Reflections on this Year’s UC Admissions
As a college counselor, Pam Ohriner hopes to shed some light on the meaning of this year’s UC admissions. Basically, we want to look at who is being accepted to the highly competitive UC schools and what it takes to get in. This year, students faced the additional challenges of anxiety caused by the pandemic, remote learning, the dropping of standardized testing, and the cancellation of many outside activities. From the perspective of college counseling, it is essential to determine just what can increase a student’s odds of acceptance at a UC. A Los Angeles Times article titled “UC Explains Admissions Decisions in a Record Application Year of Much Heartbreak, Some Joy.” (Watanabe, 4/12/21) provides insight into this perplexing process.
This year, the number of applications exceeded 200,000, for approximately 46,000 openings. Of course, the UC campuses vary in competitiveness, with UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine being the most selective. The elimination of the SAT and ACT may have contributed to the rise in applications. This opinion may be due to the belief by students that their chances of admission are greater without mediocre test scores to impact them negatively. This decline in admissions is not only reflected in the UC data but at private colleges as well. The University of Southern California’s admission rate declined last year to only 12%. Many of the Ivy League colleges reported admission rates below 5%. With this discouraging data, it is vital to keep in mind the following:
- A student’s selection can influence their chances of admission. UCI reported that of its 108,000 applicants, about 50,000 students chose only six majors: biology, psychology, business administration, computer science, and nursing. Economics, engineering, and film studies are also highly competitive. If you choose one of the most sought-after majors, it is important to cast a wider net of potential school choices.
- Without standardized test scores to indicate quantitative aptitude for majors such as engineering and business, it is crucial to undertake challenging math and sciences courses and AP courses. Of course, this means doing well in these courses.
- Seek out opportunities to be involved in your school and community, trying to align your involvements with your potential major. The UC wants to see a devotion to a student’s academic area of interest. Students can demonstrate this focus by taking advanced and elective courses in the subject and being involved in extracurricular activities and enrichment programs that demonstrate sustained interest in the area of focus. Students should start planning their extracurricular activities in 9th grade to show a continued commitment.
- Some UC schools have increased their waitlist offers, so I recommend following up on any waitlist offers with a letter of continued interest.
- Remember that a student’s academic record is evaluated within the context of their high school.
- Although race, ethnicity, and gender do not enter into admission decisions, the socioeconomic position may still play a role.
- The personal insight questions are of utmost importance for the UC. Choose the questions wisely (4 out of 8 questions) to best illustrate what a fantastic fit you are for the UC. Remember to outline your essay first before writing it to develop a good flow and include all meaningful information.
- Spend adequate time filling out the activities section. Be thorough in your work and pay attention to the character limitations.
Helping Hand College Guidance has many years of experience helping hundreds of students gain admission to the UC school of their dreams. Our college counselors can assist you in meeting deadlines, creating a flawless application, and forming compelling essays (plus answering any other college-related questions. The personal insight questions are already known. The time to start is now! If you would like further information on how we can help you, please contact Pam Ohriner at Helping Hand College Guidance. We look forward to being a part of your educational journey.