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June 1, 2019

Freshmen Applying to the University of California?

The verdict is out and the rankings agree: University of California campuses are among the best universities in the world. With ten campuses located throughout California, whether you cite US News, Times Higher Education, Forbes, or a dozen other rankings, the UCs are consistently at the top.

For example, according to the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities listing of the world’s top 1300 universities, eight of the UC’s ten campuses ranked in the top 100. Among the criteria considered for selection is the number of faculty and alumni awarded Nobel Prizes and Field Medals, as well as the number of publications in the journals Nature and Science.

World Ranking

UC Berkeley 5 UC Santa Barbara 45

UCLA 12 UC Irvine 64

UC San Diego 15 UC Davis 85

UC San Francisco 21 UC Santa Cruz 98

Of member institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), 10% are UCs. It can easily be concluded that outside of the Ivy League’s eight private universities, the University of California is the America’s best public university.

Applying to UC

  • Your first consideration are your academic achievements and competitiveness
    • Apply as a Strong Applicant
  • Start Early and Take Your Time
    • Research Universities, their majors offered, and courses needed to graduate
    • Gather materials: transcripts, list of current and planned courses, test scores, awards and honors, volunteer program timeline & hours, employment timeline & hours
    • Keep in mind that neither official transcripts, nor are letters of recommendations submitted at the time of submission of the application. Only after acceptance are official transcripts required.
  • Your Resident Status
    • California residents tend to make up the majority of students on campus, approximately 85%.
  • The Personal Insight Questions
    • These are basically short answer questions, not essays.
    • Freshmen must select 4 out of 8 questions, with a maximum response of 350 words.
    • All the questions have equal value, none more important or valuable than another.
  • Questions & guidance from the UC website
  • Remember, the personal questions are just that — personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who you are, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC.
  • 1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.  Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?
  • Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?
  • How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?
  • Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.
  • If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?
  • If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?”6.  Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. Things to consider:  Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can’t get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs — and what you have gained from your involvement.
  • Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place — like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

  • Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?Things to consider:  If there’s anything you want us to know about you, but didn’t find a question or place in the application to tell us, now’s your chance. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?
  • From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little
  • Dates and Deadlines
    • August 1
    • UC Application Opens
    • November 1 – 30
    • Submit UC app online
    • December
    • Self – Report Dec Test Results
    • January – February
    • Submit SAT/ACT Test Results
    • February – March
    • Admission Decision Announced
    • May 1
    • Deadline to Commit to a UC
    • May – June
    • Waitlist Admission Notifications
  • In summary, the benefit of the UC application is that you apply once, yet it can be sent by each of the ten campuses. The University of California system is an elite array of world-class institutions that require stellar students to present their best applications. Do you have what it takes. At Ivy Bound, we can assist you compete and understand the process, and lower your stress during the journey.
  • Let’s Talk! Please give us a call.