Report Changes to the UCs (Fall schedule changes or D/F grades)
Report Changes to Your UC Campus (Spring schedule changes or D/F grades)
August & September
UC Online Application Becomes Available
The online application becomes available on August 1st. I recommend that you start on the application as soon as possible so you can fill in the general information and look at what other data you need to gather to complete the application. Make sure you use a respectable sounding email address. Email addresses like “foxylady47” or “deathmetaldude” do not reflect well on you. Whatever email account you use, check it on the regular basis and make sure you have an adequately complex password to prevent your account from being hacked (and thereby losing access). UCs use email as the primary method of communication, so questions about your application, invitations to apply for housing, and other types of notification will come through email.
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Complete Your Brag Sheet
I developed this brag sheet to help you think about how to complete your UC Application and respond to the UC Personal Insight Questions. Brag sheet is mandatory if you want me to work with you. Please visit UC Application Service for the service packages I offer.
To prepare your Freshman Applicant Brag Sheet, you will need:
- The name of your high school and the city where it is located.
- Transcripts from every high school (and community college) you have attended, and your planned 12th grade schedule.
- All of your SAT with Essay, ACT with Writing, SAT Subject, and/or AP scores.
- List and describe in detail everything you have done outside of school starting from your freshman year in high school to what you project you will be doing until the end of senior year. Please denote:
- which activities you enjoyed the most and why
- any accomplishments in the activities that give you bragging rights
- which year(s) of high school you were involved in each activity
- summer after 9th
- summer after 10th
- summer after 11th
- planned participation in 12th grade
- frequency of your participation (for example, twice a week, once a month, occasionally)
- estimated total number of hours you were involved in each activity (please include planned participation in 12th grade)
- Examples of activities you may wish to include:
- school clubs or student government
- volunteering or community service
- competitions of any kind (including sports)
- music/dance/art lessons
- church/mosque/temple activities
- Sunday/Chinese/Hebrew school
- awards/honors or recognition by any organization
- jobs (even if you work “under the table”)
- hefty chores (caring for your siblings for more than 2-3 hours per day, having to cook for the family, having to pay bills and balance household finances, etc.)
- Please describe a typical week in your life. What is your daily schedule (weekdays and weekend)? How do you get everything done?
- List and explain three greatest things you accomplished during high school. Feel free to highlight leadership undertakings, intellectual/creative/athletic endeavors, extensive community involvement, and/or special achievements.
- List and explain two most disappointing things that happened during high school. What were your expected outcomes and what went wrong?
- Tell me one thing about yourself that, if your friends knew about you, would surprise them.
- What aspects of your high school career might you have handled differently if you were given a “do over”?
- Please specify if any of the following situations applied to you during high school and explain how your academic performance and/or extracurricular participation were affected:
- diagnosed medical problems and/or diagnosed/suspected learning differences
- low income/financial problems and/or working illegally (“under the table”)
- first generation (neither parent graduated from a 4-year college) and/or language barrier
- biracial background
- AB 540/undocumented/DREAMer
- family/personal situations or problems, including death(s) in the family, divorce, large family (more than three siblings), legal proceedings, and/or abuse
- List all of the colleges (UCs and non-UCs) to which you are interested in applying. Please denote which colleges are your top choices and which are your backup choices.
- What do you expect to major in college and what do you want to do with that major when you graduate? If you are not sure, then what disciplines do you think you may be interested in pursuing and what do you think you might want to do in those disciplines? If you are completely undecided, put “undecided.”
- What excites you most about going to college?
- What do you hope to gain from going to college?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind? What is the one thing you want people to remember about you?
UC Personal Insight Questions
The UC Personal Insight Questions are meant to help you align your responses to the UC comprehensive review criteria. Although the questions are meant to be broad and flexible, I found that many students quickly develop tunnel vision when looking at the questions. Instead of focusing on highlighting their achievements, students try to find whatever examples they can think of to fit the narrow scope of the questions. This is not the intention of the questions! Instead, start with the big picture. Comb through your achievements (focus on events and experiences that occurred during the high school time frame; that is the time period the UCs are most interested in learning) and determine the pivotal accomplishments of your high school career.
Once you know the defining moments of your recent experiences (essentially the last three years), develop a coherent story for each of your greatest achievements that, together, will give a total stranger a snapshot of who you are. Imagine this as putting together a scrapbook to show off your high school career to a college admission officer (except this scrapbook is full of written words); what experiences or moments do you want to highlight? I also want to remind you that achievements and accomplishments are not just about winning. Sometimes learning from an epic failure or overcoming an extraordinary challenge can be just as crucial as a moment of triumph. Articulate how your motivation, accomplishments, and future aspirations are inspired or shaped by each of your achievements, and this will form a story palette that you can use for every college application. Find ways to adapt different parts of your story palette to the questions to ensure the essence of YOU comes through loud and clear.
Keep in mind that how application readers look at your answers is something akin to an information-gathering expedition (NOT a philosophical pondering or a form of entertainment). Treat these questions as interview questions and answer them as such. Anything you would not do during regular interview, like bursting into song, reciting a poem, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., or acting out a dialogue, you should not do when answering these questions.
Remember that you must take advantage of EVERY section of the UC Application to convey your stories. The list of extracurricular activities, answers to the Personal Insight Questions, and any additional information, should all support your stories. In fact, I would recommend that you complete the various sections of your UC Application first before starting on the Personal Insight Questions, since the response you write should supplement and clarify the information already contained in the various sections of the UC Application.
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UC Online Application Filing Period
You can begin submitting your completed online application starting November 1st. The deadline is at the end of the day (before midnight) on November 30th. There is no advantage to submitting your application at the beginning of the application cycle as all applications are thoroughly reviewed before the admission decisions are made. While there is no disadvantage to submitting your application on the last day, the server may become slow or time out periodically due to high volume of users trying to access the online application; the last few days of November can be especially bad. So I suggest trying to complete and submit your application before Thanksgiving weekend.
You only need to complete one online application for all UC campuses; simply check off the campuses you wish to apply in the application. Each UC campus makes its own admission decisions and the campuses do not “compare notes” so you don’t have to worry about one campus not accepting you because you applied to others. The application fee is $70 per campus ($80 for international applicants).
It is extremely important for you to accurately complete the Academic History section. Be sure to have your transcripts in front of you when you fill out this section. Errors and omissions in this section can affect your acceptance when your official, final transcripts are evaluated. Any gaps in education should be explained in detail. Vague or missing explanations can prompt an inquiry from the UCs.
The Activities section has six categories: Awards/Honors, Extracurricular Activities, Community Service, Educational Preparation Programs, Work Experience, and Coursework Other Than A-G. You are limited to five entries per category. Make sure you put your top five activities in each category and you may list other IMPORTANT activities in the Additional Comments section. Any activities you discuss in your response to the Personal Insight Questions should be listed on the application. Inconsistency between activities listed in your UC Application and your response to the Personal Insight Questions may raise red flags.
The UC Application will not submit if you exceed the word limit for any of the Personal Insight Questions. Remember, contractions are your friend; while your response should be well written and presentable, you do not need to use a formal writing style.
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UC Application Fee Waiver
You apply for the UC Application fee waiver at the end of the application before you pay and the system uses the information you enter to determine if you qualify for a fee waiver right on the spot. The fee waiver allows you to apply to four UC campuses for free. Additional campuses are $70 each.
Fee waiver determination is based on income information from the prior year. If you did not qualify for a fee waiver but your family’s income has changed due to job loss or other extenuating circumstances, choose “Bill Later” as the payment option and send a letter with a copy of the bill to appeal the fee waiver decision.
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Using Additional Comments Section
The Additional Comments section is not an opportunity for you to continue your response to a Personal Insight Question or write a response to an extra question. You should ONLY use this section if you have something you need to tell the admissions office that you didn’t mention anywhere else on the application. Typically this include things like other names you have used (that may be on official records you need to submit), citizenship/visa issues, or anything that does not appear anywhere else on the application. I recommend using the Additional Comments section to describe the following if they are not already mentioned elsewhere in the application:
When you have a bad semester or bad year in terms of grades or extracurricular activities, you need to clarify what happened and explain what actions you took to correct the situation.
Discuss what you did during your gap year if you took one. UCs want to know 1) why you took a gap year, and 2) what you did during the gap year.
If you couldn’t take summer school at your high school or the local community college due to budget cuts and that prevented you from achieving academically (for example, you were unable to repeat a course in which you received a D or your fall schedule was scrambled because you were not able to take a prerequisite course during summer), you need to explain that and include actions you have taken to correct the situation (for example, you tried to enroll at two other community colleges when the first community college you enrolled in canceled the class you needed).
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Last Chance to Take the SAT/ACT Tests
Making Changes to Your UC Application
You submitted your application right before the deadline and as you review your receipt, you realized there were some mistakes. Panic sets in and you are not sure what to do. Well, don’t freak out.
You may update your personal information, test scores, or apply to an additional UC campus by logging back into the online application.
There are a few things, such as family size/income or other background information, that you can change over the phone by calling the UC Application Center at (800) 207-1710 (toll free in the U.S.) or (310) 513-2715 (outside the U.S.).
For anything else, you must submit a correction by email to [email protected]. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, application ID, a full description of the mistakes, and your corrections. I recommend including the sections of the application that contain the mistakes and make your corrections on there for easy reference.
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UC Application Evaluation Begins
Application evaluation starts in the middle of December. Applications with self-reported December test scores are held until official scores arrive (or they are reviewed in January without the December test scores).
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UC Application Verification
The UC system conducts random audits on approximately 10% of the applicants. Each UC campus may also conduct its own random audits and sometimes targeted audits (if the applicant seems a little too perfect or anything on the application raised serious questions). If you receive a request to provide information for an audit, respond promptly; not responding will disqualify you for admission. If you are caught lying on your application, the UCs will ban you from all admission consideration present or future (yes, I do mean you will be banned for life from all UC campuses).
UC Application Evaluation Completed
Most UCs complete application evaluation by the end of January. Competitive UCs use February to conduct further review of some applicants from whom additional information were requested (Supplemental Questionnaire).
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UC Supplemental Questionnaire
Berkeley, Irvine, UCLA, and San Diego employ an augmented review process for a selected pool of applicants. Berkeley may issue supplemental questionnaires to applicants who have mentioned special talent (including athletics), learning differences, or those applicants who are considered borderline. Irvine, UCLA, and San Diego generally issue a short supplemental questionnaire only to applicants who are considered borderline. If you receive a request to complete a Supplemental Questionnaire between January and February, it means you are selected for the augmented review. Please respond to the request promptly and thoroughly; how you answer these questions can strongly influence whether or not you get into that particular UC. Please visit Supplemental Questionnaire or Free Service for additional service options.
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Report Changes to the UCs
If you added or dropped a-g or AP courses, or received any D or F grades in a-g or AP courses, you need to contact the individual campuses to submit the information for consideration. Below are the instructions for each campus:
Berkeley – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru [email protected].
Davis – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru MyAdmissions.
Irvine – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru MyAdmission and Message Center.
Los Angeles – Freshman applicants should use this form to submit changes.
Merced – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru myUCMerced.
Riverside – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru MyUCR.
San Diego – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru MyApplication.
Santa Barbara – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru Application Status.
Santa Cruz – Freshman applicants should submit changes thru MyUCSC.
If you just have no idea what you are supposed to do, politely ask one of the overworked admissions staff to help you figure out your next step.
Berkeley – (510) 642-3175, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Davis – (530) 752-2971, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Irvine – (949) 824-6703, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Los Angeles – (310) 825-3101, Monday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Merced – (209) 228-7178, Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Riverside – (951) 827-3411, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
San Diego – (858) 534-4831, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Santa Barbara – (805) 893-2881, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Santa Cruz – (831) 459-2131, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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UC Decisions Become Available
Each UC campus will release the admission decisions on its own online system and on different dates throughout March (some UCs may release small batches of decisions earlier than March):
Berkeley – a batch of early decisions were released in February; all regular decisions will become available at [email protected] on March 30, 2017
Davis – all decisions became available at MyAdmissions on March 10, 2017
Irvine – a batch of early decisions were released in February; regular decisions are being released in batches at MyAdmission and Message Center starting March 16, 2017 and will continue through the end of March
UCLA – all decisions became available at myApplication Status on March 17, 2017
Merced – decisions are being released in batches at MyUCMerced and will continue through the end of March
Riverside – decisions are being released in batches at MyUCR and will continue through the end of March
San Diego – all decisions became available at MyApplication on March 10, 2017
Santa Barbara – batches of early decisions were released during the first half of March; regular decisions became available at Application Status on March 21, 2017
UC Waitlist Information
The Systemwide Waitlist FAQ contains general information regarding the waitlist policy and process at each UC campus.
Each UC campus handles the waitlist opt-in process a little differently. Most UCs will have an opt-in deadline of April 15th, but some campuses may extend the deadline to a later date. I highly recommend that you take the time to review the waitlist information and/or FAQ before opting in onto the waitlist.
Berkeley – check [email protected] for information (optional waitlist statement, 500-word limit)
Davis – Freshman Waitlist Frequently Asked Questions (required waitlist statement, 200-word limit)
Irvine – check MyAdmission and Message Center for information (no waitlist statement)
UCLA – check myApplication Status for information (optional waitlist statement, 7,000-character limit)
Merced – NO waitlist
Riverside – Freshman Waitlist FAQs (no waitlist statement)
San Diego – Frequently Asked Questions: Freshman Waitlist (no waitlist statement – new for Fall 2017, used to be required)
Santa Barbara – Freshman Waitlist FAQ (no waitlist statement)
Waitlist Statement Writing Guidelines
Most UC campuses will not release waitlist decisions until well after the May 1st SIR deadline, so be sure to follow through with a backup plan in case the waitlist decision doesn’t work out in your favor. There is no penalty for you to withdraw the SIR if you are accepted from the waitlist somewhere else (except losing the $250 deposit).
For the campuses that have optional or required waitlist statement, be sure to explain why the campus is right for you. For example, what unique opportunities will the campus offer you that you cannot get anywhere else? How do you intend to take advantage of those opportunities?
You should also reinforce why you are the right student for that campus. For example, what experiences, knowledge, skills, characteristics, personalities, and/or traits do you bring to the campus? How will you contribute to the student body and/or the campus community?
UC Provisional Admission Contract/Conditions of Admission
Remember that the UC admission offer is provisional and you must meet ALL requirements specified in your Provisional Admission Contract or Conditions of Admission to remain eligible for admission. The UC campus may cancel your offer of admission for any violation of the contract or conditions.
Berkeley – log into [email protected] to view your Conditions of Admission
Davis – log into MyAdmissions to view your Conditions of Admission
Irvine – general UC Irvine Freshman Provisional Admission Contract
UCLA – check Admission Provisions – Freshmen for instructions on how to view your Admission Contract
Merced – general Conditions of Admission
Riverside – check MyUCR
San Diego – log into MyApplication to view your Provisional Admission Contract
Santa Barbara – general Conditions of Admission
Deferring Your UC Acceptance
Visiting UC Campuses
You should try to visit every college that has accepted you. Go while classes are in session so you can see what a normal day looks like on campus. Take a tour and see if you feel at home when you walk around. Go with your gut feeling; you’ll know if the school is right for you. If a personal visit is not feasible, consider viewing college videos or virtual tours to get a feel for the campus environment.
UC Appeal Process
Most UC campuses will not have an answer for your appeal until well after the May 1st SIR deadline, so be sure to follow through with a backup plan in case the appeal doesn’t work out in your favor. There is no penalty for you to withdraw the SIR if you are accepted on appeal somewhere else (except losing the $250 deposit).
Each UC campus offers a set of instructions on how to submit an appeal. You MUST follow the instructions to ensure proper and expedited processing of your appeal submission. Failure to comply with the instructions may result in dismissal of your appeal. Many UCs have an appeal deadline of April 15th, but some campuses may extend the deadline to a later date. I highly recommend that you take the time to review the appeal instructions before pursuing this option.
Berkeley – check [email protected] for information (online appeal, 500-word limit, no supplemental materials accepted)
Davis – Non-Admitted Freshman Applicants; scroll down to May I appeal my denial of admission? (online appeal, 350-word limit, optional supplemental materials accepted by electronic upload)
Irvine – Appeals Information; scroll down to the Appeal to Selection Decision section, then Freshmen Selection Appeal (online appeal, no limit, some supplemental materials are required – must be included in the same electronic upload)
UCLA – Appeals to Admission Decisions – Freshmen (online appeal, 7,000-character limit, no supplemental materials accepted)
Merced – Decision Appeals (online appeal + fax, some supplemental materials are required – must submit by fax)
Riverside – Frequently Asked Questions; scroll down to the Freshman Admission section, then How do I appeal a freshman admission decision or explain missing a deadline? (online appeal, no supplemental materials accepted)
San Diego – Frequently Asked Questions: Freshman Applicants Not Offered Admission; scroll down to Can I appeal the decision? (online appeal, 250-word limit, no supplemental materials accepted)
Santa Barbara – Appeal Process (postal mail appeal, no limit, some supplemental materials are required – must be included in the same envelope as the appeal)
Appeal Writing Guidelines
I want to emphasize that the UCs have become heavily reliant on the waitlist to meet enrollment target and therefore appeals are likely to receive more scrutiny. Students without significant new and compelling information that was not previously available to the admissions office (i.e., not disclosed on the UC Application) may have a harder time being reconsidered (although the admissions office does review every appeal it receives). I do want to point out that whether a particular piece of information is “compelling” is entirely subjective and, ultimately, can only be decided by the admissions office.
For your appeal to have merit, you must prove that you are a much stronger applicant than what was presented in your original UC Application. Keep in mind that when the UCs ask for “new and compelling information,” they are asking for information not previously available to the admissions office (not necessarily information that is recent; in fact, most UCs have stated that recent developments are generally not considered “new and compelling information”).
Your need to stay in a particular geographical area, in itself, does not constitute grounds for an appeal. Any hardship in relocating must be accompanied by other new and compelling information for your appeal to have merit. Similarly, changing your major, in itself, is not sufficient grounds for an appeal; additional new and compelling information must be present for your appeal to have merit.
Examples of new and compelling information may include extraordinary hardship or exceptional talent. You can discuss these things on your appeal as reasons for the UCs to reconsider you. Make sure you describe exactly how the exceptional talent qualifies you for UC admissions or how the hardship prevented you from achieving academically. The objective of your appeal should be why you are an excellent candidate for the UCs and how you expect to excel in college (and what resources at the UCs you intend to utilize in order to succeed). Avoid badmouthing anyone or any institutions (high school, other colleges, etc.) and do NOT brag about the other colleges that have made admission offers (this is not a competition). Be concise and don’t exaggerate or try to be dramatic. Follow through with a backup plan in case the decision is not reversed.
You may download an appeal template to help you structure your appeal letter: online appeal template or postal mail appeal template. Need step-by-step guidance on composing your appeal? Consider my Appeal Service.
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UC Statement of Intent to Register
You must decide by May 1st which UC campus you wish to attend. Because of budget constraints, most UCs will not accept late SIRs. Submission of multiple SIRs is not tolerated and may affect your acceptance across the UC system. Make sure you visit the campuses and consult your family to reach a decision before the deadline.
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UC Analytical Writing Placement Exam
All incoming UC freshmen must take the required Analytical Writing Placement Exam unless they have met the Entry Level Writing Requirement by April 1st. The exam is usually administered on the first Saturday in May following the SIR deadline. Check the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement for exam details, ways to meet the requirement, and other information.
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Report Changes to Your UC Campus
The UCs like to be kept abreast of what is going on with your academic performance. You should always report any changes to your schedule or if you are performing poorly in school. Reporting early allows the UC campus time to evaluate the new information and to work out something with you if necessary. This is much better than getting your acceptance revoked in August when the UC sees your final transcript.
If you changed your schedule or performed poorly in school because of extenuating circumstances (family crisis, medical emergency, death in the family, etc.), make sure you explain the situation to the UCs and indicate how you will make-up for the missing courses or your poor performance.
Some UCs will accept information over email or online submission, others expect snail mail. Check the online instructions or call to find out the best way to get the information to the campus.
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Official Transcripts/Score Reports Due at Your UC Campus
Final official transcripts from all high schools and/or community colleges you have attended are due at your UC campus on July 1st. All other documents and exam scores (such as official AP/IB exam scores) are due at your UC campus on July 15th. Put in the requests early and check online to make sure the UC campus received your transcripts/scores. Most UCs are flexible if you are a little late as the process of verifying the transcripts against the application of accepted students can take a while. But this also means that the UC may raise questions about your academic record right before school starts. If there is any discrepancy between your application and your transcript, I recommend that you report the change to the UC before final official transcripts are sent.
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August & September
Starting at Your UC Campus
Follow the advice below to ensure you have a smooth transition:
Take the minimum number of required units (usually around 12 or 13 units) your first semester or quarter; UC courses will likely go at a faster pace compared to high school (this is true for most 4-year colleges) so give yourself some time to acclimate.
Take the time to get to know your roommate/floormate/suitemate and make friends with people in your classes; having a good social network is an important part of your college experience. Explore the different extracurricular activities available to you on and off campus to gain new experiences and expand your network.
Show up at your professors’ office hours to talk to them. Find out about what kind of research they are doing or ask questions about the course materials. If you can’t think of anything to say, stick to simple inquiries like 1) recommendations for other reading materials that will help you in your courses (be prepared to actually read whatever the professors recommend so you can have thoughtful discussions of the materials with them the next time you go to office hours), and 2) how to prepare for the midterm or final. Once the professors put your face to your name, you will likely do better in the courses (brownie points for showing up to talk to them during office hours).
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