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Can I still be a freshman applicant to a UC if I took one college course?

Can I still apply as a freshman applicant to a UC if I took a course at a community college and dropped it?

Applicants are often confused as to how long they are eligible to apply to a UC as a freshman, and when they need to pass the torch and apply as a transfer student.  Here’s the basic rule as it applies to the UC (my wording):

Once you take a course at a California community college or any other college, you can no longer apply to the UCs as a freshman, and must apply as a junior-level transfer.  Even one course. Even a W. You are now looked upon as a prospective transfer student. This is because you have a transcript.

There are three exceptions:

  1. If you took any community college courses while in high school, those do not count and you can apply as a freshman.
  2. Summer courses taken at a CCC directly out of high school are also not counted, and you can apply as a freshman. But once you enroll in any college term after that initial summer, you are no longer eligible to apply as a freshman.
  3. If you enrolled in courses at a college, but withdrew early enough as to have no transcript, you can still apply as a freshman. The key part of the previous sentence is no transcript. For this to take place you need to have withdrawn very early on. If you believe you may fall into this exception, check with the college.  If there is a transcript, including a single W, you then need to apply as a transfer student.

A related question may be: I graduated from high school, never went to college, and am now older than most students. Can I still apply as a freshman? The answer is yes, as long as the above rules are followed.


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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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