Tips for Getting into a University of California School

The University of California school system is home to many of the best universities in the nation. The UC system consists of nine schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate education.

The nine University of California Colleges include:

University of California, San Francisco is only a graduate and professional school.

All together, University of California schools have more than 238,000 students and more than 190,000 faculty and staff.  UC schools are world renowned, selective, and research oriented. All of the schools within the University of California system are strong in STEM, the humanities, and social sciences. Also, the student body at UC schools tend to be diverse as well as accepting of diversity.

Admissions Requirements for University of California Schools

A student who is interested in attending a University of California school will have to satisfy the following requirements: complete a minimum of 15 college preparatory courses with a letter grade of C and above.  Eleven of these courses must be finished at the conclusion of the student’s junior year of high school.

The 15 courses are:

  • History (2years)
  • English (4 years)
  • Mathematics (3 years)
  • Laboratory Sciences(2 years)
  • Language other than English (2 years)
  • Visual and Performing Arts (1year)
  • College preparatory elective (1year)

In addition to the above requirements, students aspiring to join a University of California institution should:

  • earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better (3.4 for a non-resident).
  • meet the examination requirements by taking the ACT and the SAT.

Four Tips for Getting into a University of California School  

Attending a University of California school can be a great way to earn a stellar education. However, schools in the University of California system are quite competitive, with thousands of students vying for each available seat. The following insights can help an applicant to improve their chances of getting into a UC school.

Tip #1: Ensure Your Personal Statement Depicts YOU!

Michelle Lakrith, associate director of undergraduate admissions at the University of California, Berkeley advises students to try their best to have their personality shine through in their writing. She indicated that students should put extra time and effort into the written portions of the applications.  This way, the admission officers can get to know the students better. Michelle further advised that in the essays, applicants should be more concerned about their message and the personality they project than the grammatical and syntactical elements of the essays.   The applicant’s statement should not come across the same way as an academic essay. It should feel like a personal work of non-fiction, displaying the applicant’s personality, personal qualities, and unique perspectives.

Tip #2: Consider Attending a Two-Year College First

An applicant who falls short of the requirements to attend a UC school, straight out of high school, should consider attending a two-year college.  Many community colleges are known for feeding transfer students into the University of California system. For instance, Santa Barbara City College is reputable for sending their students onward to University of California, Santa Barbara through its transfer academy program. Santa Monica College is famed for its expert help in getting students transferred into University of California, Los Angeles.

Going through the approach of a two-year college will allow applicants to earn a degree from a prestigious University of California school, without having to go through the competitive process as a high school senior.  Besides, another benefit of a community college is the affordable tuition and the incredible faculty.

Fun fact: Professors at community colleges spend most of their time in the classroom.  When not teaching, professors offer office hours to work privately with students and serve on curriculum committees.

All the University of California schools hold a significant number of spots, each year for upper level transfer students from community colleges. California’s Master Plan for higher education demands that students from community colleges get priority as transfers.

Tip #3: Participate in Enrichment Programs, Leadership or Academic Programs During the Summer

Involvement in volunteer, community and leadership activities can improve the chances of getting into a University of California school. Summer can be a time to explore new interests, develop skills, and pursue an area of passion.

Summer activities that boost admission chances include:

  • National Science Olympiad
  • LEAD Engineering
  • Summer Science Institute
  • California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS)
  • UCSB Research Mentorship program
  • American Math Challenge (AMC)
  • American Invitation Math Exam (AIME)
  • Nano Business Talent program
  • The Ross program
  • Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)
  • Any extracurricular activity that you are passionate about

Prospective University of California students should plan and execute a high school career path. This will result in a unique combination of quality nonacademic activities, academic performance, and genuine values. Participating in an extracurricular displays a prospective student’s talents and personal qualities, which consequently boosts chances of admission into a school.

Tip #4: Get the Best Possible Grades During All Four Years of High School

Grades are critical in securing a place at a UC school. Equally important is a high score on the SAT and ACT exams. University of California schools will accept either test.  It’s a great idea to consider taking both exams and submit the highest of the two exams. Students are encouraged to take the exams more than once, in order to improve upon their first score.  Each institution has their own requirements, in regard to the necessary test scores for admissions.

University of California schools are one of the nation’s best options for higher education.  Being equipped with the right information is the first step towards applying to your dream school.

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