UC Application
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UC Application: Applying to UC Schools- Introduction

The University of California is one of the most sought-after state university systems with thousands of students submitting a UC Application each year. With 10 campuses across the state of California, there is a lot of variety in the UC schools. If you want to understand the University of California admissions process, you’ve come to the right place. 

This UC application guide will focus on the 9 UC campuses that offer undergraduate degrees. With so many options, students interested in submitting a UC application are sure to find a school for them. 

All UC schools receive many applications, so submitting a strong UC application is critical. Many of the UC Schools are often called “Public Ivies” with strong academic programs and facilities. In fact, five UC schools are in the top ten public colleges and universities, according to US News & World Report. The UC rankings also include six UC schools in the Top 50 colleges in the nation.  

Your University of California application is the first step to enrolling at one of these renowned institutions. So, writing your University of California application can feel like a daunting task. However, the UC application is actually very similar to the Common App process. Your UC application process can be simple if you do your research. 

Planning on applying to UC schools? This guide will help you understand the University of California application and UC admission requirements.

Our UC Application Guide will cover:

  • UC schools offering undergraduate degrees
  • Each school’s campus culture and characteristics 
  • How to submit your University of California application through UC Apply
  • UC application deadlines, including when you can first submit your UC application and the final UC application deadline
  • A UC schools map 
  • UC admission requirements
  • How to write UC essay prompts, also known as the Personal Insight Questions 
  • UC SAT requirements, and more! 

What are the UC Schools?

The high UC rankings draw students across the globe to the state of California. At each of the UC schools, you’ll find world-class programs and opportunities. 

The University of California system consists of the following schools: UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine. As you begin your UC application, it is important to understand all UC schools and what they have to offer. Even if you’re just thinking about submitting a UCLA application, you may find another UC school is a great fit. For an insider’s perspective on the University of California application, UC admission requirements, and UC application questions, check out our webinar here. 

Later in this UC application article, we’ll go into detail about the UC application requirements and the UC application deadline. However, before submitting your UC application, you’ve got to work out which UC school is best for you. So, check out the UC schools map while we discuss each of the UC Schools. 

UC Berkeley

UC application; UC Berkeley

Firstly, UC Berkeley is the oldest campus in the University of California system. The UC Berkeley application process is quite competitive. UC Berkeley enrolls 32,000 undergraduate students and 13,000 graduate students. The most popular majors at UC Berkeley are Social Sciences, Computer and Information Sciences, Engineering, and Biomedical and Biological Sciences. 

UC Berkeley is a tier-one research university that provides a rich intellectual environment for its students. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 15% of students who submitted a UC Berkeley application. Learn more about submitting your UC Berkeley application and completing the UC admissions requirements through our guide or this webinar

UCLA – University of California Los Angeles

UC application; UCLA

Secondly, the UCLA campus is in a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles and is the second oldest of all UC schools. The UCLA application process is also competitive. UCLA enrolls 32,400 undergraduate students and 14,000 graduate students. The top undergraduate majors at UCLA are Biology, Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics, and Psychology. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 11% of students who submitted a UCLA application. Students interested in a large campus nestled in a major city should consider submitting a UC application to UCLA. 

Learn more about submitting your UCLA application and UC admissions requirements through our “How to Get into UCLA” guide

UC San Diego

UC application; UCSD

UC San Diego enrolls 42,698 undergraduate students and 8,129 graduate students. The most popular majors at UC San Diego are Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Anatomy, and International Studies. Further, students interested in oceanic studies should consider submitting a UC application to UC San Diego. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 34% of students who submitted a UCSD application. Learn more about how to submit your UCSD application and other UC admissions requirements here

UC Riverside

UC application; UC Riverside
File:Student Recreation Center Arena (UC Riverside).jpg” by Spatms is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

UC Riverside has a population of 26,847 undergraduate students and 3,981 graduate students. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, 66% of students who submitted a UC application to UC Riverside were admitted. The most popular majors at UC Riverside are Social Sciences, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Marketing, Business, and Psychology. 

UC Santa Barbara

UC application; UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara enrolls 23,196 undergraduate students and 2,983 graduate students. The most popular majors include Social Sciences, Biological and Biomedical Science, Mathematics and Statistics, and Communications. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 29% of the students who submitted a UCSB application. Learn more about how to craft the most competitive UCSB application here

UC Santa Cruz

UC application; UC santa cruz
Stevenson College, UC Santa Cruz” by Liz Henry is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

UC Santa Cruz enrolls 17,502 undergraduate students and 1,976 graduate students. Further, in the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 59% of students who submitted a UC application. The most popular majors at UC Santa Cruz are Computer Science, Behavioral Sciences, and Business Economics. Learn more about how to gain admission to UC Santa Cruz through our guide.

UC Merced

UC Application - UC Merced
UC Merced at night” by Qymekkam is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

UC Merced is the newest of all UC schools. It was founded in 2005 and was established to address low educational attainment in the surrounding area. The school enrolls 8,321 undergraduate students and over 700 graduate students. The most popular majors at UC Merced are Biology, Psychology, Business Administration and Management, and Computer Engineering. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 87% of students who submitted a UC application to UC Merced.

UC Davis

UC DAVIS” by Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

UC Davis enrolls 31,657 undergraduate students and over 7,000 graduate students.  In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 49% of students who submitted a UC Davis application. Some of the most popular academic programs at UC Davis are Agricultural and Resource Economics, Animal Science, and Plant Biology. Further, students interested in a sustainable campus culture should consider submitting a UC application to UC Davis. Learn more about submitting your UC Davis application here

UC Irvine

UC application; UC Irvine

Finally, University of California Irvine enrolls 29,449 undergraduate students and about 6,000 graduate students. In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, the school admitted 29% of students who submitted a UC application. The most popular majors at UC Irvine include Health-Related Knowledge and Skills, Psychology, Business Management and Marketing, and Engineering. Learn more about submitting your UC application to UC Irvine. 

In addition to academic majors and admit rates, all UC schools have their own personalities! From campus culture, traditions, student organizations, and athletics, no two UC schools are exactly alike. When it comes to athletics, all UC schools have their own claim to fame. UCLA has famous basketball teams, while UC Santa Barbara has a strong soccer program. 

Regardless of which UC school you choose to apply to, you should capture the school’s unique culture in your responses to UC application essay prompts. Or, if you’re applying to multiple UC schools, make sure your UC application essays show what makes you unique. 

UC Schools Map

The unique location of all UC schools influences the student experience. On the UC schools map, you will see five UC schools located in southern California and four UC schools located in northern California. 

UC Schools Map

University of California System- Northern California Campuses

UC Davis

UC Davis describes itself as “California’s College Town”. The campus is in the small suburban city of Davis, California in the Sacramento Valley. UC Davis is the perfect institution for the environmentally conscious. The campus sits on 5,300 acres of land and 2,300 is dedicated to agriculture. The campus is known for its sustainability with features such as green housing, sustainable transportation, and repurposed waste. 

UC Berkeley

Firstly, UC Berkeley is in Berkeley, California outside of San Francisco. The city of Berkley is suburban and has quick access to nearby cities like San Francisco and Oakland. University of California Berkeley is also close to Silicon Valley—ideal for students interested in technology and innovation.

UC Santa Cruz

University of California Santa Cruz is three miles from the beach in Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz is a relatively small city, but the campus spans 2000 acres. In addition to the coastal view, Spanish architecture lines the downtown streets of Santa Cruz. A beautiful natural landscape surrounds the campus, attracting students who are interested in exploring the outdoors. 

UC Merced

UC Merced, the newest UC school, is in Merced, California. The campus takes advantage of its rural setting by creating experiential learning environments in the region’s lakes and farmland. The UC Merced campus is considered a rural campus in a college town.

University of California System – Southern California Campuses


The UCLA campus is set in a residential neighborhood, but it’s part of a large urban metropolis. The prestigious neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Bel Air surround this college campus. UCLA offers a vast number of living-learning communities that provide a built-in support system. Athletics is also a large part of the UCLA campus culture. 

UC Riverside

At UC Riverside, athletics play a much smaller role in campus life, but there is still plenty to do on campus. UC Riverside is located in Riverside, California, a short drive from Los Angeles. Students at UC Riverside are involved in outreach and community service. University of California Riverside is known for having an inclusive and welcoming campus culture.  

UC Irvine

University of California Irvine is primarily made up of commuters. It’s in the well-populated city of Irvine, California. UC Irvine’s location in Orange County provides plenty of opportunities to explore for students interested in a more urban environment. UC Irvine is known for its exciting campus life—the most popular campus events are Homecoming and Summerland. Learn more about UC Irvine here.

UC San Diego

UC San Diego is the southernmost campus on the UC schools map and enjoys proximity to the beach and the city. So, consider submitting a UCSD application if you want to attend a school by the ocean. The campus is located on the coast of the Pacific in La Jolla, San Diego. 63% of UC San Diego students live off campus. Although residential life is not as popular on campus, students still find time to socialize through a host of campus events and organizations.

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara is perched above the Pacific Ocean and even has its own beach. The city of Santa Barbara is a midsize suburb—students can take advantage of the extensive biking system. Further, UC Santa Barbara is a politically engaged campus, with many students interested in how to merge policy change with their careers. Check out our guide to learn more about UC Santa Barbara.

Students should think deeply about their ideal campus environment. You can also use academic UC rankings to help you narrow down the best UC school for you.

You can use the UC schools map as a resource to determine which schools you should send your UC application to. 

Now that you know more about each UC school, let’s discuss the UC application, UC application deadline, and UC admission requirements in detail. 

Where to find the UC Application?

To apply for any UC school, prospective applicants should begin familiarizing themselves with the University of California Application portal, UC Apply. Students will receive a UC application login that they can use when applying to UC schools, checking UC application deadlines, and checking their UC application status. You cannot apply to UC schools via The Common App or the Coalition App. UC Apply is the only website to submit your University of California application. 

Later in this article, we’ll discuss UC application deadlines and UC application requirements. 

UC Application
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The UC Schools application is similar to The Common Application. For this reason, applicants can repurpose much of their Common Application materials to complete their University of California application. We will walk through the UC admission requirements and more tips on submitting your UC application later in the article. 

Getting Started

The first step to submitting your University of California application is creating a UC Apply account and a UC application login. Creating a UC Apply account generates your UC application login. Your UC application login can then be used to track your UC admissions status. 

Once you’ve created your UC Apply account, there are seven UC application questions to complete: About You, Campuses and Majors, Academic History, Test Scores, Activities and Awards, Scholarships & Programs, and Personal Insight Questions. You must complete these UC application requirements accurately before submitting your UC application.  

Students should prepare their UC application materials and responses to UC application questions before sitting down to fill out their UC application. You can also save each section of your UC application and return to UC Apply later using your UC application login credentials. 

The UC application lets students submit one application for all UC schools in the system and check their UC application status throughout the year. Furthermore, the UC application login is the same for all UC schools.  

UC GPA Requirements

All UC admission requirements and UC GPA requirements are the same regardless of which school you apply to. However, each UC school makes their admission decisions independently. Therefore, your UC application should speak to the specific schools you are interested in. For example, the UCLA application review committee may value different qualities than the UCSD application review committee. 

Since not all students are interested in all of the UC schools, it is important to understand the UC admission requirements of your top schools! Students can use their UC application login and portal to add additional schools anytime before the UC application deadline. 

The general UC requirements include UC GPA requirements. Students must meet all UC admission requirements to be eligible. Therefore, information about your academic record is an important part of the UC application. 

Note that the UC GPA requirements differ for students residing in California and those residing outside of the state. The UC GPA requirements are a minimum of 3.0 for in-state students. UC admission requirements for non-residents include a 3.4 GPA.  

In addition to these UC requirements, students must also meet the A-G subject courses UC admission requirements. These UC requirements mandate that students receive a C or better in 15 college-preparatory courses. 

Beyond the minimum

Remember that meeting the minimum UC admission requirements does not guarantee admission into all UC schools. After meeting the minimum UC admission requirements, students must craft a UC application that speaks to their unique academic, personal, and leadership experience. The UC application questions provide many opportunities to connect with the University of California admissions committee. The UC requirements are just the beginning of the committee’s holistic review of your University of California application.

UC Application
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In order to better understand UC admission requirements, research the academic profile of all UC schools. The academic profile is an average GPA range based on the admitted students in the previous class. For example, the middle 50% of students who submitted a UCLA application in 2022 had a GPA  between 4.40-4.73, and the middle 50% of students who submitted a UC Berkeley application had an unweighted GPA between 4.17 and 4.31. These GPA ranges are far higher than the general UC requirements. However, UC Berkeley and UCLA have some of the most impressive UC rankings, so not all average GPAs will be as competitive. 


The UC SAT requirements have been suspended indefinitely. In other words, SAT or ACT scores are no longer part of the UC admission requirements. The University of California application does not take into consideration SAT or ACT scores in admissions decisions, scholarship review processes, or acceptance into special academic programs. 

While students will need their transcripts to reference important information, you don’t need to send transcripts with your UC application unless you have received an offer of admission. However, you must share an official transcript as part of your University of California application prior to enrollment. Students beginning their UC application should also have quick access to their household income, social security number, citizenship status, and method of payment or fee waiver. 

UC Application essay requirements

Another important part of the University of California application, and one of the UC application requirements, are the UC prompts. The “Personal Insight Questions” are your UC essay prompts. 

Instead of having just one UC application essay, you’ll answer multiple UC essay prompts, which allows you to explore different aspects of yourself. The UC prompts are extremely important in the UC application review process. You must write answers to UC prompts—these function as your UC application essay. Remember that these UC application questions are a chance to share more of your authentic story. We’ll discuss the UC Personal Insight Questions (and share UC Personal Insight Question examples) later in this article. 

The UC essay prompts are available once the UC application opens in August. The UC application essay can be overwhelming, so check out the UC Personal Insight Question examples here. Since the UC application questions change each year, it’s most important for students to view the UC essay prompts in August. 

Highly competitive application process

The University of California application process is highly competitive. If a student graduating from a California high school meets the UC GPA requirements and doesn’t get into all UC schools they applied for, another campus will likely offer them a seat. This pathway is based on availability and students’ class rankings. Students are notified of this UC application decision in their UC Apply portal. So, keep your UC application login handy. 

If you are ever confused about the status of your University of California application, you can use your UC application login to check your status on UC Apply. 

When is the UC application due?

The UC Application is due on November 30th. However, students can begin accessing the University of California application and creating their UC application login as early as August 1st. UC applications are accepted from November 1st to November 30th. UC application deadlines are the same for all UC schools, so it’s critical to get a head start on your University of California application. 

There are no Early Action or Early Decision plans for the UC application. Therefore, students applying to a UC school should make sure they meet the UC application deadline and meet all UC admissions requirements. 

UC Application deadline
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To learn more about the UC application and UC application deadline, check out our webinar here

Signing up for UC Apply and receiving your UC application login is quick and simple. After applicants submit a UC application, they can check their UC application status using their UC application login on the UC Apply portal at any time. The UC Apply Twitter account also helps you stay up to date on UC application deadlines and information about applying to all UC schools. 

Can you still apply to UC after the deadline?

Staying organized and adhering to strict deadlines will help create a stress-free UC application process. Make sure you submit your UC application by the UC application deadline. It’s highly unlikely that you will be able to submit your UC application after the UC application deadline on November 30th.

The University of California application deadline is much earlier than other Regular Decision deadlines, so remember to plan ahead for the UC application deadline. Before you apply, make sure you fully understand the UC application deadlines. You should also know your UC application login information and how to check your UC application status. 

UC admission requirements have some things in common. However, it’s still important to research the UC admissions requirements and the academic profile of all UC schools. UC rankings and reputation make the UC admissions process quite competitive.  While UC requirements are the same across schools, each admissions committee is looking for unique qualities. Your UC Berkeley application will undergo a slightly different review process than your UC Davis application—after all, the schools have different priorities.  

How to submit the UC application

The UC application fee is the final required step in the UC application process. The domestic UC application fee is $70 for each UC campus and $80 for international students.  Students can pay their UC application fee by check or credit card. When you’re submitting your UC application, you can also apply for a UC application fee waiver. Students should submit their fee waiver paperwork by the UC application deadline. 

UC Application
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Realize that the UC application fee waiver is good for up to four campuses. So, for instance, you could use a fee waiver and submit a UCSD application, a UCSB application, and a UC Davis application. The UC system, College Board, and NACAC all give out fee waivers. If you qualify for the UC application fee waiver you will be notified within your application. UC requirements for the UC application fee waiver are based on family size and income. The UC application system is committed to making the college application process affordable for its students.

Once you’ve submitted your UC application, keep your UC application login handy and check the UC Apply portal for any updates to your UC application status. Your UC application status will change in the coming months. UC application decisions can be released as early as March 1st.  

UC Application Sections

Next, let’s dive into the UC Apply portal and discuss the UC application sections. 

As you navigate the UC Apply portal, you will come across the UC application questions in various sections. There are 8 sections to the University of California application. Many of these sections are similar to those in the Common App. After you pass the UC application login page, you will see these sections:

The Eight UC Application Sections

1. About You

The first several pages of the University of California application ask for info about you and your family. Messages regarding your UC application status will go to the email you list here.

2. Campuses & Majors

This section allows you to select which campus(es) you want to apply to and the majors you’d like to study. Don’t worry if you haven’t chosen a major yet. You can always choose “Undecided” or “Undeclared.”

3. Academic History

Here, you’ll enter the courses and grades from all schools you’ve attended while in high school. 

4. Test Scores

The University of California application does NOT require test scores. All UC schools refrain from reviewing SAT or ACT scores as part of their admissions process.

  • UC SAT requirements: UC will not consider SAT test scores in admission or scholarship decisions. 
  • UC ACT requirements: UC will not consider ACT test scores in admission or scholarship decisions.
  • SAT Subject Tests: These tests were discontinued in 2021, so they are not a part of UC admission requirements!
  • AP exams, IB exams, TOEFL or IELTS, and International exams: You must report your scores for relevant exams on separate pages in the test score section of your UC application. These scores may be used to place you in the appropriate courses if you enroll. 

5. Activities & Awards

Use this section of the UC application to highlight your extracurricular activities and the awards you have received. Classify each activity/award under one of the following categories:

  • Award or honor
  • Educational preparation programs (any programs that have enriched your academic experiences or helped you prepare for college)
  • Extracurricular activity
  • Other coursework (courses other than those for UC admission requirements/courses that do not fit in UC’s A-G subject areas)
  • Volunteering/Community service
  • Work experience

6. Scholarships & Programs

There’s no limit on the number of scholarships you can select on the University of California application. You can also indicate if you’re interested in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which provides support services at all UC schools.

7. Personal Insight Questions

The UC application essay section consists of Personal Insight Questions. Treat the UC essay prompts as a version of a personal statement. We will go through UC Personal Insight Question examples later on in this article.

8. Review & Submit

This is the last page you’ll visit before you submit your UC application. So, make sure you’ve completed all UC admission requirements. If you have remaining items to complete, you will see a button that says “To Do” next to this section. 

UC Admission Requirements: Personal Insight Questions

Do UC schools require essays?

The UC application requirements do include essays. These are UC requirements for all UC schools. Rather than a personal statement, the UC application asks students to answer “Personal Insight Questions.” There are eight questions to choose from, and the UC application requirements state you must respond to only four of them.

The UC application essays are an important part of the University of California application. Let’s go over a few key details about the UC application questions. 

How long should my responses be to the UC application questions?

Each response to the Personal Insight Questions in the University of California application is limited to 350 words. 

What tone should I use when answering the UC application questions?

The Personal Insight Questions should be answered in your own unique voice. Use a professional tone with appropriate language, but don’t be afraid to have fun. 

There are eight questions listed in the UC application, but you only have to answer four of them. So, choose the four questions that relate to your experiences best. 

What format should my responses to the UC application questions be in?

Your responses should be in a short answer format. It may sound like a lot, but 350 words go by very quickly. The UC application questions will require you to be creative, pithy, and communicate your story clearly. 

Like your Common App essay, the UC essay prompts offer you a chance to set yourself apart. Remember that all UC schools will not receive your Common App essay. So, your Personal Insight Questions should accomplish everything a strong personal statement would. Your responses to the UC prompts should give the UC admissions team a sense of who you are and what makes you unique.

We will go over UC Personal Insight Question examples later on in this article.

How many UC essays are there?

You will complete four Personal Insight Questions as part of your UC admission requirements. The Personal Insight Questions are the only essays that the UC schools will receive.

There are eight UC essay prompts, but you only need to answer four UC prompts as part of the UC application requirements. The UC application essay responses are limited to 350 words each. 

What are the Personal Insight Questions?

So, what UC application essay questions will you answer on your University of California application?

First, let’s discuss the prompts for the UC Personal Insight Questions. We will go through some UC Personal Insight Question examples later in this article. 

Here are the exact UC application questions that will be on the 2022-2023 UC application. Remember, even though the UC application essay section has eight questions, you only have to answer four of the UC essay prompts. 

UC Application Essay Prompts:

  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
  3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  8.  Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

The Personal Insight Questions are about getting to know you—your life experience, interests, and accomplishments. Answer these questions with your individual voice, as if you were having a conversation with the UC admissions staff. 

There is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others. However, you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

There are several resources available to help you answer the UC application questions. Check out our UC Application Essay Guide for more details on these and other UC application requirements.

UC Application essays
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

UC Personal Insight Question Examples

Now let’s look at an example essay for a UC application prompt.

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  

440 Hz exactly. The flames flare to life, forming the perfect wave length as I transitioned from note to note, the curves transitioning along. My classmates crowded around as I sang (shouted?) into the Ruben’s tube, a simple PVC pipe with holes cut at even intervals so that high notes translated to beautiful waves of flames. 

The fight to get a vocal teacher in the first place was an uphill run. Singing, unlike playing the piano or learning to draw, wasn’t deemed worthy of spending money on – wasn’t even seen as a skill. After multiple pitches, I finally got my way, just a foot in the door: one month. 

It was an odd request from a girl raised to be stringent with money, knowing that a few hours of lessons was equivalent to a new pair of tennis shoes to replace her mother’s long-broken in ones. It started with a classmate’s hate list – number 1? Me. For my voice – -the single-most confusing criterion. I couldn’t change my speaking voice. But in an environment which valued a capellas and Barbershop choirs, singing – singing I could improve on. 

Six years later, I’m still driving down to lessons every week. I haven’t performed outside of karaoke, I haven’t released recordings to the public, and there’s no record of my voice anywhere in the public eye. But years of vocal exercises and training has done so much for me, even outside of music in strengthening tone and amplitude. It wasn’t until high school that I could reap the benefits, not byway of choir, but through debate. Walking into round meant adopting an entirely new persona, a thick-skinned, articulate force to be reckoned with. Crossfire was my time to shine, to show how I could twist their arguments to fit my logic, and win. My best tournament came with a topic that coincided with my interests – genetically modified foods. In wielding knowledge of biology, from the damages of fertilizer to individual agricultural efficiency methods, we not only won all rounds undefeated, but managed to score the top speaker position and of course a trophy to signify my newly-found voice.

I remember standing in a half empty auditorium, standing far away from the students, pitching my virtues as a secretary for a middle school honor society. My arguments were sound, as the first row of students mentioned to me later, nodding along. But with the counselor repeating, like an endless drone – speak louder, yell – the simple repetition of my spiel simply lost its use. I sat down with never-mind-eyes cast to the floor, withdrawing from the election.

What stands out most clearly in this response is the author’s voice. From the opening line, we are brought into the author’s world. This author clearly has a specific tone that remains consistent throughout the essay. 

Additionally, the author uses “I” statements and keeps the prompt focused on their experiences. Your UC application PIQ responses should center around your story. 

The author also displays their creativity in the response by tying a creative pursuit—in this case, vocal lessons—to an academic pursuit—public speaking and debate. The author even touches on an intellectual interest. Try to relate your creativity back to a potential college major or future career.

General advice for writing your UC application Personal Insight Question responses

Go to the UC application login page and start early. Give yourself plenty of time for prep, careful composition, and revisions. The earlier you start your UC personal insight questions, the stronger your writing will be. 

Write persuasively. Don’t rely on lists—that’s what a resume is for. Expand on a topic by using specific, concrete examples to support the points you want to make.

Proofread and edit. UC admissions wants to read polished prose. So, make sure you avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes. 

Ask for feedback. Family, teachers, or friends can offer valuable feedback on your essay responses. Be careful to keep your own voice and ideas at the forefront of your responses, but incorporate good suggestions where you can. However, make sure all work is your own. 

Copy and paste. Once you are satisfied with your answers, save them in plain text (ASCII) and paste them into the space provided in the UC application. 

Relax. This is one of many pieces to the University of California application, not the end all be all of the UC application, so take a breath. After all, a relaxed tone makes for a more compelling read for the UC admissions team.

5 Tips to Help You Meet the UC Application Deadline

Writing great responses to the UC prompts will be useless if you don’t submit your UC application on time. It is important to keep all UC application deadlines in mind as you are applying to UC schools. 

UC Application tips
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Here are 5 tips to help you meet your UC application deadlines.

  1. Don’t wait to start researching schools (and take note of all UC requirements)
  2. Make a calendar with all of your college deadlines. (See important UC application deadlines below.)
  3. Ask for recommendations early.
  4. Draft your Personal Insight Questions over the summer.
  5. Ask for help. 

Mark your calendars with these important dates and UC application deadlines!

July 1 Winter/Spring 2023 UC application opens for select campuses 
August 1 Fall 2023 UC application opens (UC application login page found here)
October 1 Financial aid FAFSA and Cal Grant Verification Form opens for applicants to all terms
October 1 – November 30Submission period for the Fall 2023 UC application
Please Note: These dates are subject to change. Check the official UC Application website to verify dates before beginning your application.

Remember, the UC application deadlines are earlier than those of most other colleges, so don’t delay! Applying to UC schools takes time, but the first step is getting started. After you submit it, you can check your UC application status in the UC application portal.

UC Admission Requirements: How to get into UC schools?

The University of California application might seem daunting. However, if you plan ahead, you can tackle the UC application requirements. The UC system has made it easy to apply with one application for all 9 campuses (take a look at the UC schools map to see all the schools the UC application will be accepted). Let’s go over the UC admission requirements.

Remember to submit all UC admission requirements, stay organized, and meet the UC application deadline. 

UC Requirements

There are several UC requirements in the UC application process. Here’s a quick outline of some of the items you’ll need when completing your University of California application. Gather as many of these items as possible before you start your UC application to make the process as smooth as possible. The UC application requirements include: 

  1. Transcripts
  2. Test scores (While UC does not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships, if you choose to submit test scores as part of your UC application, they may be used as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum UC requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.)
  3. Annual income
  4. Social Security Number
  5. Citizenship status
  6. California statewide student ID (optional for UC admissions)

UC Application Fees

Don’t forget about the UC application fee! The UC application fee is $70 for each UC campus ($80 for international and non-immigrant applicants).

UC Application Fees
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Note that the UC application fee is non-refundable. Once your UC application has been submitted, you are expected to pay for all your campus choices, even if you cancel your UC application at a later date.

In sum, all UC application fees are due by the final UC application deadline of November 30th.

Top 3 Tips to stand out on your UC application

1. Maintain strong grades

The University of California application process is competitive. Students should meet certain minimum standards when applying to UC schools, including strong academic performance.

The UC GPA requirements differ depending on where a prospective student is from. The UC requirements for California residents include a 3.0 GPA. For non-residents, the UC requirements call for a 3.4 GPA. This means students who are not from California need to have particularly good grades to meet the UC admission requirements.

However, there are no UC SAT requirements nor ACT requirements. In fact, the UC admissions team will not review test scores. This is unique to the University of California application, making the UC admission requirements slightly less demanding.

Check out our resource page on average GPAs for more guidance on how to meet the UC GPA requirements. This article also includes GPA information specific to the UCLA application.

2. Participate in engaging extracurriculars

The UC admission requirements informally include that you engage in meaningful extracurricular activities. Among national universities, the UC rankings are high. So, choose extracurriculars that help you stand out. 

3. Write thoughtful essays

The UC essay prompts offer enough variety for you to be able to write responses that can show off your individuality. The UC prompts are designed for you to highlight the qualities that make you a great fit for the UC schools. When answering the UC application questions, imagine that you are speaking to a friend, relax, and let your voice shine through. (See our UC Personal Insight Question examples above.) Remember, the UC application questions are numbered, not ranked. So, you should answer the UC prompts that speak most closely to your experiences.

For more information and resources on the University of California application process, UC rankings, and guides on UC admission requirements to specific UC schools, check out our other articles on CollegeAdvisor.com. We have guides that can help you with the UCLA application, the UC Berkeley application, UCSD application, UCSB application, and UC Davis application. Visit the links below to learn more!

UC Application
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More University of California Resources from CollegeAdvisor (Including UC rankings)

The easiest way to find out more about specific schools is to visit CollegeAdvisor’s college pages. These pages offer a general overview of each school (check out our highly popular UCLA page) that includes information on admissions, cost, essay guides, testimonials, webinars, and more. For instance, did you know UC Irvine has a student-faculty ratio of 18:1? Or that UC Davis’ most popular major is experimental psychology? 

These pages also include campus videos taken by actual students. See what game day is like at Berkeley or the unique bistro dining hall at UC San Diego. You can also learn how to get into specific schools such as UC Santa Barbara through the How To Get Into Guides (more on that below).

CollegeAdvisor “How to Get Into Guide” Series

Check out CollegeAdvisor’s “How to Get Into Guide” series, a comprehensive resource on how to get into college. You can find several guides that offer targeted advice on the UC application process, including guides for UC schools such as University of California Irvine and UC Davis. Our UCLA guide covers UCLA academic standards and the Early Decision process. Learn about the GPA requirements for UC Berkeley or the average SAT scores of students at UC San Diego. Our UC Santa Barbara guide even covers specific components of the application. All our UC How to Get Into Guides include additional information on UC admission requirements such as the Personal Insight Questions.

UC Application: Final Thoughts

So, we’ve covered the University of California application and its various components. In Part 1 of this article, we gave a broad overview of the UC application, introduced you to UC Apply, and showed you where to find the UC application login online. We also discussed the UC application deadlines and how to submit the UC application. 

Then, we discussed specific University of California application requirements and the different sections of the UC application in UC Apply. The UC admission requirements include essays, which they call Personal Insight Questions. We went through the essay prompts and looked at a Personal Insight Question example response. Additionally, we shared 5 tips to help meet the UC application deadline and pointers on how to excel at the UC admission requirements to get accepted at a UC school.

Don’t forget to start early

Remember, start your UC application as soon as possible to meet their early submission deadline. The UC application login can be found at UC Apply. You can get the most updated alerts on the UC Application Twitter page. In addition to all the resources we shared in this article, the UC system offers a guide on what to do after you submit your UC application. UC application status updates can be found in the portal. CollegeAdvisor also has a guide on how to navigate the enrollment process.

CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help you submit a top-tier University of California application. Check out our webinar covering an overview of the University of California application. You can also watch our panel discussion offering an insider look at all UC schools and a story of one person’s journey completing the UC application admissions process.

This article was written by Chelsea Holley and Ciara Ayala. No matter what stage you are at in your college search, CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help. Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.