On Monday, November 12, Mr. Joel Ontiveros, the Regional Admissions Representative for the University of California at Santa Cruz (and formerly a representative for UCLA) led a session open to all of our seniors interested in applying to any of the nine UC campuses. The UC system uses its own application, and students may use that one application to apply to any and all of the UC campuses. The UC application is “self-reporting,” which means that applicants are required to report their entire educational and personal history through the application; therefore, it is far more technical than the Common Application. Mr. Ontiveros was kind enough to visit with us to give a general overview of the application and hold a long Q & A session, during which students were able to clarify all of the vagaries of the application.
Here were the key takeaways from the session:
- Standardized Testing: All UC campuses require either the ACT or SAT with writing. SAT Subject Tests are not required, but some specialized programs do encourage them. Applicants may choose to send test scores (through the testing websites) to only one campus even if they are applying to several UC schools, as those scores are shared throughout the system.
- Academic History Comments Box: Mr. Ontiveros advised our students to use this box to describe the particulars of our curriculum and grading system at Kent, so based on his advise, we developed a statement that we sent to all of our seniors earlier today.
- Activities and Awards Section: Mr. Ontiveros underscored the importance of this section as a way for applicants to illustrate how they spend their time outside of the classroom, both here at school and while away on breaks. UC admissions departments give added weight to dedication (consistent and/or deep investment in an activity) and leadership (taking initiative and demonstrating collaborative skills). This is also the section in which applicants can identify and describe special academic projects (e.g. research, engineering, etc.)
- Personal Insight Questions: As opposed to the Common App essay, the UC application asks applicants to respond to four of the eight personal insight prompts provided. Each response is limited to 350 words maximum, nearly half the length of the Common App essay; as such, the responses should be more direct and concise than the Common App essay. The UC system does not accept teacher or counselor recommendations, so these Personal Insight Questions are a key opportunity for applicants to tell UC admissions representatives about themselves.
- Additional Information Box: This box can be used to highlight any aspect of an applicant’s background or interests that has not been highlighted in other parts of the application. However, the inverse is also true–applicants should not use this box to simply repeat information that has already been provided in another part of the application.
Mr. Ontiveros ended the session by emphasizing that he is always available to act as a resource for our students. However, he also affirmed the value of contacting admissions counselors at each UC campus for answers to questions that may be specific to that school (how to submit art supplements, how to identify an “alternate major,” etc.) We can’t thank Mr. Ontiveros enough for his time and expertise!