The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of California (UC) Schools
Want to learn more about the University of California Application? Get tips and tricks for submitting your best application with CollegeAdvisor.com.
Former Admissions Officer Aaron Brown will share insider knowledge on the different parts of the University of California Application for the first 30-minutes, followed by a 30-minute live Q&A.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including:
– What are the parts of the UC application?
– How can I write strong essays?
– Are there differences between applying as a California resident and non-resident?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-11-01 – The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of California (UC) Schools
Hi everyone. Good evening and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a Senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor and I will be your moderator today. Um, the theme for tonight’s conversation is The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of California (UC) Schools. Before we get started, I just wanna orient everyone with webinar timing.
Our presenter will share some tips and strategies for the first half of the session, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides under the slides tab and you can start so many questions in the Q&A tab whenever you get ready.
Um, now let’s move forward and meet our presenter, Aaron. Hi. Thanks Anesha. It’s good evening. Um, so my name is Aaron Brown and I am a former admission officer. Um, and so I was at the University of Southern California for 12 years, which was also my alma mater, and started there in admissions, uh, kind of covering a variety of regions throughout the western United States and then international.
Um, and kind of moved up to a point where I was running the application evaluation process at USC and then decided I wanted to get some public school experience and so moved over to UC San Diego. Uh, so that’s kind of why I’m presenting to you this evening, um, is, uh, I’m very familiar with the UC system and the application because I was at UC, San Diego for two years, where I was, uh, in a similar role running the application evaluation process for all of their first year applicants and transfer applicants.
So 120,000, uh, applications, uh, per year. And now I’ve left and I’m on the high school side, so I’m working as a high school counselor alongside students, uh, like yourself. Um, and so very happy that it’s now November 1st and we’ve passed those ED and, and EA deadlines, but that means that we’re now moving into this submission timeline for UC.
And so that’s what we’re here to talk to you about tonight.
Thanks so much, Aaron. Um, appreciate that introduction. Before we let Aaron get started though, we do wanna do a quick poll and see what grade level are you all in so that Aaron can kind of make sure he’s directing his comments towards where you might be in the process, whether you’re in the research phases or as you pointed out in the space of getting ready to submit by the end of this month.
Um, Aaron, while we’re waiting for some responses to the poll, do you have a favorite UC campus? Well, obviously San Diego was, uh, a beautiful space right there in La Jolla, uh, on the kind of bluffs overlooking the ocean. So being there I was biased, but also my parents are, are both UC alums. They went to Davis and so that kind of holds a special place in my heart as well.
Nice. I, my, I would be split between Berkeley and Merced. I know Merced is a little bit younger, but I like the rural kind of spread out, um, campus. But yeah, those are good. Those are all, all campuses are beautiful, but um, you might have a favorite out there. All right, we’re gonna go ahead and close our poll.
And just for your context, Aaron, um, about 39% of folks are in 11th grade. 47% are in 12th grade. So it feels like the majority of folks are in that process of thinking about applying next year, or might be shortly applying at the end of this year. All right, well, that is it for me now. I’ll be back at the Q&A.
Sounds good. . Okay, so the UC schools, what, um, what are the UC schools, which is a common question I got and also when I was recruiting at USC and I would get a lot of questions about, Oh, which UC is this? And I have to like, No, no, no, separate. Um, the University of California is of course the public system in the state of California, and there are nine undergraduate campuses spread out across the state.
So kind of listed on the slide there from north to south, um, with Davis, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Merced, Santa Barbara, LA, Riverside, Irvine, and of course San Diego. Um, just for some trivia, Berkeley of course is the oldest UC campus, which was started in 1868. And Merced is the youngest, started in 2005. I often tell would get questions from students.
When I was recruiting on behalf of San Diego, I were like, Oh, they, uh, I wanna apply to UCSF. How do I do that? Well, that’s actually just a graduate program and just for medical school. And so there are no undergraduate programs at UCSF. And then similarly there’s another UC that students may have heard of called Hastings, um, which is also right in the city in San Francisco.
Um, but that is also only a graduate school, so there are nine undergraduate campuses and then of course San Francisco and Hastings at the graduate. So the UC application, its own separate beast, its own process. Um, the UC schools have decided that they want to kind of have their own application platform.
So they are not part of common app or coalition or any of the other, um, application platforms with, which you might be familiar. Uh, so you are applying to all nine of the undergraduate campuses on their application. Essentially it’s their own version of the Common App, right? And it’s, uh, maintained by the UC office of the president in Oakland.
Um, and they’re the ones that kind of run the application and updated every year. And then they send out the applications once submitted to all of the nine campuses for review. And so for you, that means it’s kind of a centralized place for support. So if you have questions about actually filling out the application itself, technical issue, you’re going to go directly to the university, um, to the application platform and not necessarily to, you know, LA or Merced or Santa Barbara.
They can kind of help. But in terms of actual technical support, that’s done by the UC office of the president and they’re the ones that are running the platform. So you can see the website listed there. It’s apply.universityofcalifornia.edu and that’s where you’ll go to essentially begin, um, fill out complete and submit your application to any of the campuses that you’re interested in.
At that point, once the application is, um, passed along to the campuses, They take over review. So kind of after it’s submitted, if you have any questions about the application status, anything that’s missing, um, you know, when can I hear a decision, et cetera, that will be handled by the specific campuses to you’ve applied.
And so you will, um, receive access to a campus specific portal for each of the, the schools to which you’ve applied, and that’s where you’ll receive your decision and, and updates and things like that. So what will you need? The interesting thing about the UC application is it is pretty much entirely self-reported information, right?
And so the academic piece is reported by you, the student. They are not going to receive a transcript from your high school unless you’re actually admitted and choose to enroll at the institution. And I can talk about that later. But so what that means is that when you’re filling out the application, you absolutely need a copy of your transcript.
Unofficial, of course, is fine right next to you as you’re filling out the application because you need to know the courses you took and the grades you’ve received in those courses, and it has to be a hundred percent accurate. Um, also if you have a copy of your school profile, that might help. Um, you can ask your guidance counselor for that.
Um, but definitely is not always required, but might be helpful. Just context. Also important to have a list of your activities or a resume that you can reference as you’re filling out the activity uh, section. But definitely transcript is critical before you can really move too far forward in completing the UC application.
So what are the components of the application? So you’re using that transcript to complete the self-reported academic history, and that’s where you’re going to list all of the courses that you took in high school, in grades nine, 10, and 11. And then you list your courses in progress in 12th grade, and also for your ninth, 10th, and 11th grade courses, you will list the grades that you received, right?
Assuming that you’ve completed those at the time of your application, you were also asked to. Um, give a list of your activities and awards and you have some space to describe those, which I’ll talk in in a little bit more detail later. And then the personal insight questions or the pi IQs as they’re referred to internally, um, which is essentially UC’s version of an essay.
So you don’t have one essay, right? It’s not like you have that 650 word common app essay with which you may be familiar. You have four personal insight questions that range in size from 250 to 350 words, and you answer four of those as part of your application, of course, demographics and all of that as well.
But the main pieces in terms of how an application was reviewed, what’s considered are going to be your academic history in terms of your courses and your grades, your activities and awards, and the personal insight questions. So how does one stand out in the application? Much like it is with most, uh, university applications and systems, truly the academic record is paramount, right?
And so the UC’s are looking, um, to see that you have taken a challenging course load in the context of your school, which of course is critically important. That last piece, the context of your school piece is so, so key. Um, because they understand that schools are different. They have different curricular offerings and opportunities, right?
Um, you know, some schools might offer five AP courses, others 25, some have none cuz they’re an IB school or they have their own curriculum and way of kind of marking honors courses and things like that, right? So they’re looking both at what courses did you take and how did you perform in those courses.
They are calculating your GPA internally. So it’s obviously they don’t have a transcript that they just pull it off of. Uh, but they have a system and it’s kind of calculating your GPA again, based on the information that you’ve self-reported in the application. Ninth grade GPA is not included. Um, they kind of give you a, a bit of a pass in ninth grade, assuming that for some students there can be a bit of a, um, transition when it comes to high school.
So your GPA is from 10th and 11th grade only. And, um, they then have a way in which they wait your GPA based on, um, UC approved honors courses if you’re in a California high school or AP or IB courses. If you are in a school outside of California, or of course also inside California. They’re also looking of course to make sure that you meet UC eligibility requirements.
Right? And that’s a thing. You’ve probably heard something called A through G, right? Um, which is essentially the college preparatory curriculum that you need to be admissible to UC. So as you self-report, you are putting courses and grades into buckets. So, and category A for English or category F for visual performing arts, et cetera.
And it’s there in the application that I’ll mention a little bit later. So obviously strong grades, rigorous curriculum, that’s most important activities. Much like other universities. They want to be sure that students have been active and involved during their time in high school and they don’t really necessarily care what those activities are, right?
They just want you to have found things that you’re passionate about and pursued those at a high level across your time in high school looking how have you made impact? in your school or in your community, what are the kinds of things that you were doing with your time when you were not studying? Um, and so whether that means activities at your high school, whether that means you have a part-time job, you care for a family member, or you’re teaching yourself how to play guitar on YouTube, right?
Any of these things. And then of course, the personal insight questions because that’s the only writing as part of the UC application. So they’re really critical that you do well on the personal insight questions. They’re trying to understand kind of the question that they’re asking readers. The things that they’re having them kind of look at in the PQS is, Did I learn something more about the student?
Did I learned some additional context? Do I help to understand motivations or interests or activities a bit more? Those kinds of things, right? There’s no letters of recommendation in the process. No one speaks on your behalf in the UC application. It’s entirely from you. There aren’t questions specific to the university.
So it’s not, you can, you don’t have to answer the question why Berkeley or why Santa Cruz. Um, some majors may have supplemental materials often in the arts, which would make sense, right? If you’re applying to UCLA’s school of film and television, they’re gonna look, uh, a bit at kind of your, in your talent and your ability within film and things like that.
But typically, you’re not writing separate essays about your major or about the school to which you’re applying. So those four PQs are really critically important
test scores. So, should I submit test scores? Um, the answer is no, because UC doesn’t consider them . They are test free, which means that even if you have test scores, if you have a 36 or a 1600, they don’t care. They will not be looking at test scores at all as a factor in making their admission decisions.
It’s really not even a place to self-report them at all. On the application. So you can ignore test scores as part of the UC admission process. Now they do have a space to self report subject exams, which of course I know are going away, um, and or, and did completely already. But if you do happen to have some of those scores that you would like to submit, you can, You can also self report AP exams that you have taken already or plan to take.
Similarly with IB exams. So you list courses or the IB exams that you intend to take at the end when you graduate your diploma. If you’ve already finished, you would give them the final results of IB or international exam. So if you are, um, in an A level curriculum or you are in India and you’re taking the Indian grade 10 or grade 12 board exams, Hong Kong exams, Singapore, those kinds of things, um, also international students may need to provide.
Scores to demonstrate English language proficiency, uh, through a variety of ways. Um, and that’s only if, of course, you have not been in an English language environment for high school. So if for the entirety of your high school, even if it’s in a country where English is not the first language, but your high school is taught in English, you need not present scores from an English language test.
Um, but again, SAT or ACT overall, not required, not used, not considered all about your academics courses you’ve taken, the grades you’ve received in those courses.
All right, we’re going to take a few minutes for another quick poll. Um, for those of you who are in the process, let us know how far you are or how far you’ve been able to get in the application process. And while folks are answering, there was an interesting question that came up in the Q&A that I posed to you another, your favorite version of a UC campus, but which UC campus would you say is the most social.
Hmm. You know, I, I think, um, you’re gonna have a social life at any of the nine that you go to. I, I think it’s kind of what’s the environment in which you want to do that, right? Uh, when I was there at San Diego and how the reputation is being a socially dead place. Um, but, you know, going to work there every day pre covid, uh, that was absolutely not what I saw students out and about and having a good time.
And student orgs were very present and visible. And, um, so, you know, I think any of the campuses, you’re gonna find that if you want it, it just depends on kind of the environment in which you do it. Yeah, I think there’s so many things at certain campuses that like, you’re bored by choice. Is there, like there’s something to do somewhere on campus and I think even places like San Diego, there’s gonna be something to do in the city.
Um, absolutely not on campus. Um, alright, well thanks for, It’s just gonna do that question. I don’t have a, I don’t have a thoughtful, I only have context on like four campuses, so I couldn’t , but um, but they exposed for taking the poll. We go ahead and close it out. And just as an FYI to you, Aaron, about 35% are, are research in school.
So I think that that makes sense of folks trying to figure out to avoid of like which campus might be the best for them if all campuses are gonna give them what they want. Um, 16, um, sorry, 24% are working on their essays still. Eight, 12% are getting their applications together and 12% are almost done.
So you got that 29 day countdown. Um, so good luck to everybody else who’s still in the process. Um, and great job To those folks who are almost done are. I will stop talking. I’ll let you take back over, Aaron. Awesome, thanks.
Okay, so now I’m gonna go through the different parts of the application and kind of talk about some of the things to consider, things that might be confusing or kind of things just to keep in mind as we fill that out. Right? So the about me section pretty straightforward. It’s literally just personal and demographic information.
The background, right, in terms of who you are, um, you know, preferred name versus other names used, right? So if you have actual other names used, that should be a legal name change versus preferred name is if you go by a different name, right? Um, contact information, consent to be contacted by the different campuses.
Of course, that’s your choice. It doesn’t affect how your application is reviewed or your chances of being admission if you are being admitted. Sorry, uh, if you don’t want to click the box, um, allowing them to text you. Um, but that’s just kind of what that means. Demographic information. It is asked, uh, in terms of kind of your racial or ethnic background, but it’s not considered as part of the review.
So, Uh, since 1996 when a state, uh, law was passed, um, the UC’s cannot consider race or ethnicity when, or gender when making admission decisions. So they’re asking for that information solely for research purposes. Um, so there was absolutely no harm in you filling it out because it, it is not even forwarded what’s forwarded to the, the campuses for their, um, again, for their kind of statistics and for their understanding, but it’s not visible in the reader.
I, as a reader, could not see a student’s racial ethnic background, nor could I see their genders. So fill it out. Honestly. It’s really just to help them understand, um, how their outreach efforts are working and things like that, right? Similarly, it asked about parents’ income and you might kind of be like, Well, that’s strange.
Why does it ask you to self-report income? It’s to help establish eligibility for certain scholarships that are income based. That’s it. Again, not used as part of the review in the application. So fill it out, honestly. And of course, the residency question, um, So UC residency in terms of how that’s determined for tuition purposes is very complicated.
Um, most admissions officers or financial aid officers at UC, campuses don’t know they have a residency officer at each of the campuses and an entire team of folks in an office who are dedicated to determining residency when it comes to tuition. Um, so if you have questions about how might I be considered, um, in terms of review of the application, it’s where you go to high school.
Um, so whether that’s in state, out of state or international in terms of tuition. Once you get there, that’s when you go through the residency process. Um, but I will say I got a lot of questions about, well, how do I become a California resident for tuition purposes? It’s. Pretty challenging to do unless you graduated from high school in California, or you have a parent who lives in California now.
Um, just kind of throwing that out there. Um, you be like, Oh, well I’ll start as a freshman and then, you know, I just, you would have to essentially never leave California , um, until you’re a senior, um, to even kind of entertain that process. So if you have questions, reach out to the residency official at each of the campuses, um, because it is a fairly, uh, opaque, I will fully admit that process, uh, when it comes to determining residency.
So the next section is campuses and major. So this is where you just do a little checkbox, which campuses are you applying to, Although of course, as you check them all off, you’re paying more in your application fee. Um, and this is also where you will select the majors to which you apply at each campus.
The UC’s, like many large research universities and like many public universities admit by major, so you are applying to a major at each institution, um, that you apply to. All of them allow for the option to apply to an alternate or second choice major. Um, Berkeley was the last hold holdout, and they have allowed that this year.
So every one of the nine campuses you can apply to a first choice and a second choice. You can also apply undecided. You can also be admitted undecided. So then of course that leads to questions about how does that work with admission? Is there strategy you should apply to your first choice? Because guess what?
The best time to get into your first choice major is at the time of application. So if it is computer science, if it is biology, , if it is a program that is in kind of UC parlance impacted or capped as some of the other schools say you should apply to that, that’s your first choice, because that’s definitely the time that they take, the largest number of applicants is at the point of admission.
But if you are interested in going to that school in another program, give that as an alternate choice, right? You’re like, well, like I would really love to study computer science, um, you know, at Berkeley, but it’s ex, I know it’s really, really competitive, so I’ll apply to, um, cognitive science instead, right?
Um, or data science, um, something related where I can perhaps get some skills, things like that. But it’s not the same admission sorts of, um, level of competition, right? But if you apply first choice computer science and second choice, you know, computer engineering, computer science, And ultimately you’re, you’re not able to be admitted to that program, then you might end up being either denied or being admitted undecided and know that it is, it depends a bit on the campus, but broadly, it’s very hard to transfer internally to one of those impacted programs cuz they’re impacted for a reason, they’re popular and they don’t have enough seats and they don’t have enough professors to teach those, uh, intro courses and things like that.
Right. And so instead of making massive lectures with a thousand students, they’re capped because they just don’t have the ability to take more students in those programs. Um, so as an example, computer science at uc, San Diego, um, if you aren’t admitted, you have to take some prerequisite courses. You have to get a 3.5 gpa, which is a lot harder to do in college than it is in high school.
And even then it’s a lottery. Because it used to be a 4.0 and they didn’t even have a space for all the students who had 4.0 and prerequisite courses. Um, so do not go to a campus if you are not admitted to your first choice major with the assumption you’ll get in when you get there because it very much may not happen and you don’t want to go and be unhappy because you’re constantly trying to get into a program you’re not able to get into.
So apply to your first choice. If you’re open to something else that’s related or similar, give yourself that second choice option and you may end up being admitted, undecided. And that’s the choice that you have to make about whether or not you’ll attend that institution and kind of how that works moving forward.
Um, and then also in this section is where you rank the colleges at UC San Diego, um, where they’re somewhat unique in that they have a, a kind of residential college system. Um, each of them have different general education requirements, traditions. Obviously they’re located in different areas of campus.
It doesn’t drastically affect your experience. Um, You can be any, any major, um, in any of the colleges, but there’s a website there on the application that it kind of hyperlinks to where you can learn about them and you do need to rank them one to nine. Um, it does not at all affect your, um, admission chances because the college assignments happen after admission decisions, right?
So like we in the admission office would admit everybody and then place them into colleges. So it has no bearing on your admission. Um, but you will need to rank them as part of the application, the academic history. Um, so you will put in some basic information about your high school. You’ll put in the GPA scale.
Is it out of a hundred? Is it IB out of seven? Is it out of 4.056? Whatever the scale is, the dates that you attended, again, only high school. So even if you’ve been at that school longer, they just wanna know what were the four years of ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Then you’re inputting every single one of your courses by academic year and grade level.
So you’re basically saying, in ninth grade, I took these courses. In 10th grade I took these courses. If you go to school in California, congratulations. It’s easy for you. Your school’s AG course list is already uploaded, essentially into the UC database. Um, and so you basically just on a drop down, you select, okay, English.
All of your school’s English courses that meet the UC, A through G are there and you just check off the one that you took in that particular year. Type in your grade, you’re good. If you go to school outside of California or outside of the United States, you’ll have to manually type in. So you select, okay, this course is math, so it’s gonna go in the UC, A through G math category, Algebra two, type that in a B.
Great. Um, Really, really important that you’re accurate here. So that’s why you have to have a transcript next to you when you’re doing this, because again, this is the only way that you sees have to admit you. And so if they admit you and you’re like, Awesome, I got into uh, Santa Barbara and I’m gonna go, Well, then they ask for your transcript.
And if they look at it in the summer after you’ve been admitted, which they do, it’s a process called, uh, validation. And they see that, hmm, all of these bees that the student self-reported were in fact seizes, your offer gets pulled. Um, they do that all the time. So make sure that you are accurate when filling out the academic history, really critically key activities and awards.
So it is very, very similar to the Common App Activity Summary. The only difference is that, you know, Common App, of course you have the different, like the honors. An awards section. And then the activities at UC, they’re kind of all meshed into one. So instead of 10 activities and five honors and awards, whatever space for up to 20 things.
So that’s 20 extracurricular activities, honors and awards jobs, um, you know, summer enrichment programs, All of those things go into this section. You absolutely do not need to feel compelled to put something in all 20 spaces. Having read thousands of UC applications, the vast majority of students did not have 20.
Um, and a lot of very, very competitive students who were ultimately admitted did not have 20. So if you, you know, have 12 and you’re like, Okay, I’m really stretching here. Like I’m, you know, trying to talk about the time that I did this one thing in ninth grade. That’s not worth it, Right? So just do the things that are meaningful to you, and if it’s not 20, absolutely.
Okay. You also have 350 characters to describe that activity, which is more than double what you have in common app, right? With 150. Um, so use it to your advantage. Explain again, impact. What did you do? Um, what were the, if you were a leader, what did that mean? What did your role entail? Explain acronyms. Um, you know, the, the reader may not know what that stands for at your high school.
So you have that space. Elaborate on it and really talk about, you know, what those activities meant to you, what you learned from them, what you did in them. Um, you know, any leadership roles. Those kinds of things. Really critically important. So use that space to your advantage in that section.
Then there’s a section about scholarships and other programs. Um, so right there in the application for UC, you can basically apply for scholarships. Um, so there’s kind of different subject areas and you can just kind of click, Oh, I’m interested in this. If there are scholarships in this, I’ll be considered for that.
Great. Or This is my background, or I went to this high school, or what have you. So if you wanted to, you can take the time to just kind of scroll through that and click off options that you might be eligible for or interested in. Note that you of course, will also have to file a FAFSA for that. And generally, international students aren’t eligible.
Um, out of state domestic students, there are some scholarships available to out-of-state domestic students, but to be honest, the vast majority of these are four California residents. Um, but you know, doesn’t hurt to just check off the box. Um, and maybe you get so.
All right. Those personal insight questions that I mentioned before. So again, these are the only written materials in the application. So really critically important. There are eight prompts from which you can choose, and you select four of those. Each one of them, you are allowed 250 to 350 words. Again, more is not always better, so you don’t have to have every single one of them at 350 words if some of them are at two 50 or if all of them are at two 50.
As long as you’re ultimately contributing more about who you are and the reader learns about you, great. You’ve done your job. I always received a question about, well, well, surely that there’s eight, one of them is like more important than the other, right? Like one of them readers like to see answered. Uh, no.
All of them are given equal weight in the review process. It’s whichever four, speak to you, whichever four you feel that you have the most to discuss. Right? The thing is a little bit different with the PQS is they’re intended to be much more of a kind of straightforward style. They should not be written like you write your common app essay or your personal statement, right?
We don’t need the grand narrative, the descriptive language, the dark and stormy night, the dribbling the ball down the basketball court is the swept sweat, you know, dropped from my brow. Like, no, just what do you need to know? So basically what you should do is think if someone asked me this question in life, like in real life, in an interview in person, someone said, Talk to me about one of your academic interests, and you had to answer that in person, Would you talk and sit there and be like, Well, the way that you know, the math problem is drawn on the board and I see.
No, you would talk about why you like math, why it’s important to you, what you love about it, right? So definitely some much more straightforward sort of style. You don’t need that narrative and all of that. Um, pretend it’s an interview. Ultimately, what the reader is being asked, and when they’re kind of reading applications and making notes is, did you learn something new about the student?
And then you know the answer is yes or no. And then if yes, what did you learn? Um, and so make sure that you are kind of effectively conveying these different parts of who you are, what you value, um, what you’ve done, those kinds of things, right? There is also an additional comments section, much like the additional info section in the common app, 550 words.
Um, if you feel that there’s something else that you need to tell the admission officers, um, you know, if the four PQS weren’t enough, uh, there’s a big part of of who you are or, or kind of what you’ve done that you weren’t able to address on the application. Maybe you did some research that you listed in an activities section and you want to elaborate on that and talk about the research that you did.
This is a place to do it. Um, it’s not a place to copy and paste in a resume. It’s not a place to write copy and paste in. You know, your, your comment out personal statement with 600 with a hundred words cut out of it. It truly. , is there something else that the reader needs to know about you that you feel like you didn’t have the space to do it?
Um, explaining context can sometimes be helpful here, although there is a place to do that in the ac um, academic section as well in terms of explaining academic context. Um, but use it if you want to, but again, plenty of students were admitted who did not fill out anything in that section, and that’s totally.
All right, so I went a little bit over time, but still have plenty of time to answer your questions, so we’ll dive. No worries. You’re, you’re great on time. You’re great on time. Um, thanks so much, Aaron. Uh, that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found the information helpful and remember that you can download the slides, uh, from the link of the handouts tab.
We are not able to send out the slides, but a recording will be made available and sent to the email address that you use to register just to address some questions that were coming regarding recordings in the Q&A. Um, so as we move on to the live Q&A, you all can continue to submit your questions through the Q&A tab.
Uh, we’ll select, uh, some of the questions, read through them, and then I will pace them into the public chat so others can see them. And then give Aaron a respo an opportunity to respond as a heads. If your Q&A isn’t letting you submit questions, double check that you are logged in through the link that was sent to your email.
You might have to log out and log back in. If you’re not able to submit questions, please do not submit questions through the chat. It kind of pops up in the middle of our screens and can be a little distracting. So please submit questions only through the Q&A. All right. With all of that out of the way, the first question, um, is, oh, regarding, uh, residency.
So, um, a specific question, but I feel like it might be applicable. There’s a person who is currently in the military and they’re wondering how their child might be considered in state or out of state, given that they are, when they’re home, a California resident, but when they’re abroad, they’re abroad. So if you could speak to that specific question, but then also, um, what folks might need to, to understand in-state residency for the.
Yeah. Um, so again, the residency piece is super complicated. Um, and the easiest way to determine if you are a California resident is did you graduate? You the student from a California high school. Um, and if the answer is yes, then you pretty much are always gonna be a California resident. If the answer is no, then there are a whole lot of other kinds of steps that you need to go through to determine that.
Um, and where the parent, where a parent lives, um, is one of those. So military obviously is one of those ones that gets a bit complicated. Um, so if you were, you know, stationed at a base in California, um, if your residency was in California before you were, um, you know, moved abroad, uh, if you’re still voting in California, things like that, there’s a whole bunch of questions they’ll ask.
But it is possible that you could still be determined, a California resident, um, even if you’re, you know, uh, stationed at opposed to broad. Thanks. Um, I should have started with this one cuz it was relevant to the p I Q commentary that you ended on. But, um, one person said, Should I stay away from topics, specifically sports or travel in my PQs?
And then another person asked, Should I be vulnerable in my applications? So what kind of topics are you looking for in those PQs? Sure. So much like with the common app essay, there aren’t necessarily topics that you automatically have to stay away from. Are there topics that tend to be a bit more common than others?
Uh, kind of areas that a reader might see a bit more often? Sure. Would sports or travel be one of. Yeah, often. But if you have something really compelling to say about that, if that really matters to you and you wanna talk about what you’ve gained from being on a sports team, um, and you know, what you’ve learned about yourself or about teamwork and how you’ve contributed to this in a time manager, all the things that you learn through sports.
Okay, great. Feel free to talk about it. Um, so just because a topic, it tends to be something that a reader may have seen more of, doesn’t make it any less valuable if you effectively tell something important and relevant about you, um, in terms of being vulnerable. Yeah, of course. Um, you know, again, they want to get to know who you are and what you value, Um, things that may have happened to you.
I just, I do say that you want to be sure that in being vulnerable, if it’s a particularly challenging topic, right? Um, you know, maybe it’s a parent’s divorce or a grandparent has passed away, or a friend or something. You wanna be sure that you’re able to talk about it, like enough space has gone by that you’re able to kind of talk about it in, in a sort of mature lens, right?
I did sometimes read essays about, you know, divorce where clearly this, the student was still working through a lot of those feelings, uh, and they really weren’t in a place yet to kind of think about it objectively. Um, and kind of how that impacted them beyond like the anger in that moment. And so maybe that isn’t the right time or place to do it, but there’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable in an application.
Thanks for that. Um, it’s a thoughtful response. Um, the next question is are, well we, we are getting a lot of variety of questions around majors, um, and things like that, so I’m gonna run off a few and you take the direction you feel makes those sense. Um, so is there a detriment to being, to applying undecided?
How many students are typically selecting two alternative, um, majors? And, uh, if you don’t get into your first or second choice, can you still be admitted undeclared? Okay, good question. Um, first there is no disadvantage in the application process if you apply undecided. So if you are truly undecided, you’re like, Look, I love so many things.
I’m 17, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my life yet. Cool. Apply, undecided. There’s space for you. um, do not apply and decided if that’s a way to think that you’re gonna get into computer science, right? Um, you’re like, I’ll apply undecided, I’ll get in, and then I’m surely gonna get into computer science.
You very well may not, and again, you don’t want to go to an institution hoping for an outcome that is not guaranteed. But if you are truly undecided, awesome, apply and decided it will not hurt you. Um, then there was, uh, can you be admitted, undecided, even if you’ve listed a first and a second choice? Yeah, it’s possible.
Um, that tends to be the case where you’ve applied to two very competitive capped programs, but you’re still a very strong student, right? So ultimately they’re like, well, from my experience, you know, which again, was specific to San Diego, but um, kind of broadly. Thematically appropriate across the institution.
They didn’t really want to deny a lot of really great students, right? Like if they, if both readers, cuz your application’s read twice. If both readers really like this is a strong student, they would try and find a place for them. But they were a lot of strong students who apply to really competitive majors.
And for one reason or another, they didn’t have space, right? And they just didn’t make that cut. So they would sometimes admit students to essentially their third choice of undecided, um, understanding that it was probably unlikely that they’re going to yield that student. But the UC’s don’t really so much care about their yield rates.
Like they wanna admit students and if they come, they come. And if they don’t, that’s fine. Um, so it’s not gonna hurt, it’s not gonna hurt you again. Um, but it is possible that yes, you, you get admitted to a third choice major of undecided. Um, was there a third one in there too? There was a question around just how do all advocates typically list a second and alternate?
Um, I would say yeah, majority did. Even if their first choice major was something that, um, wasn’t impacted. Um, or, or capped, depending upon the language. Um, but you know, if, if you apply to English and ultimately you’re a competitive student, you’re gonna get into English, right? Um, so yeah, you could put down a second choice of creative writing, um, or, you know, history.
Um, but it is really very unlikely that if you’re admissible and you’re ultimately deemed, you know, someone that they want to admit that they wouldn’t have space for you in your first choice major. That really only happens with those handful of capped programs, which again tend to be, um, in more popular STEM fields.
So most engineering disciplines. and then sometimes things like bio or chemistry or physics.
Thank you. Um, someone asked, can you explain more about ranking the UC’s in the application? If I want to go to UCLA as my first choice, how do I note that? So there really isn’t an opportunity to do that. Um, you just apply to them all and the review happens separately. Um, and then each campus ultimately decides if they want to admit you, and then you say you get admitted to multiple, you make that choice.
Um, so there really isn’t a way to indicate to any of the UC’s through the application. That you’re ranking them, Uh, or, or that one is more, uh, of, of interest to you than the others. Um, the only thing that you would potentially rank in the application is the colleges, the residential colleges at San Diego.
Um, there was, when I was recruiting and working there, and, and I’m sure still to this day, this urban legend that surely the UC’s must all talk to each other. And if I apply to both LA and Berkeley, I can’t possibly get into both. And San Diego wants to know who gets into la so then they’re not gonna take them.
And it’s this whole, you know, conspiracy, right? No. Each campus has their own priorities, their own sets of institutional goals and needs. And they admit based on that understanding that, yeah, these students also probably apply to a bunch of other UC’s and they may not come, but that’s okay. They admitted you because they wanted you and they’re gonna do their best to yield you.
Um, but they don’t know what. Preference you have or, or even what other campuses you apply to. Thank you. So someone asked about making an appointment to talk privately to admissions officer, and that is a great segue to me giving a quick plug to CollegeAdvisors. So for those of you who are interested in connecting with us, there is, um, we know the process can be overwhelming and we have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts that can help you and your family navigate the process in one-on-one sessions.
You can take the next step by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with admissions expert, uh, within admissions specialist on our team. During that conversation, they’ll review your extracurriculars, uh, discuss the application strategy, and talk about your college list while providing you with some tools to stand out in the competitive admissions world.
You can sign up one of those sessions by scanning the QR code that is on the screen, and we will leave that up on the screen as well as we get back to the Q&A. Um, Thank you for letting me do that. Quick plug. Um, one quick question that’s related to what you were just talking about. As far as like each campus, someone said, do all the UC’s inform their results or share I guess admissions news at the same time?
Or do those kind of come in at different times? That’s a good question. Um, no, they all come at different times that that is kind of the one place where they all try and, you know, not quite outdo each other, but it’s like, Oh, well when is LA releasing? Or when is Berkeley releasing? Or when is San Diego releasing?
And then we’re gonna try and beat them because we get there first. So, you know, Um, but typically it’s gonna be some time, um, in early to mid-March. It is what’s standard and then most of the admitted student programs will happen then in early to mid April. Um, but each of them releases their decisions separately through their own application portal. Um, and they’re not necessarily coordinated. I mean, they are kind of discussed broadly around the system so they know when it’s happening. Um, but it, it will be on different days. Okay. Um, there was a question that I thought was interesting that I wanted to ask.
Wait, I lost it. Oh, this has come up a couple times. So how does the UC consider athletic achievement? What are the chances for athletic scholarships if I wanna play a sport at UC, what’s the process? So if you can talk about athletic recruitment and opportunities overall, that would be great. Sure. Um, so the always unhelpful answering admissions is, it depends um, which I’m sure you, you would be sick of, of hearing from admissions officers, but it, it does truly depend.
Um, most UC’s, um, that have athletics programs are D1. At this point, um, San Diego transitioned from D2 to D1. Um, you know, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Irvine, LA, Berkeley, Davis, um, you know, are all D1 athletics institutions, which means that they’re typically competing at the highest level. Right? Um, you know, UC Irvine was recently competing for the National Championship in baseball.
Uh, you know, UCLA, even as the USC person in me pains it to say, uh, you know, they send students to every summer Olympic games, lots of them. Like if they were their own country, they would be in the top 10 in terms of medals, right? So you gotta be real good. Um, that’s kind of like, are you on a national team?
Um, that’s the kind of athletic caliber that tends to be a student who’s recruited, right? So that’s something you would wanna start that conversation earlier rather than later. Um, so really, Junior year fall, um, probably is a good time to start reaching out to coaches. Um, if you haven’t already. Um, and introduce yourself.
Oftentimes if you go to the athletics department webpage for each institution, they’re gonna have a kind of a questionnaire or a form that you fill out that’s often sports specific where you can kind of indicate, you know, here are my times as a swimmer, right? Or those kinds of things. Or Here’s how I’m ranked in, in tournaments and tennis, things like that.
And then if the coach is interested, they’ll reach out to you, right? And kind of start that dialogue. Uh, UC’s like many D1 institutions, right, do consider a student’s athletic talent. Um, you know, when it comes to the admission process. Um, but even if you’re not going to be admitted as they recruited a student athlete, of course they’re gonna be looking at, at, um, you know, your athletic involvement in the activity summary.
And if you’re a really strong athlete who’s been involved with it at high levels, um, And that means a lot to you, then that’s something that they’ll consider on the application as well. I have two quick rapid fire questions that I know are yes or no. Do the UC’s take notice of demonstrated interest? No.
Uh, do the UC’s offer early admission? No. Uh, and I realize I didn’t talk about when that is. So good question. Um, so the UC application, it is made available August 1st of every year. So just like common app, right? The new year rolls over in Common App and you see August 1st. Um, and so that’s when the application is available for you to begin, begin looking at.
But they have a submission window where basically you are only allowed to submit your application within that window. And that is new this year. Um, October 1st. So it’s moved up. It was November 1st, and now it’s the beginning of October, and you must apply by November 30th. So that is the UC timeline.
Opens in August, can apply in October or November due by November 30th. And that is all regular. They don’t have early action. They don’t have early decisions. So again, sadly, there’s not a way for you to indicate no, but really Santa Cruz is my number one choice. Um, you just apply. Right? And so everyone is regular due by November 30th.
Uh, someone asked the question, I’m not sure how much of the secret sauce you can give away, but what is the impression they said? What is the process for the admissions officers? Do multiple admissions officers read one application? Yeah, so pretty much every UC, uh, will read every application twice, um, in a blind read, uh, where two different readers will look at it, how they kind of, you know, um, write about it or kind of rate it is different.
Each campus is different. They kind of have their own institutional kind of local guidelines. Um, I. Whether that’s an admit or deny or yes, maybe no, or a one to five scale or kind of whatever. They all have their own unique way of doing it. Um, but so say the first reader and the second reader differ on their recommendation, or, you know, one gives it a one and one gives it a five, then a third person will take a look at it, right?
Um, to make sure, okay, well what’s, where’s this kind of disconnect coming from, et cetera. Usually a more experienced reader, um, will be that third read. So pretty much you can guarantee that it’s, your application’s gonna be looked at twice by two different humans. Um, and then sometimes a third. Um, there are a few questions coming in around how to report classes.
So for out-of-state residents, if there’s no AP or IB, are they is it okay for them to self-report an honors class? You can, Um, although. They don’t officially calculate it in in the GPA as like getting an extra GPA point cause it has to be a UC approved honors, which can’t really do for out of state high schools.
So there’s that kind of, that academic additional info question, um, where it’s like, is there anything else academically we need to know about you? And that could be a place where you can write, My high school doesn’t offer AP or IB courses. The most rigorous course I can take is honors in, you know, these subjects or whatever.
And you kind of can help provide that context so that the reader can kind of look at that and review your application appropriately. And then there’s a student who says their high school doesn’t offer honors classes, will they be kind of disadvantaged in the admissions process against someone who took AP classes?
So it’s it’s all about like reviewing you in the context of your. Um, so you don’t need to worry about what’s offered at the school down the street or across town or in a different state. It’s about what have you done given what your high school offers. So there has to be, I’m sure, some way that your school, you know, kind of differentiates between, you know, more rigorous and more challenging courses, right?
And so let the reader know what that might be. Um, or if it’s just like literally, hey, we, we have four semesters of, or four years of English and they’re all English and everyone in the school is in the same English class. Okay, great. Say that too. Um, but you know, you want to give the readers that information so that they can really understand the context of your school.
Um, there was I think, uh, maybe a need for clarification. So someone said, you mentioned that you see need s a T subject tests, but the college were no longer offer those. Yeah. Clarify. Well, if you had them, so say you took that you’re a senior and you took them a few years ago before they got rid of them, you can submit them.
So there is space to self-report them. They are absolutely not required. Mm-hmm. ? Um, there was another question kind of looping back if you’d give a little bit more insight around PQ. Someone says specifically, is it okay to talk about mistakes that I have made that might let look great? But they do demonstrate personal growth.
Absolutely. Yeah. You’re human. We’re not perfect. None of us are perfect. Right. Um, and so I think, you know, if you can really kind of step back and show that reflect. Show that growth be like, I screwed up this time. Um, but here’s how I learned and here’s how. Maybe the next time that I was faced with a similar situation, I didn’t because I had that experience.
Right. Um, you know, they know that, that you’re, you’re bound, we’re all bound to make mistakes. Now, I guess to some extent, it depends on what that mistake is, right? Um, not all mistakes are created equal. Um, but you know, I think broadly, if it’s something that, um, helped you become a better student, um, sure, feel free to talk about it.
As long as you then talk about the growth piece, right? You’d also wanna, don’t wanna say, I screwed up and leave it at that. Um, but this happened and then I learned, or, and I grew and I changed, or, you know, et cetera. But of course, and then one student saying on the essay topic asked, um, there are, are there any controversial topics?
That might be faced in a, that once you try to avoid in a, in a personal statement or in the PQs? Um, you know, again, I think it depends on tone, right? And how you’re able to approach a topic. I’ve seen some topics, I’ve seen some politics essays or, or pi IQs that I remember during my time at UC where as I started reading it, I’m like, uh-oh.
But then the way that the student talked about it and really showed some critical thinking, like, okay, sure, I may disagree with that perspective, but the way that you talked about it, the way that you indicated that this was really a, a thought out, here’s my reasoning, et cetera. Okay, it’s fine. It worked right?
Um, you definitely don’t wanna be rude, you don’t wanna be shocking, you don’t wanna be offensive, You don’t want to use, you know, uh, bad language. Um, So, so sure there, there can be topics that you might want to stay away from, right? Like, I mean, think, does your English teacher read this? And what’s their reaction like, Right.
Um, an adult in your life. What, what’s their reaction like when they read this, um, short answer or this PQ? Um, but ultimately, again, it’s about how you choose to talk about that topic and if it can be done in a mature kind of levelheaded way.
Um, sorry, I’m like reading questions while trying to listen to your answer. Um, there’s a question for students who take A Levels or IGCSE for high school, do you have any guidance on how they should be completing the, uh, academic sections? Yeah, so, um, you can put in. There’s a section on international exams.
Um, and so kind of in the exam section you can report those. Um, and so that’s where you can put the, uh, GCSEs that you’ve completed with the actual score that you would have. It’s also where you can, um, show your predicted a level results, um, ASEs levels if you have them, um, you know, that kind of a thing, right?
Could those can typically go there. Um, and, and that’s the re the applications from those systems are read specifically by readers who have, um, training in international systems. And so they know what they’re looking for, right? So they know, Oh, this is a, you know, an A level student. Well, I’m gonna look to see where are their predicted A levels, What were their GCSE results?
So they’re gonna look for those. Uh, there was a question regarding I guess, which APs are, are UC’s evaluating which APs you’re taking are not? I think this is coming from the perspective of, maybe I’m saying I’m interested in bio, but I also took AP econ, AP stats and AP Psych. Um, do the UC’s care about which APS and honors, uh, student is taking in his, I guess compared against their major?
I, here’s again, the, it depends. , the unhelpful, it depends, um, because it does depend on the campus. Um, ones that are not quite as competitive are less likely to be like really honing in on, okay, like you’re applying to this program. What are the APs that you took versus, Okay, did you have a rigorous curriculum?
What were the kind of broad APs that are offered? Did you take them? Was it kind of a representative sample? Have you been exposed to rigor? That tells us that you can be successful in our campus, but it is likely that the most competitive campuses in the most competitive majors will absolutely be looking a bit more closely at fitness for that major.
Right? So if you’re applying to engineering, did you take high, you know, challenging math and science courses, those kinds of things. Thank you. Well, we will have to end it there. Uh, that is our last question, not as uplifting, but you know, we nevertheless, . Um, that will be the end of the webinar. Thank you for joining us tonight, and thank you so much, Aaron, for all of your guidance and tips.
I learned some new things about UC as a result of tonight. Uh, we hope you gained some tips and strategies for navigating your University of California applications. Also, we hope you’ll join CollegeAdvisor.com for other webinars this month. Next week on the seventh, we’ll have a session specifically for those looking to apply to nursing, pre-med, and BSMD programs that will be followed by a Financial Aid Deep Dive on the CSS profile on November 9th.
And we’ll have a session discussing the holistic application review process on the 13th. I think that might give some insights into all the, it depends kind of answers of how, how colleagues are trying to read. So if you, if you have those questions, join us on the 13th. But otherwise, uh, we hope to see you soon.
And until next time, have a great evening all.