Jill Haley: Tips on completing the UC application
The University of California (UC) system is often referred to as the best public university in the country. They earned this reputation as being a leader in science, technology, math, liberal arts and the performing arts. The good news for California residents is that our students can attend one of the nine campuses at about half of what it would cost to attend a private college. And if a student qualifies for a Cal Grant, most of the tuition will be paid.
With over 200,000 applicants every year, it has also become one of the most selective systems in the country. The 2021-22 application is due at the end of this month, and students should know that this application takes time and commitment to complete. Here are some tips to complete a winning application.
If you are applying to more than one campus don’t personalize your comments to a particular campus because all campuses read the same application. And by the way, applying to multiple campuses will increase your odds of getting in.
Declaring a major can absolutely affect whether you get into a particular campus. Most campuses publish a list of admissions rates for majors. At all nine campuses, engineering is extremely competitive and will limit your chances of getting in if you declare this major.
The UC essays, Personal Insight Questions, are extremely important in completing an outstanding application. This is especially true now that SAT/ACT scores are no longer used for admissions. It is also one part of the application that students have complete control over. Concentrate on highlighting your passions, leadership and commitment. The four essays will require hours for each question. Students should budget their time and avoid submitting before thoroughly editing their responses.
There is an optional COVID-19 question intended for students who have had a disruption in their life, perhaps affecting their academic progress.
The activities and awards section on the UC application is quite comprehensive, allowing students up to 20 entries. The big mistake that students make is failing to enter activities they do outside the school arena. The UC’s are interested in everything you do including hobbies, family traditions, church activities, etc. This section also is meant for a student to describe what they did, not what the activity is about. If you plan to continue in this activity in college, say so.
Use the additional comment section to explain circumstances that may not be included in other parts of your application, including an explanation for a low grade due to illness, or a family situation that limited your involvement in activities.
Although optional, students should fill out the family income section if they believe they may qualify for a fee waiver. One of the criteria is that you qualify for free or reduced lunch at your high school. Each fee waiver allows a student to submit four applications.
No letters of recommendation are allowed and students do not send in transcripts because they self-report grades. Get going, this application takes a while.
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