UC Berkeley continues to be one of the most selective UCs with a 16.8% admit rate, but it did admit more students off its waitlist than in years past. Notable programs include the 3+2 Engineering program, Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology degree in the Engineering College, Global Management Program, and a Dual Degree Program with either a Hong Kong or French university.
UC Davis continues to be a go-to university for students interested in the biological and natural sciences. It just received $845 million dollars in research funding and offers some great scholarships for first generation students.
UC Irvine now has four different psychology majors and a new interactive learning building. It also received the most applications from in-state applicants, and its admit rate dropped to 26.5%, making it the 3rd most selective UC school.
UCLA overenrolled the previous year, which contributed to its 12% admit rate this year, the lowest of all the UCs. 965 were admitted off the waitlist, which is a huge increase over previous years.
UC Merced has grown this past year with new buildings including new research labs and housing. With the new space, it was able to increase its admit rate to 72%. Computer science, engineering, and biology are impacted programs. Something to check out is Merced's unique leadership program that takes place in YOSEMITE!
UC Riverside admitted the most CA students of any UC school. Its Entomology department is ranked #2 in the WORLD and is a great major to prepare for medical school. Riverside also has two Nobel Laureates (chemistry and physics) who just joined the faculty.
UC San Diego is opening a new college (Seventh College) focused on changing the planet, and its sports teams will start competing in Division I in 2020.
UC Santa Barbara was the biggest surprise to me last year with an admit rate dropping to 29%. UCSB works to admit from every high school, which could mean those at highly competitive high schools are at a disadvantage. Love their unique first year exploratory programs to help students explore majors where they take mini classes worth less units.
UC Santa Cruz admitted a ton of students off the waitlist. Computer science and computer engineering are the only selective majors, and undecided students can join undeclared advising clusters.
Application News and Insights
New on the Application: Students now have 500 characters to describe activities. That doesn’t mean students have to use every character, but it is a nice change. And activities/awards/work experience are no longer broken up into categories. Students can list up to 20, and the order does not matter.
Personal Insight Questions: A reminder that these are questions and NOT essays. More information is better. Unlike the personal statement on the Common App, it’s less about show and not creative writing.
SAT/ACT Essay: The UCs are one of institutions still requiring the writing portion of the ACT/SAT, although most campuses said that score does not have much weight in the admissions process. The University of CA is currently reviewing that policy. Look for a recommendation to come out at the end of the year.
Verification Process: Just a friendly reminder that each year the UCs take a random sample of applications to confirm accuracy. Students should double check everything this is self reported. Things that could be verified: household income, academic records, roles in extracurricular activities and time spent, awards earned, etc.
Gap Years: The UCs do not approve gap years for exploration. Gap Years are only approved for extenuating circumstances, and it’s usually a semester.
Majors: All campuses allow students to choose an alternate major except Berkeley and UCLA. For those campuses, students should choose a major in a different college to give them the best chance of admission.
General Reminders: Students should NOT send transcripts and ONLY have to send their ACT or SAT score to one campus, and that campus with share with all.