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The ABCs of UC undergraduate admissions

With the deadline for UC applications fast approaching, Dr. Susan Wilbur, director of Undergraduate Admissions, took time from her busy schedule to talk to UCOP staff about the admissions process.

She offered a range of tips and resources to parents of prospective students, but the best news was that UC wants to say ‘yes.’

“It’s an affirmative process,” Wilbur said. “We are looking for reasons to admit students.”

In fact, UC offered freshman admission to roughly 70,000 California residents for Fall 2010, and offered transfers to another 22,850 community college students.

Grades and test scores tell only part of that story. Extracurricular activities and community service often improve a student’s chances for admission. And a student’s performance relative to his or her schoolmates’ performance is also important.

A sizeable group of UCOP staff attended the Oct. 11 brown-bag session – sponsored by the OP Staff Assembly – and soaked up practical advice on academic preparation and learned about available online resources in advance of the Nov. 30, 2010 application deadline.

Wilbur explained that there are two paths to undergraduate admission – as a freshman or as a transfer student. Each has its requirements.

Freshman Admission

Prospective freshman have the following three requirements for admission:

  • Completion of subject requirements by graduation from high school, which includes “a-g” courses (listed below)
  • Attaining grades of 3.0 or better for the “a-g” courses
  • Completion of the examination requirement – either the ACT Assessment with Writing Test or the SAT Reasoning Test and two SAT Subject Tests in different subject areas for Fall 2011 applicants (SAT Subject Tests will not be required for Fall 2012 admission.)

The “a-g” courses are as follows:
a.    History/Social Sciences – 2 years
b.    English – 4 years
c.    Mathematics – 3 years
d.    Laboratory Science – 4 years
e.    Language other than English – 2 years
f.    Visual and Performing Arts – 1 year
g.    College Preparatory Elective – 1 year

Information on UC-approved courses is available online at:

The current admission process is a two-step process that begins with the determination of an applicant’s eligibility for admission, followed by a comprehensive review of all information in the student’s application. This process will be simplified beginning with Fall 2012 applicants, when all students who have achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who have completed 11 of the 15 required “a-g” courses prior to the beginning of their senior year will be entitled to a review of their application, said Wilbur.

Most UC campuses receive more qualified applicants for admission than there is space to admit, thus competition for admission can be intense. Successfully completing more than the minimum number of “a-g” classes can enhance a student’s chances for admission. On average, this year’s freshman class completed 23 yearlong courses. (Fifteen courses is the minimum requirement). And most admits presented a broad array of academic and personal accomplishments.

While academic achievement is important, most campuses go beyond grades and test scores when selecting students, Wilbur said. The best advice is to encourage prospective applicants to take the most rigorous courses that are available to them and do well in their courses. In addition, because it is unlikely that the degree of hyper-selectivity UC experienced for Fall 2010 admission will be reduced in the near term, it also will be more important than ever to encourage students to apply to a range of campuses.

Transfer Admission

California’s Master Plan for Higher Education stipulates that UC should give admission priority to California community college transfer students, which explains why more than 90 percent of UC transfer students are from California’s community colleges. And 7 of the 10 campuses have programs that will guarantee admission to students who complete required courses with a certain grade point average. Learn more about the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) programs and UC transfer admissions on the new UCOP admissions website:

Prospective transfer students are assessed on the following four admission criteria:

  • Completion of 60 transferable semester units
  • A specific course pattern that includes English and mathematics courses
  • Lower division major preparation
  • Grade point average (GPA)

Get More Information on UC Admissions
Visit the new UCOP Admissions website, featuring a streamlined design and user-friendly navigation, for more information:

The Fall 2011 online application opened on October 1. The application-filing period is November 1-30, 2010.

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