Freshman Applicant Resources

Direct from the UC Campuses

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College Admissions Guides

U.S. News & World Report, the people who invented the college ranking system, also publishes numerous college admissions articles covering typical admissions related topics such as college choices, college essays, and financial aid. Keep in mind the articles are very generalized and do not apply to all colleges. As always, take everything you read with a grain of salt and when in doubt, check directly with the college admissions office.

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College Planning Tool

College Board’s college planning website, with a special focus on low-income students, provides guidance, tools and information to make college planning easier.

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College Reviews

Unlike rankings, the sites below include college ratings with student feedback (combined with, or in addition to, objective criteria/data).

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First-Generation College Goers

Dr. Rebecca Joseph of Cal State LA has pulled together a comprehensive resource guide for first-generation college goers at Look for information on developing a comprehensive college plan (including private colleges!) and get tips on writing college essays and applying for scholarships.

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Detailed College Profiles

Check out the fancy College Navigator from the U.S. Department of Education, complete with color graphs and hard-to-find facts. Aside from the usual enrollment and financial aid stats (but in full color bar graphs and pie charts), you can also find stats for retention/graduation rate, size of enrollment for each major, team size for varsity athletics, campus crime rate, and federal student loan default rate.

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Picking a Community College

The UC Information Center provides systemwide and campuswide admit rate by California community college. Simply click on the “Transfer Table” tab and, from the menu on the right, select the UC campus for which you are interested in seeing the admit rate. By default the most current data set for each California community college is displayed in alphabetical order. You also have the option to review data up to 20 years back by changing the “Academic Yr” option.

Choose a California community college that offers an honors/scholars program. Participating students typically receive priority registration at the community college which will allow you to complete your general education and major prerequisite requirements in a timely fashion. UCLA also gives additional consideration to students in the honors/scholars program (Transfer Alliance Program).

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Non-UC College Options

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), allows students of participating western states to attend certain two- or four-year colleges and pay only 150% of the college’s regular resident tuition (instead of nonresident tuition). WICHE member states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date WUE admissions information (including whether the institution is still accepting applications and if financial aid/scholarships are still available), find the colleges you are interested in on the WUE institutions list and contact the admissions office to inquire (click on the institution name and then scroll down to the “WUE Contact Info”). You may need to follow special application instructions in order to qualify for WUE consideration. Some WUE colleges may honor AB 540, you will need to contact the college’s admissions office to verify.

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AB 540/DREAMer Friendly Colleges

Rebecca Joseph, a well-known advocate for the underserved student population, maintains a list of colleges that have generous financial aid policies for undocumented students. An abbreviated explanation of the financial aid policy for undocumented students is included for each college, as well as a link to where you can get more information.

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Figuring Out What You Want to Do

The Career Chronicles (purchase made through this link will generate a commission that helps support the free content on this website!) is a good book to flip through for you to get an idea of what it is like to actually work as a pharmacist, architect, lawyer, accountant, or any of the 24 different jobs included in the book. Use the “Search Inside” function on Amazon to see if the job you are interested in is listed.

Check with your school career center for personality assessments (such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Exam) or interests/career assessments (such as Strong Interest Inventory) to help you determine possible college majors.

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Gap Year

Maybe you are not ready for college or maybe your dream school didn’t accept you, but instead of sitting at home, why not take advantage of a gap year program and see the world (and enrich your discussion for your college application next year)? Check the Gap Year Association for general gap year information, gap year planner, list of GYA accredited gap year programs, list of gap year program providers, and gap year financial aid information.

You can also find additional programs through a list compiled by TeenLife. Other opportunities are available through organizations like Student Conservation Association, City Year, AmeriCorps, and Outward Bound. There are also a variety of study abroad and exchange programs available; Youth For Understanding, in particular, has an established scholarship program.

Not sure how to move forward with a gap year during the pandemic? Look for inspiration from How Students Have Spent Their Gap Year During COVID-19 or search “covid gap year” online for ideas and resources.
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