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How to get accepted to UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UCD, UCI!

Updated on August 27, 2011

How to get accepted the UC College of Your Dreams

College, University of California, Education, Learning, Advice, Testing

In today's society, attending college opens the gateway to every job imaginable. But how do we select which college among the hundreds to attend? For many California residents, the answer is simple. The University of California (UC) system provides the top public education available especially when in state residents pay less tuition than out of state residents. Now that you know which UC college to attend, here comes the million dollar question. How do we get in? It's much more complicated than the previous question, but by reading my guide, I hope to answer this question and provide invaluable test preparation advice. As a special gift, I will examine your chances at any UC school for free if you submit your statistics to my blog.

If you would like free tips and advice you can visit my blog at http://ucadmitme.blogspot.com. I am open for any questions as long as they don't hurt my brains.

How early is too early?

Am I the right candidate?

SAT Prep Tutors vs. Private Tutors vs. Self Studying

The Best Materials for Testing

Using the Tools

The Xiggi Method

Extracurricular Activities

Writing the Essay

The Application

Parting Words

How early is too early?

It is never too early to start thinking about college, but forcing your kids to study high school material may not be the best means. If your child is currently in elementary school, cultivate their interest for books in order to improve their reading capabilities for the future. Creating a home library or visiting the public library are great ways to develop their interests and I know many public libraries offer a summer read-a-thon that rewards children for reading. Maybe your child is somewhat disinterested with the reading. A simple solution could be offering some incentives and prizes for finishing books until they wish to read on their own. If you do not believe in the incentives system, try promising to read their favorite stories and in return, they read them back to you.

Another way to prepare your child for college is to enroll them in summer school or outside school courses. These courses are a great way to make learning fun and allow them to develop their thinking. Besides, many local colleges offer programs for young children.

If your child is a teenager, preparing them for college will be much harder because of the age group. As with elementary school, you can enroll your teenager in summer school, but I suggest devoting more time to finding an excellent high school. Some of the top tier high schools require tests and applications to get admitted, so make sure you think ahead for your child. At this age, you can also sign your teenager into an extracurricular such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or have them start thinking about volunteer organizations outside of school.

If your son or daughter is a high school student, this age is the perfect time to introduce test preparation. Some parents start much earlier with their child, but I feel more time should be devoted to developing the reading, math, and writing skills because school will supplement their knowledge. Remember that your teenager may be slightly rebellious to your wishes, so use whatever methods you can to let them realize how important college or getting into college will be for their life. The rest of the guide is devoted for students ready to get ahead!

Great Ebook to Purchase

Available at the blog!

Am I the Right Candidate?

Over the years, each college information night taught me that the University of California system wants well balanced students. When the admission officers say "well balanced", they refer to a student with a high grade point average, a high test scores, and strong extracurricular activities. But what is considered a high score or how many extracurricular activities are good enough? A high score is different between schools because each school admits different freshman. For UC Berkeley, the Fall 2009 Freshman Admission Profile shows the average student has a GPA of 4.15, an ACT score of 30, and a total SAT score of 2033. How does this compare to the other UC colleges?

UCLA - 4.16 GPA, 29 ACT, 2010 SAT

UCSD - 4.08 GPA, 29 ACT, 1954 SAT

UCI - 4.01 GPA, 27 ACT, 1873 SAT

UCD - 4.00 GPA, 28 ACT, 1887 SAT

UCSB - 3.93 GPA, 27 ACT, 1863 SAT

UCSC - 3.76 GPA, 26 ACT, 1797 SAT

UCR - 3.61 GPA, 24 ACT, 1666 SAT

UCM - 3.53 GPA, 23 ACT, 1623 SAT

*Statistics based on the official University of California website for the Fall 2009 Freshman Admission Profile

To be the best candidate, you must meet or exceed the expectations given by the average student because next year's students will normally perform better than the previous year. If you already meet the average criteria for UC Berkeley (UCB), your chances of being accepted to every college is high except at UCLA. The reason is because UCB and UCLA differ slightly in their selection process. UC Berkeley will accept applicants that are lower than the average if they excel in other parts of the application such as the essay or extracurricular activities while UCLA has refused many of the students with lower scores. I initially felt UCLA would select the same students who got into Berkeley, but a majority of students I examined who did not receive admission to UCLA were always slightly under average with test scores and GPA. So if you plan to push for UCLA, you must make sure your test scores and GPA surpass the average criteria.

So far I have summarized the UC admittance committee data for what is given, but what about SAT II scores? In the past, UC catalogs would contain the average SAT II Math II scores, and I would suggest attaining a similar score to the averages you find. From personal experience and from discussion with many individuals on College Confidential, I can offer you the golden number 700 as a reference. If your SAT II scores are all above a 700, you have a very high chance at being accepted to every UC school. Any scores between 600 and 700 are still decent chances at most UC schools (aside from UCLA), while scores below 600 may decrease your chances.

Lastly, extracurricular activities play a powerful role in tipping the admissions committee in your favor. Extracurricular activities can divide the mediocre applicants from the excellent applicants. In many circumstances, the admittance committee at UC Berkeley will take students who are below average in scores because their activities outside of school excel. While it is argued some students have little extracurricular activities, it is also true they are accepted because of the major they apply.

From my observations with many college students, I have realized that your major describes your activity level. Even though engineers in UC Berkeley or UCLA have relatively low extracurricular activities, they are accepted more so by their academic abilities like test scores and school grades. If you apply for engineering, just realize your scores must be above average and your test scores must exceed the expectations given by the averages student. I would say your safest bet for applying as an engineer major for UCB or UCLA is to get at least a 2150 SAT score and an SAT II score of 750+ for sciences. In terms of AP scores, you must have 4's or 5's for the science and math courses to be an engineer. For all other majors, it is fine to have AP scores 3 or higher.

Depending on your school, you must meet the average profile of the freshman admitted for the previous class to increase your chances. To have a high chance at acceptance (match), please make sure to put these statistics as your goals:

UC Berkeley

Most majors except engineering:

Weighted GPA: 4.1+

SAT I Score: 2033 or ACT: 30

SAT II Math: 710+

SAT II Other Subjects: 700+

AP Scores: 3 or higher (shoot for fives to improve chances)

Extracurricular: 2-5 activities are sufficient with high involvement

Engineer Majors:

Weighted GPA: 4.15+

SAT I Score: 2150 or ACT 32+

SAT II Math: 750+

SAT II Other Subjects: 750+

AP Scores: 4 or higher

Extracurricular: 2-3 is sufficient with high involvement

UCLA

Most majors except engineering:

Weighted GPA: 4.15+

SAT I Score: 2033 or ACT: 30

SAT II Math: 700+

SAT II Other Subjects: 700+

AP Scores: 3 or higher (shoot for fives to improve chances)

Extracurricular: 2-5 activities are sufficient with high involvement

Engineer Majors:

Weighted GPA: 4.15+

SAT I Score: 2150 or ACT 32+

SAT II Math: 750+

SAT II Other Subjects: 750+

AP Scores: 4 or higher

Extracurricular: 2-3 is sufficient with high involvement

If your test scores and grade point average meet the statistics, the only thing left to increase your chances are how well you write your essay and how much leadership or commitment you have in your extracurricular activities.

Additional Criteria

On top of your grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities, each UC admissions committee will judge its applicants on a number of other criteria. These other factors include: the number of A-G courses taken beyond the minimum, eligibility in local context, educational environment, low family income, first generation college attendance, special talents and or achievements, participation in an academic development program, and/or special or personal challenges. Because these factors are harder to quantify and differ so much between campus admissions, it is difficult to define chances precisely. However, we can still make strong conclusions based on the top three factors (grades, SAT, extracurricular) because they ill make total contribution of between 75-85% of the decision.

Tip: The common method to rating a person's acceptance chance is by using the words Safety, Match, or Reach.

.

Safety - you are more or less guaranteed to get accepted

Match - you have a high chance at being accepted

Reach - you have a low chance at being accepted

SAT Prep Courses vs. Private Tutors vs. Self Studying

Many parents spend huge amounts of money paying for prep courses because they are worried their child will score poorly on the SAT. Prep courses are great for putting students into a study regime and making them stick to a disciplined plan, sort of like a gym coach, but prep courses are not necessarily the most effective means for studying. In the end, the choice to use prep courses usually breaks down to whether the parents have enough money to spend on the child, but I find prep courses to be effective only if the student upholds active learning during the class and has a willingness to take his own time to understand the material.

Another alternative to prep courses is private one on one tutoring. While private tutors can be slightly more costly, private tutoring not only gives the student a study regime, but places more pressure on the student to listen to the tutor. Private tutoring is also very helpful because most students will feel comfortable with the tutor as they are visited often, and will not be afraid to ask any questions they find along the way. Depending on the tutor, the student may drastically increase their scores, but make sure your tutor has good credentials before hiring him or her. Like prep courses, the private tutor system relies on money and the student's willingness to follow the homework assigned to him.

The last alternative is to study and learn all the tips and tricks using books or the internet. I am a firm believer that learning on your own is much better than taking any prep course because it helps the student to build skills and make his own methods for solving problems. If you are a student who is highly motivated to do well and has enough time to improve your strategies, than I highly recommend studying on your own because you will succeed not only with this test but with many tests in life. As long as you are passionate to learn and you learn the material completely, you will always get the best results.

Unlike prep courses or private tutoring, studying alone will allow you to be more efficient because you can quickly analyze your weak points and improve them. The only problem with studying alone is that no one can answer your questions aside from yourself. However, with an internet connection, anyone can use College Confidential to get feedback from other users. This was my secret to scoring on par with other students regardless of how much prep courses or how much money they spent on the SAT. Whenever I was stuck with a question or wanted to find out how to quickly solve it, the community at College Confidential provided what I lacked. This method saved me lots of time and money. This also allows you to further your skills as a student at the cost of your own time and motivation. I have taught other students with the same method and most times their scores improved by at least fifty points. Well, to be honest, I actually wasted more time because I bought more prep books than I needed, but I am here today telling you which books are the best rather than allowing you to waste your time.

Regardless of how you choose to prepare, starting early gives much better results unless you rely on pressure!

More information

If you would like more information you can visit my blog at http://ucadmitme.blogspot.com/.

- Mark

Reader Feedback

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    • bearsworth8 profile image
      Author

      bearsworth8 4 years ago

      @Mamaboo LM: You are right my friend. I realize this in my first year as well and I was fortunate enough to live with some great engineers at Berkeley. Man did these people have diligence. Now that I've grown up past school I think learning life skills is very important.

    • bearsworth8 profile image
      Author

      bearsworth8 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes, what are your stats buddy?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      will you be able to tell my chances in getting to uc engineering if i submit my stats?

    • Mamaboo LM profile image

      Mamaboo LM 5 years ago

      My sister was one that soared on all of the tests she took, and still dropped out before the end of her first year. Yes, it's important to have these high scores, but it's just as important to be deligent in classes once accepted. In many ways being accepted to these schools is the easy part!

      The perverbal big fish in a small pond, then going to a school with all big fish. Makes you a small fish in a big pond. Thanks for the lens and be blessed!

    • sarahrk lm profile image

      sarahrk lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for these tips.

    • bearsworth8 profile image
      Author

      bearsworth8 6 years ago

      @anonymous: You are not very specific in your response. Having a high GPA is very helpful is you attend a very good high school. Can you tell me what you SAT and SAT II scores are by chance? Also, how long ago did your brother apply to school? Each year it gets harder for students to attend these school. There are many factors to consider, which I am sure you have realized.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i would just say that this is not true, well just the part about ucb and ucla. i had below average sat and sat II scores with a high gpa and i was accepted into both schools. the sat is not everything. my brother was also excepted into ucb with a sat and gpa well below the average.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      thanks a bunch! that was really helpful :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is such a great lens!

      private tutoring

    • profile image

      Online_Money_Making_Review 7 years ago

      A lot of good information ... five star! ... I'm sure this lens will be most helpful to many ... thanks for sharing

    • MarcBlackMedia LM profile image

      MarcBlackMedia LM 7 years ago

      Pay attention students cause there is a lot of in-depth info here. I dreaded taking my SAT test, but I still passed nicely nonetheless.

    • Kimsworld LM profile image

      Kimsworld LM 7 years ago

      Great information! Very useful. 5* stars from me

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      You have provided good information.It is useful and interesting.

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      Online Education Courses

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      Welcome to Squidoo!

    • profile image

      discountshare 7 years ago

      great share!

    • alohaitsaj profile image

      alohaitsaj 7 years ago

      Sorry about forgetting to leave a star rating. 5 stars!

    • alohaitsaj profile image

      alohaitsaj 7 years ago

      Found your lens in the critique me section of SquidU. My critique: Great lens!!! If you get a chance, check out/critique my lens on personal finance tips for college students. :)

    • alohaitsaj profile image

      alohaitsaj 7 years ago

      Found your lens in the critique me section of SquidU. My critique: Great lens!!! If you get a chance, check out/critique my lens on personal finance tips for college students. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is definitely better than most I've read. Thanks again and I will check your blog later.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      well written! thanks