How to Apply to the UCs (University of California)
Hi everyone College App season is coming up, so here'a video and the text on How to Apply to UCs
#1 A-G Requirement
If you are applying to a UC school and are not attending a school in California you can disregard this section and move on to #2.
If you ARE a student attending a California based school you must follow the A-G minimum requirements. This phrase (A-G) is a sequence of high school courses that students must complete with a grade of C or better to be minimally eligible for admission to the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU). Each letter stands for an Academic category and number of years needed to satisfy that requirement.
To check out if a class meets a certain A-G requirement - type in UC Doorways on google, type in your institutions name and see if that course is on that list and under which category.
You’ll need to make sure that you’re picking classes that fulfill each requirement. The one category that can be fulfilled in an alternative manner is Category “E” - the Language Other than English. If you’re fluent or near fluent in a second language, such as Chinese, Korean, Spanish etc, many students choose to take the SAT Subject test in that foreign language or the AP test - The UC’s and CSU will accept that for the “E” Category. For other foreign languages, please contact the admissions office to see their policy.
Depending on your school you should either print out the unofficial transcript from your portal or request one from your school counselor/registrar. Every school uses different softwares and may have different protocols, but in essence you’ll want to get grades from all the classes you’ve taken during 9th- 12th grade. That means if you’ve gone to more than one school you need to get a transcript from EACH school that you’ve gone to. So if you did 9th and 10th grade in China, and 11th and 12th at your current school, you need two transcripts.
Now … If you’ve taken foreign language or an advanced math class that accelerated your pathway - for example, you took Spanish 1 in 8th grade and Spanish 2 during 9th, or a math class that bumped you up to an upperclassman math class, you may want an unofficial copy of your middle school transcript. In years past there’s a section that asked if you took any classes in 7th and 8th grade that helped you accelerate in high school - so having that on hand can help you organize your academic history.
On the UC application - You will be self-reporting your grades - meaning you’re going to pick the class you took as well as report your grade earned. Now this does NOT mean you can type in whatever grades you want, because the university will require your school to mail in an official final transcript to verify your grades once you decide that’s the school you’ll want to attend.
FYI: official generally means the transcript is sealed in an envelope with the school stamp and signatures and usually has a fee attached to it - unofficial means it’s printed out.
#3 ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests and/or AP scores
On your Collegeboard and/or ACT.org portal you should print out all your test scores. This is free and will save you from making errors. You will report your scores for all the tests you took on the application; however, you ALSO need to send all the official test score to ONE UC (with the exception of the AP test scores).
I’ll say it again - Send the OFFICIAL test scores to ONE of the UCs. This means go to collegeboard.com or ACT.org and pay for the score to be sent to for example UC Irvine. Just pick ONE UC that you’re applying to - they will share the test scores with the other UC’s. You don’t need to send the AP score yet!
And don’t worry about which score you should send. Send all thes test sittings, they review thousands of applications, so they’ll automatically pick your best score.
#4 Personal Insight Questions
Recently the UC took away the dreaded personal statement and replaced their essay section with personal insight questions. Students have the opportunity to answer 4 of the 8 questions to help admissions getting a clearer picture on who he or she is. Each response is limited to 350 words and one question isn’t better than another. Just pick the question that can showcase your experiences and best reflect your individual circumstance.
The questions are live on the UC website for you to start your drafts.
Pro Tip: Work on a separate word doc and then transfer your response to the UC application. Otherwise if you type it in while working on the application, you might be timed out and lose all your work.
#5 Outside Activities
Outside of your grades and test scores the UCs want to know how you spend your time. In your application there's a section with 5 categories and 5 spaces in each one where you can list and describe your involvement. Those five include:
1 Educational Prep Programs (AVID, Chinese School)
2. Volunteer and Community Service
3. Work Experience
4. Awards and Honors
5. Extracurricular Activities
A word of caution as there is a space cap and you have 150 characters to list your responsibilities and or experience. Luckily you don't have t write in complete sentences and instead you can highlight your achievements. The more tangible and measurable the outcome the greater the impact it will have on the reader.
So those are you Five Tips to help you apply to the UCs. Do you have a tip that I didn't mention? Leave a comment below!