Get Ready for Fall 2020 UC Application

The Fall 2020 UC Application will open on August 1, 2019 at 9 AM PDT. Think ahead and start gathering the information/documents you will need to complete the application form.

Students often complete the application form as an afterthought (after they spent months crafting the “perfect essay”). In my opinion, this is a huge mistake! The application form is an integral part of the overall presentation of your qualifications and should be treated as such. For the UCs, in particular, your response to the Personal Insight Questions (PIQ) should supplement and enhance the information contained in the application form. I highly recommend that you complete all sections of the UC Application in conjunction with or before you finish composing your PIQ response. Need help? Check out my UC Application Service (sign up by August 31, 2019 and enjoy a 25% discount!). Over the last eight years, my clients were two to three times more likely than the average applicant to be admitted to a UC of their choice! See my success rate here.

The UCs launched a redesigned application for Fall 2020. There’s very little change in the information requested on the application (basically the interface is prettier and slightly more mobile-friendly, that’s about it). But the Activities & Awards section has couple significant changes:

  1. Entries for activities are no longer restricted by category (there used to be five or six categories, depending on whether you are completing the transfer or freshman application, of five maximum entries per category); you can now enter up to 20 activities of any combination of categories.
  2. Each activity description has a 500-character limit (it used to be 160 characters; a fellow consultant contacted the UC Application Center and forwarded the confirmation that the Fall 2020 application will have the same 500-character limit to me).

Information and documents you will need to help you complete the UC Application:

  • Transcripts – You know the admission cancellation horror stories you are hearing right around now? You can avoid that by having a current copy of your transcript(s) in front of you while completing your UC Application.
  • Test Scores (Freshman Applicants) – The UCs do NOT superscore! (I have heard of one instance of admission cancellation due to the student putting a superscore on the application; don’t try your luck.) You have until December 2019 to take the required test (either ACT with Writing or SAT with Essay) and any recommended SAT Subject Tests.
  • Family Income – Required if you are applying for application fee waiver. You’ll need last year’s income information (2018) and this year’s (estimated 2019).
  • Social Security Number/Citizenship Status – I’ve heard of cases where students found out they were undocumented when they began filling out college applications. While Social Security Number is OPTIONAL, you should have it handy if you have one (makes matching your documents MUCH EASIER), or get your DACA paperwork going if you haven’t already.
  • California Statewide Student ID – This information is optional but you should be able to find it somewhere on your transcript.
  • Extracurricular Activities List – Take note of the changes to this section mentioned above and prepare accordingly!
  • Technical Requirements – Make sure you have a compatible device/browser (go here and scroll down to “System Requirements” for the list).

Find additional information at UC Admissions – About applying online.

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

August 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Hi Ms. Sun, I have a question regarding the 500 character limit. Since we now have 500 characters, should we enter our information in a short paragraph form with complete sentences or should it be a list like the previous years? Thank you so much for you time and consideration!

Ms. Sunreply
August 5, 2019 at 8:19 am
– In reply to: Nathan

I would recommend using whatever format that helps you be more concise. Just because there is more room, doesn’t mean the application readers have more time to read the application. Take the room you need to adequately describe what you do, but don’t put in filler just to take up the entire space, there is such a thing as cognitive fatigue and you don’t want to tire your application readers out before they reach the end of your application (where the PIQs are)!

August 15, 2019 at 1:08 am
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

Thank you Ms. Sun! I also have one more question about em dashes. When I copy and paste an em dash onto the uc app, it appears as a hyphen instead. Should I just us double hyphens (–)? And also is there supposed to be a space before and after the em dash? Example: blah — blah or is it supposed to be blah–blah? I realized that if u don’t have spaces before and after the em dashes it only counts as one word instead of two. So blah–blah is only one word but i’m afraid that that might be a violation because technically I am cheating the word count system. I’ve read many articles about em dashes and most SAT guides teach that there is no space before and after em dashes (blah–blah) but I don’t know if that’s how the UC’s want it. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

Ms. Sunreply
August 15, 2019 at 6:43 am
– In reply to: Nathan

You are spending too much time thinking about this. The application readers have maybe 5-10 minutes to read your entire application (maybe less since the application is basically now twice as long as before), so they are speed reading through to catch the relevant information (rather than pausing to take offense of minor grammatical errors). As long as the information you present is straightforward, easy to read, and free of significant errors (such as errors that prevent the application readers from figuring out what you are trying to say), you will be fine.

September 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Mr. Sun,
Should I group the different categories of activities together, ie, all extracurricular, all educational preparedness, all awards and honors etc. or should I order them in the order of importance to me? Does the application automatically do this? For instance, if I put my two most important extracurriculars, then two honors and awards, and then put a less important extra curricular, does the application automatically put the extracurriculars together? I can’t find this information given the new application. Thank you.

Ms. Sunreply
September 8, 2019 at 3:24 pm
– In reply to: Juliette

I would suggest ranking the activities in descending order of importance (most important activity should be #1).

November 17, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Ms. Sun,
Where should awards be placed relative to activities? For example, if research is listed as an activity, should the Intel ISEF award that resulted go after the research activity or should all awards be grouped together? Thank you!

Ms. Sunreply
November 17, 2019 at 11:53 pm
– In reply to: Tammy

For that particular example, I would say group them together and put everything into award (specify the amount of time you spent in the description) or extracurricular activities (specify the award you received for your research in the description). There really isn’t a right way or wrong way to do this, whatever keeps the information concise, organized, and logical will work.

Any Questions?