Match me to some reach and target schools


  • US domestic
  • California
  • Public High School
  • Indian
    Intended Major(s)
    Cognitive science, Computer Science (must have both)
    GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
  • 3.3 (9-12), 3.6(10-12)
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): School does not provide an official one. Operating on assumption that honors are 0.5 above normal and AP is 1.0 above gpa is 3.60 (on 5.0 scale)
  • Class Rank: No ranking system
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 4 APs so far, 5s on all (CS, BC, USH, Chem) Taking 4 more next year. 1560 sat not super scored.

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

4 ap courses so far, 4 more senior year. (CS, BC, USH, Chem, Physics 1, Stats, Literature, Gov/Econ)

Not many, volunteer presidential silver award not sure if this counts.

Published in Arxiv, started a national math modeling organization, hosted competition with sponsors,2 AI company internships, blog for a publication, volunteer at senior center as part of organization.
I have external help so expecting them to be pretty strong.

Cost Constraints / Budget

Addtional Information
Not sure how important this is, but it is a question that I had. My GPA improved every semester in highschool, 4.0 gpa this year. Again, not sure how important this is, but I have read its worth talking about an upward

Would like target and reach school recommendations.

UC GPA’s? Unweighted, Capped Weighted and Fully Weighted?

Do you want stay in California or other geographic locations are acceptable?

UC’s and CSU’s are test blind as an FYI.

Possible Match schools UC Riverside and possibly UC Santa Cruz. Slight Reach schools would be UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine. Reach schools would be Cal Poly SLO, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley.

Much depends upon your UC GPA for which schools would be a Match or Target or Reach.

An increasing grade trend is better than a decreasing grade trend and will be noted.

Arizona State (ASU) with Barretts Honors College would be a good Match school for CS.

CS will be competitive pretty much anywhere you apply and admit numbers will be lower than posted.

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.40-3.79 capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 2%

UCLA: 1%

UCSD: 8%

UCSB: 9%

UCI: 9%

UCD: 17%

UCSC: 59%

UCR: 65%

UCM: 95%

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 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 4.20 or above capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 37%

UCLA: 38%

UCSD: 78%

UCSB: 81%

UCD: 86%

UCI: 60%

UCSC: 92%

UCR: 97%

UCM: 98%

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)

I would focus on schools that will accept your excellent SAT score and will take your whole application into consideration such as your LOR’s which means private schools.


Based on your interest in cognitive science, you probably should look into Vassar, which created the first undergraduate cog-sci major in the nation.

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I have no idea about computer science, but University of Rochester has a great Brain and Cognitive Sciences department.

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Thanks for the very detailed response. I don’t have a preference for in state, but I will look at the ones you mentioned. Btw my UC weighted is 4.12, thanks so much for the list, it really helps out.

Duke University.

I think the schools listed are high reaches with your GPA. You didn’t say what you’re looking for in a school, btw. Your great test score won’t work at UCs as they are test blind. By that I mean Rochester, Vassar, Duke.

You didn’t list what type of school you want - large, small, in warm or cold, etc. so it’s all a guess. Sports, no sports, etc. Having a blank canvas isn’t giving you great or targeted thoughts - but i’ll try.

I think a target could be WPI, Minnesota, Rose-Hulman if you want small) - has a minor in cognitive science, ASU mentioned but likely not Honors, Utah, RIT (minor), and Pitt.

Safeties would be an Arizona, Alabama, UTK, Miami of Ohio.

Again, give us what you desire - so we can target better.


Consider UBC. The Cognitive Systems BSc is a CS-heavy CogSci major, and they also have several options for CS. They don’t consider 9th grade grades (like the UC’s), and your SAT will help you a lot (unlike the UC’s).

RPI is worth a look. There’s a lot of overlap in requirements between their CS major and their CogSci major. Your GPA is a little weak for RPI, but their acceptance rate is relatively high for such a rigorous school, and I could see them being swayed by the high SAT and the strong performance on AP’s. I’d apply as a CogSci major if I were you; it would be possible to switch to CS if you had the grades in the prereq classes (which is required of students who enter as CS majors as well).

You might have a shot at Carnegie Mellon for the CogSci major in Arts & Sciences. Likely no shot if you applied to CS. But the CogSci major is very computational and might be fine for your needs since you are interested in both. You can count on all things CS-adjacent being top-notch there.

If you can see yourself at a small liberal arts college in SoCal, Occidental College has both CS and CogSci majors, and students can cross-register for Caltech classes after the first year. Oxy was test-optional even before the pandemic, but does consider test scores if you submit them and ranks them as “important” on the Common Data Set (whereas GPA, rigor, and essay are “very important”) - I’m sure they must like to accept some applicants with high scores, to keep up their averages… and your GPA is pretty close to their median.

U of Utah has an excellent undergrad CS major, and a minor in CogSci. It’s very affordable with either WUE reciprocity or their path to residency after the first year.

CU Boulder has a CogSci certificate program that’s open only to majors in related fields, including CS. Undergraduate Certificate in Cognitive Science Overview | Institute of Cognitive Science | University of Colorado Boulder


Thanks for the detailed reply. I definetly hope to get into cogsci for cmu because I can take ai courses there as well, which is something that is very interesting to me. However, I am worried about the career prospect afterwards. Do you think that if I were to major in cogsci at a prestigious univeristy like CMU that I would still be able to land a cs job, because I am worried that I might be enticed to rather have a career in CS, although right now I like cognitive science more. Not sure if you have experience in this, but if you do, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have you thought about UK schools? They place more emphasis on AP scores instead of your GPA. Plus only 3 years of tuition. Your 5’s on the AP scores would look good, and put you in solid contention.

Yeah I am thinking about applying to oxford. I know that the admissions interviews are pretty tough there. Do you have any recommendations for other good cs colleges there. I heard that Edinbergh is a good one and Cambridge of course.

It’s not unusual for CogSci majors who get a strong CS background to end up working in tech. It depends more on the background and skills you acquire than on which degree you get. A lot of CogSci majors are more interested in crossover fields like UX and NLP than in straight-CS type careers, but it’s all a matter of what you prepare for, what kind of research you get involved in, what kind of internships you seek out. If you look at the course requirements for CogSci major programs like CMU’s and RPI’s - those students have no shortage of tech skills. If you manage to get into UCSD, there are multiple tracks of CogSci there, and it can be as CS-heavy as you want. (Your chances of getting into the CS major at San Diego are slim, but if you get into the university, you can choose CogSci and still come out with a strong CS skill-set.) Cognitive Systems at UBC offers a CS-focused track as one of the five options. If CogSci interests you more, I don’t think you should worry about choosing it; just be thoughtful about what kind of work you want to end up doing, and what skills employers will be looking for, and make sure to acquire those skills.

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Thanks for the input. I think I am going to stick with CogSci through college, and I will be mindful of picking colleges which give more options to specialize in a cs-track of cogsci. I am interested in NLP specifically, so it seems cogsci does offer good career opportunities for me. Thanks for your help again.

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Imperial College London would be your best bet for anything STEM related. It has a very well known reputation.

This list may be useful. Not all schools listed have an undergrad CogSci major but many do: iCogSci - Cognitive Science Programs

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I don’t believe this is correct. Oxy was not test optional before 2021 but has committed to test optional for Fall 2022 applicants. After that they have not said either way.