My rising seniors. You may be wondering what the heck you’re supposed to be doing to prep for college apps right now. You also may be wondering who you’ll take to prom or what outfit to wear on Coachella day 1, I mean it is a big deal. Either way I’m sure the convo of college and what you’re doing to prep has popped into your household, your classroom or just in your mind. And undoubtedly if you’re a kid in California, the UC’s might be a contender. So let’s get into it. What are key things you can do NOW to not only prep, but understand the UC application process to present your best self to admissions?? Easy…read on.
Not all UC campuses are alike
You will apply to the UC campuses on the UC Application online. One application, multiple campuses. I often find students just check off campuses that they FEEL familiar with, without REALLY researching them. Your program of choice may vary a bit campus-to-campus, your social experience, your class sizes, the community surrounding the campus and unique opportunities may ALL vary. If you’re applying to a UC campus, you better know more than just the name or location. Dive in and check them out as individual universities. Here’s how:
- Explore each campus at THIS UC ADMISSIONS PAGE and get picky
- Look at the major (or majors) you’re considering
- And don’t just stop at if they have the major, actually go and read the major description, courses you would take and unique faculty/research opportunities/career advising, etc. available
- Urban? Suburban? How big is the campus? What amenities are around in the local community? Student housing?
- Take virtual campus tours here: Virtual College Tours
- Look at the major (or majors) you’re considering
- Know the Freshman Admission Profiles
- Look at the data. The UC system is competitive and among some of the most applied to universities in the world. Know if it’s a reach or target school, know where you stand academically, but also the selectivity (percentage of students accepted)
Get to know how UC reviews its applicants
So the UC system basically has a pile where they sort out by GPAs and test scores and then just admit based on that…RIGHT??? WRONG. UC looks at your application comprehensively. They will take into consideration your Academic, Character and Personal factors that all compile into a complete application.
Download the UC Beyond the Numbers: Comprehensive Review Guide
- Academic: Not just your GPA (which includes your 10-11 A-G/college prep courses), but your overall rigor of the classes you chose to take, the number of Honors or AP within the context of what’s offered at your high school, your grades, your course selection and how you not only met, but exceeded your A-G coursework in areas of strength and your test scores
- Character: Special achievements/awards, extracurricular involvements, anything you’ve had a committed responsibility to, your resume outside of the classroom, work experience, volunteer, etc. This can come through in the Activities and Awards section AND in your personal insight essay questions
- Personal: Any contextual information that is important (family circumstance, academic achievement despite life challenges, etc.)
Download the right tools to help you out
HINT: you can start this work over the summer
- Tips and Tools for California Freshman Applicants (there is a transfer one as well!)
- Personal Insight Questions: Guide for Freshman Applicants
- Check out Ethan Sawyer, The College Essay Guy’s Personal Insight Questions Guide and website for a TON of help on essay information
Set a deadline of smaller, manageable tasks
Part of making sense of the college application process is tailoring it to you and making it SMALLER. So before you start thinking of ALL the things you need to do, think about it in smaller task items. For example:
- By Summer
- Know which UC campuses I’d like to apply to
- Take at least one official SAT/ACT
- Begin filling out the activities/awards sheet
- Create an account and open my UC application
- Take my second SAT if needed
- Check out application support workshops at my school or local community
Consider also applying to a private and/or and out-of-state university…really
- Look California is amazing. It really is. But the reality is that there are only nine undergraduate campuses within the UC system and it is PRETTY competitive, like REALLY competitive. So do yourself a favor and add a balanced list of colleges that include academic, social and personal experiences you know you’ll thrive in for a successful college environment that will help you THRIVE.
- Myth: Out of state colleges are more expensive. Nope, not always, in fact they often have scholarship dollars for out-of-state students and non-impacted, direct-entry programs. Check it out!
- Myth: Private universities are more expensive. Nope, not always, check out private schools and use this article to tell the college affordability.
- For exploring Private schools in California, check out this site: https://www.aiccu.edu/
Last, but not least remember this, if you’re reading this and finishing your last semester as a Junior, focus on your courses and grades in class. The college piece will come, but there’s not a whole lot that can replace poor grades. Study hard, but study smart, give yourself breaks and focus your attention on college in increments. YOU CAN DO THIS!!
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