Which if any UC schools might be a good fit for my OOS daughter? Any other CA suggestions?

D22 who had been looking for colleges in the South announced that she is thinking now about California. My husband and I have no familiarity with California schools.

Her GPA is 3.6 (it’s complicated)from a college prep school and ACT of 34. Strong music student (voice) and planning to major in Chemistry or Physics. She wants a medium to large campus, but not super-large, and sense of school spirit and community. Preferably near a city (i.e. – not remote but not wholly urban either). We would prefer if it is not a “party school”. She is more a southern than northern CA girl, but would consider all locations. She would love UCLA but that is not realistic. Anything suggestions on where to focus as?

Her breakdown/odds from College Vine are below. Cost is not a primary factor (thanks to her generous, childless aunts).

Targets: Occidental, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, UC Davis, University of San Diego

Hard Targets: UC Irvine, UC San Diego

Safety: Chapman, UC RIverside.

Is the 3.6 GPA weighted or unweighted? What portion of her classes are honors and APs? Will she have 4 years in each of the 5 core subject areas?

What are her UC GPAs? GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

What is your budget?

This info will help categorize schools, but it’s unlikely Chapman and UC R are safeties. Does she have at least one affordable safety? Does her school use Naviance or Scoir? Those will be much better to help categorize than college vine, which is worthless.

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Has she calculated what her UC GPA would be? I recollect that @gumbymom has posted about this many times. If I remember correctly, the UC system does not include freshman grades and has a standardized weighting system to assess rigor. That would give her a better sense of her chances.


UC’s are test blind through the admission cycle so her competitive ACT will not be considered. GPA will be a major factor.

The UC GPA’s will give her a better idea of her chances and they consider all 3 UC GPA’s although the capped weighted is most commonly referred to on the websites. As an OOS applicant, only AP/IB or DE UC transferable courses will give the extra honors point bump. HS designated Honors classes are not weighted.

So around $268K/4 years at a UC is affordable? With a Chemistry/Physics degree she is probably looking at Graduate school so you should include those costs on top of the Undergrad costs.

Going to list some UC GPA admission information below.

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.40-3.79 capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 2%

UCLA: 1%

UCSD: 8%

UCSB: 9%

UCI: 9%

UCD: 17%

UCSC: 59%

UCR: 65%

UCM: 95%

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.80-4.19 capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 14%

UCLA: 8%

UCSD: 39%

UCSB: 40%

UCD: 55%

UCI: 38%

UCSC: 82%

UCR: 90%

UCM: 97%

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 4.20 or above capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 37%

UCLA: 38%

UCSD: 78%

UCSB: 81%

UCD: 86%

UCI: 60%

UCSC: 92%

UCR: 97%

UCM: 98%

2020 UC capped weighted GPA averages along with 25th-75th percentile range:

UCB: 4.22 (4.13-4.30)

UCLA: 4.25 (4.18-4.31)

UCSD: 4.16 (4.04-4.28)

UCSB: 4.15 (4.03-4.27)

UCI: 4.11 (3.96-4.26)

UCD: 4.10 (3.95-4.25) Updated for 2021

UCSC: 3.94 (3.71-4.16)

UCR: 3.88 (3.65-4.11)

UCM: 3.68 (3.40-3.96)

Overall Admission Rates:

UCLA: 10.8%

UC Berkeley: 14.5%

UC Irvine: 29.0%

UC Santa Barbara: 29.2%

UC San Diego: 34.3%

UC Davis: 49.0%

UC Santa Cruz: 58.9%

UC Riverside: 66.0%

UC Merced: 95.6%


thanks @mamaedefamilia @Gumbymom @Mwfan1921

You guys are amazing and this is very clarifying. Her freshman year was great, pandemic junior year very problematic and her good test scores won’t matter, so looks like we shouldn’t put much weight on UC options. (UW 3.31, Weighted 3.8-3.9, capped 3.6).

Going to Naviance for the public school she attended freshman and sophomore years shows
the school acceptance rates of 53% for Santa Clara (mean ACT 31 and GPA 3.54), 41% for Loyola Marymount (ACT 28, GAP 3.47), Pepperdine 33% (ACT 29, GPA 3.64), and USD 21% (ACT 25 and GPA 3.23). They don’t have much data for Chapman (10% acceptance rate , GPA 3.83) or Occidental 14% (ACT 32, GPA 3.72). The lowest stat UC for our school is UCSD with a GAP of 3.78 and ACT of 32).

Any ideas on how these might fit her description/interests?

I still don’t understand the GPA…is her unweighted in core courses only 3.31?

On Naviance, you have to look at the scattergrams (a plot of gpa and test score of admission results for every applicant and their admission decision from that HS)…this is what you need to help categorize schools, not the overall acceptance rate.

Personally I would drop Chapman for chem/physics. Pepperdine is religious, requiring 3 religion courses in total, plus attendance at 14 spiritual events per semester…does that appeal?

Beyond that I would start with your budget.

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All the UC’s listed now are Reaches based on her capped weighted GPA. What GPA are they reporting for the UC’s on Naviance? The average Capped Weighted UC GPA data for UCSD has not been below 4.0 in many years so the 3.78 seems very low for an admit but there are always exceptions.

Since UC’s are not taking test scores into consideration, last year many 4.0+ applicants were rejected from the UC’s.

I think LMU could be a target. Class of 2024 stats are below:
Average high school GPA of 3.9
ACT Scores: 26 (25th pct)-31 (75th pct)

USD Freshman Profile so a High Target possibly.

Average college prep GPA (weighted) 3.95
- 25th and 75th percentile GPA 3.74-4.20
Average SAT I score 1250
- 25th and 75th percentile SAT I scores 1170-1340
Average ACT composite score 27.8
- 25th and 75th percentile ACT scores 25-31

Santa Clara Freshman GPA for Class of 2025 Arts and Sciences: High School GPA 3.46-3.84
Probably another High Target.

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Thanks @Mwfan1921 and @Gumbymom. You are helping me make quick work of this large state. The UCs are clearly out (freshman year grades and test scores are two of her strengths which wouldn’t be accounted for in this system).

Based on Naviance and her unweighted GPA of she is outside the dotted X and Y access for Naviance at the public school she attended freshman and sophomore year, and thus I assume a decent candidate (?)) at

Santa Clara (intersection of those x and y lines is ACT 31 and GPA 3.5)
Loyola Marymount (ACT 28, GPA 3.4)
USD (ACT 26, GPA 3.27).

She is on the cusp of those two lines for Occidental (ACT 31, GPA 3.66) and Pepperdine (ACT 29, GPA 3.68) and out of range for Chapman.

Sounds like Santa Clara, LMU and USD are all matches then (but her # of core courses and rigor is still not clear), I think Pepperdine is probably a match too, maybe a low reach (what is the Naviance sample size?). And Oxy and Chapman reaches.

Your D needs to demonstrate interest at all of these schools, so get on the mailing lists, and do a virtual admission session at each…those will help her get a sense of the schools appeal or not. Pepperdine is the clear outlier as it’s the most religious by far. Oxy is a liberal arts college, the other three smallish universities.


Thanks. She would definitely balk at religious.

Rigor is hard to assess. At her public school (which tries to mirror a prep school) almost all of her courses were considered honors and she took one AP sophomore year. She was on track to take 3 APs junior year but transferred to a prep school. The rigor there was super high, but none of the classes are coded as "honors’ and APs are not common and thus she hasn’t taken any. For example you can’t AP English or History at this school. And can’t take AP Physics unless you take Calculus. So it depends I guess on how well the admissions people know the schools in order for them to assess.

Thanks. Will talk to her about demonstrating interest (better late than never). Not sure CA is the place to be with fires, droughts etc., but her other preference, Miami, has its share of climate concerns as well.


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@Mwfan1921 At her new school she did take Advanced Physics and Advanced Pre Calc, but without an “H” or an “AP”, not sure it counts as honors.

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I would put Cal Poly on the list as a reach. It’s the only CA school our son would apply to from OOS. Classes are small and nearly all taught by instructors with terminal degrees. Their teaching philosophy is fairly unique and it’s in an idyllic location. It is priced far better than the UCs.

That said, it is very competitive. Applicants compete by major. Chemistry and Physics have roughly 30% acceptance give or take. Engineering is more competitive. Last cycle they rejected more than 15,000 4.0+ students.

It is worth a look though depending on where her 9, 10, 11 Capped and Weighted GPA comes out.

I’d also suggest she explore Colleges That Change Lives. As part of their mission, they are less selective, and know to be excellent college experiences.

Good luck.


For OOS, Honors doesn’t count anyway. It must be an AP or IB designated course to count toward weighting. Remember, it’s 8 semesters, not 8 year long classes.

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Santa Clara and USD are Catholic universities. Chapman is affiliated historically with Disciples of Christ. I don’t believe that the religious aspect is heavy handed at any of these but it might be a factor depending on how your kid feels about religiously-affiliated schools.

She might also want to consider other western states like Arizona or NM where her grades and test score might translate into admission and merit scholarships. At New Mexico, she’d pay the in state rate with current stats under the Amigo scholarship. No beach, of course!


That’s just for the UC system though, the private schools on the list do count honors classes as higher rigor.

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Occidental is not a Catholic school.

Indeed, I believe in a gestalt sort of way though. The CA publics give a very objective boost for said courses.

My bad, historically Presbyterian. That will teach me to post before coffee is on board.


Your D’s HS counselor will provide information on rigor and a school profile that explains their curriculum. Look at each school to see their recommendations on years of core subjects, including foreign language. Cal Poly is probably the most demanding, in terms of their high school requirements and they have a complex system for computing GPA. Not urban, but SLO is a great college town. A real gem.

Agree completely about showing interest for the others. USD, LMU have a more preppy vibe. USD is in the city but on a hill with a view of the city and ocean. Stunning campus. On our tour it felt overtly religious, but in a community service way. My daughter loved Oxy and describes it as “woke” — it has about 1500 students. Beautiful campus.


I would not look at the Jesuit schools. Some are more religious than others but even at a less religious school like Loyola Marymount you have to do Theological Inquiry. USD doesn’t force it but it is strongly encouraged. I know a Jewish student who went. He was fine but never truly comfortable. And religion will abound even if not forced.

The quintessential out of state So Cal experience is SDSU so you might look there. Also I strongly second the AZ schools, especially U of A. Both ASU and u of A bring in kids from all over. U of A is gorgeous and traditional. ASU is quickly moving up the reputation ranks.

Two others to look at …Redlands in So Cal and University of the Pacific in No Cal. Both will be more regional with U O P a bit more well known and respected at the larger level.

Good luck.