COVID-19’s Impact on UC Admissions Now and Later

I’m not going to talk about enrollment/admission requirements (I already talked about that here) but, instead, want to focus on the broader impact of group decision-making due to COVID-19 and how that affects admitted students and prospective freshman and transfer applicants.


I sat through a UC presentation about transfer enrollment management today (May 5, 2020; the presentation should get posted here toward the end of May; freshman presentation is posted here) and a question about whether current applicants could defer enrollment came up (the short answer is they can try and it’s reviewed on a case-by-case basis; some campuses have technical limitations where the system cannot actually keep the students on record past a year and you may have better luck asking for a one-quarter or two-quarter deferment than a one-year deferment). As one of the presenters answered the question, I realized that the current situation (many campuses seem to be under the enrollment target, as indicated by some early waitlist decisions) will likely mess up future admission cycles (students who are not enrolling in colleges now, and there are MANY, will likely come back and reapply in the future). The spillover may make the upcoming admission cycle(s) really competitive due to overcrowding (besides the spillover, I’m also concerned that the UCs may ask the state for an exception to cut back on enrollment due to the massive revenue loss caused by COVID-19, which would exacerbate the situation).

Advice for Admitted Students

If you are wavering about whether to start college this fall, you should go. It’s possible that the offer you have will be the best one you get within the next couple years. If you have circumstances that prevent you from attending college this fall, try your best to get deferred enrollment. Develop a plan to enumerate your non-college options (such as remote internship or work) if deferment is not possible, and be prepared for tough competition when you reapply.

Advice for Future Applicants

For students who are applying next year, brace for stiff competition. A mix of suspended admission requirements with a potentially much-larger-than-usual applicant pool is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you focus on academic preparation (don’t stress about extracurricular activities, no one expects you to work around a situation that our government can barely manage) and do whatever is necessary to strengthen your academic qualifications (maybe try to take classes for letter grades if you can and/or enroll in additional courses wherever possible). I know you didn’t sign up for this, but your ability to prepare for and deal with the fallout will ensure your future success.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

May 8, 2020 at 3:18 pm

My son is in the class of 2021 and trying to strengthen his college app. He is looking at adding a community college course this summer but even though it will raise his fully weighted GPA a little, it will lower his UC GPA from a 4.28 to a 4.26. Does it look better to have an extra class or a higher UC GPA? Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Ms. Sunreply
May 8, 2020 at 4:10 pm
– In reply to: Danielle

Depends on where he’s interested in applying. I think only Merced, Riverside, and maybe Santa Barbara are still using the capped GPA for admission evaluation. For all UCs, more advanced courses (UC-approved Honors, AP, and UC-transferable CCC) are always better.

May 9, 2020 at 10:08 pm

Thank you! His first choice is UCSD so I’ll have him find a UC transferable community college class he’d like to take.

Ms. Sunreply
May 10, 2020 at 10:33 am
– In reply to: Danielle

Sounds good!

Tina Yangreply
May 12, 2020 at 6:10 am

Do you have any information about UC waitlists? It is my understanding that Santa Barbara was incredibly generous with waitlist offers this year, anything about Davis, Irvine, San Diego? Do you have any information about appeals? Thank you.

Ms. Sunreply
May 12, 2020 at 11:34 am
– In reply to: Tina Yang

Based on what I heard so far, most UCs have been pulling freshman applicants off the waitlist. It’s unclear to me whether the same will be true for transfer applicants.

Questions or Comments?