Because my son is home-schooled, filling all the bureaucratic requirements for admission to the University of California is somewhat difficult. UC has a list of “a–g” courses that are required. We have been fulfilling the intent of those requirements:
- 1 year World History, 1 year US history (world history at home in 10th grade, US history at AFE in 11th)
- 4 years English (9th grade English didn’t happen, so we had to overload up in 10th and 11th grade)
- 3 years Math (Art of Problem Solving Precalculus and Calculus, Mathematical Problem Solving at UCSC, Applied Discrete Math at UCSC)
- 2–3 years science (Physiology in 9th, calculus-based physics in 10th and 11th, probably chemistry next year in 12th)
- 2 years foreign language (Spanish, through Spanish 3 at Cabrillo College, possibly through Spanish 4 next year)
- 1 year visual and performing arts (9th grade drama class, continuing theater classes at WEST performing arts)
- 1 year elective (various computer science and robotics projects, including the Art of Problem Solving Java course)
Unfortunately, only a few of these courses are officially “UC-approved”, so the University needs to have them validated some other way (see my previous post on a–g courses). The English (requirement b) is validated by his SAT score on the reading section, math (requirement c) is validated by his SAT 2 and AP Calculus BC scores, the science (requirement d) will be validated by his AP Physics scores and the UC-approved physiology course, the foreign language (requirement e) by his community college Spanish courses, the arts (requirement f) by his high school drama course, and the elective (requirement g) by either the extra math courses at UCSC or his video editing course in 9th grade.
The only courses that are difficult to validate in this way are the history courses, as he is reluctant to take the SAT 2 tests in World History and US History—they are not his strongest subjects. It might be good for him to take a practice test in them, to see whether he’d do well enough to get UC-level approval (the barrier is fairly low—only 540 on the World history and 550 on the US history).
If he doesn’t meet the letter of the rules for the a–g requirements, even though he exceeds them in spirit, there are other ways into UC: admission by exception and admission by exam.
The admission by exception is a pretty sleazy way into UC, used mainly to recruit athletes with substandard academic records to the big UC schools, and not much used as the poorer but more virtuous smaller campuses. Since my son is a computer programmer and an actor (and maybe a mathematician and scientist), but not an athlete, musician, or relative of a powerful politician, there is practically no chance of his getting admission by exception.
That leaves admission by exam, which seems at first glance like the most promising method, since he has no trouble with exams:
To qualify by examination, you must achieve a minimum UC Score total — calculated according to the instructions below — of 410 (425 for nonresidents). In addition, you must earn a minimum UC Score of 63 on each component of the ACT or SAT Reasoning Test and on each SAT Subject Test.
You may not use an SAT Subject Test to meet these requirements if you have completed a transferable college course in that subject with a grade of C or better.
With the SAT test and one SAT 2 test, he is a little short on the number of points he needs, but even a crummy job on another SAT 2 test (540 or better) will put him well over the threshold.
The last sentence in the quote is a little confusing though. If he takes the SAT2 in Spanish, which I think he should for admission elsewhere, will that not count for admission by exam? (Probably not, since he took community college Spanish and has not yet taken the SAT 2 exam in Spanish.) After taking the SAT Math 2 test, he took some college math courses at UCSC. Does his taking those courses suddenly invalidate his SAT2 Math score? Or would only a college precalc class invalidate the SAT2 Math level 2? What, exactly, does “in that subject” mean in this context? Does the timing of the completion of the course and the taking of the exam matter? Or just the completion of the course and the admission to UC?
He’ll probably take a SAT 2 in physics, but not take any transferable college physics next year, so that would be one SAT2 he could count regardless of whimsical bureaucratic interpretation of the vague wording of the requirement. He’ll need at least one more SAT2, besides math level 2 and physics, since some colleges require 3 SAT 2s. I think he should take 2 more: US History and Spanish with listening (though we’ll have to buy a “portable CD player with earphones” for the listening test—a minor hassle and about $15 extra expense). The US History would leave him just one course short of validating all the a–g requirements (still no validation for World History), as well as providing an unassailable set of admission by exam scores.
It may take some convincing to get him to take the US History and Spanish SAT 2s, though as he has little interest in history and he has not done Spanish in almost a year now. I’d recommend an intensive Spanish summer experience for him before the November SAT2s (an immersion program in Latin America, for example), but he is planning on either 5 or 7 weeks of intensive theater this summer, so I don’t think that there is room to fit an immersion program in Spanish into his schedule.