of the student body but also for access to the areas you mentioned. I personally think the overall vibe of UCD fits her personality more than UCD or UCSD.

100% my same advice to my kid. And yes, we intend to take a very detailed visit to both campuses again this spring break though since UCI is local to us, I feel that my kid wont have as much interest there. However, when we visited last summer we were also impressed. Though UCI will likely remain more of a commuter school, it does seem to be taking steps to create more of that overall immersive and inclusive college experience. For selfish reasons I would love for my kid to go to UCI, UCD just seems soooo far away for this daddy!


Some smartypants kid on Reddit made this google doc matrix that helps students balance the pros and cons of each school. We are going to print it out & bring with us on our spiring break trip. Maybe your daughter will find it useful too? Good luck, Dad!! :grinning:


I read here social life will decline, but if she goes to the right CC, she could have a great one! If she’s in-state near SD, SBCC is great for social life and she could live with others which one of my friends is currently doing, especially since it’s near UCSB. I’m not sure about any CC’s near SD, but that would be better for a higher chance to UCSD.
Congrats to her! She sounds so smart and I hope she finds everything she wants. CC’s are becoming so popular for these reasons. I think shes correct, it never hurts to save money and go to the school you want in a couple years time.

I think it’s admirable that your daughter has a goal and a plan to reach that goal. But, I also understand why you’re concerned.

If it were my kid, I would probably suggest she accept admission to either UCI or UCD (whichever she prefers out of the two) and then defer for a year. That way she would have the option of attending if she changes her mind about the CC to UCSD route. I’m not sure about the UC schools, but a lot of colleges are making it pretty easy to defer and if she waits a little while to do it, she might even change her mind. If she ends up taking a gap year, she could reapply to UCSD. I think it’s great to have options.

(Lots of people start out at community college for a variety of reasons. In fact, she is likely to meet interesting people including many who are just as smart and academically motivated as she.)

I’d let her go to CC. It’s not clear whether your daughter would outright resent going to UCI or UCD, but I would not force a kid to go to a school they don’t want to be at.

Agreed. I am hoping once the initial disappointment subsides she will come to her own decision to attend UCI or UCD or any of the other schools she got into. I certainly will not force her to attend any school.


I mean, it takes focus and dedication to not bomb out at a UC as well. Why would going to a CC suddenly lead to less focus and dedication when she’d have a clear goal in front of her going that path? As for the strength of CC’s, that depends on the CC and curriculum . Some of them have honors programs/pathways. Some send a lot to UCs.

I can see arguments for both paths. The financial one is obvious. No, starting out as a junior isn’t the same as starting out as a freshman. Then again, looking back at both HS and college, the friendships/relationships I kept were both from the latter half of my time at both.
IMO, where you end (and graduate from) is far more important than where you begin. And it’s not as if she won’t learn to live on her own her last 2 years of college.

In short, I don’t think either path is nuts.