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Dropping a Required UC Course At Community College

A community college applicant to the Psychology department (UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD and UCSB) reached out to me last week because one of her spring required courses, Calculus 1, was going down in flames. Except for that class, she was close to a 3.9 GPA and had completed all requirements. Below is her question, and my answer.

Q: I’m freaking out!  I think I have to wait an additional year and reapply because I won’t have Calc 1 done by spring. I’m not doing well and need to withdraw.  So I’ll be missing that requirement.  I’m so depressed.

My first question to her was did she think there was any way she could pull off a C?  She said no.

Here is the rest of my response:

A: If you’ don’t think you can get a C, then withdraw by the deadline. The UCs will not hold the W against you.  Then ask the teacher if you can still audit the course. Auditing does not show up on the transcript — it simply means you are asking to sit in on the class even though you are not enrolled. Anyone can audit, even a person not enrolled at the college or university, as long as the professor says it is OK.  Auditing will allow you to at least increase your skills in calc before you retake in the summer. The summer course will definitely be at a faster pace, so auditing will be extremely helpful. Also vet through

—> And yes, you then need to retake Calc in summer.

But I thought they don’t count summer courses?
That’s true in terms of required courses needed for the major, but if a course is simply recommended for completion, you can still be accepted at the UC’s discretion, with the plan to (1) take in summer before admission, or (2) take at the UC after admission.

Another option the student suggested –  take Calc 1 at a nearby CCC on the quarter system.
No, no, no!   A single class on the quarter system will NOT fulfill a semester course.  In order to get semester credit for one calc course, you need TWO quarter courses.

Moving to the heart of the matter – can I still reasonably get acceptance notices from each of the four UCs to which I applied even though I am missing Calc 1 in spring — here is the rundown via

UC Berkeley
UCB just added the calculus requirement  to its Psych major this year and the department has had some issues getting it full steam. The main obstacle is the need to take Precalc first and many students have not had a long enough heads up to get both Precalc and Calc 1 squared away.  For fall 2016 transfers, UCB decided to enforce the Calc 1 rule after the students had already been admitted and didn’t have it. This caused a major brouhaha and eventually the department decided to give a pass to the 2016 transfers and they do not need calc.

For fall 2017 applicants completion of required courses for the psych major have been extended through summer.  So in terms of UCB, you are fine taking Calc 1 in summer. (NOTE: this extension through summer may only be for 2017 applicants.)

UC Berkeley Psychology
UCB Pysch major – completion of requirements by summer

UCLA only suggests Calc 1 as one of several options for one required course. Two others in that options pack are stats courses, and UCLA notes on assist they prefer stats over math.  Thus, in terms of UCLA, you are fine without calc as you indicated you already have the stats course.

UCLA Psychology major
UCLA stats vs math on Assist

San Diego has a long long list of requirements for Psychology, way more than the other UCs to which you applied.  Indeed, you need both Calc 1 and Calc 2.  However, San Diego merely suggests completing as many as possible. Since you will let them know you are taking Calc 1 in summer (thus missing only Calc 2), it will be their call as to your readiness, but I suspect you are still seriously in the running.

This is also the UC to which you TAG’d. On assist it notes to complete as many courses as possible. You have all but Calc 1, which will be completed in summer. So, assuming everything else lines up (minimum units, GPA, IGETC, etc), you should not lose your TAG over this.

UCSB Psychology major
UCSB Psych major

Provisional Contract
Usually, since all required courses are needed by spring, the provisional contract a student receives upon acceptance covers issues only through spring term. It does not include summer. The Provisional Contract is unique to each student and outlines what grades or GPA the campus expects to see in those final winter/spring terms.

Now, the fact that you are notifying the UCs that you are retaking Calc 1 in summer, the three UCs that actually require eventual completion of Calc 1 (UCB, UCSD and UCSB, and possibly even UCLA) might extend their Provisional Contract through summer, noting things, such as: (1) you are expected to receive at least a C in Calc 1, or (2) you are expected to receive at least a B- in Calc 1. There can be a multitude of variations sent out. So keep in mind your Provisional will likely include the summer course for at least some of the UCs.

Contact each UC
Finally, it is important to contact each UC and let them know you have withdrawn from Calc 1 in spring, with the plan to retake in summer. You do this through the campus portals. Regarding UC Berkeley, send the info, along with your name and UC ID, to: [email protected].

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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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