College Planning

Admissions to University of California – April 2015

UC delays release of admissions data amid budget negotiations (04/17/2015, San Jose Mercury News)

  • Last year, admission rates at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara fell to less than half of what they were in the mid-1990s
  • “I’ve always had students who looked at Davis as a safety school and it’s not, and neither is Santa Cruz,” said Linda Clark, a guidance counselor at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.
  • Lucinda Perez, a straight-A student from Oakland who will be the first in her family to attend a university, is a finalist for the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholars program, which gives winners a full ride to the college of their choice. But the 18-year-old had a miserable March. One after another, the UC rejections came in: Berkeley, UCLA, Davis and Santa Cruz.
  • In 2008, the Oakland Tribune published a story about Perez’s small public high school, Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, because some 40 percent of its graduates, most of them first-generation college-goers, had been admitted to a UC campus. This year, by contrast, nearly half of Life’s 62 graduating seniors applied to the university, but only nine — about 15 percent of the class — got in and four were wait-listed.
  • “I know the students are feeling or hearing that nobody seems to be getting in,” said Malissa Goldstein, a Lynbrook guidance counselor who has yet to see a final tally. “I think the biggest surprise for us is UC Merced has denied some of our highly qualified applicants, as has UC Riverside.” Those campuses have traditionally had the system’s highest admission rates.
  • Goldstein believes the trend is driven, in part, by fear: Each year, students alarmed by dropping admission rates are applying to more campuses than they otherwise would, pushing the volume of applications on each campus ever-higher — and admission rates lower and lower.
    • Diverse pool of Californians apply to UC in record numbers (01/12/2015)
      • 193,873 students applied for admission to at least one UC campus — 158,146 of them as freshmen and the remainder as transfer students
      • combined numbers represent an overall rise of 5.8 percent over fall 2014, the 11th consecutive year of increases
      • freshman applicants alone, the percentage increase was 6.5 percent over last year
      • On average, California students — including transfers — each applied to four UC campuses
      • Every UC undergraduate campus received more applications from California residents than it did last year
      • Merced showing the largest percentage increase, 14.8 percent for freshmen alone
      • number of California high school seniors applying to UC — 102,994 overall — marked an increase of 3.2 percent over last year and comes on the heels of state projections that the number of California high school graduates is shrinking
  • At Coliseum College Prep Academy, a small public high school in East Oakland, fewer than 1 in 3 UC applicants were admitted to a single campus, according to a college counselor, compared with more than 75 percent in 2012 and 2013. The high school’s valedictorian, Carlos Rangel, was admitted to UC Berkeley, one of the system’s two most-selective campuses — but was wait-listed at UC Davis, where, not long ago, he would have been a shoo-in.

Myths for College Admissions

Common Myths

  1. Taking the SAT versus the ACT will increase your chances of getting into a UC.
    UC has no preference for one examination over the other. If a student takes both exams, UC will use the higher score to the student’s advantage.
  2. A student who attends a “good” school and has a parent/guardian who have college degrees are disadvantaged in the process.
    Take a look at example from the above news article. There should not be any disadvantage if parent has college degree but for student who’s parent don’t have college degree, there may be some “additional” point but then again the most important thing is student’s academic level (GPA, test score) has to be in the admission range.
  3. UC discriminates against Asian Americans.
    U.C. undergraduates are composed of about 40% Asian Americans. Asian-Americans are the single largest ethnic group among UC’s 173,000 undergraduates. In 2008, they accounted for 40% at UCLA and 43% at UC Berkeley — the two most selective campuses in the UC system — as well as 50% at UC San Diego and 54% at UC Irvine. Asian-Americans are about 12% of California’s population and 4% of the U.S. population overall. Universities and Colleges would like to maintain some kind of diversity for it’s student population. May be the Asian American students cannot really blame the UC system. There are just too many Asian Americans who have great GPAs and test scores. Reference: University of California Percent Change in CALIFORNIA Freshman ADMISSION COUNTS by Campus and Race/Ethnicity (PDF) – For 2014: UC Berkeley – 42%, UC Davis – 42%, UC Irvine – 46%, UCLA – 42%, UC Merced – 35%, Riverside – 45%, UCSD – 47%, UCSB – 36%, UC Santa Cruz – 32%; Overall UC – 36%
  4. My Student gets 4.1 GPA (weighted) but cannot get into any UC.
    Read the example in above news article with one student gets straight A (assume 4.0 unweighted). A GPA of 4.1 is the average GPA for admitted students for the few top UCs. Reference: UCLA – Profile of Admitted Freshmen Fall 2014 – Weighted: 4.0 or above – 91.58% of all admitted, 3.70 – 3.99 – 6.15%, 3.30 – 3.69 – 1.84%, 3.00 – 3.29 – 0.32%, below 3.00 – 0.11%; overall average – 3.94 for all applicants, 4.39 for admitted, 4.31 for enrolled; Unweighted: 4.0 (the highest) – 12.57% for all applicants, 40.52% for all admitted, 32.53% for all enrolled
health, medical school

Interested in Medical School

You may think it is too early to even think about or prepare for it but in reality it is harder compare your college application. You need to start in your Freshmen year to prepare for it if you are serious (or at least remotely think this can be one thing you want to do after you get your undergraduate degree).

There are 133 medical schools in US and 17 in Canada so together there is 150 medical schools you can apply to. Medical school in other countries can always be considered but that is probably more work (like accreditation check, intern opportunity, recognize by US medical board, etc.). If you look at the top 50 medical schools listed in US News, 90% has an admission rate of about 6% which is like getting into Harvard when you first apply for college. Average is 9%. Minimum undergraduate GPA is 3.5 to quality and average admitted students have 3.6. Remember there is NO more “weighted” GPA for college for 3.6 is real.
There is test like MCAT which is much harder compare to SAT or ACT. As a UCSD student, they let you take FREE test prep courses at UCSD Extension. For most of this graduate school application required test like GRE, it is a 16 hours course. For MCAT, it is 35 hours. Probably you need at least a composite MCAT score of 30.
Some of the requirements to apply to medical school is similar to high school to college application which is letter of recommendations, interview, extra-curriculum, research, health care related experience, etc. For high school to college application, a lot of these requirements are optional but for medical school application, it is MUST.
You should start reading about some of these requirements to get yourself prepare starting as Freshmen, not as senior like when you are in high school.
What Are Medical Schools Looking For?
  • Academic Considerations
    • Major: any major is fine but key is to meet the pre-health core curriculum (additional work in biology or chemistry; courses with significant analytical reading and writing components to maintain or improve their verbal skills)
    • GPA: overall (4 years) and not just Sophomore/Junior like from high school
    • MCAT: only twice a year and not 7 times like SAT/ACT; general take in April of Junior; 3 multiple choice sections: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences (physics and intro chemistry) and Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry) and writing section (2 essays)
    • Research Experience: get something published
  • Non-Academic Experiences
    • Extracurricular and Job Experiences: religious, sport, club; develop interpersonal skill, teamwork, leadership, time management; serious commitment (long term verse many different ones; depth verse breath)
    • Health Care Related Experience: internship at clinics, hospitals, nursing home, shelters; shadowing a physician; work directly with patients
    • Experience to work with people: community service, volunteer work like tutoring, short term mission trip; work with people with different background (ethnic, religious, socio-economic, etc.); compassion for others
  • Personal Considerations
    • Letters of Recommendation: from 4 faculty members; actively participate in class and get to know the faculty who teach you
    • Interview: All medical schools require an interview, often two or three, with members of their faculty and, sometimes, medical students on the admissions committee.
    • Professional Behavior: professionalism; personal accountability
What Medical Schools Are Looking For (blog entry from a Harvard Med School Girl)
  • reference to 2 good articles
Beyond the Numbers: Making Your Medical School Application Stand Out
3 things every medical school is looking for in an applicant
  • People who can handle intensive workloads while being able to maintain some sort of life outside school.
  • Every school is looking for a particular ‘breed’ of medical student.
  • Personalities fitting the current wind of change.
Medical School Admissions – An Insider’s Guide
Searching For Admission: The Smart PreMed Student’s Guide to Applying for Medical School
Web Resources
List of schools
Research Opportunity
Interview Tips
Select Medical School
101 Things You Wish You Knew Before Starting Medical School
If you are interested in physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT):
  • GRE instead of MCAT
  • volunteer work (200 hours) are required
  • first aid and CPR certification
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • interview
Admission, Application, College, Essay

10 Practice Essay Prompts

  1. Discuss a significant personal archievement.
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons of a political issue, and discuss how that issue related to your community.
  3. Write an essay describing a person who has influenced you.
  4. Write about your favorite book, poem, or play.
  5. The admissionos committee has a copy of your autobiography opened to page 367. What does it say?
  6. discuss a challenge you overcame and how it changed you.
  7. What is the best advice you have received, and why?
  8. If you could time travel, what period in history would you visit, and why?
  9. You have been selected to meet with the president of the United States for one hour. What will you discuss?
  10. If you could switch bodies with someone for a day, who wouldyou choose, and why?

Source: College Planning Workbook, Spark Publishing, 2008, p. 138-167.

Essay, Personal Statement, UC

UC Personal Statement

UC Davis – The Personal Statement

  • Write it yourself.
  • Write it about yourself.
  • Provide any relevant information about yourself that you don’t think is captured elsewhere in the application.
  • Write about experiences, accomplishments, etc. that occurred during or after high school.
  • Provide specific examples of your accomplishments or activities in which you’ve participated.
  • Keep your statement focused.
  • Have your statement checked by a teacher, counselor or other adviser for spelling, grammar and clarity.

Writing and Reading UC’s Personal Statement (PowerPoint presentation)

What characteristics is UC looking for?

  • Thoughtful, incisive reflection — some sense of who the student is.
  • Personal qualities including, but not limited to, leadership, creativity, initiative, persistence, maturation, commitment to others.
  • Students who have done more to enrich their education.
  • Students who have had meaningful participation, not just a listing of activities.  Quality over quantity should be the general guideline.
  • Students who demonstrate tenacity, self-discipline and motivation for academic success.
  • Students who have demonstrated a sensitivity to and respect for differences, e.g., through sustained community service.
  • Students who are informal leaders — the type of student who makes things happen — a catalyst who motivates others, who initiates or takes responsibility for something that meets a perceived need.

What the personal statement is not:

  • A visionary statement of what you plan for your future, without concrete examples of what initiatives you have already taken that will lead you to your goals.
  • An elaboration on someone you admire, without a specific description of what you, yourself, have done or not done as a result of your inspiration.
  • An exaggeration of problems but an acceptance of responsibility for choices, academic performance,  and/or behaviors.
  • An exhaustive listing of activities, honors, awards but rather a judicious selection of important indicators.
  • Solely a sample of  writing skills although appropriate grammar, level of  usage and spelling are expected.
College Planning, Preview Day, UC

UC Fall 2011 Preview Day

Each of the UC’s will most likely have an preview day this fall. These events are extremely informative for students and parents. All ages of students are welcome, but the events are targeted for Seniors who are thinking about applying for fall 2012 admission.

UC Davis – 10/15
UC Santa Cruz – 10/15
UC Merced – 10/15
UC Riverside – 10/15
UC Irvine – 10/28