7 Things You Must Do in High School to be Competitive for UC Admission

Getting excited or anxious about how well you are preparing for the UCs? Here is a list of must-dos to help you gain a competitive edge!

Things You Must Do

  1. Make sure the honors courses you are taking are UC-approved or they won’t be weighted (you can check by looking at your high school’s UC A-G Course List). Sometimes you may need to take honors courses that are not UC-approved in order to qualify for AP courses; check with your counselor to make sure!
  2. Balance your extracurricular activities with your Honors/AP/IB courses during the school year so you maintain excellent grades and devote adequate time to your extracurricular activities to gain meaningful experiences and develop important skills (such as leadership and collaboration).
  3. Ask your family and friends to put the word out that you are looking for opportunities, such as job shadowing, internship, or research. UCs like to see active exploration of or involvement in the discipline you intend to declare as your major (or exploration of different disciplines if you are unsure/undeclared) and heavily favor students with research experience.
  4. Take community college courses (any UC-transferable courses that are at least 3 semester or 4 quarter units will work) during the summer after freshman year, the summer after sophomore year, and the summer after junior year; the course grades are weighted and calculated into the GPA used for admission evaluation.
  5. If you receive a D or F grade, be sure to repeat the course BEFORE senior year to replace the bad grade in the GPA calculation and to meet the subject requirement (although you MUST report both the non-passing grade AND the repeated grade on the UC Application when you apply). You may replace the non-passing grade by taking the same course or a more advanced course (i.e., a passing grade from an Honors/AP/IB or community college course can/will replace a non-passing grade in a regular course).
  6. Get your parents involved with your college planning. Ask them to contact your counselor and teachers to show concern for your college plans. Your counselor and teachers are more likely to pay attention to your schedule and grades if they know your parents will get in touch if anything goes awry.
  7. Be a teacher’s pet. Communicate with your teachers outside of class and show some interest in them and the subjects they teach. Ask them how you can improve your performance in the subject and get better grades. The better your teachers know you, the more likely they are willing to help you.

Things You Should NOT Worry About

  1. UCs do consider courses you take in freshman year and the rigor/grades in context of your overall schedule/grade trend (so you should provide an explanation if there are anomalies in your schedule or grades); but freshman grades are NOT included in the GPA calculation used for admission evaluation.
  2. UCs do look at the courses you take in senior year and take the rigor into consideration when evaluating you for admission; but as long as you maintain satisfactory grades (typically an unweighted B average, with no non-passing grades, is sufficient), your performance in your senior year courses will NOT affect your admission.
  3. Only the grades recorded on your high school transcript will count so don’t stress out about the grades on your progress report.
  4. Despite what your teachers/counselor/principal may say, the stuff on your “permanent record” is not submitted to nor reviewed by the UCs; stay out of trouble for the sake of your own sanity, but if you happen to get detention, suspended, or even expelled, it’s not the end of the world.

BONUS! Additional UC Admission Resources

Check out the Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions, a comprehensive resource guide put together by the UCs that explains EVERYTHING there is to know about freshman and transfer admissions (if you need something in writing as proof, this is where you’ll find it).

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