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Applying to UCLA or UC Berkeley? Filling out the UC application may be a little different this year

MAR 25, 2020 • 6 min read

Want to study at UCLA or UC Berkeley? Well then you’ll definitely have to complete the UC application which can be found on the University of California Application portal. There are 9 UC campuses across California, all of which provide generous financial aid for in-state residents.

The components of the application consists of four personal insight questions, transcript and test scores and your annual income, which is optional unless you are applying for an application fee waiver. The UCs may also ask you for a letter of recommendation if you are an ‘augmented review’ candidate.

The activities list section, similar for the Common Application is by far the most important part of the application. While your personal statement shows who you are, your activities list shows what you’ve accomplished throughout high school. This includes leadership, responsibility, and community impact.

As of 2019, the UC Activities List now provides applicants with 20 blanks to input activities and awards and up to 500 characters (rather than the 160 characters available in previous years) to describe each activity. Compared to the Common Application which only provides space for 10 activities and 150 characters of space, as well as 5 honors and awards.

This means that you have significantly more space to show off who you are as a student beyond your personal statement and academic scores, giving admissions officers better insight on what you may accomplish serving as an undergrad at one of the UCs.

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The UC application will ask you to split your activities into:

  • Award or honor
  • Educational prep programs
  • Extracurricular activity
  • Other coursework
  • Volunteer or community service
  • Work experience

Beyond the changes to the Activities List, the application received a sleeker, more streamlined interface, as well as straightforward navigation and modified application instructions. While these changes have been received with mixed reviews from counselors and families, they will be in effect for the foreseeable future.

Tips for writing your Activities List

1. Be conscious of the character count

While the UCs have increased the character count on their application, you still have limited space to detail all you’ve accomplished throughout your time in a specific role. Share important details and leave the fluff out of it.

2. Emphasize exactly what you accomplished in a particular role

Who did you help? How many people? How much money did you raise? Be sure to detail exactly what came from your experience and time in a particular role.

3. List your tasks and choose active verbs to describe your activities

Avoid using words like things or stuff, instead choose exciting verbs to show all you learned in your role such as organized, generated, etc.

4. Avoid using complete sentences

It’s best to list out bullet points, rather than saying, “In this role I did this”. Remember that every character counts so avoid being too wordy.

5. Aim for variety

They say variety is the spice of life. Make sure when describing your activities, each point made details a completely different viewpoint, insight or task.

Applying to universities can be daunting, but Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company specialising in helping students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities including Oxford, Cambridge and the Ivy League.

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