Match our STEM son to a fit college on west coast

Please, please give us your collective wisdom on 1) whether I’ve accurately categorized the school’s currently on our 2023 son’s list, and 2) whether there are ideas for additional schools for him to consider! I’d like to find some more options for him that he could get excited about. On CC, I am reading many amazing colleges from east coast. We are from CA, so would like some options from the west coast =)

  1. Demographics: Asian Male
    • US citizen
    • State/Location of residency: Central California
    • Type of high school: Junior at Suburban public

  2. Intended Major(s): Not certain yet - potentially STEM: biomedical engineering, computer engineering, pre-med biology, or pre-dental. Will be put in two diff. majors each UC and see which one admitted

  3. GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
    • Current Junior Yr: HS uwGPA: 3.97; HS wtGPA: 4.3; UC wtGPA 4.25
    • Class Rank: Top 8% (Ranked currently at 38th out of 500 students, raised from 135th at 10th grade)
    • SAT Scores: Have not been good at time-pressured testing. Had done some online prep last summer. 1270 in March test. Scheduled to take SAT again in June. UC and CSU are test blind. Tests are for self-determination and for private colleges. We tried, but he did not want to take ACT.

  4. Coursework: Will have 12 APs by the time of graduation.
    • Sophomore: AP World History; AP Music Theory
    • Junior: AP English Lang; APUSH; AP Chemistry; AP Physics 1; AP Seminar
    • Senior: AP CALC AB/BC (full year); AP Biology; AP Physics 2; AP Research
    • 3-year CA Medical Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathway:
    o 10th Grade: Anatomy & Medical Terminology
    o 11th Grade: Physiology and Pathology
    o 12th Grade: Patient Care Skills
    • During the pandemic years, he took four community college classes: Astronomy, Java programing, Medical Terminology and C++ ( all received As)

  5. Awards: Multiple awards from high school; Math Leader class awards; Medical class leadership award; and regional STEM fair competition awards

  6. Extracurricular

  • Musical instruments: Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, French Horn, bass Guitar
  • School bands since 5th grade, advanced jazz bands in high school
  • President of 300-student medical pathway club, leading and organizing weekly activities
  • National Honors Society
  • Love to ski; and was on club swim team before high school
  • COVID took away many volunteering and community service opportunities
  1. Essays/LORs/Other:
  • Essay – Not written yet
  • LOR: UC/CSU do not require LORs. For private college, thinking one from HS counselor, 1 from math teacher (pre-calcs and calc AB/BC) and 1 from medical career teacher (taught for three years)
  1. Cost Constraints / Budget:
  • Middle class family: Will not qualify for need-based aid. Can afford to send to most public UC/CSU colleges in CA. For private colleges or OOS, would be nice to have some options with merit aid.
    • Safety: Local Cal State Univ. or community colleges
    • Match: for bio-engr majors CSU-SLO, UCD, UCSC
    • Reach: for bio-engr majors UCB, UCI, UCSD, UCSB; Univ of Pacific (pre-dental),
    • Super Reach: for biomed major Johns Hopkins, CMU

Looking for whether our assessment of these schools as Likely, Matches, and Reaches seems accurate, or if we are inflating his chances. His high school has pretty good admit rate to UC campus (73% in 2021). Most admitted students enrolled in CA, only a couple few will go OOS or private colleges.

Also, looking for other suggestions. Here’s his thoughts right now in terms of what he’s looking for.

  1. Love animals, insets, chemistry, biology and math.
  2. Like the campus of UC Santa Cruz with redwood trees.
  3. CA does not have many small LACs, so we don’t have much experience
  4. Prefer a school that at least has a middle size campus (>5000?). It would be better to have an affiliated hospital with college.
  5. Mom wants son to be closer to home, not out of State; However, son wants to experience the east coast colleges.
  6. Would like a college with a decent musical program
  7. Both parents are new immigrants and did not have experience of US high schools. We started US community colleges when we were twenties. Mom graduated from UC Davis and Dad graduated from UC Berkeley. So the US high school to college admission is new to us.

But None of these are hard and fast criteria - but the more any school fits the majority of these preferences the better. Are we out of our mind if we’ve assessed his chances at the schools currently on the list accurately, are there other school suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

University of Puget Sound.
University of Redlands.

Thanks for your suggestion. We start seeing these two colleges on CC, but have not digged into. Do they have good bio-xx programs?

I think you have a good list. You might also look at Oregon State University, which has a good Biological Engineering program.

Your son would probably qualify for the WUE scholarship there (for approximately the top 10% of out-of-state applicants), which brings tuition down to 150% of resident tuition, with a lower cost of living than many California locations.

It is a beautiful campus with friendly, collaborative students (similar to UC Davis, maybe?). I think it could be another good, affordable safety for you.

Great. My friend’s daughter also looked into OSU and ASU OOS matching programs. We will look into that more. Thanks.

Some general UC admission rates:

Recalculate your HS GPA with GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub . Use the weighted capped version for the table below.

Fall 2021 admission rates by campus and HS GPA range from Freshman fall admissions summary | University of California :

Campus 4.20+ 3.80-4.19 3.40-3.79 3.00-3.39
Berkeley 30% 11% 2% 1%
Davis 85% 55% 23% 10%
Irvine 60% 31% 14% 1%
Los Angeles 29% 6% 1% 0%
Merced 97% 98% 96% 89%
Riverside 97% 92% 62% 23%
San Diego 75% 35% 5% 1%
Santa Barbara 73% 28% 4% 1%
Santa Cruz 91% 81% 46% 9%

These are for the whole campus. Different divisions or majors may have different levels selectivity (usually, engineering and computer science majors are more selective).

Some UCB admission rates by division (note that HS GPA used is a different calculation from above):

From OPA – University of California Berkeley , choose the Academic Indicators tab. “Last updated on October 22, 2021” for the “last 3 complete application cycles”.

GPA appears to be weighted, not capped. Calculate using GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

Admission rates only:

3.800-4.000 6.3% 2.7% 4.5% 11.5% 8.7%
4.001-4.199 10.6% 3.9% 8.2% 23.7% 14.7%
4.200-4.399 21.8% 8.8% 17.5% 38.9% 29.1%
4.400-4.599 34.8% 16.4% 33.3% 53.0% 39.5%
4.600-4.799 40.9% 21.4% 39.6% 52.4% 49.4%
4.800-5.000 41.5% 20.7% 36.2% 46.1% 43.0%

If he is a pre-med interested in practicing in inland southern California, he may want to consider UCR and this program: Thomas Haider Early Assurance Program | School of Medicine Student Affairs

Cal Poly SLO should go in the Reach category since Bioengineering has around a 16% acceptance rate. Also note that SLO is the only CSU that uses 9-11th grades for the a-g course requirements with an 8 semester honors point cap for their GPA calculation. The rest of the CSU’s use the 10-11th grades and the 8 semester Honors cap.

I would add UC Riverside as a Match school and I second looking into the Thomas Haider program.

I think you need more Match schools: CSU Long Beach and CSU Fullerton might be good options for their Bioengineering programs.

For OOS, Arizona State and University of Arizona could be options with merit.

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Thank you, Gumbymon. We visited CSULB last fall and loved the campus and their music buildings too. Our focus has been to UCs so far. Since DS High school has pretty good admit/enroll rate in the past (~79%) into UCs, with similar GPA and majors. We have not looked into other CSUs. Our backup plan is going to a community college and then transfer to a UC, which were how Mom and Dad got their degrees.

Do you know about the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)?

We looked a little bit into the ASU WUE program, which the website indicated that the CA students can only apply to the West Campus, not the Tempe campus. So we gave up. We will look again.

Thanks, ucbalumus. I missed labeled the UC GPA. I calculated with RogerHub and they are capped wted UC GPA at 4.25. In CA schools now, they have a system in “” and have all the CA high school transcript classed imported. It outputs CSU GPA, UC GPA and HS GPA automatically, following each system’s rules. For community college and CSU application, one can upload their HS classes automatically to the CC and CSU admission. UCs are stilling working on their automate upload system.

I used the following website to check the DS high school to each UC campus admission and enrollment:

For UCB, his HS has about 24% admission rate. UCD 38%, UCI 33%, etc.
Thanks for your input. Love the ways you have been providing info on CC.

Both of these are west coast schools with biomedical engineering majors and about 3500 students, so slightly smaller than your initial goal.

U. of Portland (OR): 11:1 faculty/student ratio
U. of the Pacific (CA): 14:1 faculty/student ratio

If your son is set on engineering, I would disregard this next suggestion, but Regis University in Denver, CO has a lot of health-related majors like genome sciences/genomics, medical informatics, medical microbiology and bacteriology, pharmaceutical sciences, etc. It has an 11:1 student/faculty ratio as well. It’s slightly smaller, with about 2800 undergrads.

Be aware that CSUs admit by major. Some majors can be much more selective than other majors at the same campus. Consider the recent admission thresholds for SJSU and CPP:

Unfortunately, most CSUs do not publish the recent past admission thresholds by major (although CSUN and CSUFresno also do), even though there are probably plenty of people who would like to see them (e.g. at more popular campuses like CPSLO, CSULB, and SDSU).

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Yes, ASU offers WUE at the non-main (i.e. non-Tempe) campuses which appear to cater more to non-traditional and commuter students (ASU functions both as a state flagship and a broad-access university, since it is located in a metro area that has more than half of the state population).

WUE includes many other (generally less selective with extra space) western region state universities. See .

Yes. Pay careful attention to any school that admits by major and how easy/difficult it is to switch majors, particularly if you want to switch to a popular major (i.e. computer science). That’s one reason why I’d look at colleges where majors are largely open for anyone who’s undecided…like I believe the three I mentioned above may be.

Thank you, @AustenNut , That is super helpful. I guess we will spend more time on “college navigator” to look up each CSU campus and major.

Here is the CSU impaction matrix which shows campuses that are impacted for majors. O= Open
I= Impacted

Also I would also check the 2022 Admissions by Source school when it get posted, since this years numbers expect to be very different (lower) than for 2021. If you were following any of the UC decisions discussions, plenty of 4.2+ UC GPA students that were waitlisted or denied from many of the UC’s.

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That is good to know. I don’t know if it is a good idea to enroll into a “west campus”, and not being a part of main campus, such as Tempe, would give the equivalent college experience. Need to dig deeper, for sure.

That is right, @Gumbymom . Now a day, applying for college is like buying stock in a risky market. We can only rely on experience in the market past, but can not predict the future return =) The market past means something, but is not telling everything. That is why we also look to you, CC experts, for some reliable sources input to calibrate our expectation :smiley:.