Rejected from all my colleges with very high grades

I was rejected from all my colleges, even my safeties.

For some introduction, I moved to the US from Vietnam when I was 16. My grade is entirely in the A - B+ range. My SAT is 1540, and I have very good extra curricular.

Because of my good grade/SAT/ec, I decided to apply to UCSD and UCI as my safeties, with some bigger schools as reaches.

I was rejected from every single one.

I am very confused now. My hypothesis is that there is some problem with my application since I moved so late in my high school career, but I cannot say for sure.

My mom had been encouraging me to take a gap year, get a consultant, and apply again. But I’m not sure if that will increases my chances.

Thank you for reading, and I will greatly appreciate your thought.

Are you a US citizen/permanent resident, or did you apply as an international student?

I am sorry you don’t have any acceptances yet, but UCSD and UCI were not safeties. (safeties by definition are affordable and admission is virtually guaranteed based on stats)

There are schools still accepting applications…if you post your uw GPA and budget posters can help you. Do you live in California?

If you got rejected from UCI and UCSD, they weren’t safety schools. What is your UWGPA?

Hello, I believe my UWGPA to be 4.25. Thanks for replying.

I applied as a permanent resident living in California

Unweighted gpa is based on a 4.0 scale (A+/- = 4, B+/- = 3 and so on) in core courses only (english, math, SS, science, FL). Did you (or your current HS) send colleges your transcript from Vietnam HS as well?

What is your budget? Major? Local cal state school? Local CC?

Check out this thread for ideas as well:

Oops, sorry for the confusion. I believe my normal GPA to be 3.8.

My budget is in the UC’s 20k range. I live in San Diego and major in Computer Science.

@gumbymom Thoughts for OP wrt california schools and computer science? CC? CSU?

@MYOS1634 any recommendations?

OP, what is your FAFSA EFC? Were you in the top 9% of your HS class?

Is my EFC relevant to my admission chances? I don’t have that information right away.

I’m definitely in the top 10% of my HS class.

Thanks for your commitment to help @Mwfan1921, I highly appreciate it.

Yes your FAFSA EFC is relevant to FAFSA only need aware schools. So, if your EFC is around the $20K your family can pay, that helps target certain schools. But if your EFC is $50K, that’s a different story.

Did you apply to any schools that required the CSS Profile?

I didn’t apply to any schools that required CSS. Just checked my EFC and it’s 10,000. However, it must be noted that my parent finance is very complicated and they would be able to contribute more than that.

Do you think that is a determining factor in my admission?

I think the UCs are all need blind, so I doubt finances played a part in the denials.

Where else did you apply besides UCSD and UCI?

In hindsight, I made a mistake. I didn’t apply to any lower school because I thought that I had a great chance for UCI and SD. I applied to those plus a few other T20. If this is the case, I think my best course of action is to take a gap year and reapply with a more diverse platter of colleges?
My only worry is that colleges will automatically reject me if they see I had applied and been rejected before. Plus I do not know if I had some hidden problem in my application.

I don’t live in California, so I don’t know much about this, but isn’t there some sort of program in California where you have a guaranteed transfer program from community college to certain UCs or something provided you meet GPA requirements?

It seems to me that you did not have good counseling on how to choose safeties, matches and reaches. In that sense, your mom’s suggestion of a gap year and using a counselor will probably help - it won’t get you accepted places you weren’t before (I have a caveat here) but if it helps you find a good fit that you are happy with, then it will definitely help. You will also need to find something useful and constructive to do with your gap year - for your own growth, but you may even find that what you might end up doing would also help with college applications.
The caveat above - it’s possible that your essays could have used significant improvement, and a counselor might be able to help you improve on those. Better essays and a productive gap year might - might - improve your chances at one of the colleges you were turned down at.

The CC to UC route is also an option ( @Gumbymom i think will be best placed here also to talk about that), if you don’t mind missing out on a “full freshman experience” (though I understand some CCs are trying to replicate that with dorms etc). The other advantage of this route is, of course, cost. A number of students from my daughter’s (highly regarded public) high school have gone this route.

We are also immigrants. Although my daughter had a bit of an advantage over you in that she moved just before high school so at least had a full high school record here, I can completely sympathize with how difficult it is to get to grips with a college application system that seems so different from elsewhere in the world. We did hire a counselor to help us navigate it, and it really helped us. Best of luck with what you choose going forward.

Try NJIT, they have rolling admissions and good scholarships.

There’s that saying about when life gives you lemons make lemonade.
I’m not a fan of this idea of seeing which colleges are still accepting applications and trying to find a spot somewhere.
I think a gap year is something most people would benefit from. Provided you do something constructive with your time I think it can only benefit you.
I wish young people could see that there is a lot of time to do the things you want to do. I didn’t feel that way at 18. I am not knocking young people at all. I think this is an amazing generation with more compassion, kindness and tolerance than they get credit for.
You have the gpa, you have the SAT, who knows what your letters of recommendation were like? Maybe your essays didn’t speak to the people that read them?
If you can afford a gap year I would say take one.
Take a bit of time now to be angry and then to develop a plan.
Find a school you love (that you can afford) and learn everything you can about it. Then (as a general rule) consider Early Decision to that school.
Research matches and safeties also.
You have found College Confidential now.
I knew nothing about this whole process until I found this place but I had bright kids I knew I had to do the best I could for. You will quickly discover who gives great advice on here. It’s not always the ones who tell you what you want to hear by the way.
Read the Reject Train Going Strong thread for inspiration.

Good luck.

Also, this just caught my eye. If you applied to T20 schools that didn’t require CSS, those must have all or mostly been state flagships? Admit rates for out of state students at those colleges are very low (and typically even lower for CS, and many don’t give aid to OOS). Again, this makes me wonder about the advice you received on how to choose colleges.

@Vietlong11: As you have found out that as a CS major, none of your so called safety schools are safeties. CS is the one of the most competitive majors at the UC’s. Your stats are competitive so did you meet the a-g course requirements to apply to the UC’s? I would have though you might have been at least waitlisted? UC Capped weighted GPA?

So what is done is done. You need to regroup and figure out what to do next.


  1. Take a gap year, redo your college list and include some UC’s like Santa Cruz, Riverside and Merced. Also include some Cal states such as Cal Poly Pomona, San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal State Long Beach and Fullerton.

  2. Consider do the CC to UC transfer using TAG (Transfer AdmissionGuarantee). 4 UC campuses accept TAG for CS being UC Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz and Davis. If you meet the course requirements and specific GPA, you are guaranteed admission to one of these schools.

Even if you cannot TAG to a UC, if you have a High GPA and good personal insight essays, you could transfer into a UC after meeting the GE and major specific requirements. An advisor at your local to help you plan your schedule for the next 2 years. You need a minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units to transfer.

Just remember there are different paths to your goal so best of luck.