The UC system is like the DMV of colleges, with its very own monstrous bureaucracy. There are systemwide admission policies and each campus adds another layer of policies to suit its own purpose. Not everyone who works for the UCs knows everything there is to know about admissions and the information passed onto the public and the school counselors is imperfect at best. When you factor in all of the conflicting systemwide and campus-specific information and the various exceptions, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
So, how do you cope?
First, recognize and accept that each UC campus has its own admission process. Keep in mind that admission requirements and evaluation criteria (qualitative and quantitative measures) are DIFFERENT from the admission process (how those measures are applied to admit students). Admission information you get from one campus is not automatically applicable to another campus. If you are applying to six UCs, you are applying to six different colleges and you should be doing the appropriate research for each campus.
Second, realize that servers crash, emails get lost, and admission officers and school counselors are only human. Sometimes mistakes happen, occasionally those mistakes can be catastrophic. Any time you have to submit information, keep the receipt as proof of submission. Always ask for information in writing (a webpage, a brochure, or a copy of the form the counselor filled out) especially if you are relying on the information for admission (making course selection, determining major, filing forms, meeting deadlines). When you talk to someone and there is no written record, make your own record in a journal by noting the name of the person you spoke to and his/her direct contact information, the date and time, and a summary of the conversation.
Third, proactively manage your application process and be diligent. Make sure you configure your email account properly so that all UC communication arrives in your inbox (also check your spam/junk folder regularly). Set up your applicant account with each UC campus as soon as your application is processed at that campus (this usually happens between December and January). Check the applicant account regularly and get in touch with the campus if you receive notifications or warnings within your account. Change your email address on the account if you start using a different email or when you set up your new UC email address.
Last but not least, be persistent to the point of borderline annoying. If you are unsure about something, ask. Keep asking until you get an answer. Continue asking until you are certain the answer you received is accurate. If the first person you spoke to is not helpful, talk to another person. Keep talking to different people until you find someone who can help you. Keep a bright smile on your face and be courteous, you will get the information you need eventually.
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