How to Get Into UC Berkeley: My Admissions Journey
In “How to Get Into UC Berkeley: My Admissions Journey,” Admissions Expert and UC Berkeley alum Zoë Edington will give an overview of her admissions journey to UC Berkeley, sharing extracurriculars she participated in, how she approached the admissions process, and ways to stand out when applying. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-04-21 How to Get Into UC Berkeley My Admissions Journey
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on How to Get Into UC Berkeley My Admissions Journey. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panel. Hi everyone. My name is Zoe Edington. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2018 with the bachelor of arts it at the apology. Uh, so you know, I’m aging myself because I applied to college in, uh, 2013 and graduated from high school in 2014. Uh, since graduating from college, I have had a wide variety of jobs, mostly in freelancing.
Um, I have worked for CollegeAdvisor.com kind of since the beginning, starting in 2019. And, uh, in addition to being an advisor here at CollegeAdvisor, I am also [00:01:00] the content project manager and I am a part of a, uh, user experience program to eventually become a UX design. Great. So real quick, we’re just going to do a quick poll.
So what grade are you in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th. There are other, and other can be if you’re a parent, a transfer student or a student taking a gap year, and while we wait for those answers to roll in, um, can you tell us a bit about, um, one of your. Traditions at UC Berkeley. Yeah, definitely. Um, oh, I should also probably mention at the beginning, I’m just getting over a cold.
So I apologize if throughout this webinar a little froggy or, you know, I have to take a break to cough. Um, I would say my favorite tradition at UC Berkeley was probably, uh, Cal day. This is like the day where everyone who was accepted at Cal will usually go to campus. I, I’m not sure if they’re still doing it with the pandemic.
I think that, you know, they’re trying to kind of bring it [00:02:00] back and hopefully they’re having more in-person events. But I just remember when I went, it was this huge day. There were thousands of people on campus and there were all of these cool things. You get a lot of free stuff, you get to meet all of these cool people.
And it was just amazing. And I remember one year, um, I was already a student at this time as a freshmen, but I was on campus and we have there’s this. Building. And there were people that were dancing like on the side of the building, like doing almost like a cool, almost like a ballet thing, but like sideways, like at a 90 degree angle.
And I just thought, wow, this is the biggest thing. So I would say that that was my favorite tradition by far. Wow. We’re just starting to get back into traditions at Cornell. So everyone’s applying. It should be good. Cause it’s looking like we have 2% ninth graders, 23%. 10th grade is 49% 11th graders making up the majority 9% 12th graders and 16% other and he can [00:03:00] control the sides.
Okay, cool. Yeah. So my college experience at Berkeley, so I was pretty active, uh, on campus. Um, at least, you know, I definitely tried to be going in, I think a lot of students, um, when they go on campus, there’s sort of this, um, I don’t know if like vibe is this right. Is the right word, but there’s like a culture of, oh, you know, I’m, I’m here at Berkeley.
It’s a really big campus. There’s a lot to offer. There’s a research that there’s a lot of research opportunities. There’s a lot of connections, you know, Silicon valley, uh, you, you’ve got a lot of people who want to be pre-med pre-law on to start their own companies. And so there’s a lot of like involvement.
And I came in, uh, to college, completely undecided on what I wanted to do. Um, but I knew that I wanted to do something. And so, uh, as soon as I started, uh, as a freshmen, I just joined a lot of [00:04:00] students. And I think that they were, yeah, pretty wide variety. Like I joined some language clubs. I joined some that were, you know, volunteering.
I joined some that were a bit more involved in a particular like academic areas, just to sort of get a feel of what I like to doing, what I was kind of good at what kind of skills I wanted to develop. Um, and then later on, as I kind of progressed throughout my college career, I kind of dabbled in research because I wasn’t entirely certain if that was something that I wanted to go into, but a lot of my friends were getting involved in it.
So I thought, oh, you know, why not? I might as well see if that’s something that I liked. Um, and then I also volunteered with the public service center and, uh, what I liked about it was that was my chance to, um, Sort of get off of campus and, you know, get more involved with the bay area at large, because it can be really tempting, I think, and this, this doesn’t just apply to Berkeley.
I think this is probably like, you know, every college campus, it can be really tempting to [00:05:00] just stay on campus and get really involved there. But you know, sometimes you have to remind yourself like, oh yeah, there’s a whole other city or, you know, community area that I can go and get involved with. And so, you know, it’s really fun if you have that opportunity, I would say, uh, I’d recommend to go out and see what else is out there.
You’re a liberal area. Um, and, uh, yeah, I was also, uh, I would say my experience was pretty cosmopolitan. I was someone growing up that like to travel a lot. Um, I came from a pretty. Small area. And so my parents really instilled in me and my siblings, the, um, the value of traveling, meeting people from different areas, seeing what else that the world had to offer and just being like, yeah, like, you know, you’re used to this small part of the world, but there’s a whole, you know, another world out there.
And so I knew that when I got to college, I knew I wanted to study. And I took that first took that opportunity. I think it was after my second year, I went to Spain. I’d been taking, um, [00:06:00] Spanish classes, uh, for the first two years of college. And so I went to Spain. I lived with a host family there and I did an internship while I was there.
Um, and then the, during my third year I went to Australia and I was there for a year and, um, took classes at the university of Sydney. And I also had an internship there and yeah, both experiences were amazing. They were pretty different from each other, but I loved both of them would highly recommend if you have the chance.
And, um, yeah, basically I just let my curiosity, curiosity just really drive my whole experience and, you know, really let me do whatever it is I had any interest in doing. Um, I think because. I was someone that like in high school, I went to a pretty small high school and as I’ll mention later on, and it didn’t really have that many opportunities.
And so I thought, okay, well now I’m at a campus that has a lot to offer, so I’m just going to go out and do whatever it is that I have [00:07:00] even like the smallest interest in. Um, yeah. And, uh, I also took a lot of decals, which were, uh, classes that were taught by other students. And so I recommend anyone who goes, I, I’m not sure if these are offered at other colleges, but if you go to UC Berkeley, I highly recommend going to, uh, like I think it’s like decal, you could Google it.
It’s like UC Berkeley. Because you can find classes on literally anything they’re classes that you can still get credit for, but they’re offered by students. And I mean, I took one in like an archery. There’s some like you can take, you can learn about mean girls. The movie mean girls, you can learn about like sign language.
It’s amazing. So highly recommend.
Um, cool. And then when did you begin to think about college admissions? I would say my freshman year of high school, definitely. I went to a [00:08:00] school, um, a high school that, uh, had a slogan that was college for certain. And so they really instilled in us that, you know, you really have to start taking the steps now to get into college.
And that was particularly because I was in an area where a lot of students would be the first in their families to graduate from high school and to go to college and, uh, which was why it was really important to start. As soon as possible. Um, so I started taking community college courses as a freshman in high school.
I was 13. Um, these were offered at my high school and I think it was also that year that we really started touring a lot of campuses. This was both through my high school. And then also, um, like just me and my family, my dad was really big on touring different campuses and getting a feel of what I liked and if I could envision myself going to all those campuses.
And so that was a really big thing that [00:09:00] we did pretty much. If not like every month and at least every other month. Um, yeah. And I think all of this really helped me think about like my interest. Um, and when I say interest, I don’t just mean kind of academically, because like I mentioned, I was pretty uncertain about what I wanted to do kind of career wise and even like major wise, but I mean, kind of extracurricular wise, like what I wanted to do just in high school.
So I was thinking like, okay, well, what kind of sports do I want to do? Are there any clubs that I want to do? Or maybe even start here? Um, what, what do I see myself doing for the next four years? And I kind of started mapping that out to that age.
What factors were the most important to you in the college application process? Uh, I think campus size was the biggest thing for me. Um, coming from a really small school, I knew that I didn’t want to have that same experience going into college. I think that this [00:10:00] is something that. It’s very personal to each person.
So I know that there are definitely some people who prefer having a much more smaller and intimate, um, um, environment when they go to college. But for me, I really wanted to challenge myself. And so I was just like, no, I want to go to like a much bigger school and see what that’s about. And I wanted to have, um, an experience where every year of college there would be some new, big opportunity that I could take advantage of.
Um, and I also was really, um, invested in like the location of the college. Uh, originally I I’m from California. And so I wanted to go like, on the east coast, I was like, I want to go somewhere where there’s four seasons and you know, maybe there’s snow and, you know, the leaves change color. It’ll be cool.
And like, because he doesn’t agree and, um, yeah, that, that obviously didn’t work out, but, uh, Even if, even [00:11:00] if I couldn’t have that sort of, uh, experience, I still wanted one where the school, the campus itself was going to be in a bit more like urban area. Um, because the, the place that I grew up was pretty, like, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere.
And so I was like, yeah, I want, I want a bit more excitement. You know, it doesn’t have to be like right in the middle of a city, but it’s still gonna be somewhere where, you know, there’s going to be more like transportation. There’s going to be buildings. There’s going to be more opportunities so that, you know, if I want it to have like a job, I can go into the city and, you know, commute there and, uh, have an internship, you know, again, there’d be more opportunities down the line.
Um, and I also wanted some, uh, A campus that had a variety of majors because, um, I was really undecided on a major and typically like, you know, the bigger schools, they do have like a wide variety and, you know, sometimes it sometimes like smaller schools. Um, they will still have like a lot of majors offered, but they might not have quite as many.
And I just really wanted to keep [00:12:00] my options open.
So how did you stay in tout and the application process? I think the biggest one for me was graduating from high school, with the two associate of arts degrees. Um, so how I mentioned that I started taking community college courses as a 13 year old. I actually took college courses every year, and then I took so many that I finished community college a month before graduating from high school.
And. You know, it turns out that that kind of makes you stand out when you’re applying to college. So, uh, even though on the applications, like, I obviously didn’t write that because at the time, you know, you apply as a, you applied during your senior year at the beginning. And even though I was really trying my best to, um, to be able to graduate with, um, two AA degrees, I didn’t know for [00:13:00] sure that it was going to be, uh, um, you know, a sure thing.
And so I couldn’t say that, you know, in my essays and I didn’t want to like put that in my, in the additional comment sections or anything like that. I wanted to have that on my transcripts and on the UC application in the self-reported academic section. And I was just kind of hoping that when the admissions committee was reviewing it, they’d be able to sort of see the trajectory of my, um, academic record and be able to think like, oh, it looks like this is what she’s doing because she’s already taken, man.
I think by that point I had already taken 15 out of 20 classes. She’s probably trying to get, you know, the, the full degree, um, And then I also think that the dedication to my extracurricular activities were another way that I stood out. I’m going to a really small school. I think it was, it was very common.
That pretty much all, well, I shouldn’t [00:14:00] say all, but a lot of our clubs and teams would be canceled within like a month of starting, just due to people dropping out. And, um, uh, it would really frustrate me, you know, not only because I was thinking like, oh, no, like, you know, I wanted to have this for my, uh, college applications, but more importantly, like I had put so much mental, like energy into this, and I really believed in what we were going to do.
And, you know, it was a really big disappointment to me. And, um, so. Rest of the extracurriculars that I still had, uh, on my college applications, I really wanted to show through the essays, like, you know, the ones that I’ve mentioned in my essays, um, the way that I described them in the extracurricular sections, I really wanted to emphasize like my commitment to them and what they meant to me.
And I think that that was, that really stood out in the, um, applications. [00:15:00] Uh, the extracurriculars that I did throughout high school, uh, those included the Oxbridge academic program. This was kind of like a fancy program that I think my dad somehow came across and then told me about, um, I did this after my sophomore year.
Uh, like it was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school. Um, it was basically a one month program that, um, I did at the university of Oxford in the UK. Um, and I’m, it was, it was kind of as the name implies, it’s a academic program where students from high school go and they have like a major and a minor to.
Basically prepare them for college life. Um, you can take classes in a subject that’s not typically offered at most high schools to just sort of learn what it’s like to be at a college. And you usually have some sort of like end of [00:16:00] the, it’s not a term, but sort of like end of the program, like project.
And so for us, because I was majoring in journalism, our project was a, um, uh, was doing a sort of like summer catalog type of thing. So we wrote about, you know, everyone who was part of this PR uh, program. I can’t remember how many kids there were. I want to say there were a couple hundred and there were at least like 20 different majors and stuff.
So, you know, there were all of us, we went out, I was like reporters who like journalists. We interviewed people who were not only students, but also like the teachers we wrote about. The different field trips that we went on and it was just like amazing. Um, I also minored in fantastic literature, which I think was really amazing because we were in Oxford and like we were one of our field trips was literally like where they’d film part of the Harry Potter movies and like where, you know, the, I can’t, I’m blanking on the name.
This is so embarrassing, but you know, the person who [00:17:00] wrote that, that Alyssa Wonderland books, like where he would come up with the stories. And I was just like, this feels like being in a fairytale. So, you know, it was a great place to minor in that. Um, I also was part of the varsity swim team. I was one of the first people, uh, Was I the first, no, I wasn’t the first person, but I was one of the first people to be part of that swim team at my high school.
Um, and it was also interesting because a lot of the people at the school weren’t entirely comfortable with swimming at all, like just not comfortable with the water. So I was kind of like, not only on the swim team, like as a swimmer, but also kind of like an instructor almost. So that was, that was fun.
Um, and then I was part of the academic decathlon team just for one year because you know, low turnout. So we only lasted one year. Um, and then I was also, uh, on the prom committee for my junior and senior year, also the yearbook club and then [00:18:00] a clerk in the student store.
So my application strategy, I don’t think that I had a very formal strategy, but I just remember, because this was about a decade ago. I just remember that I started pretty early. I think I started applying to schools in August and I applied to a total of 26 schools. Um, only five of them where you see, so only five used the UC application and all of the rest use the common app and out of the ones, because the, well, both the UC and the common app, um, open in.
Yeah, they both have in, in August. Um, I applied, I started both in August. Um, and then for the ones in the common app, I remember that I pretty much started them in, on, uh, during one weekend and then submitted it that same weekend. Like I [00:19:00] just did it all in one like 48 hours, which was, I would not recommend, but at all, but, uh, that’s what I did.
Excuse me. Um, and then, uh, I think though, even though it was like a very intense time, like I just remember kind of being a bit like, you know, in a, in a fog it’s very hazy, but, uh, I think it w it worked out for me because it allowed me to sort of focus on the rest of my, uh, academics for, uh, my senior year and also enjoy the rest of my semester.
Um, and I think that, uh, this doesn’t apply so much for the UCS because they don’t offer interviews, but it helped me for the common app because. The schools that, um, use the common app, not all of them, but a lot of them offer, uh, interviews. And I don’t think that for any of them, I had like formerly requested, uh, in an alumni interview.
But I think that because I had submitted the application so [00:20:00] far, like an advance, I remember that within a couple of weeks of submitting my application, I just kept getting emails about, um, like being offered alumni interviews. And I think in total, I got, I had about 10 alumni interviews, like over like the next couple of months.
And I was just like, I don’t know what’s happening, but I guess I’m going to get an alumni interview. It felt like every week alumni were reaching out to me, like over the phone or in person to do interviews. So that was a really cool. Um, yes. And then my other strategy was just to always be true to myself and my essays.
So, you know, even if I felt like I wasn’t always gonna sound, I dunno, like cool or something and the essays where I was going to sound like kind of dorky or whatever. I always knew that I wanted to make sure that I stayed true to myself and used my own voice, um, which can be difficult. But I think that it’s really important that when you’re writing your essays, um, when you’re writing your short [00:21:00] responses, when you’re putting down what you want to do, as far as like a major, you’re always there, you know, there’s some honesty in that.
Um, it can be tempting not to, especially like if you’re having, you know, like your parents or teachers or someone else look over it, it can be tempting to have somewhat to be influenced by other people. But I think it’s important to just check in with yourself and ask yourself if you know, that brings true.
Yes. And now we’re going to do another quick poll. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for those to roll in what made you decide to choose anthropology?
Oh yeah, that’s a really good question. Um, yeah, I think when I had applied to this, uh, college, every school that I applied to, I was undeclared slash undecided. I did that for all of them. And then when I [00:22:00] started at UC Berkeley, the first semester I took like random courses. Well, I took like, uh, I took a Spanish course cause I knew I wanted to be fluent in Spanish.
I’m half Mexican. And so I was like, I need to know this language. And then I took like a classics course and a psychology course. And I was like, okay, these are cool, but I’m not really feeling it. And then the next semester I took a biological anthropology course. And I think that that was because I had read the.
Description, um, at my community college when I was in high school and it had kind of interested me, but it was just kind of like a lot of work at the time. And I was like, oh, I don’t really have enough time to like, invest in this. And I kind of thought when I was at Berkeley, it was like, oh, well this, this will be cool.
Like, you know, I have time now and I’m already in college, so I can do this. And, um, yeah, it just really blew me away. It was kind of like everything I thought I knew about how the world worked was wrong, because I just knew that. And, um, what really sold me was that, uh, I don’t know. Do you know what a lemur [00:23:00] is?
Like the animal? Yes. Yes. Okay. Well, we were learning about that and the professor, for some reason, thought that we needed to know this. He did like a demonstration across the stage in front of like 20 or no, like 200 people, like a demonstration of how lemurs walked. Cause people were talking about evolution of like, uh, different.
So he does this almost like sideways kind of leap type of thing. And I was just like, this is really weird. I think I need to study this more. I think this is my career. These are my people. And so, yeah, I just declared it. I later that year. Yeah, definitely. I ended up switching majors after taking a few courses in another program.
I know the field, right? Yeah. You just keep going. And you’re like, I think this is it. So it’s looking like 24%. Haven’t started 55% of researching schools. So this is a good place to be 10% are working on their essays. And other 10% are getting the application materials [00:24:00] together. And 3%, the lucky few are almost done.
What aspects of your application do you think were most successful? Um, so I would say my tenacity, I think really shined through, um, mostly going back to what I said about trying to get my AA. I think that that was pretty highlighted. Um, I remember being worried at the time that I didn’t have a lot of like extracurriculars or that, you know, I don’t know.
Like they were just going to think that I was kind of, well, I don’t think I was super worried about it, but I remember thinking like, oh, what if they, what if they think I’m basically like a boring applicant, you know, that type of thing. But I remember thinking also kind of trying to re reassure myself, like, okay, but you know, I’m also taking all these extra courses because it’s like, I have my high school classes and then I have my college classes and I had to double up on that for my junior year and you know, all that stuff.
So [00:25:00] I think that that shining through and, uh, in the end, I think. And then I also think that my relationship was splinting shy, uh, was a, a really, uh, successful part. Uh, I want to be clear. I was not a competitive swimmer, like at all, like I started swimming. Um, I was part of a swim club. I think I started when I was about eight and I did that from the time I was eight to about 13, but I was like, not the fastest.
It was definitely not. Uh, Michael. I mean, I begged my mom to let me quit so many times. And sometimes my coach would sign me up for events and I would just go home if I didn’t like it. And he probably hated me, but, you know, that’s, that was the deal. But, um, I liked it more when I was in high school because I liked seeing people who, you know, had like, um, I don’t know if it was a phobia.
Exactly. But it was like, you know, a, a fear, a hesitation, uh, with swimming and, you know, with water, like slowly overcome that and get more comfortable. And I, I [00:26:00] liked the bonding that came through it. And, um, for one of my essays, I wrote about like, you know, my kind of love, hate relationship with it and how being in the water, like, you know, it was kind of like a push and pull type of thing where sometimes I hated it, but it would be like 7:00 AM in the morning.
And I had to wake up at like 4:00 AM to go drive to a meet and do it. But then I loved it when I, when it was like, uh, in the afternoon. And I was with my friends, like, you know, in practice, cooling off and enjoying it. And I think that that was a really strong point because I remember that this wasn’t for ISI Berkeley.
This was for another school. Um, but I remember that I got a random email where the coach, the swim coach, the swim and slash dive coach had emailed me about potentially joining the team. And that was before I had officially gotten accepted. So I went to that school. So I was kind of thinking like, oh, I guess, you know, it worked, you know, I must’ve done something right.[00:27:00]
Uh, what do you think makes for a successful Berkeley application? So the first thing I would say is honesty. Um, this is kind of, I think this applies to, well, every application, you know, college application, but especially for the UCS. And I say that because the UC application is different from the common app in that they basically do not want anything.
When you apply except the, the UC application, they don’t want transcripts. They don’t want letters of recommendation. Now they don’t want test scores. They don’t have interviews. They literally just want your UC application. And so that means that you self report what your grades are. You tell them, um, what your, what your, uh, your grades are, if it was a letter grade or pass or fail and what the, um, the, I forget what the exact word is, but if it was like AP or IB, or, you know, if it was just like a regular kind of level class.[00:28:00]
And so it’s very important that you’re honest in that it should be pretty obvious, but sometimes it, you know, it, it’s easy to kind of miss a certain thing, you know, you might be because when you’re applying for a college, you could be applying to 10 different colleges and you might think like, oh man, like I accidentally put that this was an AP biology class, instead of like, you know, just like a regular level biology class, it’s, you know, little things like that that might really, um, come back to haunt you later on.
So I would say, you know, make sure that you’re really paying attention to that. Um, and then second, I would say that passion is really, um, I don’t want to say, make or break, but that was, that would really, uh, make like a successful Berkeley applicant. Um, I think a lot of people, when they apply to Berkeley, it can be really tempting to just try.
Doing all of these [00:29:00] extracurricular activities and taking all these classes that you think that the admissions committee wants in an applicant, but what they really want is just someone who cares about something. And who’s going to act on that. So, you know, they don’t really care if you’re taking all of these AP classes or IB classes or honors classes, college classes in one particular subject, they care that, you know, you care about it.
You’re doing well in it. You’re part of these clubs. You’re doing these sports because you honestly care about it. You can write about it. You know, it’s almost like if someone, if you bumped into someone on the street and, you know, would you be able to tell them about this? Would they be able to feel it?
And the way that you talk about it, it’s that type of. And also I think, um, intellectual curiosity, um, I don’t know, this is this one I think is more just in my opinion. I don’t know if this is something that every [00:30:00] person who went to Berkeley would say, but I think that, um, Cal has a lot to offer and I’ve seen this from not only people like clients that I’ve worked with, but also like people I remember going to Berkeley with like, kind of going in and just kind of staying in their lane.
And I think that Cal, because they have so many different opportunities, I think that they like that, oh, this person’s going to try to reach out and, you know, take advantage of that. Like, of course we want people who are going to kind of, you know, go deep in an area, but you know, we also want you to try different things.
College is a time for you to figure yourself out and to try new things. And most importantly, Berkeley. Like they don’t want people who are just going to be students. We don’t want someone who’s just going to be in their room or in the library studying. We want you to go out and, you know, join clubs, you know, start companies start, you know, volunteering, et cetera.[00:31:00]
So why did I choose Berkeley? Um, think once I got my, uh, acceptances, um, I let’s see. Yeah. I was rejected from most of the colleges that I applied to. And then I remember I was choosing between two schools. It was mainly a UC Berkeley or Vassar. And I ultimately chose Berkeley mainly because I knew that my units would transfer over.
And even though I knew I, I was in a pretty, um, I still am, but I was pretty privileged where I didn’t have any financial need. And so I didn’t feel the, the rush to sort of get through college, um, quickly. And I also, again, was really undecided. So I was kind of like, well, there’s no real point in me trying to finish college in two years or basically less than four.
So I kind of want it to stay [00:32:00] and kind of figure myself out a bit more. Um, but I thought like, oh, I could still go to Berkeley because I pretty much have gotten my general education requirements over with. So that will free up my time so that I can go and take classes in any area that interests me.
Maybe I could double major, major and minor studied abroad even more, et cetera. Um, and even though. It’s possible that I would have been able to get some, um, general ed requirements out of the way it faster. It’s highly unlikely that I would have had so many. Um, I mean, by the time that I started at Berkeley, like I had 54 units, which to, for anyone who doesn’t know that may, that means that I was only six units away from having a junior status.
So by the time I finished my first semester, I was a junior basically. Um, yeah. And, um, and then like how I mentioned earlier took advantage by just doing a bunch of random stuff [00:33:00] and having fun that way. And. Yeah. The other reason was because I wanted to be a big fish, a small fish in a big pond. Um, that was something that stuck out to me because I remember when I was choosing between colleges, my dad had, uh, put it into perspective by saying, you know, you can either be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond.
And I had usually been the big fish for the last couple of years in high school. And so I was kind of like, oh, well, I kind of want to see what it’s like, you know, being on the other side. And, you know, again, it’s, it’s not for everyone to each their own, but I wanted to challenge myself and just kind of think like, yeah, I want to be on a bigger campus and kind of have to work a bit harder to, to find my place.
Um, whether that’s finding, uh, like an academic program that suits me finding a group of people that do, um, et cetera. So that was how I made my.
Yes. So [00:34:00] that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions. You submitted in the Q and a tab and read them a lot before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up.
If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links into your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also known as the website. If you joined from there, you won’t get all the features of big markers. So just make sure you joined through the custom link.
Okay. So getting on to the questions I just wanted to add on real quick about, um, like the standing out part. What’s your McCall. It, uh, yeah. Schools really are looking for you to be more like holistic in a sense to where you’re not just going to be a bookworm the whole time, like read your books of course, and do your schoolwork, but they really do want you to be involved around campus, around the community, just involved in general.
Um, [00:35:00] because, um, the more you’re involved with everything around you and doing big things, the better it makes them look. Um, so they do kind of want students that are gonna, um, put in that extra work so that they can have some really great alumni. Um, it’s a little bit selfish, but they also go to the school.
That’s going to offer you something to, uh, and then also with. Being able to, um, show that past from your essays. We do have other webinars on this, but, um, I like to describe to my students, like, um, when you’re writing your essays or talking about different activities, you do, um, make it sound like you’re talking about your favorite show or like a show that you really don’t like even, or like, just like whatever passion you feel when you’re just scratch, convince someone to watch a show, that’s kind of what you should be doing with like your essay is to really get across that you’re involved in interested.
Okay. So, yeah, that makes good sense. But, um, okay. So one student is asking, um, if you could describe the ideal [00:36:00] candidate, um, uh, ideal student that Berkeley is looking for kind of going off what you were mentioning. Um, like a lot of students are often worried about like GPA and everything. Um, average test scores and stuff.
Like, can you give a bit more perspective into what goes into those spaces? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I would start off by saying that now, like you, CS are easing test scores as a factor for admissions. So, you know, that’s one thing that you don’t have to worry about. Um, I wish that, that was the thing when I was applying, but like, yeah.
That’s, that’s another thing. Um, yeah, I would say that GPA is obviously a factor, but they also look at, you know, the, the rigor of the classes that you took. So I would say that Berkeley in particular, well, again, this could apply to a lot of the other UCS, but I would say that Berkeley does care about, um, just students who are, [00:37:00] um, what is the right word?
I would say, you know, who have kind of like the, just the bravery to just go out there and kind of like challenge themselves and to take risk, uh, not to say that, you know, if you’re someone who liked me was late and still kind of is like, you know, not the best when it comes to certain subjects like math, you know, for example, that doesn’t mean that you need to go out there and like, take like, you know, the toughest, you know, AP calc class, or, you know, like a community college level, like math class, you don’t need to do that, but you know, if you’re kinda like, oh, I’m going to try like a tough class in another subject that, you know, I hadn’t really considered before, but you know, just, why not, maybe I’ll try like, doing that.
I think that they care about, you know, students who aren’t afraid to take risks. Um, because I think that there are a lot of students who. Kind of are kind of used to staying within their comfort zone. And so [00:38:00] students who aren’t afraid of trying to get out there a lot, I think that that is kind of like what I would recommend.
Um, and that’s just not that’s that, doesn’t just, um, that’s not just like an academic thing, you know, you could also do that with extracurriculars. You could also do that, you know, with like, I don’t know, what’s another way of doing it. You know, you could also try to kind of like in your essays, just, you know, really emphasizing it, something like that.
So I think that that’s probably going off of wait. Can hear me. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Sorry. Um, so another student is asking, is it better to have all your clubs and extracurriculars, um, centered around one topic or should they be scattered around multiple things? Um, I think it depends on the student and what they are hoping [00:39:00] for their future.
Um, because if you’re someone who is hoping to go into a particular area, like for, uh, a certain career path, then maybe it would make more sense to be more in a particular like concentrated in a particular, uh, you know, almost like field. Um, but if you’re someone who was a bit more undecided like me, it might make sense to have more variety.
Uh, that being said, I would not recommend. Putting all of your eggs in one basket, you know, it’s still try to have maybe like, you know, a clubber too in kind of like a, a different area, still something that you would enjoy. We, you know, hopefully it, like, I am strongly against doing things that you hate just because it sounds good.
Don’t do that, uh, ever, but you know, you, you do want to show that, um, you know, you’re, you’re willing to try new things, uh, going on to the [00:40:00] next question, I’m going to kind of combine, so student is asking what are Berkeley’s essay prompts. And if you can like, just explain a bit about how the UC application works and like how you apply to schools through that.
And like, there are prompts cause it is different, right? Yeah. Um, so when I applied, uh, Oh, phrase it differently since I applied the UC application has changed. So when I applied, there were only two essay prompts and all applicants had to answer these ones. Um, and, uh, I think that they had to answer them in about 500 words.
I think that that was the, the maximum and, uh, the prompts were, there was something about like your background and then I think another one was more about your extracurricular activities, which is why I wrote about swimming. And then I wrote about just kind of growing up, like in a small town and now the prompts have changed.
So now students are [00:41:00] allowed to pick from, um, the personal insight questions. So there are eight prompts and students get to pick four and each prompt, it has a maximum of 350 words and you can find them online. I think that they’re all, they’re all pretty different, but they, um, they kind of center around.
I think it’s. What are they, they kind of like, you know, tell us about a time in your life when you had to make like a difficult decision, you know, something like that. Another one is kind of more about your extracurricular activities. Some are more about, um, majors or career paths, or like, uh, um, like academic subjects that you enjoy, things like that.
And then one is, um, like, uh, almost open-ended where you can basically talk about anything. Um, and so with my students, I typically recommend that they. I mean, obviously I don’t tell them [00:42:00] which ones to pick. I’m just kind of like, you know, if, if any, if any four of them, you know, are particularly like intriguing to you, you know, pick those four, but I would recommend the, uh, applicants pick four different ones just so that they don’t run the risk of response of, uh, giving the same or similar responses because every school will get the same form.
So when you apply, you fill out the application and you basically just check off which schools you want to send it to, and it will go to each school. Yes. And that is for all the UCS in California. It is a public school system. Yes. Uh, okay. So going onto the next question, kind of jumping off of that. Um, okay.
So a student is asking, um, oh no, I keep losing it. Okay. Um, so, um, a student was asking like, um, how do you show passionate in those essays? Like, how do you write in general? Just how do you write a [00:43:00] good UC or UC application? Yeah. Yeah. Um, that can be kind of difficult, especially because I’m guessing that this is the first time that students are like writing about themselves.
You know, usually like when you’re in high school, you’re writing about books or, you know, other like history or, you know, as something else, but that this is your writing about you. So I would say that to kind of convey passion. I would say that what usually would help me is I kind of, right. I w I would start off by writing different drafts just because when I, um, when I start off, if I think like, oh, okay, I have to keep it within the word limit, or I have to, you know, make sure that I’m doing this and that it’s kind of like too many restrictions and I end up psyching myself out.
So I almost do it almost as like a free write. And I almost pretend that I’m writing it to like a friend or [00:44:00] myself with kind of the same passion as if I’m talking about my favorite, uh, TV show or movie or whatever, only instead of a TV show. It’s about a major it’s about. Um, a, a sport that I’m doing, it’s, you know, it’s whatever subject that I’m talking about.
And I think that the important thing is to center it around you. Um, cause it can be tempting. What I’ve seen sometimes is that in first drafts of my, um, students’ essays, they kind of get carried away and kind of talk about the. The major itself, and they kind of don’t bring it back to like why it matters to them.
So, you know, if like the prompt is something like, tell us what you, uh, you know, tell us why you’re picking the major that you are. They might start off talking about molecular biology because they want to be a doctor. And then they might go off talking about why it’s so important to become a, you know, [00:45:00] a brain surgeon.
And by the end of the essay, I’m kind of like, okay, but you didn’t tell me anything about you in this. Like, I don’t know why you want to be the brain surgeon. I dunno why you want to be, you know, doing this. Why are you passionate about it? So you just have to remember at the whole time to just think, okay, well, why am I wanting to do this?
So yeah, it’s like going back to writing the letter to a friend, just ask like what, okay. I’m writing to like a friend. Why do I want them to know this about. Definitely. And we do have other webinars on writing essays and I’m writing about passion projects or interests. So definitely check those out real quick.
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Now back to the Q and a. So going on to the next question. Just to kind of prompt this. Can you talk a bit about like, um, the diversities on campus? Like, like international students, diversity in general? Um, out-of-state students. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I’ll start with like international. So one of the things that I really liked about Cal was that it was really common to see students from all over the world.
Um, I think that, that, might’ve also just been, because it was like bay area and I think bay area draws a lot of people from the international community. I’m not entirely, like, I can’t say because it’s like this, wasn’t like a, a conversation that [00:47:00] just kind of naturally came up when I would talk to people.
So I’m not sure if it was a lot of like students, um, you know, just being born in another country and then moving here and then applying as like an, um, out of state or in state applicant or if they were actually from other countries and then applying as, um, international applicants. But I would say that there was probably like a fair number.
I can’t give exact percentages, but I would say it was probably like higher than maybe some of the other. Um, like I would imagine it was probably higher than like you seem or said, or do you see, um, Irvine or Riverside? Uh, don’t quote me, but that’s just kind of what I would imagine. Yeah. And then, um, out of state applicants, I think, I can’t remember if I remember how many out of state applicants that, um, I met, I do remember meeting some, but there was definitely a [00:48:00] lot fewer than, um, in-state applicants.
I would say it’s, I would still recommend applying to UC Berkeley if it’s a school that, you know, if you are out of state and you, you know, still want to apply, you’re still kind of wondering like, oh, like, you know, It’s my dream school or, you know, it’s not my dream school, but I do still want to know, like, what if I got in, you know, I have a chance it’s then just apply, you know, it doesn’t hurt.
Um, but there are, you know, it’s probably just a bit tougher. I think the UC system in general, they usually do prefer, um, to keep more like California residents and like the GPA, uh, is the GPA requirement is higher for out of state, um, applicants. Um, yeah, but, uh, I would, I would still recommend applying, um, and then diversity on campus.
Yes. So let’s see. I can’t remember the exact like demographics. I mean, it’s probably [00:49:00] changed a little bit since I’ve like got there, but I think that Berkeley it’s, I want to say it’s probably like average compared to some of the other schools in the area like Stanford. Um, But, um, I think that I remember at least that kind of like their efforts.
To kind of be more like inclusive for, um, students on campus who made up more of like, you know, the minority, like, uh, black students, Latino students that I remember going and learning about things like theme housing. And I was like, oh, that’s cool. And I don’t know if this is a thing that like every school.
Is like certain ones, but they had things like, um, if you, if you were going to live on campus, you could apply to join like theme housing, which is where, uh, for certain residency, for certain student residences, they would have like certain floors that were like all black slash [00:50:00] African-American. Um, the houses are all Latino or Asian, Pacific Islander or native American.
There were some where I think it was like women in science. And then I think there were some where it was all like, um, I don’t know, the, I don’t know the exact word, but I think it was like, you know, they didn’t allow like any substances. And I think that, that, like, you know, kind of helped like students feel a bit more, um, uh, I dunno, we’re just kind of like, you know, welcomed, like in, in certain spaces.
Um, but also Berkeley’s like a pretty. It’s it’s a pretty politically active campus. That was the thing that I remember thinking. I was like, oh wow. Just because growing up, like I was in an area where like, at least like, to me, we never really talked about like things that were happening in the world or even like in our own city.
And so if there was anything that was going on, like I remember going, and that was right at the beginning of the black lives matter movement. So, you know, anytime there was anything going on, students would be there demanding action. So if at any time there’s something it’s, [00:51:00] you know, students will pretty much demand change and there’s going to be some sort of, uh, maybe not change happening immediately, but you know, there’s going to be a response.
Yes. And with the UC system, they do tend to favor their in-state students and their financial aid definitely favors the in-state students. I believe when I was looking at it for one of my students, um, there was like, Scholarship that was like merit-based, um, for out-of-state students, but then the rest.
And I think there was one for Dhaka and then another one for international, but most of them were for in-state students, merit and needs based aid. Um, it is pretty biased. I just looked it up there, um, compared to the 9,000 or so students that were accepted from in-state only about 2000 were accepted out of state, which is low, but not impossible.
If you’re interested in just being in California, try [00:52:00] checking out some of their private schools in the area like Stanford or USC. Those are not in the UC system and they’re on the common app. Um, but the UC system, since it is public schools, um, they do kind of function like other state schools. Like the Texas system or the Georgia systems, public schools do tend to favor their in-state residents just because financial aid and taxes go towards that.
So is favor to it. Uh, so going on to the next question, um, okay, so another student is asking, um, okay, I’ll just combine these. So one student is worried that their GPA slipped in, um, one year, um, and they’re worried that that will affect their chances. And then another student is, um, worried that, um, they don’t have many activities available at their school.
So like sorta like limited experiences or something hindering the application, um, will that, um, how can they make up for it? Will it limit their chances [00:53:00] overall, et cetera? Yeah. Yeah. Uh, well, that completely makes sense. Um, I would say I’ll start with the, the GPA kind of part first, um, It would, I would ask if I were working with the student, I would ask them why their GPA dropped.
If there was some sort of external factor, then they might be able to, um, mention if they were comfortable mentioning it in like an essay then, you know, they might be able to do so there, um, typically there’ll be some sort of question. I can’t remember off the top of my head if this is a personal insight question, like prompt, but, um, you know, there might be like, uh, tell us about a difficult time in your life, et cetera.
And if something happened like, um, You know, uh, the passing of a loved one, or like, you know, a really big move or, you know, something else happened where you had to take on a lot of responsibility and that really affected the time that you had to dedicate to your academics. That could be something that you [00:54:00] mentioned there.
Uh, you might not, you know, phrase it as like, uh, this is why my GPA dropped, but you could phrase it as like, uh, you know, because of all of this other stuff that was going on, like, I wasn’t able to, uh, I wasn’t able to focus as much like on my studies, et cetera. Um, and that might provide more of like a narrative around, uh, the, uh, the circumstances of your GPA.
Um, I would also say too, I mean, it also, I would also ask the student what year this was that their GPA dropped if it was before their junior year. Well, regardless of what year it was, it would definitely say too, you know, obviously to try to get it up more, um, if it’s before their junior year, then and there, you know, showing signs of improvement, then they could, and, you know, if they were writing this in the essay, they could then mention that there.
And, um, you know, colleges like. They don’t like seeing, you know, like [00:55:00] a dip and GPA’s, but they like seeing signs of like improvement of students who, if they had struggled in any way, shape or form, they have, you know, taken, um, initiative to try to get back up on their feet because it’s difficult, you know?
I mean, we’re living through a pandemic we’ve seen, but all of us in some way have struggled and then try to pick ourselves back up. And, um, you know, so college is like seeing that students are, um, being proactive in that, because, you know, when you get to college, it’s going to just bring a whole new set of challenges for you.
Um, so, you know, that could be a way, uh, to do that. Uh, if the student were, um, maybe more hesitant to talk about it in an essay, but they still wanted to address it somehow in an application, they could mention it in the additional comments section of the application. Um, I would just say to probably like it, unless the student was really against it, I would say to not [00:56:00] simply avoid mentioning it in the application, just because.
If it’s only seen on the transcript and there’s no kind of like explanation, it might be a bit, you know, like a question mark of like, oh, well, you know, why, why is that? Did the student just lose interest or focus? You know, it kind of leaves like more questions. Um, and, um, I think the second part was about, uh, activities not having as many activities on, um, application or, um, yeah, not many, not having as many activities at school and not being able to put that on applications.
Yeah. So I’ve been there. Um, I would say, you know, something that I’ve said to my students before is to kind of get creative, uh, if there, if the students early on in high school, or then maybe they can, uh, Try to like start their own kind of activities. I mean, I’ve spoken to some students who’ve started their own non-profits who have [00:57:00] started their own kind of like social movement, um, social media pages, you know, like they’ve done things that weren’t school sponsored, but are still definitely like time-consuming making a change and are definitely like extracurriculars.
So, you know, you could do something like that. And, um, that would definitely count. And, you know, if you, again, if you have that passion and that drive and like a mission, that’s definitely something that you could talk about and an essay you could put on their college application. Um, and, uh, yeah, if it’s, if it’s something, if they’re sort of like later on, um, in the, um, And they’re in their high school career.
Then I would also say to maybe get creative and kind of rethink a little bit about what you think of as like an activity. I mean, you know, you might think you might not think to yourself that babysitting is an activity, but you know, it could be. You just have to kind of like, if you wrote about it in an essay or in the [00:58:00] extracurricular, like activity, like description, you know, you could convince someone that, that is, you just have to kind of make them, you know, believe it and just reshape it.
So I think that that would count. And also, you know, when you’re applying to school, I think, I mean, McKenzie would probably correct me if I’m wrong, but, um, from what I remember, your counselor will give them, uh, will, uh, give the admissions committee sort of like a, I dunno if like a form is the right word, but you know, they will tell them what a typical student at your high school is like.
And so then that is what the admissions committee will use to kind of compare you, you know? So they will, they’ll get a bigger picture. They won’t just be comparing you to like anyone in the U S so. Definitely. And, um, just as we’re starting to wrap up, I do want to mention that if your question wasn’t answered here, but remember that we do have other webinars, um, where you can go to our website or you can wait for our upcoming webinars, we will have more webinars on like what to do in [00:59:00] your junior year or senior year if it’s getting to the last minute or if you need to figure out how to really up your application.
Um, and then also if you’re looking for a specific question, remember that you can, um, go to your advisor or join CollegeAdvisor, or you can just type in the specific, like key words from the question that you’re asking and see our webinars, or even our blog for more information. And just to wrap it up, is there any last minute advice you want to give or anything about UC Berkeley that you want to.
Um, let’s see. Any other advice? Um, well, I kind of want to, I saw this question that stuck out to me, the, what are you able to do with an anthropology degree? I will kind of like broaden it a bit more to just kind of talking about degrees, kind of like in general, um, kind of give advice. So I would say to anyone who’s undecided or kind of worried about what they want to do with their degrees, you know, post-college to [01:00:00] not worry about it, like quite as much, because I would say that from my experience and from.
The observing, like, you know, my friends and, you know, discussions I’ve had with them. A lot of employers don’t care so much about what your degree is in, like what you studied, they care more about your experience and what your internships are. So pretty much with any degree that you get, you can do pretty much anything.
That’s pretty much that’s like what I’ve learned. So yeah, for me personally, and anthropology degree, like I did, um, I joined a club, uh, Called FinTech. It was basically trying to get more gender diversity in the technology industry. And a lot of us weren’t actually like, you know, computer science majors or engineering or anything like that.
We came from like English department, like sociology, things like that. But we were still interested like in the tech industry. And, um, I knew I was interested in it, but I was like, I don’t want to be a coder, but I still want to get into it. But I don’t know how, [01:01:00] and that was what, six years ago. And it only last year did I discover, um, the field of user experience design and that actually paired really nicely with a background in anthropology because I know what it means.
You know, like keeping users in mind, keeping, um, people in mind, you know, keeping them, um, understanding them like as actual people and not just like, as test subjects. And, you know, that’s something that, you know, if I hadn’t had a background in the social sciences, I might not have. So, you know, if anyone like people have told me, like going to school, like, oh, that’s not really useful.
You’re not going to make money. Things like that. You just don’t really listen to them. You can pretty much do anything. So that’s just kind of what I would advise to just study what you want and try to gain as many skills as, uh, as he can. And your, your career will come to you. Definitely. So that is the end of our webinar.
We had a really great time [01:02:00] selling about UC Berkeley and the admissions process. Um, remember to check out the rest of our April series, as well as our upcoming series, where we will again, go into more detail on increasing your admissions odds, and then other aspects of the application process. If you’re new to the application process, make sure to check out our webinars where we get, do deep dives into each step that you need to do, whether it’s essays or just the timeline, or even managing stress.
Um, and yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and good night. Thank you.