SLO vs community college then transfer to UC

Hi all,

I am very conflicted right now and am in need of some advice.
For some context, I am a highschool senior this year (CA instate) who applied for ME to all schools, with Davis, Cal Poly, and especially UC Berkeley being my top choices. However, I ended up being rejected by Davis and Berkeley and accepted into Cal Poly for my second choice major, Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering.

The main thing I am conflicted on is whether I should go to a community college and try to transfer to Berkeley (w/ guaranteed transfer to Davis) or go to Cal Poly and get the full college experience but risk not being able to change into my top major choice, ME.

Pros and Cons of Cal Poly:
+Full college experience, many people reccommending me to go here and enjoy the amazing college that it is
-Not guaranteed to be able to change into ME, lacks diversity(this is not a huge thing for me but uncomfortable nonetheless), obviously more expensive but that is fine for me as I plan on taking out student loans anyways

Pros and Cons of CCC:
+Transfer Alliance Project (I should qualify for it as I am Asian right?) can help me get into my top school for ME: Berkeley, guaranteed admission to Davis,cheaper
-Not guaranteed to go to Berkeley (but I also really like Davis and can apply to other schools I like by then as well), not the full college experience, and the biggest thing for me is that I heard (don’t know if it is true) that I may have to do 3 years in order to complete all my courses.

I really don’t want to do 3 years at a community college. But then again, Berkeley is my dream school. However, at Cal Poly I have the chance to switch to ME, which would be great. But then again, this is not guaranteed.

Also, please inform me of anything I may be missing from my pros and cons lists!

Any advice is really appreciated. Have a great day!

This is a big potentially-not-fine red flag. “I have to take loans anyway so it doesn’t matter how big they are” is not how it works. It will matter a lot in the future.

Between not wanting the program you were accepted to, and the affordability issue, I’m thinking CC is the better choice here. Look for an honors program at a CC near you, to help you achieve the best possible transfer outcome. There’s no need for your lower-division classes to take 3 years if you take a full load and plan well.


For TAP you should contact them to ask but my sense from reading their webpages is they look for underrepresented minorities and/or low income students.

You should be able to complete the xfer requirements in 2 years at a CC. You might need to enroll at more than one CC in your area to get all the classes in two years, that’s just part of the fun of the process.

As an engineering student or xfer, your 1st year or two you primarily will take math/chem/physics in order to transfer along with some GEs. See this at Major Requirements: College of Engineering | UC Davis or Welcome to the Office of the Registrar - Office of the Registrar - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo So these are the grades that determine your future.

For TAG Davis requires a 3.50 overall and in major prep starting in 2022. That’s pretty high! At Cal Poly you need a 2.75 to be eligible to change into ME according to Changing Majors Within the College of Engineering - Engineering Student Services - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo but that’s just the minimum. They don’t list what it has been lately for those allowed to change, and it seems like changing major is more than just gpa driven (you need to write essays, etc)

So if I were you I’d first get more info from Cal Poly. Use the contact page at Meet with Us - Engineering Student Services - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and talk to them to find out what you’d actually need to do in order to change majors.

Then you can decide which way to go. Understand in advance, though, how tough the classes are. To get a good gpa it will take 6-10 hours outside of class each week for each STEM class to do homework, go to office hours, study the chapters, do practice problem sets.


You should read this page on changing major to ME at CPSLO. Note that bioresource and agricultural engineering is not in the College of Engineering; it is in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

The amount of loans you can take without a cosigner is limited to $5.5k first year, increasing a little in later years. Loans large enough to require a cosigner are usually a bad idea.


Cal Poly also considers how competitive you would have been for the destination major straight out of high school. You may want to ask specifically about that since you were passed over for ME in the first place. I’m certainly a Cal Poly fan, but unless you’d be content staying in the major you were admitted to, I’d probably go the CC route.


Thank you all so much!

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How much do you need to take out in loans if you go to SLO?

Won’t you equally have to take out loans for a UC if you did the CC/TAP route?

If you had gotten into UCD or UCB, wouldn’t you also have had to take loans.

Is the issue here “simply” SLO vs saving money for 2 years of CC?

No, the issue is that the OP wants to study Mechanical Engineering, but got admitted to an alternate major, Ag Engineering. It’s challenging to swim upstream into harder admit majors at Cal Poly, especially from outside of the CENG.

ok. got it, thanks.

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I concur with @eyemgh in that you were not admitted into the ME program at SLO so trying to switch into ME in the College of Engineering is not guaranteed especially since you were admitted into your alternate major. As noted, when changing majors at SLO, you will be evaluated if you were qualified at the time of your original admission for the 1st choice major, which means you did not met the threshold. If ME is what you want to pursue, then going the CC to UC route is your best option.

Best of luck on your decision.

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Do you have other options like CPP (which is quite good in ME) or other schools? Or did you select/apply to only one school in your cal state application?


From another discussion OP was admitted to UCSB but also not into ME, but Undeclared.

Interesting, what if I were to attend UCSB(undeclared college of letters and science) instead first and then tried to switch?