What if I'm Not Admitted?

Chances are, being denied admission to a university, especially if it is your first choice university, was not in your transfer game plan.  It is typical at this point to feel completely unprepared for your next steps and full of mixed, conflicting emotions. It is important that you acknowledge and process your disappointment so that you can create and execute your next course of action. Here are some tips for coping with being denied. 

Next Steps

  • Contact the Admissions Office at the university to find out why you were denied. Was it your G.P.A.? Not enough transferable units? Missing courses required for eligibility or selection for your major? Be aware that some universities that are highly selective and/or employ a holistic review of the applicant (UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, etc.) might not be able to provide you with a specific reason for why you were denied since multiple factors are taken into consideration in the admission decision. You can use the Why I was Denied Admission Worksheet to help you better understand your options.
  • If you believe the university made a mistake in calculating your units and/or G.P.A., meet with an SBCC counselor to evaluate your transcripts. Please bring copies of all your transcripts to the meeting and share with the counselor why the university denied you.
  • Decide which option/s you want to pursue: appeal the admission decision, accept another university's offer of admission, apply to additional universities that are still accepting applications, or transfer for a later term.


Some information to consider:

  • Most universities do not set aside spaces to be filled through the appeal process. The university has already made admission offers to the maximum number of students they believe will yield their enrollment target
  • A tiny percent of admissions' decisions are changed through the appeal process, so it is definitely a long-shot, not a sure thing
  • If you feel that you need to submit an appeal so that you know you have tried everything within your power to be admitted, then go for it.
  • There is no real downside to submitting an appeal (other than the time investment) because if your appeal is denied you are in the same position
  • Make sure and follow the university's instructions for submitting the appeal and meet the appeal deadline.

UC campuses
 define the basis of a legitimate appeal as the presence of new or compelling information that provides sufficient grounds for a review. Examples of new and/or compelling information include:

a)   Courses in progress or completed that are required for eligibility
b)   GPA has significantly increased from the last communication
c)   Additional number of units have been completed
d)  Course cancellation due to budget cuts
e)   Incomplete or inaccurate information on the application. 

Plan B

While you are waiting to hear if your appeal has been approved make sure you have secured other options. If you have been admitted to other universities,  accept an offer of admission so you will be able to transfer to a four-year university.

Congratulations! You applied wisely and now you have options for transfer even though you were not admitted to your first choice university. Here are some things to consider in making your decision.

The answer is yes, if:

  • You have been admitted to a university that you really would like to attend
  • You have been admitted to your major
  • Your priority is being at a four-year university as quickly as possible
  • You still need some time to make your final decision.

The answer could be no, if:

  • You really do not want to attend any of the universities you have been admitted to
  • You have not been admitted to your major at the university
  • Transferring as quickly as possible is not a priority for you.

What happens if I accept an offer of admission and then decide not to attend the university?

The major negative is that the admission deposit is non-refundable so you will lose that money. Can you afford that expense at this time? Remember, you can always re-apply to the university for a later term with no negative consequences.

Many private and out-of-state universities have much later application deadlines for transfer students. You should definitely consider submitting additional university applications if:

  • Your top priority is attending a four-year university during the next academic term and,
  • You were denied admission to all the universities you applied to or,
  • You are certain you do not want to attend any of the universities where you were offered admission. 

How do I find out what universities are still accepting transfer applications? 

UC Campuses: It is rare for UC campuses to accept applications past the November 30 deadline but you can go to the UC website to check.

CSU Campuses: Go to CSUMentor and then select the term you want to transfer to see which campuses are still open for transfer applicants. Make sure and review the "Open majors" list to verify that your major is available.

California Private/Independent Colleges: Check out Application Deadlines. You should also confirm application deadlines by going to the specific university's website. FYI - "Rolling admission" means the campus accepts applications at any time and does not have final deadline.

Private Universities that use the Common Application:If you have not already done so, create an account on the Common Application website . After you create your account you can use the search feature to find out what universities are still accepting applications. You can also check the Partial List of Fall Application Deadlines.

Public, Non-California Universities: You will need to go directly to the university's website.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to delay your transfer. First you need to be clear about what your top priority is so you can examine the options that your chosen priority provides. Is your top priority starting at a four-year university as soon as possible or attending a specific university even if this means a delay in my transfer to a university? 

My top priority is starting at a four-year university experience as soon as possible.

Action Plan  - Review the information found here and decide if you are going to accept another university's offer of admission or apply to universities that are still accepting applications for the next academic term.

My top priority is attending a specific university even if this means a delay in my transfer to the university.

In order to make a sound decision about delaying your transfer and reapplying to your first choice university you need to identify and examine why you are so committed to only one university. Complete the My One and Only University worksheet to gain a better understanding of what is motivating you and if you want to maintain your commitment to that university.

You also need to understand why you were were denied and determine if by staying longer at SBCC you can meet the admission requirements/selection criteria so you can be assured admission. If you are considering reapplying to a university that has a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) or has clearly defined admission requirements, then it could be worth the time investment to delay your transfer if it is possible with more courses/units  you can meet the stated admission requirements.  You should complete the Why I was Denied Admission Worksheet and then review the Denied Admission Scenarios, Action Plans, and Risks information sheet for a better understanding of your options.

If you are considering reapplying to a selective university that does not have a set of specific requirements that will guarantee your admission then you are taking a huge risk that you will be denied again. You need to determine if you are comfortable with that risk.

 Where can I find information on the appeal process and deadlines for UC and CSU campuses? 

Information about the appeal process is provided to each applicant through the campus portal where your admission decision is listed. The campuses listed below also have information on their website.