Very limited availability hurts my chances to go to a UC?

I’m a junior going to a very competitive high school. My 9th grade was just awful and so was the first semester of 10th, I finished 10th grade with a 3.33. I have completely changed myself. This year I expect anywhere from a 4.00-4.6 but the most likely outcome is a 4.2. I am taking AP Physics 1, AP Calc AB, AP Computer Science, English 11, US History, Wind Ensemble(highest band besides jazz). I have played Rugby for 2 years and plan to play for another 2(Varsity this year)

My Problem:
I have an elder brother who is in need of constant care as he has severe cerebral palsy. He can’t talk, walk, or even perform basic functions like eating or adjusting his position. Both my parents work 8+ hours a day to keep me living close to Torrey Pines Highschool which is one of the best highschools in California. So the problem is, I can’t really leave my house all that much and so, unlike everyone I know, I couldn’t take an SAT prep course, I can’t volunteer nearly enough, I can barely play rugby and make it to the games and practices. Is there any way I can explain my limitations to the colleges I apply to? My brother will be taken care of by social workers by the end of my junior year, so after that I no longer have to be home after school everyday. hat are my chances to go to colleges like UCI, UCSB, UCDavis, and colleges that are of that prestige(I understand that Harvard and Stanford are out of the question)


There are on-line SAT prep courses or books that you can help you prepare in the comfort of your home. For EC’s,
the time spent taking care of your brother can be considered an EC. It would also make an excellent essay topic.
On the UC application, there is also an additional information section to address this.

To be chanced for any of the UC’s or CSU’s, you need to finish Junior year and calculate your UC/CSU GPA. Freshman grades are not included in the GPA calculation.

You then need to have SAT/ACT scores. An upward trend in grades is good, so keep up the hard work.

Here are the average UC GPA and SAT/ACT scores for all the UC’s, to give you an idea of what to aim for in your scores and GPA:


UCB 4.19/31/2094
UCD 4.07/29/1924
UCI 4.04/28/1878
UCLA 4.18/31/2064
UCM 3.67/24/1616
UCR 3.78/26/1746
UCSD 4.13/30/2035
UCSB 4.05/29/1937
UCSC 3.88/27/1828

The UC Application absolutely provides an opportunity for you to list family care responsibilities as a major activity. I’ve seen it before for both sibling care and for students who have to work in the family business. The evaluator’s guide for Berkeley specifically mentioned it a few years ago, and probably still does. They understand that.

You can use KhanAcademy or for on-line, free test prep.

Do you have an idea of what major you might be interested in pursuing? Subject tests are strongly recommended for some proposed majors, especially in engineering and some of the sciences.

Say I get a 4.2 weighted gpa both semester of junior year, score a 33 on the ACT and like a 2100 on the SAT, I have 100 community service hours, a club, and multiple fundraiser events. could I have a chance at UCB or UCSB? Also I switched into AP US history so now I have 4 aps. I want to major in engineering or/and business I am a first-generation Indian immigrant and the second person(after my brother) who has gone to a college here…

UCB Engineering is extremely tough, hovering at around a 8% acceptance rate. I would just stop worrying about colleges for now, and just focus on academics. You said you can get a 4.6, but think you’ll get a 4.2.
Focus on school and aim for the 4.6! Nothing is better than an amazing transcript for UC’s (technically you don’t send your transcript for admissions but you know what I mean).

The UCs only use your gpa from 10th and 11th, not 9th. There is a lot of good SAT prep advice right here on collegeconfidential. Taking care of your brother is volunteering and much more significant than just clocking hours at something that doesn’t relate to you. Good luck!

It is too early to rule anything out right now. Do your best this year, nail the SAT and see where you stand. I am sure you’ll have many options open to you.

Your work on taking care of your brother is admirable. If you communicate that effectively in your essay somehow, believe me you will be noticed. Do not sell yourself short. Your ability to succeed despite struggles are viewed positively by many schools

Take @khanam advice! It should work for you. May be one or two adcoms remain insensitive to your struggles, but I promise you that most will be sensitive! So you have good chances! However, you need to do your best!

A little bit of an update, First of all, I switched into AP US History because I found regular to be too much of a joke. Secondly, I expected to get a 4.2 but right now I’m rocking a 4.5 weighted (All A’s except for a B in math). Third, I took the SAT in October just to see where I am and I scored an 1800 without any preparation. I’m really torn between the SAT and the ACT since I think I’m starting off scoring pretty well considering I didn’t prepare, but the SAT is closing in January and that leaves me only one chance to do well and the ACT has always seemed to make more sense to me. My Older Brother (he attends Berkeley) says I should take the SAT because it looks better to colleges. And lastly, my disabled brother had a surgery for a feeding tube so now I’m able to feed him which is nice for both of us.

Thanks for all the advice

sat and act are basically the same to colleges so do act if you do better on practice tests

So it’s the end of semester 1 and I have a 4.3 junior year gpa. I took a practice sat and got a 2100. Before junior year me weighted gpa was a 2.75 though so I don’t know how much an upward trend can help mitigate my straight up awful soph/freshman year. I really just want to go to UCSB

Use the UC GPA calculator at the end of Junior year. Aim for a 4.0+ and SAT of 2000+ for the best chances. Upward grade trends are good and if you have extenuating circumstances regarding your low grades, these can be addressed in one of your essays, Keep up the good work.

I frankly think you are doing a great job, just keep doing your best. Admissions people (from what I’ve heard) will definitely try to understand your difficulties, and as previously noted, really address them in your UC essays and/or your additional comments section on the UC application. Good luck, keep it up! :slight_smile: