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Pt 3: UC Application Tutorial – ECs, Additional Comments and Submission

The following is the last in my series associated with the UC application as it pertains to transfer students. The application is available to submit online, starting November 1 and ending at 11:59PM on November 30.

You may wish to review Pt 1: UC Application Tutorial – Unit Calculations, or Pt 2: UC Application Tutorial – Course Fulfillment if these are areas in which you have questions.  Also, an earlier post covered the ins and outs of writing an effective Personal Statement.

–> UPDATED: October 2016 to allow for the new Personal Insights.

Moving on, as we work through the process, I assume you have a cheat sheet you are following as you fill out your application. We talked about your transcripts in Part 2, but you should also have a list of any extra-curricular activities that might be relevant to the matter at hand. Often, transfers are busy working, or may have family obligations that preclude outside activities. Rest easy. It is not crucial for transfers to have ECs, although, depending on the selectivity of the major, it definitely will help boost your standing. (Think engineering, finance, econ, etc.)

What constitutes an extra-curricular activity
As you contemplate what to put down in the activities section, it usually materializes that you have some ECs without realizing it. Obviously, if you belong to clubs, or have any leadership positions, add them. If you do a sport or are involved in music or theatre, that’s an EC. Volunteering is an EC. A job is an EC. (Be sure to list any career advancements.) Tutoring would be considered an EC. If you created an app or you have an ongoing blog, yep, you can add it.

If you went to a CCC straight out of high school, you can also list any 11th or 12th grade ECs. However, if high school is retreating further and further in your rear view mirror, leave them out.

List any awards or honors. If you belong to the Honors Society at your CCC, be sure to include it. If you are on the Dean’s List or received a sports medal, that’s another add.

Keep in mind, as you add your ECs that approximately 10% of all freshman and transfer applicants are randomly audited. This means the UC will ask for verification of an activity or award. It doesn’t happen very often but be sure to have access to some sort of verification, if required.  If you list something and are audited, but you just can’t get verification, the UC will pick another item.  It’s not as do or die as it might seem.

Additional Comments
The other area a lot of students worry about in the application is the Additional Comments section. There are two Additional Comment sections. The first is about gap years and grades.  The second is to add information you think might be of relevance, including hardships, setbacks or anything wonky that you think might throw them a bit. 

In this part, you have the ability to write 550 words about a subject or subjects you think might help tilt the scales a bit in your favor. The UCs are not looking for an essay, so don’t even think about it. They simply want you to succinctly explain any areas you think might need explaining. 

Just because it has space for 550 words, you may only need to write 30 words. You only want to add items that need further elucidation.  Many, if not most, people leave it blank. I personally am not a fan of writing about minor trials and tribulations in the personal insight answers. If you had a major hardship that showed profound grit and determination, that’s another story, but generally the insights should ultimately present you as a great fit for a UC campus. You want to paint a picture of your strengths. Going on about your ADHD in an insight question is a waste of valuable real estate in my mind (and possibly a snooze). Put stuff like that in the second additional comments, if you really feel the need. 

Another reason to add universal eyeball items to the second Additional Comments section is because only five UCs read the personal insights as part of the application process for transfers: Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego, Irvine and Merced. The other four (Riverside, Santa Barbara, Davis and Santa Cruz) do not read the insights when assessing transfer applications. Thus, if there is a crucial item you want addressed to strengthen your case, and you want all the UCs to see it, don’t put it in the personal insight (or at least reference it in the comments).

Assuming you have your personal insights completed, and have pasted them into the application, it is time to review your application for any errors. Once happy with it, you can submit. Just remember, once submitted, you will not be able to go back in and change anything except for the following:

  • personal contact information (changes can be made any time)
  • adding AP exam scores (up through Nov 30)
  • adding other UCs to the submission (through Nov 30 and after only if the UC is still accepting applications)
  • do not send any letters of recommendations
  • do not send transcripts or AP scores until after you have been accepted, which is the following late spring/early summer
  • Minor changes to ECs or personal statements will have no impact, so leave as is
  • If you realize you forgot to list a college or left coursework out, you need to contact the UCs via one of these emails:  [email protected] or [email protected].

Changes to in-progress or planned coursework
Don’t worry if you make a change to your current fall schedule or your upcoming winter/spring courses. The UC will ask you to update those in January via the Transfer Academic Update (TAU). At that time you will enter your final fall grades and note any changes. You will also re-enter or update your upcoming course plan. Only the fall term is counted in the cumulative GPA (not winter or spring). Work hard to keep the fall term grades up, and stay on top of winter/spring because your provisional contract, if you’re accepted, may demand a minimum GPA for those final term/s.

NOTE: You cannot make any changes in the TAU that involve terms prior to the fall. You must submit to the email above.

The UC application window is open Nov 1-30.  Click here to apply online.
The UC also has an application guide for transfers.

Learn more detail on the UC application process and other issues related to transfers in “How to Transfer to a UC from a California Community College: The Unofficial Guide” available on Amazon and iTunes.

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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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