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California Dreaming? How to Tackle the UC Apps Before Nov. 30

With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, the college admissions season hits another major landmark: the University of California system’s application deadline. Indeed, a few days after eating enough turkey to hit food comatose, seniors will need to turn over precious college materials once again, and with Berkeley and UCLA with some of the lowest admission rates in the country, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

So what do you need to do to ensure a successful UC application? Follow these guidelines:

1. Thanksgiving Break is a misnomer. You have no break.

This really goes without saying, but here I am saying it anyway. Sure, get some relaxation in and hang out with friends, but don’t slack off because you were given the opportunity. Make this extra bit of time work for you. And even better, you will probably have family members around to help proofread your application.

2. Yup, those 4 short essays matter as much as anything else.

Over the summer, we posted about how to tackle the essays. And we constantly remind students how important essays are in general (hint: the opposite of “no biggie”). You have the extra time now to sit down and write good responses. You can even recycle information from previous essays if you’ve written some already. Just make sure information doesn’t get duplicated.

3. Don’t sweat the incoming freshmen numbers.

Earlier in the semester we posted about incoming freshmen profiles. These are great resources to get an idea of how competitive you will be, but don’t take them as the guarantee of acceptance or rejection. UC uses holistic review--another thing we touched on--so your whole needs to add up to more than its parts. And it most likely does.

4. All UC schools can see which others you applied to. They don’t care.

Yeah, UC-Davis will know you applied to UC-Berkeley. It doesn’t matter. Simple as that.

5. Quality over quantity is key with your extracurriculars.

You have limited space to insert your extracurriculars into the application, so you obviously want to choose the ones in which you have had the most involvement and are most related to your choice of major. And, in general, don’t overstuff the application sections with irrelevant information. UC is strict about what it wants to see. If you are not sure what works for a particular section, double-check instead of winging it.

Like many of your peers, you should take this week off to give priority to your college applications. However, unlike many of your peers, you should do it the right way, not the sloppy and half-hearted way. School will be around for the rest of the year, and your extracurriculars will be as well. You only apply to college once, so you need to make it count. Don’t let all the small details get you worried about the results. Just start doing it, and you’ll be amazed by how easy it all really is.

And if you need any last-minute help, B2A will be open Tuesday and Wednesday next week. We have counselors and essay specialists ready to give your UC application the shine that it deserves. You’ll be catching some Pacific rays in no time!

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