What’s happening with college admissions?

Hello,

My son is a junior. His grades are currently all over the map— online learning is not ideal. He gets pretty decent grades but has skipped to Bs and Cs. He wants to get into a UC school but it’s not looking likely. Can anyone give a definitive answer as to what UC schools are asking for in terms of admissions during COVID? I’m not getting straight answers from admissions counselors as no one seems to know. The SAT is optional, grades are all over the place, clubs are difficult or not meeting, and extracurriculars are lacking. Kids are having a hard enough time with this pandemic—- so what do colleges want? 

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My understanding is that students need a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be admitted to a UC.

I’m not an admissions officer, but I think multiple 11th grade C’s might be difficult to overcome for a UC acceptance straight out of high school, even with the pandemic (except for football recruits and such, who are not held to the same academic standards). He may want to look at some CSU options or consider the community college transfer path. By design, it is much easier to get into UC from community college. It’s not unusual for kids who didn’t get into Merced out of high school to get into UCLA and Berkeley from a community college, if they get good grades there.  It’s a cost-effective path, too.  I’m sure he’d get into many private colleges as well — just not the most selective ones, which tend to also have the most aid dollars to give out.  If money is not an object, I’d consider those as well.  Many of them are very good schools, and he might find the right fit at one. In my opinion, it’s all about fit. Not going to UC straight from high school is not a disaster, and he might find the path he follows instead was the right one for him all along.  

The UC's look at grades, the answers to the personal insight questions, and extracurriculars.   He will more likely get into a UC's if he has a great answers to his personal insight questions and extracurriculars.  There are extracurriculars he can do even during COVID. He could do something related to childcare if both of you are ok with that during COVID.  If not, he could do virtual extracurriculars such as The summer ACLU high school program.  https://www.aclu.org/high-school-program  Many martial art studios and dance studios are giving virtual lessons.  He could create his own website and start a mini business.  He could help a small business with their social media. He could have a side business doing content creation. Here is a job that is a few volunteers hours a week through the United Nations https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en/think-tank-altercontacts/transcrib...  I would recommend that he try to get at least all B's but the schools do look at kids from all backgrounds. It all depends on motivation and how much he wants to make lemonade out of lemons.  Contact me for more information. 

I am not in admissions but it seems to me that the skills that one needs to succeed academically with online learning are similar to the skills one needs to succeed in college (assuming that the quality of instruction for online learning is not the problem). For example, prioritizing going to class and doing homework can be a challenge for a lot of first year college students who have more freedom now that they are on their own. Perhaps you should focus on building up whatever skills he needs to succeed now in his current learning environment. Then focus on finding an academic environment where he will succeed in college.