What does it take to get into a UC? | TheUnion.com

What does it take to get into a UC?

The University of California has long been considered the “crown jewel” of public education in the United States. Although taking a tough hit lately because of budget cuts, the UC’s nine undergraduate campuses (UC San Francisco is for graduate study only) are still at the top of many college dream lists. But what does it take to get into the UCs in 2013? 

The first thing to know is that there is a wide range of selectivity among the campuses. The most selective campuses, UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles, remain very difficult to get into with an admit rate of less than 25 percent in 2012. This reflects the fact that these campuses boast some of the most prestigious undergraduate programs in the world, including business and engineering at Cal Berkeley and music, film and engineering at UCLA. In 2012, the mean GPA at Berkeley was 3.89 (unweighted) and 4.36 (weighted). UCLA has similar statistics for admissions. While this may seem unreachable to many students, there are other UCs that offer excellent programs and are less selective in their admissions decisions. For example, UC Riverside admitted 62 percent of its qualified applicants, and UC Santa Cruz admitted 60 percent.

Each UC campus evaluates students holistically and in the context of the opportunities available to them on their high school campus. Especially important are the grade point average in all “a-g” courses, scores on the ACT or SAT Reasoning Test, special talents and achievements in a particular field and being ranked in the top 9 percent of their high school class (“ eligible in the local context ” or ELC). 

Like many elite private colleges, the UC requires two application essays, called personal statements. In my years of advising high school students on college admissions, I have seen essays become increasingly important in admissions decisions, and they can be pivotal in being admitted to the UCs. It is important to add clarity and depth to your application when writing the essay and not just re-hash your GPA and test scores.

Each UC campus evaluates students holistically and in the context of the opportunities available to them on their high school campus.

Sometimes your best shot at admission to a UC campus is through the community college transfer option. Seven University of California campuses offer guaranteed transfer admission to students from all California Community Colleges. Interested students must meet campus-specific requirements to qualify for a UC TAG. By participating in a TAG program, you can ensure your admission to a specific UC campus, some of which offer an early review of your academic record, early admission notification and specific guidance on major preparation and general education coursework.

Some suggestions for students planning on applying to the UCs:

•Take the most rigorous academic schedule that you can be successful at.

•Understand the selectivity of the major to which you apply

•Adhere to deadlines

•Take a rigorous senior class schedule

•Get involved outside the classroom

•Do your research. All UC campuses provide challenging and intellectually engaging experiences, but not every campus is a good fit for every student.

 Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who worked for the Nevada Joint Union High School District for 20 years. She currently operates a college admissions consulting business and can be reached at jillncca@yahoo.com. or at http://www.getyouintocollege.com.

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