The Annual Dark Ages are here: College application season. Whether you’re a senior or a freshman in college, I hope this post will be of help to you! Check out the full video here! I’ll be going over the University of California school system application (UC Schools), and going over my own application. I, at the end of the day, am NOT a college admissions officer for the UC schools. These are just some common things I’ve noticed in my friends/classmates. Again, you could do everything here perfectly and still not get in. There is no silver bullet for getting into any college. College admissions is also heavily dependent on socioeconomic class, location, and lots of luck. Or you can have your mom pay the rowing team and scam your way in like Aunt Becky! haha plz don’t sue me! Below is the video I made for this topic.
1. GRADES & TEST SCORES
Probably the most stressful aspect of applying to colleges: the standardized testing. 😦 It’s one of those annoying “barriers to entry” to a lot of top colleges. The UC schools get over hundreds of thousands of applications, so these test scores are pretty important to serve as indicators for an applicant (not the whole picture, but a lot of it).
AIM FOR THE THRESHOLD: try to score at or better than average for whatever school you apply to; no need to be retaking an ACT 33 score for an ACT 35 score.
ACT or SAT: try both tests, see what fits better for you. I found the ACT to be more straightforward, but extremely tight on time aka this is where practice tests came in handy. I took the ACT and had a great experience with it! I actually have bad test anxiety and took the ACT 4 times! But, the best part about the ACT is that you can actually permanently delete your score (unlike the SAT). Some private schools might ask you to send ALL yours scores 😦 SCARY!
SUBJECT TEST SCORES: not needed, but great if you have them; certain majors at the UC’s (engineering/cs/chemistry) might ask you to send them over, but most majors do not ask for SAT subject score
AP TESTS: try to do well (obviously if you didn’t get all 5’s that’s okay); if possible have at least 2 solid scores; I don’t think it’s SUPER important for admissions, but a lot of UC’s do give great course credit for AP classes once you enroll!
GPA: Aim for mostly A’s and some B’s in at least a few honors classes + regular classes; try to take the most rigorous course load at your school, but if that’s too hard for you than mix in a few honors; look at the school to see their averages; UC’s only look at 10th-11th grade. they have their own weighted gpa system; search your school and see which courses have a star next to them. these are the classes UC will give you “honors/ap credit” gpa weighing when it comes down to entering your classes into the application portal https://hs-articulation.ucop.edu/agcourselist;
try to join one of each: academic, service based, interest/hobby. keep it to around 3-5 extracurriculars/sports
AWARDS/GOALS REACHED: if you can have something to show for, for each of the clubs/organizations you are in that’s the best!
WHAT DID YOU LEARN: be able to incorporate your activities into your essays with life skills you learned (besides the obvious activity’s skill) ie. figure skating – patience, grit, communication.
SHORT BUT DETAILED: even if you did WAY more clubs and activities, you don’t need to put those ALL in. maybe you did some for just fun? put down the ones that have the strongest story/impact on you/application. you don’t want to put too much down and seem like a liar or just unfocused
TBH I don’t think UC’s care THAT much about the UC essays. Just because there’s so many applications they need to review, I definitely think that the first screening process is done by a computer and they just calculate your gpa/test scores and rank you first before further reading into your application. Essays are there to be a further extension of your extracurricular lists.
FINDING YOUR NICHE: who are you? are you the swimmer? the blogger? if you don’t think you’re anything particular, try to create something or intertwine your extracurriculars to create a story: who you are
TRY ALL 8 PROMPTS: I know only 4 essays are due, but try to write to all 8 options and see which ones are the best! you never know before you try to write something down!
STORYTELLING: find a specific event for each prompt, then be able to relate it to the big picture theme of the question; don’t write chronologically — this is boring; start from the climax, then reflect backwards. start at the end? a mix of both? Think about those crime shows on TV, they start the episode with the murder then they go back and find out what happened; it keeps the reader engaged and interested
EDITING: use free resources like your school teachers! they have tons of experience in college editing/writing and they can help at the bare minimum with cleaning grammar/structure. if they are not willing to help, try campus counselors and administration; you can always reach out to past high school graduates you know to look them over
- ACT score 33 +
- SAT Subject Korean, Math Level 2, Biology: 750 +
- AP Test Scores: 4’s and 5’s, I did fail US History though haha lol
- Unweighted Overall GPA: 3.8 | Weighted Overall GPA: 4.4 ( I went to a pretty competitive high school, we had 8 valedictorians because they all tied for 1st lol)
- UC GPA: 4.2 (4.3 was max at our school)
- competitive figure skating with national/international team, Key Club & NHS (president), Newspaper (reporter, editor), IB Full Diploma