November 7, 2019
Charlie Nguyen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
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:
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:
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:
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.
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