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TIPS FOR APPLYING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SYSTEM

The window for applying to UC schools opened November 1st, and it will close on November 30. Now’s the time to get your UC apps in!


A few tips to get you started:

  • You can apply to as many campuses as you’d like with one application!

  • The most common applied-to major is ‘undeclared.’ Really! It’s ok to be undecided. College is the time to explore!

  • You do not need to worry about style in the four Personal Insight Questions (PIQs). Don’t worry about grabbing the reader’s attention. Just focus on content and answer the questions authentically and completely. The UCs describe these questions as interviews on paper, not as essays. I know it’s hard to believe, but believe it! Just tell your story quickly and concisely, and explain why things are important (the “so what”). Shoot for 250-350 words for each one.

  • You must have at least a 3.4 GPA in 15 approved college preparatory courses (known as A-G courses), and you will have to convert your transcript to their A-G formula. You will not submit your transcript (if you are admitted, you will submit it by July). Give yourself plenty of time for this part because it is tricky. And note that, for OOS students, only AP and IB classes count towards honors. School-designated honors classes do not count.

  • The UC app is much less rigid than the Common App when it comes to activities. They ask you to split your activities into six categories (award or honor, educational prep programs, extracurricular activity, other coursework, volunteer / community service, and work experience), and you can list up to 20 activities for each of these categories. And you’re given 350 characters for each activity. The UC app does not allow you to attach resumes.

  • The UC does not require letters of recommendation.

  • For out-of-state applicants, there is NO UC FINANCIAL AID available. You can receive federal financial aid, though, if you are eligible.


I help students and their families navigate the college admissions process. I empower students to figure out who they are and where they belong, and I provide structure, insight, and enthusiasm as we find colleges that are the best fit academically, socially, and financially. Contact me at marisa@mgsed.com for a 30 minute complimentary session to learn more!

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