UCSD, UCI, UCD, UCLA, UCSB and other CS school chances?

Hi everbody,

I am currently a sophomore attending Monta Vista high school (one of the more rigorous and competitive ones in the nation). I plan on majoring in CS, or a variation of it (such as CSE or CS + Math). My GPA, from freshman year till now, by semester goes like this:

Semester 1 Freshman: 3.5 UW (I know its bad)
Semester 2 Freshman: 3.83 UW
Semester 1 Sophomore: Most likely a 3.5 UW, and a 3.83 W (I know, bad again)
Semester 2 Sophomore: ???

So far, my performance in high school has been sub par at best. I intend on improving my work habits, and if I achieve good grades from now on I can get up to a 3.79-3.88 UC GPA, with a 4.3 - 4.4 uncapped weighted gpa. Let’s say I do achieve decent grades so that my UW UC is a 3.8, and W UC is a 4.3: What are my chances at colleges with a good CS program? What are my chances at decent CS colleges? I know it is a little premature to judge my chances based off of this information, but maybe a point in the correct direction can really help me understand if I should be trying harder (by taking more AP’s and juicing up my mediocre GPA). My EC’s include:

100+ hours of volunteering (through a volunteering club)
Teaching kids programming outside of school (non profit)
Taekwondo Black belt and competition medalist (x5)
Working on designing a program using neural networks, etc. (I don’t know if this counts as an EC, but I’ll list it anyways).

My other questions include:

  1. Is CS a really tough major to get into? If so, should I apply as undeclared or as a non-impacted major to increase my chances? What can I do to increase my chances of getting into these schools?
  2. Is it true that if you don’t get into the major of your choice at UCSD, you have to take courses and get straight A’s to get into your desired major?
  3. What is the acceptance rate into UCSD, UCSB, and UCI CS?

Thanks in advance to anyone that replies.

Do you know scores to any practice tests such as PSAT or PACT or have you by chance possibly taken either the SAT or ACT already possibly through a talent search program or some other function?

I thought about taking the PSAT, but decided against it (as i thought it didn’t count sophomore year).

I also go to a pretty highly ranked high school in America, I don’t know if that will help the situation, but just saying it now just in case it does.


What are you a black belt in? if its Taekwondo, Cal’s taekwondo program is nationally ranked and so you might want to get recruited there. I know its short notice but Im sure a letter from your master to the head of Taekwondo may help

Yes, I am a black belt in taekwondo. But in terms of my academics, do you think if I have an upward trend in my grades in the next two years I have a chance at the schools listed?

UCs focus on your academic grades in 10 and 11 primarily. You have only one of those 4 semesters in the books. It is too early to rule anything out. Do your best, take classes in which you will excel and check back in a year…

i would NOT take so many APs… Most people would find the workload unmanageable. Stick with 2 to stay sane.

good luck

@Sunny123456, it’s a little premature for you to ask to be chanced because you don’t have test scores and 10th and 11th grades are crucial for the UCs.

You haven’t been through that. It’s not a good idea to try to guess without any real stats on you .
Just keep up your grades and do the best you can at your ECs.

Thanks everyone, but I am still curious on if going to a competitive high school (Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Gunn) helps my chances as a CS major. I’ve been really scared lately as I have been told for UCSD you need to get admitted to the school first, and sometimes might need to take a few courses and get A’s in them to get accepted at your selected major. Overall, my question is that does going to a competitive high school help with my chances, and is the undeclared think about ucsd true?

It hurts your chances a lot to go to a competitive school. (source: I go to one)

u gotta capp ur gpa. It’s the only way ppl can accurately assess ur chances. Also, test scores?

I’m a sophomore in high school, so no test scores as of now. My capped uc gpa would be around a 4.2.

One good news for you is the UC does not use freshman grades to calculate GPA.
CS major is very competitive.

Acceptance rate by major:


UC GPA is based on sophomore and junior year grades only. Your ECs seem pretty solid for a prospective CS major. Assuming you get a 3.8 unweighted/4.3 fully weighted, with good test scores (e.g. ACT 34 or SAT 1500 ish, and good SATII for math and a science) you should get into CS at some of the UCs. UCSC and UCR are the easiest to get into and are good programs. You would have a shot at UCSB, UCI, UC Davis also, which are great programs. UCSD is a notch harder. UCLA and Berkeley are extremely competitive and you would have a hard time getting in (as would most people–acceptance rates into EECS at Berkeley and CS at UCLA are probably less than 5%, from a pre-selected pool of hyper-qualified applicants).

You should apply directly to the CS programs in the college of engineering at these schools (the Bren school of information and computer science at Irvine). The “backdoor” route of applying to L&S and then trying to transfer into CS is very difficult, and you’ll have two years of doubt and uncertainty leading up to a likely “no.” Berkeley is the possible exception, because there’s a CS major in L&S, but again it’s a very difficult road.

You should also apply to some of the Cal State campuses, which also have good CS programs: Cal Poly SLO, SDSU, SJSU, some others (maybe somebody else can weigh in on this). I believe your freshman year grades count for Cal Poly SLO admission. There are private options also, e.g. Santa Clara University.

Since CS is so competitive at the UC’s, you want to have a minimum UC capped weighted GPA of 4.0+ to have a decent chance at these schools. UC’s are very GPA focused but high test scores, outstanding essays and EC’s will all contribute to your chances.

As stated above, UC’s will use 10-11th grades in the a-g courses to calculate your UC GPA. The following calculator can be used to calculate your UC GPA at the end of Junior year. It will give you an UW UC GPA, Capped weighted UC GPA (used by all UC’s) and Fully weighted UC GPA (used by UCLA/UCB).


HS course rigor is important but you need to balance with getting good grades in these rigorous courses.

Since some of your questions have been addressed in the above post, I will elaborate on some of things posted.

  1. CS is a Math heavy major, so you need to like and do well in your HS Math courses.
    If CS is your 1st choice major, then apply as a CS major. As stated that “backdooring” into a highly competitive and popular major can be difficult to impossible.
    Most CS programs are in the College of Engineering which admits by major. However, CS can be found in the College of Letters and Sciences at UCB and UCD. As stated by @rocket88 stated, going in as Undeclared or CS in L&S is still not a guaranteed route since you need to meet minimum GPA standards for the pre-req courses before you can declare a major.

  2. UCSD admits into the University first than into the major. They do consider your alternate major and CS is a capped/impacted major so you need to select a non-capped major as an alternate. They have changed the system to declare CS if you are not a direct admit. All applicants that which to change into the CS major have to take several pre-req courses, meet a minimum GPA requirement and are then placed into a lottery pool.

  3. CS acceptance rates are low for most of the UC’s.

    For 2107: UCI acceptance rate was 36.8% but they have received a record # of applicants overall so you can expect this rate to continue to decrease. Average UC GPA capped weighted was 4.11 and Average SAT was 1402 for 2017 Freshman.

Unable to find UCSB’s specific CS acceptance rate but the in-coming Freshman class had an average UC GPA capped weighted of 4.15 and average SAT score of 1372 for 2016 applicants. 2017 data not posted.

Unable to find UCSD’s specific CS acceptance rate but in the in-coming Freshman class for 2016 had an average UC GPA capped weighted of 4.17 and average SAT score of 1341. Again 2017 data not posted.

For the Cal States, all admit by major so you need to select CS as your 1st choice major. Cal Poly SLO uses 9-11th grades in their GPA calculation while all the other CSU’s use the UC GPA calculation of 10-11th grades but they only use the capped weighted GPA.

Other than SLO, all admit by eligibility index (CSU/UC capped weighted GPA x800) + (SAT Math + EBRW) or (CSU/UC capped weighted GPA x200) + (ACT comp x10).

You are then ranked on your EI and major. For you local CSU, you get priority but does not guarantee you admission to an impacted major.

SLO’s CS acceptance rate is comparable to the top UC’s around 7-8%.

SDSU/CSULB/SJSU/CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona are all worth looking into for their CS programs.

The best thing you can do now is work on good grades, take a rigorous HS course schedule, do some test prep for the ACT/SAT and continue with any EC’s you enjoy (not all have to CS focused).

At the end of Junior year when you have all your stats available, you can then start formulating a list of schools that will fit your stats and ambitions.

Hi everyone,

I am currently going into second semester of sophomore year. In my freshman year of high school, I did poorly, earning a GPA of 3.5. Then in second semester, I studied harder and became more involved in school work and got a 3.83. Going into first semester of sophomore year, I repeated my freshman year, by getting a 3.5 GPA, except this time two of my B’s were in AP’s/honors courses. Going into second semester of sophomore year, I have made the same mental adjustments I made in freshman year to try and improve my GPA further. In junior year, I intend to take 3-5 AP’s and 1 honors, to try and make up for my lackluster sophomore year. I intend to major in CS.

My question being: Are my chances still alive for a UC such as UCLA, UCB, UCSD, UCSB, and UCD? Is it worth it for me to try and get better grades and to hope for acceptance at these colleges?

My extracurriculars include: black belt with over 5 medals won (2 being gold medals), 120+ hours of volunteering, starting a nonprofit which teaches kids computer programming, and multiple hackathons.

Closing thread. The OP created an additional account to ask this question, which violates Terms of Service.