The University of California undergraduate system is comprised of nine different campuses located throughout California– Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. These schools pride themselves on attracting the best and the brightest students and are consistently ranked among the best in the world. All the UC campuses use the same undergraduate application that requires two essay responses. These required essays help the admissions committee to gain a deeper understanding of each applicant. They are your chance to demonstrate to the admissions committee how you might fit into and contribute to the UC system. How will a UC education support your lifelong aspirations?
Although you will use a single application for all the UC schools, each campus is distinctive. Make sure to research each school to get a better idea of what each has to offer. Each campus has a particular character and provides different opportunities. Many have smaller college systems within the larger university structure. Consider general education requirements, majors, extracurricular activities, locations and overall fit of each campus.
Applications for admission to the UC system are accepted from November 1st to November 30th.
As you prepare your response to each essay prompt, think about your unique experiences and their relationship to your personal objectives and how attending a UC school will help you to achieve your objectives or support your interests. As you decide how to approach your essays, you should survey your entire application and consider what the admissions committee might want more information about. What can you tell them that will help provide a more comprehensive picture of you? Your responses to both essay prompts must be no more than 1,000 words in total. You can allocate the word distribution to meet your needs but the shorter response should be no less than 250 words.
Freshman applicant prompt:
Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
This response allows you to tell your individual story. Think about significant factors in your life that influenced your identity (sense of who you are) and in turn what you hope to achieve in the future (who you hope to be). You can discuss your particular family history and how that collective experience impacted you. You can reflect on a specific community that is meaningful to you, then go on to discuss how your role in that group inspired your dreams for the future. The subjects of family, community and school are cited as examples but you can discuss anything that is meaningful about your life experience, including your culture. The key is to describe your world from your perspective and talk about how those experiences helped to shape your goals. Consider how you reacted in different situations. What might that reflect about you? How might what you learned from your world support your future success? These are general suggestions for reflection; you must present specific examples and discuss them clearly in terms of their impact on your ideas about the world and your hopes for the future.
Prompt for all applicants:
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
This is a great opportunity to highlight a particularly outstanding or unique talent or accomplishment and to discuss why it is important to you. Keep in mind what makes your example significant to you and what that might say about the sort of person you are. You might elaborate on an extracurricular activity that illustrates some of your personal characteristics. Or you may consider a quality that you value and what that suggests about the way you interact with the world around you. Think about something you did that reveals positive qualities about yourself. Is there a particular challenge you overcame? Did you push yourself outside of your comfort zone? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
It is no surprise that the applicant pool for admission to the UC system is competitive. This is especially true if you are not from California since only about 13% of undergraduates expected to enroll for 2014-2015 are from out-of-state. The overall admission rate and freshman profile for individual schools varies. The overall admission rate ranges from 17.3% at UC Berkeley to 64% at UC Merced. The percentage of students admitted from California range from 57.9% at UC Los Angeles to 92% at UC Merced. High school grade point averages range from 3.61 at Merced to above 4.0 at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara. The average ACT scores range from 24/25 at UC Merced and UC Riverside to 30/31 at UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, and UC San Diego. Your essays responses help to make you more than just a number.
Do not be overwhelmed by the statistics. Remember your essays are your personal statement, meaning they should reveal more about the person behind the numbers. Dig deep and put your efforts into communicating what makes you the individual you are. Share your personal examples, stories and life experiences. Pay close attention to deadlines and designated word limits. Allow enough time to write to the best of your abilities and to present an application that reflects your finest self. The UC system is waiting to find out more about you!
By Marie Todd, Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.