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Student with 3.85 GPA gets rejection letters from UCs
Original post made
by Parent, Los Altos,
on May 28, 2012
My friend's daughter got 3.85 GPA, had 5 AP classes in high school, was on competitive swimming team, volunteered 100+ hours, was active in school activities, yet she got rejected by all 4 UCs that she applied to. And these were not even the highest tier of UCs, not Berkeley. She did not apply for more schools and thought that UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz were her safe choices. The whole family is devastated. She is the girl that always did everything right, she did not party, she studied hard, she volunteereed, she played sports. The family is incredibly upset. Of course, she can go to De Anza and Foothill, but this girl was looking forward to student life, to living on campus, to be in a real college.... Sentiments aside, but shouldn't there some sort of mechanism by which schools in UC system would look at such cases individually and determine if after all she can be admitted in one of them?
Posted by Opinion/Recommendations
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm
I go to UC Davis and am not really appreciating the fact that it is considered a "back-up" or a "lower-tier" school, just to get my opinion in. I also see some comments placing too much value on their students and thinking they are the "better" students, than any other school's students, just because they go to Paly/Gunn. Your friend's impression of their child and of the school caused this misfortune. Expecting to get into the top four UCs because this perception of greatness should be tossed out the window. She would have applied to other, more practical schools if she didn't have this high expectation. A more practical and realistic goal should be taken into consideration. Sure, smart students, but other school's students are being chosen because they did well in the environment they were placed in. Their success was due to their work with what they had. Therefore, I think this idolization of Paly/Gunn, and how much better your students would be than other students who got into college, should be left out of the equation when applying to college.
That aside, some advice for future applicants:
-You should apply to at least 10 schools, 15 max (due to the cost of each application). Set $1000 aside for college applications. KNOW YOUR LIMITS. General guidelines:
*3 should be your hard-to-get-into-schools schools.
*4 should be "chance" schools. These schools are ones you have a reasonable chance to get into.
*3 should be your back-up schools.
-Applicants should consider community college. Community college is a great way to stay on top of things. They have you work on your GEs so when you transfer into college, you can focus on your major. Plus, you get to have more time to consider/explore your options. Parents are often prejudiced against community college, as if it is the worst shame for their brilliant child. Just no. Community college is a real option, a smart option. Unfortunately, parents just don't see the value of it. Plus, some community colleges, like one in my home town, guarantee acceptance into all the UCs (except UCB and UCLA). As for the college experience, I know UC Davis grants on campus housing to transfer students as well. They can experience the college life, even as a junior.
-Out of state colleges : They want Californians. Seriously, they do. A lot of students choose to stay in California for college but out of state colleges want a piece of the cake too. A highly successful student like your friend's child is exactly what they are looking for. They hand out scholarships like candy to Californian students (I received a huge sum to attend RPI, and Colorado State. It became cheaper to just move out there for college, I just have homesickness problems).
-Grades. SATs. ACTs. Universities will almost always look at grades first. Standardized tests help to level the playing field. Some schools may have easy-A teachers, others may just hand out C's to practically everyone, the tests just give them a better idea of their achievements. (API of each school is also considered as a ground breaker). However, even looking at all this. GPA GPA GPA. This is at least half of what UCs look at. They consider AP classes, sure. Regular classes? Of course. You have to understand though, they don't have the time to check the teaching plans of every school's classes. 20 books mean nothing when compared to another AP Lit class that read 1-5. It just makes them "prepared" for the AP test, not college applications.
*Side note, reading 5 books for the AP exam is, by far, better than 20 because you have more of a focus on what you want to write on and a greater understanding of each and every book you read. 5 books of different genres can easily cover any prompt the AP Lit test throws at you (tragedy, drama, and a comedy). Quality over quantity? 20 is just ridiculous and terrible for any student who plans on taking the test. I recommend Heart of Darkness, Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hamlet, Things Fall Apart, and Jane Eyre + Wide Sargasso Sea. Throw in the Bible too. Helps a lot for the essay and novel analysis.
-Extracurriculars. Yes, GPA is SUPER important. However, there are many others who can get the same GPA as you. I got a 4.3, similar to your friend's child. There are MANY more who get that, or higher. Volunteer work is definitely recommended and internships are the most useful, especially in your field of study. I did over 170 hours at the SPCA over a course of 3 years. Doing it continuously and consistently make it more favorable compared to cramming in 100 in two years. Sports definitely. Leading a club? Leading the school? Guaranteed to distinguish you from anyone else! Aim for those leadership positions. Stay involved with something for over a long period of time.
-Personal Statement. My teacher used to tell me that college essay readers will not pick you on a sob story. They don't admit you because they pity you. If you write them a sob story, include how it improved you as a person. You don't brag about your qualities per say. Talk about what they will contribute to the university (or how you can), but not outright. Maybe bring in something you will do with the degree. They want to know why (qualities you have) they should pick you. Including some artistic flair in your writing is helpful too, but don't attempt it if you are not confident in how your essay will turn out. Above all, get peer reviewed, ask your teacher (preferably someone who knows the English language and usage well), which will bring me to the next suggestion.
-Teacher recommendations. Get to know your teachers. Know which ones to go for help. Make sure you stand out to them! I know many teachers who wrote brilliant recommendation letters for students applying to schools that needed it. I feel like the recommendation quality of each letter can make or break it for any student. Make sure to connect with people. Coaches and bosses work too but definitely include one from a teacher.
-Don't apply to be in one major and expect to switch out of it easily once you get in. Highly discouraged. This ruins other people's chances when they actually want to be in that major, which is what you are complaining about when other students get in. Also, only a few schools allow you to change majors easily. UC Davis is one of the schools that make changing majors a breeze. However, a whole new set of rules is placed for engineering students. Right now, it is almost impossible to get into the College of Engineering, even at UCD because it is a super strict program. At UC Berkeley, changing majors is almost impossible is what I heard.
-Don't pick schools based on prestige. Pick based on majors and environment. Although Davis is ranked lower than UCB (UCD is still pretty high up there), Davis has one of the best animal science programs in the nation, and perhaps the best in the state. The environment is the most important thing as well. Some schools are extremely competitive and may be too much for your child, causing a change in schools and an even more stressed family. Make sure to visit ALL the schools you get into. Urban setting? Suburban? The environment will ultimately influence the decision to stay or transfer.
End of my recommendations. This information was given to me by my counselors, AP Lit teacher and/or internet. I am now at my dream school with their help and will definitely be staying with the Aggies.
P.S. Transferring from UC-to-UC or CSU-to-UC is almost impossible from what I hear. Community College to a 4-year college is what I recommend.