UC Santa Barbara Freshman Class of 2026 Discussion

Welcome prospective Gauchos. It’s that time of year again as the UC application has now opened and submission starts November 1. I am @Gumbymom one of the two UC Forum Champions/Moderators. My Co-Forum Champion is @lkg4answers and we are knowledgeable on the increasingly complicated UC admissions process and hopefully we can help any prospective UC applicants with their questions.

UC Santa Barbara like all the UC’s are test blind this admission cycle and will use 13 areas of criteria to review Freshman applicants. Each campus will weight the various areas of criteria differently so one size does not fit all. The UC application website has plenty of information that can help determine if UC Santa Barbara is a good option when applying. Below is some admit information specific to the school. Best of Luck.

2020 Capped Weighted UC GPA Middle 25-75 percentile for admitted students: 4.03-4.27

Application review

  • Very important : Academic GPA, Personal Insight questions
  • Important : Rigor of secondary school record
  • Considered : Character/personal qualities, Extracurricular activities, First generation college student, State residency, Talent/ability, Volunteer work, Work experience
  • Special consideration for disadvantaged students.

College of Letters and Sciences: Choice of major is not considered in selection to the College of Letters and Science. The exceptions to this rule are dance and music performance majors. Both majors require applicants to complete an audition in late January or early February.

College of Engineering: Students are selected by major for all engineering and computer science majors. Only applicants with a solid background in advanced high school mathematics will be considered for admission to engineering. This includes high grades in all math courses through grade 11 and enrollment in pre-calculus or higher in grade 12. A student not selected for their first choice major will be reviewed for admission to an alternate major outside of the College of Engineering if one was selected.

College of Creative Studies:
Applicants to the College of Creative Studies submit a supplementary application in addition to the general UC Application, which is reviewed by Creative Studies faculty. Students are selected within Creative Studies majors only. Applicants not selected for Creative Studies will automatically be considered for admission to the College of Letters and Science.

My D22 plans to apply to UCSB but I am growing increasingly concerned about the school. The housing overcrowding sounds like a nightmare, but the course availability crisis described in this article seems even worse. @Gumbymom and others, have you heard anything about how admin is addressing these issues?

I have not heard on how administration is addressing these issues, but it not just limited to UCSB nor the UC’s in general. Since Covid guidelines keep changing, all schools are scrambling to accommodate as many students as possible.

With schools going from triples to doubles, Freshman students from last year wanting to have the “dorm” experience for their 2nd year and off campus housing reducing capacity and having much less available inventory for rental, everyone is affected.

In general, none of the UC’s guarantee housing other than for incoming Freshman although UCSB did guarantee housing for 3rd and 4th years prior to the pandemic if students stayed in the dorms 1st and 2nd year.

One son attended UC Davis which guaranteed Freshman housing only, 2nd year housing was very limited and most students moved off campus after 2nd year anyways for affordability.

The Off campus housing hunt for 2nd years+ started in December of their Freshman year and this was true also for other son that attended SDSU and this 6 and 7 years ago, well before the pandemic.

I agree that the UC’s need to get their act together, especially if they are increasing student enrollment and offer housing to all students that need it but in reality, this has never been an option for many years now.

Applying as a Freshman, I would have confidence that housing will be available for your student at the UC’s as long as the housing deadline is met. Waitlisted students may be a different story. After Freshman year, it may continue to be a challenge and really do not know what I could say that will ally your fears. Unfortunately only time will tell and building new housing is also going to take time.

If you read the article, you’ll notice that Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD also have course shortage issues, too, that the UCs ignore.

The housing at all coastal UCs - UCSD, UCI, UCLA, UCSB, UCSC, & UCB - is very tight, and UCSB was especially affected since normally more than half of the student population lives in the adjacent community, Isla Vista (IV), and it’s not traditionally a commuter school, partly due to geography. Because of Covid uncertainty, many kids waited to secure housing, and in the meantime IV properties were rented out to other people leaving only crumbs for students who didn’t secure a lease in Dec-Mar prior to the start of school. This increased demand for on-campus housing to record levels. At least UCSB made this right in the end by subsidizing hotels in the area so students have a safe place to sleep for the same price as university housing. After this year’s housing crisis, undoubtedly more students will secure housing much earlier next year which hopefully will alleviate some demand for on-campus housing. I definitely understand not wanting to deal with possible housing issues, but then you need to rule out many UCs and some CSUs.

The CA legislature is pressured by parents - some of us - to have the UCs accept more kids. SB 169 was just passed by the legislature to give out grant money for housing. The UCs will get 100 million out of that across all campuses, definitely not enough to address the UC housing shortage, but it is a small start. UCSB also has a big dorm proposed because of a donation, but it’s still in the planning and review stages, so it will be a while before it alleviates housing issues.


I can’t say how getting classes is this year, but a quote in the article says it’s a crisis like it’s been every year since 2015. Our son entered UCSB in 2015 and never had an issue getting classes nor did his friends. 2 neighbors also graduated in 4 years. The one thing that could keep an engineering student from graduating in 4 years is if they fail a class - most/many of the upper division are only offered once a year. I don’t know what aspect of the COVID crisis has caused the difficulties with housing this year, but that is different than it was pre-pandemic. Prior to 2020, housing was a real plus at UCSB with the 4 year guarantee (2 years in dorms + 2 years in apartments). In general, our son had an excellent experience there. I highly recommend looking into the Freshman Summer Start Program (FSSP). https://www.summer.ucsb.edu/college/freshman-summer-start-program-fssp


A question around alternate majors at UCSB.

Two scenarios:

Choose CS in college of engineering as first major and Data Science in College of Letters and Science as alternate.

Choose Data Science as the only major.

Is the first choice more risky: one may not get into CS, and receive a lesser consideration for Data Science compared to those who select Data Science as first choice.

Would appreciate any input.

Overall, does one improve consideration and chances of admission with first choice in L&S and second choice in COE, or vice versa, or they are equivalent.

Also is it advisable to select both majors from L&S.

How does this work for other UCs (i.e. are chances maximized by having major and alternate major in different colleges)?

UCSB recommends that if applying to the College of Engineering to select an alternate in the College of Letters and Sciences. Select CS if that is your first choice and Data Science as an alternate. Of course CS is more competitive but not selecting an alternate would be riskier than having a reasonable alternate.

You have decide which is more important, getting into the school or getting into your preferred major. If you are competitive for CS, then if you do not get into your first choice major, you still have a great chance at your alternate.

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Thanks @Gumbymom.

At this point getting into the school is more important.

So the key question is : does selecting data science as the first major gives you a better shot vs selecting it as an alternate ?

Note that it’s highly unlikely you’d be able to transfer into CS from a non-Engineering major. I don’t know if you were planning on that or thinking of it as an option, but it’s not realistic for most people.

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I agree with @youcee that if CS is your top choice, apply for the major and have Data Science as your alternate since changing into CS later is not guaranteed and extremely competitive. Applying to Data Science as your choice major will not be less competitive than CS as first choice and Data Science as an alternate.

The majority of applicants will be applying to the College of Letters and Sciences which means more competition in terms of applicants.

I do not think there will be an advantage either way as long as you list an alternate major outside of Engineering.


Great. Thanks for the input. Really helps here.

BTW, pretty aware of the fact that chance of changing to COE major later is pretty much nil.

Main concern was around listing a given major as primary vs alternate: does one get lesser consideration for the major in the latter case.

Seems that should not be the case. Makes sense.

Any recent graduates or students studying economics at ucsb? how does the recruitment and course options compare to a traditional business school?

UCSB has started sending out emails confirming receipt of applications. The email states,

"Our team is busy working to create your personal applicant portal which is where you will receive admission updates. You will be able to access your portal on or after January 4, 2022. We will contact you in a few weeks with applicant portal login instructions. While you wait for your portal to open, be sure to visit our fall 2022 applicant page for information on what happens next in the admissions process.

Important Note:
UCSB will only review information submitted in your self-reported UC application. At this time, do not send unsolicited transcripts, changes in class schedules, letters of recommendation, or application updates. We may request specific documents if they are needed so be sure to check your email regularly.

In January, transfer students will receive separate instructions on completing their Transfer Academic Update (priority deadline January 31, 2022). Freshman applicants are asked to wait for an admissions decision before sharing changes in to their senior year schedule.

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@ucgraddad posted that UCSB is starting to send out info about setting up your portal. :woman_technologist:t4: :desert_island:


In the decisions thread, info is requested about a student’s demographics (gender, how many parents you live with, where you are from, etc.). Does UCSB (or the UC in general) take this info into consideration when reviewing applications?

I thought I had read somewhere that demographic info was collected by the UC system but not considered in the review of the application. Does anyone (@Gumbymom?) know for sure? Is there a reason this forum requests this info in the decision thread if it not considered?

Race, Ethnicity, Gender are not taken into consideration for the admission process however,
Location of your secondary school and residence are part of the 13 areas of criteria on the Freshman application review. Secondary school and location are used since an applicant is reviewed in the context of what their HS offers in terms of academics and educational opportunities.

Most of the demographic data is for collection purposes.

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Just got an email with a parent newsletter


Yes and they must be watching these forums as it explicitly mentioned no relevancy for admissions status :slight_smile: