2020 Tips for completing your University of California Application

Steps to Completing your UC Application:

Materials You Need: You will need a copy of your transcript, test scores, social security number (optional), CA statewide Student ID (for public HS students) and a credit card. In addition, we recommend going to the UCOP Doorways website to see the course listings for your school. This will help you determine which classes should be entered for each A-G requirement and if the class is considered honors. You can also look at the 2020/21 Freshman Application Tips and Tools for information, links, and advice.

Understanding Comprehensive Review: Every UC school participates in Comprehensive Review, which means the admissions offices evaluate students on multiple factors. If you are interested in how each campus reviews applications and the factors they are considering, look on the Comprehensive Review Page for campus-wide information and then click on each campus on the right-hand side to see the specific information for each school.

Transcripts: You do not need to send a transcript to any UC schools.

Test Scores: ACT & SAT: UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships. If you choose to submit test scores as part of your application, they may be used to determine your eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.

SAT Subject Tests: These tests are not required but may be recommended for specific programs at some campuses as an additional piece of information to consider during the review process.

Extra Information on the Application: Maximizing the use of the “Additional Comments” sections.

Applicants can use the first additional comments box, following the “Academic History” section, to explain their course selection decisions, a circumstance that prevented the student from taking more rigorous courses, gaps in education, differences in terms or grading systems, or a situation that affected their grades.

The second comment area immediately follows the “personal insight questions” section. Applicants may choose to provide information about a learning difference, circumstances or opportunities that had a significant impact on their educational journey, or uncommon events that provide context for what they’ve accomplished or was unable to accomplish.

The two additional comments boxes in the application are optional and should not be used as a continuation of a student’s personal insight question responses. Instead, students should use this section to explain anything that has not been discussed in other parts of the application or might benefit from further clarification.

Designating a Major: Every year students stress over designating a major or choosing “undecided” on the UC application. The good news is students can choose different majors at each campus to which they apply. The bad news is that each school in the UC system deals with major selection slightly differently. To do a UC system majors check, click here so you can see what campuses offer majors that you are interested in choosing.  Below you will find the quick reference guide for each school related to majors answering the following questions:

  • Does applying Undeclared improve or detract from an applicant’s chances of admission?
  • Does the campus admit students to a specific major or into a college/school?
  • Does the campus allow students to apply to an alternate major?
  • Which of the campus’ major require an audition or submission of a portfolio?
  • Which colleges/majors are most selective at the freshman level?
  • What method of comprehensive review does the campus use?

We highly recommend checking each individual school regarding designating undeclared, SAT subject exams and notification dates. The best thing students can do is go to the website of each individual campus to determine what role major plays in admissions. The school names below are hyperlinked to individual school websites and also the major options. 

BERKELEYMajor options at UCB

DAVISMajor options at UCD

IRVINEMajor options at UCI

UCLAMajor options at UCLA

MERCEDMajor options at UCM

RIVERSIDEMajor options at UCR

SAN DIEGO Major Options at UCSD

SANTA BARBARAMajor options at UCSB

 Major options at UCSC

Revising the Activities Section: For the first time, the UC application will allow you to enter up to 350 characters to describe your activities. The recommendation is to only add word count if you need more words to describe your involvement. You can take your activity descriptions from the Common App or the Coalition App and turn them into complete sentences (without ampersands and other tricks we used to cut down the word count). For community service and work activities, you will also have an additional 250 characters to describe the organization. This is a chance to give the reader more knowledge about the organization and your involvement.