The Ultimate Guide to the UC Application - Write Track Admissions

The Ultimate Guide to the UC Application

November 7, 2019

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Read time: ~ 6 minutes


Navigating the University of California (UC) system can seem daunting to those who have not grown up in the Golden State with the presence of the 9 behemoth schools serving as a hallmark of educational culture. However, these schools are largely recognized as the go-to public universities for college hopefuls looking for some sunshine and a quality education. The campuses span the state, and branch off into Medical Centers, Research Labs, and Educational Outreach Programs, among other things. There are 9 UC campuses (all of which have undergraduate and graduate programs): Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz; there is also UC San Francisco, which is solely a graduate school with professional courses. 


The UC campuses are ranked among the nation’s top universities – in both the public and private sector: 

UC Application requirements

The UC application is its own entity – completely separate from the Common App. It has its own list of requirements and its own personal statement section with prompts that are just unique enough that you will likely need to write new material from your Common App. The UC App also requires the following elements to be submitted: 

  • Official Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (ACT or SAT)
  • Any advanced class exam scores (AP, IB, TOEFL, IETLS)
  • Annual income
  • This is contingent upon your dependency status – you will need to provide your income if you’re an independent, or your parent’s income if you’re a dependent
  • Social security number
  • Citizenship status
Personal Statements: 

Much like the Common Application, the UC application has a section for a personal statement. The UC Application Personal Insight Section comprises of 2 essays – one standardized and one that varies depending on whether or not you are a transfer student or an incoming freshman. Each essay must be less than 1,000 words total, and are to be guided by predetermined prompts. Though the prompts can seem very abstract, and thus a bit daunting, here are some tips to help with the writing process: 


    1. Know your audience: Compose your stories using language and verbal skills that are appropriate for a college admissions committee. Use elevated language when appropriate and avoid casual sentences.
    2. Compose with Quality in mind: Since there is a word cap, you need to ensure you are conveying your story efficiently and effectively. Make sure your essays are concise, while also taking the time to paint a colorful picture with your descriptions. This may be a difficult balance to strike so being mindful of it from the beginning can help ensure the quality you are seeking. 
    3. Put your heart on paper: The mark of a truly incredible personal statement is emotion. This is your chance to tell your story – with all the trials and tribulations that go along with it. Don’t be afraid to lay it all out there. Imbue your story with as much emotion as you can. 


Students often find the essay portion of their applications to be the most daunting. If you find yourself in this position, it is wise to get some professional help, as colleges are increasingly putting more weight on the personal statement portion of applications. 

Important UC Application Deadlines:
  • October 1: Application for fall of the following year becomes available.
  • November 1-30: Submission window for applications for the upcoming fall term.
  • January 1: Filing period for FAFSA and Cal Grant Verification Form begins.
  • March 1: Notification of admission for the fall term begins.
  • March 2: Deadline to submit FAFSA and Cal Grant Verification Form
  • March 30: Notification of admission for the fall term ends.
  • May 1: Deadline to submit Statement of Intent to Register for incoming freshman.
  • June 1: Deadline to submit Statement of Intent to Register for transfer students. 
  • July 1: Last day to submit an official transcript for incoming students for fall term. 
Things to Consider When Applying to a UC:

The great thing about the UC Application is that you can apply to one or ALL the UCs with the click of a button. However, while the schools are grouped together in their own system, the average test scores and GPA, and the competitiveness of entry to the schools vary significantly. For example, for incoming freshman the average SAT composite score at UCLA is 1365 and the average GPA is 4.3. At UC Riverside, the average SAT of an incoming freshman  is 1179, and the average GPA is 3.6. When applying, it is important to keep this variance in mind, as your chances of admission into the UCs will vary by school requirements. 


Just as each campus has its own level of academic competitiveness, each campus has its own specialty, research opportunities, and general ambiance. Hamada Zahawi, Founder and CEO of Write Track Admissions, attended UCSB (then transferred to UCLA) and UC Berkeley Law. He advises students to keep in mind that just because you like one campus does not mean you will like them all, as they vary by climate, vibe, specialty field(s), diversity, sports programs, location etc. So it is important to gauge your compatibility with each UC campus separately, and treat them as individual schools (not one big conglomerate). To this end, it’s a great idea to take a trip and visit each school – what better excuse to see the beautiful Golden Coast of California! 


Aly Hartman | Write Track Communication Officer

Write Track Admissions

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