Rose Murphy: The largest, most diverse university system in the nation |

Rose Murphy: The largest, most diverse university system in the nation

Do you know which state has the largest, most diverse university system in the Nation? Yep, you guessed it, California!!

The University of California (UC) is part of the state’s three-tier public higher education system. It also includes the California State Universities (CSUs) and California Community Colleges system.

The CSUs have 23 campuses spreading from Humboldt to San Diego. The prestigious UC system provides world-class educational opportunities spanning nine undergraduate campuses. If a student is a California resident, a state college can be an affordable option. For resident students at the UCs, 56% of undergraduates find their tuition is fully covered. The average debt upon graduation from a UC is $19,200, which is about $10,000 less than the national average. The average annual tuition for the 23 CSUs in 2020-21 was $5,742. The graduates of the CSUs, of which 95% come from California, tend to stay in state to apply their skills and knowledge, helping California’s economy thrive. We are fortunate to have such robust institutions of learning within our reach.

Many high school seniors know November is the month to submit UC and CSU Applications. The due date of midnight on Nov. 30 is quickly approaching.

Whether you are applying to UCs, CSUs, or both, there are some tips and resources that may be helpful. You can apply to all UCs using the same application. The same option is available for the CSUs. However, there is a $70 fee for each campus. Each campus will decide independently whether you are a good candidate. The universities vary in acceptance rates and size. Yes, some are quite difficult to get into, but there are many that are attainable.

The most important tip for both applications is to proofread, proofread, proofread. It is also advantageous to have another person review before submission. Also, listing your courses and grades directly from your transcripts (unofficial is OK) is highly recommended. Course names and grades need to match exactly.

Applicants will begin receiving emails from the universities after submitting the application. Make sure to check email regularly. Check spam folders as well. You do not want to miss important correspondence from the campuses.

I highly suggest that you submit your CSU and UC applications a few days (at least) before the deadline. Heavy traffic often causes technical issues.

Other tips to consider: UCs

• The application automatically times out, so push “save” regularly so you don’t lose your work!

• Remember to apply to university-specific scholarships through the application.

• You can see if you automatically qualify for a fee waiver. If you enter your family size and income in the “About you” section, you will see if you’ve qualified for an application fee waiver when you select your campuses in the “Campuses & Majors” section.

• Draft your activities narratives and personal statements. Run them through a word or character count to make sure they will fit the required maximum allowed. When you paste the text into boxes, review to make sure every word fits correctly. (It will cut your words off if you are over!)

• Typing in activities descriptions and personal statements at the last minute is not suggested.

• The UC application will ask you to choose a major (and oftentimes an alternate major) for each campus you apply to. DO take the time to research the majors and know exactly which one is the best for you.

• Upon submission, you will receive a confirmation number. Print that off, you may need it for reference later.

• The UC Application Help Center is available at (800) 207-1710 or

Other tips to consider: CSUs

• If you have a question about a section, use the Cal State Apply Help Center. If you are logged in, just click on blue question mark.

• Essays are not required on the CSU applications.

• Each dashboard quadrant must be green before you can submit your application.

• If you are applying to more than one program, you can either click “Submit All” or click “Submit” under each program that you wish to apply to.

• A fee waiver is automatically generated based on the information you provide in the application. You must fully complete the application before the fee waiver eligibility is determined. Select “Check My Fee Waiver Status” on the “Submit Application” tab to view your eligibility.

We have a bright future of upcoming leaders, inventors, health care providers, scientists and public service workers who will continue to shape our state and nation. We are fortunate to have diversity in our state and robust educational institutions to move us forward.

Rose Murphy is a retired high school counselor now working as an independent educational consultant. She can be reached at or

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