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How to stand out to UC's with few AP classes?
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*This is my first time on CollegeVine!*

Currently, I'm a junior in HS with only 2 AP classes (I took AP World in 10th and I'm taking AP English Lang now). I have taken 7 honors classes throughout my HS career (taking three of them now) and 4 CC classes. My school offers a ton of AP classes, but I wasn't aware of how important APs were until it was too late, but I guess there is no excuse lol.

As of now, I am worried about how to stand out academically with what I have so far. I want to apply to UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. I fear it may be too late, but I am keeping my hopes up.

My schedule for senior year is 3 AP classes (AP Enviro, AP Macro and AP Gov) as well as Honors Precalc and Honors English.

Any advice on how to improve my academic resume? Thanks.

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2 answers

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Accepted answer

Unfortunately it's going to be difficult to improve your academic profile since you really only have 1 semester left before applying to schools. Since you can't take more APs you're going to need to focus on improving your grades as much as possible. As long as you can hit baseline academics and score well on the SAT/ACT so your profile is at least looked at by admissions officers, you still have a chance. If you can do that you're in a better spot and will need to impress the admissions officers with some strong ECs. Continue working on those as best as possible and look into trying to do something over the summer if you can.

While a lot of the advice @Rary56 mentioned is solid, I would strongly recommend NOT applying for a less competitive major and trying to transfer into the major you actually want. This will not work. And it honestly has a very realistic chance of making your odds of acceptance WORSE than if you were to apply normally.

answered on
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As a HS senior who has recently gone through the admissions process for UCLA and UCB and just recently received decisions (throughout HS: 10 AP classes, 3.97 gpa, 1470 SAT, admitted to UCB for applied mathematics), I found that the UCs strongly prefer students with extracurriculars, primarily sports. A relative of mine who is now a college freshman was able to gain admission to UCLA with a ~950 SAT score due to high standings in his HS baseball team. If you do any sort of sport, focusing on gaining honors and awards next year will greatly boost your chances.

Of course, not everyone has sports under their belt (such as me). In this case, since you are already a junior and have less chance to change your gpa, your SAT score is likely your biggest chance for admission. Honestly, I was very lucky with UCB as most admitted students have at least a 1500 score. In case this seems impossible to you, most people can actually significantly raise their score through daily practice. I was just a bit lazy and didn't want to retake the test.

Also, when choosing majors, if you want really badly to get into a better UC, consider applying for something that is less competitive then transferring to your desired major. Even though it's also really difficult, it's more likely to give you a sure chance at admission.

And last but not least, you can improve their view on you by volunteering and doing community projects. These actually help a student's application more than most would think.

Good luck!

Rachel