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  • Michelle Silbernagel

Applying to a Cal State University in 2020

Updated: Oct 13


The CSU system is made up of 23 campuses across the state of California​.

Prior to the pandemic, applying to the CSU campuses was fairly straight forward. But the admissions criteria have changed now that test scores will not be considered in the application process.

Here’s what you need to know for the 2020 admissions cycle.

How do students apply to the CSUs?

Whether your student is applying to one or 4 of the CSU colleges, they will still apply via the Cal State Apply Application. The application opens Oct. 1 and closes Dec 4.

What is admission based on?

Historically, admission to 22 of the 23 CSUs was determined by an eligibility index based on two criteria

  • GPA

  • Standardized test scores

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo uses a more comprehensive, multi-criteria admissions process that also takes into consideration college-prep coursework, extracurricular activities and leadership among other factors.

For the class of 2021, the use of ACT/SAT scores in the admissions process has been suspended for all of the CSU campuses.

As a result, the new basic eligibility requirements for admission into all 23 CSU campuses are:

Some CSU campuses are impacted, or have programs that are impacted – meaning the number of applications received from qualified applicants is greater than the number of available spaces. These campuses may use a higher GPA minimum in their admissions process. They may also take into consideration supplemental information in order to make admissions decisions. The GPA minimums and the weighting of supplemental information used may vary by campus.

For example, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo gives extra consideration when students take beyond the minimum number of semesters required in some of the “A-G” subject areas, such as math, lab science, or language other than English. This year, more CSU campuses will also take “A-G” coursework into consideration. Some campuses will utilize it simply to determine if a student has met the basic requirements, others may use it to give a student extra consideration.

The Cal State Apply application has expanded this year to include questions relating to a student’s extra-curricular activities and work experience.

Previously, Cal Poly SLO was the only CSU campus that considered these factors by asking the questions related to co-curricular activities in the supplemental section of Cal State Apply application.

This year, these additional questions will be incorporated into the main section of the application and considered in the admissions process system-wide. Students are asked to choose from a range of hours to indicate the average time they have participated in their extracurricular and work activities over the past 36 months.

Insider Tip

Students may also be given extra consideration if they indicate they have held a leadership position in any of their extra-curricular activities, or if 25% or more of their work experience is related to their chosen major.

Does CSU consider 9th-grade year coursework?

As in previous application years, the majority of the CSU campuses will use a GPA derived from “A-G” coursework taken in 10th and 11th grades only, even if the second half of 11th-grade coursework was awarded “pass” or “credit” rather than a letter grade. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo continues to be the only CSU campus that will also include 9th grade in their GPA calculation.

Will CSU consider test scores, if submitted?

The CSU has made it clear that “in no case will standardized test scores be utilized in making admissions decisions for applicants during the 2021-2022 academic year.”

Will an essay be required?


Although more CSU campuses will be looking at coursework and non-academic variables such as the hours spent in extra-curricular activities, the CSU system will not be adding any essays or personal statements and remains as objective as possible in making admissions decisions.

Where can I learn more about the CSU campuses?


Each CSU campus offers its own events (mainly virtual). Find the campuses here and link to their admission events website pages. You can also visit with specific campuses in October:

Virtual Admissions Presentations: Wednesday, Oct. 14:

(For Lake Washington School District Families)

Cal Poly SLO Admissions presentation – 1:30 - 2:30 pm

San Diego State Admissions Presentation – 3:00 – 4:00 pm


PNACAC Virtual College Fair: Oct 19 -22

(For Everyone) - Register for the fair use the search feature.


Direct links to the Cal Poly SLO presentations:


Where can I learn how to navigate Cal State Apply Application?

Students can sign up for a virtual application workshop here. Be sure to scroll down the page to "other ways to explore" and click on schedule.

Resources:

Cal State Apply Coursework Entry Guide

Out of State CSU Eligibly Index

Do you have questions about college admissions? Let's talk!

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