UC rankings demonstrate that getting into one of these legendary institutions is not easy. On par with Ivy League colleges, UC schools are some of the most renowned educational institutions in the world. No wonder why students look for help from college admissions consulting to get in!

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Article Contents
24 min read

About UC Rankings UC Rankings How to Choose the Right UC School Application Requirements Application Process and Tips for How to Get Accepted UC Personal Insight Questions and Answers Examples Application Timeline FAQs

About UC Rankings

Whether you are a California native, someone who is interested in permanently moving to California or experiencing a few years of the student lifestyle there, or perhaps someone who is simply impressed by the calibre of the university education available in the state, the University of California school system presents an attractive array of top-rated undergraduate school programs with competitive admissions criteria.

The University of California (UC) school system was first established in 1869, and is now one of the largest university systems in the US. Encompassing 10 separate campuses, the University of California includes some of the highest ranked universities in the world, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Francisco. 

The system offers over 800 degree programs, and is home to over 280,000 students and roughly 230,000 faculty and staff. With an emphasis on pioneering research and innovation, the UC school system boasts a dedication to excellence that includes the legacy of 64 Nobel laureates and a commitment to social justice, with over a third of its student population being from low-income families. With its competitive programs, the UC school system allows students to enjoy the benefits of a first-rate education while living within the scenic bounds of the State of California. 

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UC Rankings

Important note: As I already mentioned, there are 10 schools in the UC system. This blog will focus on UC rankings for undergraduate programs. UC San Francisco is the only UC school that does not offer undergraduate education and only offers graduate and professional programs, hence I will not be including UC San Francisco in the table below. 

***SAT and ACT scores are no longer required for admission. However, you can choose to submit subject scores to fulfill one or several of the course requirements or to compete for the “statewide guarantee” program as a California resident. More on this later. 

How to Choose the Right UC School

Before we get into the discussion of how you can apply and increase your chances of acceptance to UC schools, let’s go over some important considerations you must keep in mind.

One Application 

Let’s start with good news – you can apply to all 9 UC schools with just one application. This unified process significantly decreases stress often associated with filing multiple applications. 

Not only does this make the application process easier but applying to all 9 UC schools also increases your chances of getting admitted to at least one of them. While you may not get into your top-choice school, submitting an application to all available schools will increase your acceptance chances. Remember, even if you do not get into your dream school, all UC institutions provide quality education. 

In-state vs Out-of-state

The UC system is one of the largest and most renowned public university systems in the world. As publicly funded educational institutions, UC schools aim to protect the educational needs of their taxpayers, i.e., Californians. This is why in-state applicants tend to be favored. In fact, almost 90% of UC matriculants are California residents.

Did you know that almost 90% of UC matriculants are California residents?

The UC system has established two paths to help California residents pursue their education at UC schools. These two paths are designed to ensure that high-achieving California applicants get into one of the UC schools. The first path is called the “Statewide Guarantee” and ensures that if you rank in the top 9% of California students, you will be eligible for a statewide guarantee. The second path is called the “Local Guarantee” (ELC) and ensures that if you rank in the top 9% of your graduating class at an ELC participating California high school, you will be eligible for the local guarantee.

What do these guarantees mean? For statewide guarantee, if you are in the top 9% of California high school graduates based on the UC grade point average calculations and you were not admitted to any of the UC campuses you applied to, you will be offered a spot at a different UC school if space is available. The local guarantee is based on whether the high school you are graduating from is participating in the ELC program. If you are coming from one of the ELC participating high schools, this factor will be considered in the application review. Additionally, ELC students who were not admitted to their UC schools of choice when they applied will be offered a spot at a different UC campus if space is available, provided that they meet the minimum UC application requirements. 

To qualify as a California resident, you must meet one of the following criteria:

If any of the above criteria applies to you, you will be considered a California resident for the purposes of admission.

If you do not qualify as an in-state applicant, do not panic! All 9 UC schools offer admission to out-of-state students. While the admission criteria are slightly different, the application process is the same. We will be going over the details for admissions for both in-state and out-of-state applicants below.

Academic and Personal Background

As you are looking to find the right UC school for you, remember that admissions committees are often introduced to students through their statistics, i.e., your GPA and test scores. While the test scores have been dropped from the applicant review, your GPA is still an important factor in the selection process. Refer to our UC rankings table to see what GPA thresholds you should aim for to be a competitive applicant for each school. UC schools get thousands of applicants each year, so while your statistics are not everything, they are often used to weed out applicants in the early stages of the selection process to alleviate the sheer number of applications that come in. Your academic aptitude will also be demonstrated in other application components, so grades are certainly not everything. But to be on the safe side, aim to apply to schools where your GPA meets the expected range.

It’s also important to remember that while you will be assessed by the schools, you should also evaluate them before you apply. This includes researching the schools’ missions, values, campus life, academic and non-academic clubs, and so on. You will be spending 4 years of your life on this campus, so make sure to find the right fit for you.

Your research into the schools will also give you hints on what you can highlight in your application components like Activities & Awards and Personal Insight. In addition to your academic background, UC schools will also want to investigate your non-academic commitments, so knowing what your schools of choice value in their applicants can help you emphasize the most suitable experiences and skills. 


The tuition for in-state and out-of-state applicants differs significantly. California residents pay much lower tuition and fees for their undergraduate education, while all the other costs remain equal. As I already mentioned, this is due to subsidies provided by the government to partially cover tuition costs for in-state students.

And while it’s important to consider your academic background and professional aspirations when you are choosing the program you want to attend, costs cannot be overlooked. California public schools have some of the cheapest tuition for in-state applicants, but attending a UC school for 4 years is not cheap for students from either category. Review the estimates below to familiarize yourself with what to expect. 

Keep in mind the following:

Application Requirements

As I already mentioned, there are some slight discrepancies between application requirements for residents and non-residents of California. Let’s review what you need to know to prepare and submit a successful UC application.

Subject Requirements

To start, you need to know what kind of educational background you must have to qualify as a UC applicant. You must complete 15 year-long high school courses and earn at least a C (preferably better) in each course, with at least 11 of these courses completed before your last year of high school.

It is also possible to meet this requirement by completing college courses, earning certain scores on subject SATs, or completing Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams.

Here are the subjects and UC-approved courses you are expected to complete before matriculation:

Important note: If you are a California resident, you can check out if the courses you plan to take or have already taken are approved by UC. But as you can see from our description, none of the subjects have specifically approved courses. This is done on purpose, as giving general guidelines for courses is helpful to both in-state and out-of-state applicants. Since there is no list of preapproved courses for schools outside of California, these guidelines will help you carefully choose your courses and plan your academic schedule as you prepare to apply to UC schools. 

GPA Requirement

GPA requirements for in-state and out-of-state applicants are significantly different. As a California resident, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA to apply. As a non-resident, you must earn a GPA of 3.4, at least, to be considered.

To calculate your GPA, you must assign the following grade points to each of the A-G courses you completed between the summer after 9th grade and the summer after 11th grade:


B=3 points

C=2 points

D=1 points

Keep in mind that pluses and minuses do not count for both residents and non-residents.

Additionally, if you are a California resident, you will be able to give yourself extra points for each semester of a UC honors-level course, with a maximum of 8 points between grades 10 and 11.If you are not a California resident, you can add extra points for AP or IB courses and college courses only. UC does not recognize school-designated honors from out-of-state schools.

Add up all the points and divide your total by the number of grades earned in courses taken between the summer after 9th grade and summer after 11th grade. This will be your UC GPA, which is not rounded up or down.

Exam Requirement

The SAT and ACT are no longer required of applicants to UC schools. In recent years, all 9 schools in the UC system have dropped this requirement, so SAT and ACT scores will not be considered in the applicant selection process. However, if you choose to submit these scores, they may be used to determine your eligibility for the “statewide guarantee” or as a method of completing one or several of the required courses. 

Are you planning to apply to grad school after attending a UC school? Check out our tips:

Application Process and Tips for How to Get Accepted

To begin your application, you will create an account using your personal email that you check regularly. As with any college application, you will be able to identify the term you are applying for and your applicant level, i.e., freshman, transfer, etc.

Now let’s go over each section of the UC application.

About You

The application begins with a section titled "About you" where you will fill out several pages of information about you and your family. You will likely need the help of your parents or guardians to fill out this information. TIP: It might be a good idea to plan a date when you and your family can sit down together and complete this section.

While you are filling out your application, don’t forget to “Save and continue” at the bottom of each page to save the entered information. Keep in mind that there is a 20-minute inactivity period after which you will be automatically signed out.

Campuses and Majors

You will select which of the UC campuses and majors you’re applying to. If you have not settled on a major, you can choose “Undecided” or “Undeclared.”

Academic History

To fill out this section of the application correctly, you will need your transcripts. Do not enter your course history and grades from memory – you must enter accurate information about all your schools, courses, and grades as they appear on the official transcripts. 

Test Scores

As mentioned above, all 9 of the UC schools have stopped considering exam scores as part of the applicant review. However, if you would like to share your scores, check with your programs of choice if submitting them as an additional piece of information could be beneficial for your application. While not having the SAT or ACT score will not hurt your chances of admission, they may strengthen your general standing in some programs. To reiterate, the scores can have a positive effect on your application, but will not be used to compare you with other applicants. 

Activities and Awards

In this section, you will enter all the extracurricular activities and achievements outside of school you are most proud of. Unlike your statistics and course history, this section of the application allows the admissions committee to get to know your interests and commitments outside of academia, so it is important to carefully choose which experiences and activities you decide to highlight in this section. Whether you volunteered at the humane society, gave a persuasive speech at a high school colloquium, or participated in a summer program for high school students, all activities will be entered into one of the following categories:

  1. Award or honor
  2. Educational preparation programs (any programs that have enriched your academic experience or have helped you prepare for college)
  3. Extracurricular activity
  4. Other coursework (courses that are not part of the UC admission requirements)
  5. Volunteer/community service
  6. Work experience

TIP: It is important to remember that quality always trumps quantity. You are allowed to provide up to five entries for each category, so do not simply list every single course you have taken in your high school career or include a volunteer activity you have done once for 1 hour several years ago. While there’s nothing wrong with dedicating one hour to a soup kitchen on Christmas day every year, the activities you choose to include must demonstrate passion, personal development, and most importantly, commitment. It's best to include activities that you were involved in consistently for a prolonged period of time, ideally no less than once a week for half a year. If you have a high school resume or CV, it might be helpful to reference this document for the history of your activities and how long they lasted.

As you could see in our UC rankings, all nine of these schools are incredibly competitive. This means that you must be strategic in choosing the activities and experiences that emphasize your strengths and unique characteristics. Every entry will include the name of the organization you worked with or course you took, the length of your involvement, hours you dedicated per week, as well as you will a description of your courses/programs/organizations and your responsibilities. From these entries, the admissions committee will be able to see what extra steps you took to develop academic prowess and professional skills that would make you a great fit for UC. You will have the space of 350 characters to describe each activity.

One of the core values of all UC schools is diversity. And while diversity can be considered in its most commonly used sense, i.e., ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, etc., it is not limited by these traditional categories. Think of this application section as a chance to demonstrate what kind of experiences and skills you can bring to the incoming class. 

When you get to college do not forget to get involved in undergrad research!

Scholarships and Programs

You are encouraged to select any and all scholarship categories that you are eligible for, as there is no limit on how many scholarships you can select.

You may also indicate whether you are interested in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which provides academic support services for students at UC. These services include mentorships, academic programs financial assistance, and counseling to first-generation college students, and students from low-income and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. To be considered for EOP, you will need to fill out your parents' level of education, family size, and household income later in the application. It might be a good idea to have your family members nearly when you fill out this section, as they can provide the most accurate information about this.

You can also check out our The BeMo® Diversity Advocacy Scholarship to help you pay for tuition and application fees.

Personal Insight

While UC schools do not require traditional college admissions essays, this section of the application is not unlike them. You will be presented with 8 prompts and choose only 4 of them to respond to. Each response is limited to 350 words. The 8 prompts are:

  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistic, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
  3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

College essays are intimidating but believe us that these essays are truly not designed to trip you up. Instead, they are your chance to present yourself in a favorable light. The admissions committees want to learn more about you, including your skills, experiences, accomplishments, and challenges. This is the reason why your essays should be very personal and sincere. And even though the word limit is a challenge, your essays should follow the academic format that includes introduction, body, and conclusion.

TIP: My number one advice for writing stellar essays is starting early. I cannot stress this enough. This section of the application will take more time and reflection than any other. Give yourself at least 6 weeks to brainstorm, draft, edit, and proofread your essays. Brainstorming alone can take days, if not weeks. Additionally, every one of your essays will probably require several drafts, so be prepared to edit and update your essays multiple times before they can be considered ready. Tip: if possible, ask one of your teachers to proofread your essay and give you feedback. A fresh pair of professional eyes can never hurt.

Most importantly, your essays should show rather than simply tell why you belong in UC. Use concrete examples to demonstrate the points you make in your essays. Instead of simply saying that you have leadership skills, explain in detail what kind of experiences and activities allowed you to develop them. For example:

“As a captain of my high school’s soccer team, I have been able to develop leadership skills that led to my team winning X championship two years in a row. The role of a captain requires strong diplomatic skills and composure, skills that I have used continuously to build my team and strengthen their cooperation.”

This section of the application will also allow you to discuss anything you have not had the chance to bring up in the rest of the application. This may include discrepancies in your application or unusual circumstances in your academic background. Keep in mind that this is not meant to be an essay, but a place to note anything that might be unclear or unresolved in your application. 

Learn how to write a killer introduction to your college admissions essays:

Review and Submit

You are almost done with your application! Review your application and make sure all the sections are complete.

As you submit your application, you will be asked to confirm your academic information and whether you’d like to share it with scholarship agencies, counselors, etc. This is where you will also pay your application fees using either a check/mail or credit card. You will pay US$70 to apply to one UC campus. If you apply to more than one campus, you will pay US$70 for each additional campus selected. The application will calculate your application fee automatically. You can also apply for a fee waiver if you did not qualify for one while you were filling out the application.

Once you apply, you will receive a confirmation to your email with your UC application ID number, which is used to access various student portals and the admission decisions!

UC Personal Insight Questions and Answers Examples

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

When done well, peer mediation feels less like a leadership experience and more like a communal experience in which I felt more like a well-tuned mechanism than a single person directing a conversation. Nonetheless, throughout my time leading Y high school's peer mediation group, I was fortunate enough to become the program director alongside our faculty advisor. My high school was not in any way a hotbed of violence or tension, but being in a small town of only 3200 people meant that conflict was often deeply personal between people who had known each other for their entire lives. One such rift erupted between two students who had been lifelong neighbors in one of the least populous parts of town, so had ultimately been more like siblings than fellow students. And like a lot of rifts in family-ish relationships, things between these two had come to a boil slowly and increasingly incoherently, to the point where they couldn't really explain why they'd gotten into a fight in detail. I focused on calmly and empathetically inviting each person to narrate how they understood the path to that moment, and how they felt at each point. Peer mediation is a lot like psychotherapy in that way—it's much more about facilitating other people's self-exploration and divestment of stress and trauma than forcibly steering the conversation. That lesson has stuck with me, and for the rest of my time with our PM group I grew increasingly aware of how important listening and asking the right questions was, rather than coming up with the perfect thing to tell my fellow students. (267 words) 

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistic, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Writing poems and short stories isn't just a way to express my creative side, but has enlightened me on what the creative impulse really is. Like a lot of people I began writing as a way of venting and organizing my thoughts, but over the last few years this practice has evolved into an ongoing exploration into the way primordial ideas and feelings bubble up into conscious thoughts. A good session of writing poetry is a lot like going on a hike without trails—you start out with a general sense of where you'd like to end up, but the real meat of the experience is adapting to new and surprising terrain. So my relationship with my creative side is one of actively seeking out novelty and the unknown, wanting to experience some new mixture of aesthetics and emotion. I've found that this also translates readily to many other kinds of problem-solving. Being able to still my mind and invite a flow of associative thoughts has been incredibly helpful for just about all of my coursework so far, but especially so once I begin work in engineering. I see both writing and engineering, especially mechanical engineering, as utilizing this methodology of concentration and associative thinking in order to construct something new and satisfying. (213 words) 

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Although it's often been a hurdle, and has taken me a long time to gain solid control over, my ability to completely focus on a single task is by far my greatest strength. Early in my childhood this mostly manifested negatively, as both my parents and teachers would have a hard time getting through to me if I was really "dialed in" on an activity. This even resulted in a trip to a child psychologist at one point, but fortunately their diagnosis was essentially "she just needs to learn how to pause an activity." And so that became a big part of my homework practice throughout middle school, taking small breaks and learning to come back to an assignment or activity after a few minutes. While this was an important skill to develop, I still believe that my intrinsic desire to full lock-on is an absolute blessing, and has continued to help me with bigger/more complex academic projects. Nonetheless, developing it into something I can control has been truly life-changing. Something that felt like an inescapable inertia is now a kind of superpower that I can choose to utilize for a set period of time. In high school this has helped me both write English papers and work on longer calculus problems, and I've been fortunate enough to find ways to channel it creatively into sculpture and textile art. My hyper-focus is a huge part of who I am but it is most of all the sharpest implement in my academic toolkit. (252 words) 

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Through the math honors society (MHS) at X high school, I was afforded the opportunity to not only tutor fellow students in trigonometry and calculus, but also test and offer input on our school’s 10th and 11th grade curricula. The MHS at my school was fairly small, totaling about 7 students most years, and only 4 during my senior year. This provided an incredible chance to not only take a position of leadership within the club, but to be involved in virtually every activity in which it was traditionally a part. Among the duties on which I was able to take front seat, getting to preview and offer feedback on potential textbook changes was by far the most exciting. Although I’ve been a lifelong high performer in math, I’ve also been fascinated by publishing and textbook design, and this task, overseen by the head of the math department Ms. Haversham, was a whole handful of dreams come true. Moreover, it further increased my interest in pursuing teaching, which I now understand can and often does include the opportunity to work on textbook design given a standout track record and some luck in connections. This has motivated me even further to continue excelling not only in my math classes (one of which is linear algebra at Z community college) but to continue seeking relationships with faculty who are willing to offer guidance in navigating this career path. (236 words) 

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Until junior year my path through school had been uneventful to the point of boredom, but unfortunately that changed in a massive way when my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. To be clear, this wasn’t a total surprise: as is the case for many people who eventually receive an MS diagnosis, my mother had a slew of seemingly disconnected health problems ebb and flow over the years. When her vision suddenly started to decline her doctors hit on MS, and this opened up both many new avenues of treatment and, unfortunately, many new considerations based on the pathology of the disease. As my family consists of just she and I, I was tasked with a lot of the home improvements necessary to assist her mobility, and a lot of these were quite above my knowledge level in terms of home repair. We couldn’t afford a contractor for most of it, but the person we hired to do the “big stuff” in the shower and porch was kind enough to walk me through what I needed to do to help set up my mom’s bedroom and the kitchen, free of charge. Although I made some missteps along the way, I managed to make these changes throughout this Fall, while still maintaining my grades and scoring a 34 on the ACT in September. Honestly though, while home improvements were time-consuming and draining some weekends, the big obstacle was finding ways to process and come to terms with the emotional weight of finding out how sick my mom was. I’m not totally through this challenge, obviously, but I think I’ve built a good first foundation to weather it, along with my mother, and I feel cautiously optimistic about my ability to continue to help her while continuing on with my education next year at UC Berkeley. (304 words) 

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

My school’s interfaith club (IFC) has a longstanding track record of promoting well-attended events that foster dialogue and cultural exchange. Having grown up without an ostensible religious affiliation, I became quite curious about the wide world of religious and theological affiliations early on in my teens. As such, it was a natural fit to join the interfaith club when I got to X high school. From the very outset I was thrilled to meet people who not only knew their particular traditions well, but were keen and even compelled to learn about others. While our club’s activities were geared toward being accessible to people outside the “religion nerd” bubble, I began toying with the idea of compiling and editing a zine featuring stories and essays from people in the club who were especially verbose on the subject. And so throughout 11th grade and continuing this year as well, I’ve spent a few weekends each semester excitedly reading and very lightly editing the amazing short pieces given to me by my fellow IFC members. We’ve been fortunate enough to have our little 40-page labor of intellectual love carried by more than a dozen bookstores in the city, and we’ve donated all of our proceeds to a revolving selection of charities. Getting to facilitate more in-depth discussions of theology and religious activity has been an absolute pleasure for me, and has further galvanized my desire to pursue studies in comparative theology and new religious movements upon matriculating UC Santa Cruz. I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity so early on in my academic life, and I can’t wait to utilize the insights I’ve gleaned from both IFC and our collective writings in more advanced scholarship soon. (286 words) 

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Because there isn’t a whole lot to do in my town, the public areas available to socialize or unwind get fairly beat up periodically. This was recently the case with our “Duck Pond” bridge, which was originally built in the 1940s. It hadn’t been intentionally damaged, and frankly its only graffiti was either gorgeous or funny, so didn’t bother anyone. But it’s a metal bridge near the shoreline, so of course rust, moss, and other natural wear-and-tear phenomena were perpetual problems. One of my best friends lived beside one end of the bridge, and suggested to our student council that we organize a cleanup project to remove rust, repaint, and make any needed structural repairs of which we were capable. Council chose not to get involved, however, so my friend and I organized things ourselves. We reached out to the town public works department for advice and to make sure we didn’t do anything they’d have to undo. Each weekend for nearly 3 months, 20 or so of us from Y high school and our families pressure-washed rust, applied new primer, caulking, and stripe coat, and added new pine boards to the gaps in both the sides and canopy. It was not only fun, but I learned a tremendous amount about how these minute parts of structural upkeep function, and while I have no desire to pursue architecture or engineering as a career, it did stimulate a huge hobby-level interest in these fields. Once we finally wrapped up, we received a commendation from the mayor and city council, and—perhaps best of all—a year of free pizza from a shop in town. Ultimately though, the biggest payoff is getting to see our hard work enjoyed by my neighbors and friends on a daily basis, and knowing that I have the ability to organize and lead big projects if I set my mind to it. (315 words) 

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

I’ve performed well in school so far, and have had an extremely fortunate slew of extracurricular opportunities that have helped me mature and evolved throughout my time in high school. But the thing that I think really defines why I make a good candidate is something quite hard to express in other materials—a longing for real, sustained scholarship. As my interests have shifted toward philosophy and social theory more and more over the years, I’ve continually found myself somewhat frustrated by the lack of opportunities to really engage in both written work and discussion on these topics outside of higher education. The academic environment at UCSD and its prestigious humanities and social science departments are my idea of intellectual utopia. In many ways, I’ve been preparing for this moment for most of the last decade. I began reading philosophical texts in middle school, starting with the Greeks and jumping ahead to more accessible contemporary writers. Throughout all of this reading, though, I nurtured an increasingly inescapable feeling of truly needing to discuss and analyze this material with a group of like-minded peers and sage instructors. All of this is to say, I can promise that I’m one of the most motivated and engaged students you’ll ever have at UCSD, and my desire to positively contribute to the work and culture around me would be massive and inexhaustible. My quantitative components speak for themselves, but I can’t say strongly enough how this is just the beginning for my development as a scholar, and how committed I am to undertaking my next steps at an institution I’ve admired and hoped to be a part of for years now. (277 words)

Application Timeline

Let's take a look at the application timeline for all 9 UC schools.


1. Is admission to UC schools competitive?

As you could see in our UC rankings, some schools have very high acceptance rates, such as Merced with over 85%, while others do not, i.e., UCLA with 14%.  Keep in mind, overall acceptance rates of UC schools are higher than Ivy League school acceptance rates. 

2. How can I decide which UC school is better for me?

Start by checking out the schools' websites. Read up on their mission, values, research, student body, and so on. If your personal and professional goals align with the schools' you are researching, you should check out their GPA thresholds and acceptance rates to see what you are up against. Remember, each of these schools offers a great educational experience. Do not choose a school based on prestige.

3. Do I have to apply separately for each UC school?

No. To apply to any number of schools in the University of California system, you use only one application. You can choose to apply to 1 or 2, or you can apply to all 9.

4. Does one unified application mean lower application fees?

No, each school you apply to costs $70. You may be eligible for a fee waiver.

5. Do UC schools give preference to in-state applicants?

Yes. Almost 90% of UC matriculants are California residents. This is mostly because all UC schools are public, which means that the government subsidizes tuition costs for California residents who are accepted. Because they are subsidized for residents’ tuition, it’s in the schools’ interest to protect and promote the educational needs of locals. However, all 9 campuses accept out-of-state applicants. 

6. What is the tuition for UC schools?

California residents pay $14,100 for tuition and fees, while out-of-state applicants pay $43,900.

7. Are reference letters required for admission to UC schools?

No, reference letters are not required. The admissions committee will not read them if you send them in. It is possible that a campus you applied to may ask for references as part of a supplemental review. 

8. What activities should I highlight in my Activities & Awards section?

You will have a limited number of entries and characters, so focus on quality over quantity. The experiences you include should emphasize your academic abilities, community engagement, leadership qualities, diversity, and interpersonal skills. Another important thing to remember: the work and volunteer activities you include should not be sporadic. You should include activities that demonstrate your dedication and sincere interest. 

9. How should I structure my answers to Personal Insight prompts?

Your answers should follow the academic essay structure, i.e., introduction, body, and conclusion. While it’s difficult to organize such a short essay in this way, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Remember, you must demonstrate, rather than simply talk about your experiences. Because these answers are short, choose one or two concrete experiences or activities to answer the prompt. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results. 

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