Rejected from all my colleges with very high grades

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.

You have four choices, which you can pursue one after the other:

  • you’re likely top 9% statewide and you could go to UC Merced. Contact your guidance counselor. Upside: within budget, it’s a UC, & you start in the Fall. Downside: probably not your peer group.
  • apply to colleges still accepting apps and on the NACAC list. Some are truly excellent but simply didn't meet their enrollment goals yet. Some miscalculated yield. Upside: you start college in the Fall; downside: not sure about the financial aid if your EFC is 10k. However, it's worth a try - at worst, they wouldn't give you enough nd you could move to plan B.
  • take a gap year and reapply to a lot more UC's as well as a variety of colleges, including those where you can apply to any major and switch easily (national LACs, Case Western, URochester...) CS is SUPER COMPETITIVE about everywhere, and especially in California. UCSC CS would likely be a match (even though the school is a clear safety for you) and CPP CS as well as UCM CS would likely be safeties. If you can afford housing in the area, SJSU is notorious for its CS program + Humanities Honors (to cover lower-division gen eds in small classes) + Advanced Honors (to cover upper level gen eds) make for a thorough, respected program. Upside: you have enough time to craft a good list. Downside: you have to take gap year, plan well, not waste it.... and there's no guarantee you'll get into the colleges you want. (You can't "reapply" to the colleges you applied to).
  • go to community college as Gumbymom explained, and TAG to a UC in 2 years. Upside: you start right away and you keep your chances for a UC. Downside: you lose the traditional "college experience".

College confidential can help you whatever you choose. :slight_smile:

Hello @Gumbymom , thank you so much for the advice. I have heavily considered doing Community College. I have some question however. Considering my desired school of choice is UCSD, what is the chance that I will be able to get in? If I get perfect grades. Is the chance of transfer lower than the normal chance of admission?

I was waitlisted for UCSD. Do you have any inkling of the chances that I will get in? I know it is quite ambiguous.

I have linked the 2019 UC Transfer GPA by major and campus to give admit range targets. This is updated each year.

Regarding waitlists, since this year is unique, schools may go their waitlists more readily.

2019 Waitlist stats:
Waitlist Offers: 20,000
Waitlist Admits: 4,300

@MYOS1634 what do you mean by “ You can’t “reapply” to the colleges you applied to”?

Well, legally you can, but most selective private colleges aren’t going to say “oops we made a mistake last year” and admit you.

This doesn’t apply to community college → flagship if you spend 2years at the CC, since you’re considered& admitted/denied on the strength of your CC record.
It’s also different at large public universities and sometimes at universities where you ended up on the waitlist and expressed interest till the end.
However overall a good strategy is to create an entirely new list. You may keep 1-3 in of you previous year’s reaches but only as add ons since the odds are so poor.

Ok. I have seen a couple (not a lot) of posts on CC of people being admitted to (private] colleges they had previously been denied at after a gap year. Presumably with a significantly strengthened application- maybe different essay, what they did in gap year etc.
Just, the way you phrased it made it sound like you literally can not.

Sorry for the disappointment. Computer Science admissions are really tough, turning “match” schools into “reach” schools and so on.

The other thing this thread hasn’t really addressed is the broader context of the current pandemic. That’s going to have a huge effect on college admissions this year and next. It’s unclear whether schools will be able to start in the fall with normal on-campus living arrangements. Many families are talking about gap years rather than participating in remote-learning alternatives, but if that happens widely among this year’s high school grads, the next year could become crazy-competitive.

Waitlist admissions will also be affected, although nobody can say for sure yet what the effect will be. My guess is that private colleges and universities where many students pay full-price or close to it and where many students come from outside the school’s region, will see a big drop in yield and will make a lot of waitist offers. Whereas schools like UCSD will see yield go up as students who could have spent more to go out of state decide to stay closer to home and spend less. Thus… not to be a pessimist, but I think the current situation lowers your chance of getting accepted from the waitlist. (Also, if you do get a waitlist offer, it might not be for the CS major.)

There are schools still accepting applications, but they’re typically not schools where you could get full financial aid and get your out-of-pocket costs down to your 10K-ish EFC.

If your home situation is a healthy one where you wouldn’t mind living for now, the CC-to-UC option could be a really good choice. Look at which ones have the Computer Science AA-T degree , and if there’s more than one near you, compare their Honors programs and their offerings in your non-major areas of interest (for example, some CC’s have much stronger performing arts programs than others). There will be plenty of bright and driven kids around you if you choose this option - especially this year, when many families are adapting to changes in their financial circumstances. You can apply to UCSD (where your chances will be good if your grades are high), TAG to one of the 6 campuses in the guarantee program (Irvine, Davis, SB, Riverside, Merced, & Santa Cruz) or utilize the AA-T path to a CSU with strong CS (SDSU, Cal Poly, SJSU, etc.).

Also, don’t discount the option of UCM. Do talk to your guidance counselor about your ELC status and confirm whether you can expect an offer from Merced. There’s a CS major, and going to a smaller UC can have its advantages. You would find your tribe there, especially in CS. Sure, UCSC is better known for CS, but it’s also a struggle to get into the classes you need there, and the housing crunch is terrible - I would not want to be a low-income student trying to find affordable off-campus housing in Santa Cruz after the first two years. Off-campus housing in Merced is plentiful and affordable.

I would keep scanning the horizon for other options and cross fingers for UCSD, but for the most part assume that it’ll be a choice between UCM and the CC transfer pathway. Or, as your mom says, go ahead and take the gap year, especially if you have a solid plan for how to spend the time (i.e. a job that you’re pretty sure of in spite of economic upheaval - note that you cannot take college classes or you’ll lose your stats as a freshman applicant, but you could take non-credit coding classes, for example, and strengthen your background and demonstrated interest in the field)… but be clear that it’s going to be a tough year to apply, and you’ve experienced how tough it is already for CS applicants.

Personally, I’d take the gap year option only if I wanted to go far from home. If I wanted to stay in the CA public system, I wouldn’t postpone a whole year just to get into a “better” school as a freshman, when the CC pathway is a more reliable path to the same ultimate destination. OTOH, a consultant could help you find good target schools where you could get full-need-met aid; for example, there are schools like Lehigh and Lafayette, where Asian students are under-represented and where Early Decision applicants have a strong advantage - a well-chosen ED application to a school where you’d offer both racial/ethnic and geographic diversity could potentially land you an acceptance with a full-need-met aid package. Is it worth waiting and gambling vs. taking one of the birds-in-the-hand? Hard to say - depends what you are looking for. If I were you, I’d deposit at UCM to keep that option open, as the gap year or CC decision can be made much later, and we can’t know right now how events will unfold over the next few months that could inform your decision in ways that we can’t predict today. Hang in there - it will work out!

Just and FYI: UCSB and UCI no longer accept TAG for CS majors. UCSB also does not accept TAG for any Engineering major.

The coronavirus situation needs to be considered in your plans. The end is not in sight. I really doubt that most colleges will be running normally by Fall 2020. The virtual platforms will probably still be in effect, at least until there is a vaccine and/or effective anti-virals.

So, if virtual learning is going to be the norm, then why pay huge tuitions? Just go to community college and load up on general ed requirements, and plan on transferring. By fall 2021 things probably will be better.

@VietLong11 , St. Olaf College in Minnesota has reopened applications for Fall 2020. They have a strong CS program, and they meet full documented need so it could be worth floating an application.

If you are deadset on UCSD, while CS seems tough to transfer in to from CC, transferring in to Computer Engineering at UCSD seems much more doable, and CompE would set you up for any job CS would.

The CC route is the only way you can guarantee a route to CS/CompE at a UC though efforts that are completely within your control.

@worksmartnothard: UCs outside the bottom tier (UCR and UCM) aren’t safeties for anyone.