UC GPA Calculator For UC Applicants

UC GPA Calculator For UC Applicants

During admissions, the UC’s look at a unique GPA: UC GPA. In this post, we’ll shed light on the GPA for UC, breaking down how exactly it’s calculated and what you should aim for. Here we are introducing our UC GPA calculator to make life easier calculating your GP.

UC GPA Calculator Instructions

Figuring out what your UC GPA is, can be quite tricky. So, we created this calculator to help you out!

Here’s how to use it: 

  1. Take out your transcript! Only looking at A-G courses you took from the summer after 9th grade through the summer after 11th grade, count how many of each grade (A, B, C, D, and F) you received per semester.
    • For example, if you’ve taken 4 A-G courses and got A’s in all of them, you would enter “8” in the box below “Number of A’s.”
  2. Now, count how many UC honors courses/AP/IB courses you’ve taken per semester in 10th grade. Then, repeat for 11th grade. Enter these numbers in the boxes below “Number of 10th grade honors” and “Number of 11th grade honors” respectively.
  3. Click calculate and get your weighted and capped UC GPA!


How Does UC Calculate Weighted GPA?

The UC’s have their own GPA called weighted and capped UC GPA. What does this mean, exactly?

Weighted means that the UC’s takes into account the difficulty of your course load. That means for each UC approved honors course, an extra point is added to your GPA.

Capped means that a maximum of 8 semesters — no more than 4 from the 10th grade — of honors and AP/IB courses can be used to add additional points to your GPA. 

So if only 8 honors courses can help your GPA, why would anyone take more? 

Remember: the UC’s are not just looking at grades, but they are also looking at the rigor of your course load. If you’re able to take more high level courses — and maintain good grades in all of them — it will reflect positively when it comes time for admissions. 

Which Courses Are Included For Your UC GPA?

UC GPA Calculator

The UC’s only look at A-G courses taken during your sophomore and junior year — including the summers after 9th and 11th grade. They ignore pluses and minuses (In the eyes of the UC’s, there is no difference between an A+, A, or A-).

UC Honors Courses 

So what exactly do the UC’s consider an honors course?

For California Residents: 

Out of state: 

  • AP, IB, and transferable college courses only

What Is The Highest GPA? 

calculating the GPA for UC

Assuming that you take 5 to 6 A-G courses per semester throughout high school, the maximum weighted and capped GPA you can get by the end of your junior year is about 4.33 to 4.4. 

But again, UC GPA is not the end all be all — course rigor is important as well. Even though it won’t raise your GPA, stacking your transcript with AP’s will no doubt elevate you in the eyes of the admissions officer — but that’s only if you are able to obtain stellar grades despite the difficulty. 

Bottom line: don’t overload yourself, but also don’t let UC’s capped GPA scare you away from taking more honors classes. 

What Is A Good UC Capped GPA?

Looking at the most competitive UC campus, UCLA, the average UCLA GPA amongst accepted students was 4.24. So, if GPA is at or above this number, your GPA will be competitive for all of the UC campuses.

No matter what, just remember that your GPA doesn’t define you. With the wide variety of UC’s, you will no doubt end up at the campus that suits you the best!

Related Articles: UC Berkeley Acceptance Rates

Have more questions about the UC GPA? Ask us in the comments below! Read some of our most interesting articles here to be able to write a personal statement.

2023 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC Essay Examples

2023 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC Essay Examples

Here are 20 UC essay examples (also called UC Personal Insight Essay Examples) from students of ours that have been accepted to at least UCLA or UC Berkeley. If you have writer’s block and want to jumpstart your UC personal insight essay writing process, then these UC essay examples will most definitely help :). Remember, you must write 4 UC essays; the word limit is 350!

Additional UC essay resources:

UC Personal Insight #1 Examples

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

Personal Insight Prompt 1 Pro-tip

This leadership essay is something many students struggle with. But if you can nail this topic, it can be a powerful UC Personal Insight essay. The trick with this essay is this: it’s all about how you define leadership. 

Sure, leadership can be the obvious things:

  • Being captain of the school soccer team. 
  • Co-founding a club, being a president of an extracurricular. 

But these are also leadership qualities for this UC Personal Insight essay:

  • Stepping up as a leader in the family (taking care of siblings, etc)
  • Campaigning and standing up for what you believe in (going to Black Lives Matter protests, organizing mask drives during coronavirus)

Here’s a pro-tip: Most students have an obvious answer to UC Prompt 1. Think outside the box :). The UC Personal Insight Essay examples below will show you how it’s done!

UC Essay Example 1: Leader of school choir

It’s a convoluted masterpiece: 64-pages plastered with musical symbols and Latin. Though Rutter’s “Requiem” sounds rather grotesque (and shrieky) when I’m straining to hit an A5, our debut at Carnegie Hall was a hit!

I’ve been in the _______ girl’s choir since age-11, devoting my Saturday evenings to singing with a group of girls I now call family. Over the years, _______ has become my safe space–from losing badminton matches to coping with my grandfather’s cancer diagnosis, my _______ family gives me momentum to power through my low points.

I first encountered “Requiem” when _______ was announced to perform at Carnegie Hall. Though we were initially ecstatic, reality hit swiftly afterwards–in the form of weekly 5-hour rehearsals. Slowly, our already-small choir shrunk, and our sound became weak–dimensionless.

Desperate to elevate our sound, I coordinated auditions to recruit 5 new members. I mentored the new recruits, introducing them to the other girls and leading sectional practices to ease them into their vocal parts. I was in their shoes once, so I knew how vulnerable singing with a group of total strangers was.

Though we were now 15-strong, we lacked richness in our sound–the majority of us were sopranos, but we needed more altos to enhance the harmony. A soprano myself, I volunteered to sing the alto part.

Rather than singing the melody like I was accustomed to, I listened and learned to harmonize with the sopranos while forging my own in the background. Although I was giving up the limelight, I was undertaking a crucial role–laying the foundation of the harmony. Learning alto wasn’t easy–but ultimately, my versatility helped us find our sound.

As I reached that A5 on stage at Carnegie Hall, I realized that effective leadership is about walking the line between being in the foreground, recruiting new members–and being in the background, singing alto. It’s about supporting the girls around me–my family. My love for _______ propelled me to step up and take action, while also teaching me to step back and let others shine.

UC Essay Example 2: Volunteer Club Director


Ba-bump. Ba-bump. Ba-bump. My heart hastily beat in panic.

Realizing there were only five days left before the charity diner, my thoughts scrambled, overwhelmed by the surmounting of tasks. As the Area Director in charge of five [town]-based Interact clubs and raising funds for anti-trafficking, it was duty to make ends meet; asking for help would only be a sign of weakness. Thus, I willingly endured the consequences and sleep deprivation, eventually losing balance of my schedule…

Ding. A message reads from my phone: “You’re not alone, how can I help?”

Two opposing arguments then battled in my mind. If I delegate, quality work would not be guaranteed. Yet, if I didn’t delegate, deadlines would be missed. I swallowed my ego, knowing there was really one choice, and replied:

“Yes, can you find a venue to fit 75 attendees? Try community centers, and mention we’re a non-profit organization to negotiate the price down, and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!”

For months, I had rejected the support of my officers. I struggled to accept help because it meant relinquishing control, so I surrendered to self-isolation in belief that it was the easiest way out. But, it wasn’t; I worked alone, trusted only myself, and suffered alone.

This exchange marked a pivotal transformation in my leadership. From it, I discovered the true responsibilities of a leader–not to figure out every detail of an event, but to delegate tasks and guide officers in the process. I found purpose, existing to foster leadership within others and oversee the execution of an event. I formed various committees, appointed heads, and enforced a timeline that also listed responsibilities. We were brought together–officers would tackle increasingly difficult tasks, and I would provide the resources: leadership advice, budgeting information, letterheads to request donations. The reality was, I couldn’t do everything on my own, no matter how much I strove for self-reliance and independence. Instead, teamwork and interdependence yielded greater accomplishments–cultivating personal growth, fostering fellowship, and altogether raising $[___].

UC Essay Example 3: Founder of Non-profit


Shipped away from the faraway land of [state name], I moved to India in 8th grade. My parents wanted me to be more globally exposed, but what would I gain from moving 8,000-miles away, anyways?

To engage me in the community, my mom took me to visit the outskirts of Hyderabad where we happened upon a rusty house, home to 35 orphaned children.

We began conversing with their only caretaker and learned the children had never seen life outside these 4 broken walls; additionally, each kid had built their own emotional wall, created from trauma from being abandoned by their parents. From behind the caretaker, I saw vivid brown eyes stare at me, eyes belonging to a little girl who was taking solace, hiding.

“Hi there…” I said, but that was all she wanted to hear before hurtling away.

I later learned her name was [name].

Over the next few days, [name] occupied my mind.  How could I help? Eventually, I came up with the idea for [organization name], an organization that would help those kids by raising funds from students at my high school. Breaking through their emotional walls became my goal.

For a year, I visited the kids daily. With every dance class and tutoring session, I sensed their walls slowly crumbling. [Name] however allowed her barrier to block her off completely; her progress became my mission.

One morning, she smiled meekly, ushering me into her room, where she showed me her beloved doll. At that moment, I realized it wasn’t just a doll, but a symbol of her willingness to reciprocate friendship.

[Name] was so deep in her emotional abyss that showing her I cared wasn’t enough. Working relentlessly to prove that I wasn’t going to give up was crucial, and her growth through [organization name] created an internal transformation, allowing her to let love in. As a leader, I learned that bestowing hope onto others can show them that making a difference stems from within.

A year later, I waved bye to the motivated children as I moved back to the States. Though they weren’t completely healed, their smiles showed our progress.

UC Essay Example 4: Basketball Coach


Shoes stomping on concrete in an awkward rhythm and sweat dripping from my jaw, I labored across the finish line. I stood tall, sticking my chest out only to realize that I was the last finisher. Just as men drive Ferraris to flaunt their power, being the fastest runner in middle school meant respect from boys and giggles from girls. Belly jiggling, I ran away from taunts being hurled in my direction.

At the nadir of my physical strength and confidence, I joined my school’s basketball team in hopes of winning my middle school crush’s heart. Although I initially set out with love in mind, I quickly realized that the basketball court wasn’t a simple concrete ground; it was a harbor where I could train my body and prove my budding athleticism, boosting my self-confidence.

As a former player returning to serve as basketball coach 2 years later, I had a unique perspective compared to my colleagues, giving me a unique leadership advantage: unlike older coaches, I was close in age to my players, allowing me to better connect with them. I understood that young boys thrived on competition, so I focused on team scrimmages, which encouraged my players to play fiercely against each other. While other coaches relaxed on the sidelines, I stood in the center, shouting words of encouragement. Instead of telling my players to run one measly lap, I personally led them on half-mile runs, insisting that running was important because it teaches mental perseverance alongside physical fitness. As a leader, I practiced what I preached, doing pushups as punishment on the rare occasions I was tardy.

Despite being an ambitious basketball coach, I had realistic expectations for my players. After all, these boys didn’t aspire to play professional basketball, so I understood there were more aspects to sport than demonstrating excellence. Realizing that there is much perseverance and dedication involved with basketball, I utilized the sport as a method to nurture my players into responsible young men. In contrast to the large number of absences at the beginning, attendance was perfect at the season’s end.

UC Personal Insight #2 Examples

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Personal Insight Prompt 2: Pro-tip

This UC Essay is an essay prompt that maaaany students gravitate towards. This is a creative UC essay, so here’s a tip: define creativity in your own way. You’ll see in the UC essay examples that you can define creativity in a traditional way, from art to dance. 

But, there are more interesting takes on this prompt. Make sure that you explain why something is creative, for you. For instance, students you can be creative doing the following:

  • Yoga 
  • Building homes for Habitat for Humanity  
  • Sumo wrestling (I’m serious!)

UC Essay Example 5: YouTube Creator


“Why do you try so hard?” my friend asked, upon learning that I was editing videos for the third day in a row.

He wasn’t a fan of dedicating time to a task that wasn’t instantly beneficial. For me, however, making YouTube videos wasn’t for short-term gain; I was invested in procuring an audience. To achieve this goal of channel expansion, I hunted for an answer to one question: what strategies did my competitors employ to gain more views and subscribers? I spent 5 years trying to answer this question.

Eventually, I realized the answer was simple: I was too hyperfocused on montage videos–compiled of the most exciting gameplay moments. Video montages were a crowded niche; competing with established channels would be quite an ambitious undertaking. Thus, I began experimenting with other types of videos, such as video game reviews, which turned out successful. I gained traction and found my niche by targeting a Russian audience that doesn’t have the ability of watching English-speaking YouTubers who review games.

Understanding which upcoming games people are excited about is critical in making game review videos. My channel was getting bigger because audiences of gamers wanted to hear judgments on upcoming games before spending their cash. After some time, I attracted enough viewers to expand into other areas of video game-related content.

With over 80 videos and a total of 13,000 views, I’ve learned that I should never expect instant rewards; success always means staying dedicated to work despite setbacks, a principle I’ve started to apply to everything I do, from hobbies to work. My understanding now is that, in all areas of business–including programming–improving a product visually and functionally is just as vital as actually making it. By making videos and exercising my creative side, I learned that it is only by combining the technical side of a product with a good presentation of it to consumers that true commercial success can be achieved.

UC Essay Example 6: Unique & Creative Artist


Art itself is a nuanced word, possessing evolving meanings throughout my life. As a boy, art meant drawing Power Rangers. As a young adult, art serves as a medium where I can impose my feelings and thoughts upon the world, devoid of concerns about others’ approval or disapproval.

Unlike other forms of communication like news articles or Twitter, there are certain liberties artists can leverage to convey their opinions because people approach artwork open mindedly. Instead of condemning a piece as offensive, viewers often deem artwork to be insightful. Thus, through color and lines, I express my queer thoughts without fear of retribution.

During the 2016 election, I created a piece depicting Hillary Clinton as power-hungry. If I had simply voiced this aloud, I would’ve been ridiculed. Instead, I received sophisticated feedback from my peers–some agreed with my perspective while others didn’t. I realized then that artwork serves as a battlefield, in which discussion is encouraged yet the original intent of the art is not criticized.

Delving deeper into my craft, I’ve been entranced by encouraging discussion through the usage of provocative media. Inspired by Alan Turing, a mathematician who dedicated his life to crack the German enigma code, I wanted to portray the notion of sacrifice for the sake of a job. To convey this, I covered a mannequin face with pieces of heart playing cards and planted test tubes around its skull. The cards represent Turing’s human love for his family while the test tubes represents his almost drug-fueled obsession with his work, circling his brain like a crown.

Before these 2 pieces, my primary focus of study was drawing and painting, where I  valued realistically recording what I saw above all else. After making these 2 conceptual pieces, I realized my true talent lies in my thoughts. While there are many artists in the world who can draw and paint better than I, my thoughts are inimitable. I have embraced the idea that art’s true purpose is to allow others a window into an artist’s mind instead of simply replicating reality that nearly everyone can see.

UC Personal Insight #3 Examples

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Personal Insight Prompt 3: Pro-tip

UC essay 3 about greatest skill or talent is an essay examples students seem to really like. I’ll be honest, I’m not a HUGE fan of this essay prompt, but it could be quite powerful if you write this UC PIQ well. 

For this UC essay prompt, I’ve seen students writing about anything, from surfing to soft skills like empathy. Actually, if you’re really into writing this essay prompt, check out this UC Personal Insight Essay example for prompt 3 about surfing for another unique take on this.

UC Essay Example 7: Talented Artist


A bag of stale bread crackled as my mom and I walked hand-in-hand to [name] lake. It was duck feeding time, marking the beginning of my Sunday ritual at age 8. I looked forward to these outings, but not because I enjoyed ducks–I always searched for the woman in the paint-stained hoodie, a true caricature of an “artist.”

She had reached the lake before we did, and stood motionless with her eyes glued to the landscape, painting. I loved observing how she observed her surroundings. Enthralled, I enrolled in art classes.

My art teacher taught me how to capture texture in the shadows, the proportions of the human body, and how the eyes of a portrait hide an artist’s intention. As a student fascinated by human behavior, I was drawn to sketching people in real life. For years, I took pride in  my ability to accurately capture the real-life essence of my subjects.

During freshman year, I was invited to study art in Manhattan. I proudly displayed my works to the Artist-in-Residence, [name].

“These sketches look incomplete,” he said, unimpressed.

So began the most artistically grueling 6 weeks of my life. Everyday, I reinterpreted my sketches to what I hoped was completion; everyday, [name] shook his head. However, I was getting close and developing my own sense of style.  

One day, as I sat on a bench in Times Square, sketching, I noticed how hurried everyone was; I felt a sense of urgency simply by watching. Inspired, I began to capture this hurried look in my art; the end result looked rushed and, ironically,  unfinished. But, it was unfinished with a purpose: it truly captured the essence of my subjects. [name] approved.

That summer, I learned that I’m never finished as an artist; I will continually evolve and my artwork will shift in parallel. Therefore, my previously prized accurate depictions of people doesn’t truly capture their essence. I’ve learned to create my own signature way of interpreting people, and in the UCs, I look forward to contributing my perspectives of growth and artistic vision in the studio and beyond.

UC Personal Insight #4 Examples

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Personal Insight Prompt 4: Pro-tip

Personally, I love this UC Essay Prompt. After all, you’re going to college to learn (college is literally an educational opportunity), so it’s an awesome opportunity to talk about summer internships and research experiences you’ve held. 

If you have an educational barrier that you’d like to highlight for this UC Personal Insight Essay, that’s also a great option, too. Make sure that you spend time in your essay talking about how you overcame the barrier — this is extremely important! The UC essay examples do a great job painting a picture of how students have taken advantage of educational opportunities. 

UC Essay Example 8: Engineering Research Opportunity


My friends blast Drake in the car, heads bobbing to the rhythm as we drive to Chipotle. Instead, my car “music” tends to be TED talks, ranging from Tony Robbins to artificial intelligence.

Junior year, I was especially moved by a TED talk by MIT professor [name] about renewable energy storage systems. Growing up with an environmental engineer mother and reading Elon Musk’s biography, I became further inspired in alternative energy sources. Sophomore year, I event created a sodium battery by transforming algae in river water for a science fair, winning me [].

Inspired by Professor []’s TED talk, I reached out, and emailed him. Eventually, I was put in touch with a post-doctoral student on the project, leading to a summer internship where I studied liquid battery electrodes.

My first day, I received a stack of Dr. []’s papers dating back to 2000–building blocks of this cutting-edge technology. Eager to prove myself, I shied away from asking for help. Slowly, I pieced together the chemistry behind rechargeable lithium batteries and lab’s objective to create cost-effective, liquid-metal renewable battery separated by a molten salt electrolyte.

Eventually, my mentor called me out for hiding away in the corner.

“Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness–questions lead to ideas that can challenge scientists to think about problems differently!” Dr. [] insisted. I later witnessed this collaborative nature firsthand at weekly lab meetings–debates led people to alter their investigative approaches!

I learned to ask questions, leading to opportunities where I assisted researchers to prepare for tensile tests; my constant prodding even led me to assist the analysis behind the mechanical behavior change of designer polymers behind the battery! As I connected with labmates, I began to see the beauty behind science; scientists build upon other researcher’s findings, and science flourishes in a setting where people are encouraged to challenge the status quo, leading to progress.

At the UCs, I’m eager to build upon my research experience in renewable technology; I aspire to learn, and grow alongside the many talented students, eager to make an impact in our world.

UC Essay Example 9: Attending Biotechnology COSMOS


“I’m sorry but we can’t afford to send you to COSMOS anymore,” my father whispered.

I stared back defeatedly, unsure how to respond. Because of my grandfather’s recent death, my family could no longer afford the $3,500 tuition required for my bioengineering program. Still, I refused to let this opportunity go to waste and got a part-time job at In-N-Out to financially support myself. Knowing how desperately I needed the money, my manager often asked:

“You weren’t scheduled to work today, but do you want to come in and work for six hours?”

“Yes!” I always responded, as six hours brought me eighty dollars closer to my goal.

For hours upon hours, I deciphered orders into the abbreviated buttons on my screen, restocked the dining room, and diced potatoes. Customers oftentimes spoke down at me; just being there felt miserable. I wanted to break down, quit working, but continued believing that my persistence would be rewarded with the opportunity to attend COSMOS. Therefore, I endured the stress and exhaustion.

Thus, I realized: all opportunities required sacrifice, but only I determined whether or not its pursuit would be worthwhile. In overcoming a steep $3500 tuition fee, I took one step forward towards financial independence and discovered that all goals were attainable; it simply depended on my priorities, willingness to sacrifice, and desire to work towards them.

My time at In-N-Out cultivated not only an income, but also personal growth. Fearful of rejection and judgment, I started the job intimidated by the task of interacting with strangers. But, as I initiated more and more conversations with a warm “Hi, how are you?” customers became less frightening, oftentimes responding with a genuine smile. And, soon enough, our short exchanges evolved to meaningful conversations, as routine customers would share a distinct story about their family, culture, or accomplishments. Because of this experience as an order-taker, I now embrace every opportunity to connect with people, understand their background, and broaden my perspective of the world.

UC Essay Example 10: Applied Math Research Opportunity


Kalman filtering is a secret technique that hides in plain sight. Kalman filters guided the Apollo mission to the moon, but they’re like arcane magic in engineering circles. They use programming, mathematical models, and physics to make educated guesses about complex systems. Last summer, eager to take my first steps in aerospace at [company], I was given the chance to create a prototype Kalman filter to fly their satellites in space.

However, when I first stepped foot on [company’s] campus, I was assigned to updating the flight software’s user interface. I had previous experience in similar work so I went straight to my mentor and told him about my aspirations to expand my horizons during the internship. It took two weeks, but we eventually convinced the Applied Math Department to give me the Kalman filter project.

Completely new to this graduate-level field, I worked with fury and concentration unlike any time before. I slowly built up my project, meticulously planning a library of Java classes that could be deployed in any future Kalman filter use-case. I even read a shelf-full of books on topics ranging from communications’ circuit design to orbital mechanics and software architecture.

Just when my project seemed to sputter alive, my tests showed that it wasn’t converging on the satellite’s location. To identify the error in my algorithm, I took my mentor’s guidance, emailed experts at [company], and read every scientific paper I could find. After another week of debugging, my colleague and I found that the algorithm was over-shooting because the covariance matrices were being updated twice. I fixed the bug and felt elated; I had created a fully functional Kalman filter!

Along the way, I took advantage of every opportunity to network, participate in professional development, and grow my understanding of large corporations. My supervisor taught me business basics, the pros and cons of company reorganization, and how contract acquisitions work. I reached out to program managers and found mentors in people that had shaped aerospace since its infancy. My 7-week [company] internship helped me grow as an individual, a computer scientist, and an entrepreneur.

UC Essay Example 11: Computer Science Internship


February 23rd, [year]. 7:59am. As I walked into the library—suffocated by the stress of students frantically making last-minute edits before the entire school submitted their year-long benchmark—the servers came crashing down as the school’s slow internet drastically plummeted from 4 bars to 1 in seconds.

After watching this catastrophe for the 9th time, I wondered how many more heartbroken students there’d be until Irvington eradicated the primordial network system. Thus, I contacted the organization accountable for the networking—[city] Unified School District’s IT Department. After addressing specific problems in my school with the chairman, he offered me a position as a summer intern.

As a student customer and now employee of [city], I had the power to tie my two passions of serving my community and coding together. With my extensive knowledge of the student body’s needs, I knew exactly where to deploy internet access points in places with high student traffic. I eventually developed a symbiotic relationship with my coworkers, as I helped them understand their student customers while they taught me how to troubleshoot networks. In that, I realized that engineers must understand their customers inside-out to be efficient and valuable to their projects.

As I continued connecting iPads and internet-ready devices to high-speed internet, I realized that these Internet of Things (IoT) could bridge the human world and technology. After proving myself useful in installing access points, I contributed to my coworkers’ project of conserving schools’ electricity and air conditioning when school isn’t in session. The following weeks, I used my programming expertise to assign static IP addresses which allow schools to control the electricity remotely. Through this I realized that anyone could code “HelloWorld”. However, actually applying these programming concepts to make real-life improvement—whether it be saving energy or speeding up wifi—connected the dots of humanity and the future of technology.

As this booming technology industry’s exponential growth skyrockets every blink of an eye, technology and humanity are more intertwined than ever. Furthermore, I hope to be a catalyst in our innovative generation where devices are getting faster and smarter by combining my technical skills with people’s needs.

UC Essay Example 12: CS Research


A crackle shook the sky as a meteorite plummeted towards Earth. Below, a tyrannosaurus-rex bellowed its final roar as the meteor engulfed the world aflame. 

“Do it again!” the kids shouted. I smiled at my TechHive team–we had created the museum’s coolest exhibit by creating an augmented-reality (AR) world (while capitalizing on the universal appeal of explosions in children). 

A month ago, our world consisted of scrap cardboard and tangled wires. But with some creativity, we combined servo motors to animate the dinosaurs in their swampy habitat. 

In the middle of our “world,” a camera attached to a Raspberry Pi (a small computer) streamed video into Google Cardboard (VR Headset), controlled by lines of C. By wearing Google Cardboard, visitors were teleported to the Mesozoic. 

Watching the children fumble with the controls of our Playstation-3 controller, however, I realized that they were limited by clunky hardware–the joystick wasn’t responsive, and couldn’t direct precise camera movements. 

Spending hours calibrating the controller, I realized the future of robotics lay in the software–automation could transcend barriers of manually-controlled robotics by self-analyzing the data, and self-correcting imperfections by learning from its own mistakes.

Funneled by curiosity, I pursued computer vision (CV) research under Dr. [] at CalPoly SLO, where we trained machines to “see” the peak ripeness of strawberries from images, so that farmers could determine the optimal time and labor necessary for harvesting.

Using MATLAB and the RGB-values of sample strawberries, I implemented algorithms that extrapolated data onto live action cameras in strawberry fields which identified, counted, and determined the ripeness of the strawberries. 

From integrating AR into a dinosaur exhibit at TechHive to creating algorithms that optimize farmers’ harvests using computer-vision research, I’ve realized that the true beauty of technology lies in its interdisciplinary applications. With these experiences of combining hardware and software, computer science and agriculture, I’ve emerged empowered to tackle problems from combining multidisciplinary perspectives. 

It is through this implementation of ingenuity with the raw cutting edge of technology that I aspire to further explore at the UC’s and develop my true potential to apply engineering to revolutionize the world.

UC Personal Insight #6 Examples

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Personal Insight Prompt 6: Pro-tip

YAAS. Love this UC Essay prompt, and the Personal Insight Examples below do a great job showcasing this concept.

Here’s a hint: If you can, I would write more about how you’ve furthered this academic interest OUTSIDE the classroom. In other words, for this UC essay, let’s say you want to write about biology. Try to talk about something outside of AP Biology. What other experiences do you have outside of school that got you passionate about this particular subject?


UC Essay Example 13: Political Advocate


Upon returning from my AP Government field trip Washington D.C., my conversation with Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill echoed in my head. I felt inspired by their platform of promoting the common good and refusing lobbying from large corporations. Although I may not be a politician, I was inspired to believe that I could still make a difference in my local community.

Driving up to my front door, I found a letter taped on my front door in bold letters: “VERIZON’S  CELLULAR TOWER INSTALLATION”.

“Who-the-what-now!?” I exclaimed as I found that 5 houses had received same notice. After researching the effects of cellular towers, I found that close vicinity to one would put my family at a high risk of cancer.

Within the next 48-hours before the tower’s approval at City Hall, I rallied everyone and their grandmas to be proactive for the sake of their health and community.  Although learning about public policy was enthralling, actually applying it to the real world seemed like a distant idea—one that only my Congresspeople could do. However, I began realizing that anyone could make in impact leveraging determination and the help of one’s community.

Upon arrival to the city council meeting, I was shocked to see the room overflowed with 350+ people with banners—my teachers, principals, and friends came to show their support! Neighbors who once bickered over whose dog urinated on whose side of the lawn put their differences aside for the common interest of their community.

As I walked up to the podium to present the case, I thought about Hobbes’s natural rights philosophies. Through these civic concepts, I truly understood that our free will determines our self-governed society. The power of public policy lies in the hands of the people.

With an army of people behind me, I could see that they too, understood that politicians may have high statuses to make a change. However, a community setting their differences aside for one common goal is much stronger than one politician. I realized it only takes the power of one—one person, one action, one community—that makes all the difference.

UC Essay Example 14: Favorite subject = Economics 


In the crisp white room of the Tate gallery, something caught the corner of my eye. “The Snail” it was titled. This was a piece that, despite appearing distinctively simple to me, held significant value in the art world. Although I held a lot of respect for an artist like Matisse, I questioned the presence of the art piece in the gallery: Why is this regarded as priceless in the art world?

Having studied art for over 10 years, I have often wondered how some pieces were deemed priceless while others were left to be forgotten. This subsequently led me to question how one quantifies the value of art. During my study between the intersection of art and economics, I explored this question by learning about the economics of supply and demand, and looking into economic bubbles.

As I further investigated economic models and assumptions, I began to appreciate that rationalitya core tenet of economicsdoesn’t apply just to physical utility of a product.

“The Snail” represents an example of an object that cannot be immediately quantified; its intrinsic value rises because it symbolizes cultural and historical significance. “The Snail” was unique and coveted not only because it was one of the last pieces by a renowned artist, but it also celebrated Matisse’s passion for creativity despite inevitable limitations of age, arthritis, and cancer.  

Studying the economic explanation behind the value of art has taught me to reconsider what I would describe as quantifiable value, and consider the meaning behind utility. The physical benefit of a product doesn’t always determine its value. This has influenced me to appreciate the importance of understanding the rationale behind people’s decisions, and has allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of the psyche behind behavioural economics.

This process taught me the importance of making connections between seemingly unrelated fields like economics and psychology to investigate the meaning behind art that gives it new meaning, new light. Upon returning to the Tate Gallery the following summer, I approached exhibitions with a new mindset, and a newfound appreciation for art pieces that provoke new questions and curiosity.

UC Essay Example 15: Pre-med/Biology Student


There is a certain joy in appreciating the beauty of the natural world. Learning the processes of life is like enjoying a entrancing story, a tale that further captivated me through science classes.  I wanted to continue reading this story outside of school, and over the past summer, I was able to work at Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma at Stanford University. There, my internship with Dr. [name] helped define my future and solidify my passion for life sciences.

I came across this internship during junior year after my school counselor encouraged me to applyI couldn’t believe it when she chose me to join the team! I had some prior wet lab experience through food chemistry projects to create vegan cheese at [organization name] (my neighborhood bio-hackerspace), but working with world-renowned scientists and a Nobel Prize winner just a few doors down was definitely intimidating. I was assigned to work with Dr. [name] to examine the effects of misregulation of airway smooth muscle in the airways of the lungs during embryonic development. Defects could lead to serious diseases affecting the lung, including asthma. We use cutting-edge single-cell analysis to look at expressed genes in the lung to create a library and understand how the cells reacted to disease.

My main task was optimizing our single cell protocol since we desperately needed higher efficiency. I scoured the internet for ideas, reading papers that left my head spinning and talking to experts who made me more confused. After a summer of struggle, I came across a paper that described an enzyme that could join incomplete genetic sequences together so they would not be lostbingo, just what I needed. The months of failure finally led to a fruitful solution, and the increase of data was pivotal in our lab’s application for grants.

The internship exposed me to the two sides of researchthe grind and the overwhelming happiness following a positive result.  The pure joy of watching my project bear fruit made me fall more in love with research and has influenced me to continue my journey towards making the world a healthier place.

UC Personal Insight #7 Examples

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Personal Insight Prompt 7: Pro-tip

This UC Essay prompt is really nice, and allows you to showcase the types of contribution you’ll make to the UC campus.

Here’s a pro-tip: make sure you write about an experience that genuinely resonates with you, because your emotional connection to this topic is very important. Take a look at the essay examples below; you can definitely feel just how much these students cared about their specific cause.

UC Essay Example 16: Creating Cancer Awareness Week


The first day I rolled [Name’s] wheelchair around school, people stared and whispered about him. Classmates even smirked, “This will definitely grant you an A in [] class.” Dumbstruck by the lack of empathy around me, I picked my jaw up off the ground and replied, “[Name] isn’t some charity project for his incurable cancer. He is my friend.”

In my little bubble we call “high school”, my community is caught up in the stigma that we’ll only succeed when we achieve a 4.0 GPA or be the ‘first person to cure cancer.’ However, in reality, the stress that eats us up pales in comparison to the bacterium consuming [Name’s] brain. Although his time is limited, he isn’t dying. He’s living. [Name’s] optimistic outlook gave me a reality check and reminded my peers and me to stop from worrying about “straight-A’s” and start caring about people around us. Weeks following, I hosted a [Cancer] Awareness Week to help my peers to not only empathize with [Name], but also see life through his eyes.

Through spending time with [Name], I’ve been inspired by his positive outlook. I wanted to show him that his school community would fight alongside him during his battle. As people began to put their priorities in perspective, hundreds of community members participated in the walkathons and school fundraisers that I hosted for him, raising $[] to try to ease his family’s financial burden for his monthly treatments.

Today, as we walk down the halls together, classmates still stare–they stare with admiration as they give [Name] a warm “What’s up!” Through my friendship with [Name], both my community and I understand the lesson which most adults only realize at the end of their lives: The shortsightedness in the mindless race to superficial success are meaningless without taking the time to genuinely cherish our relationships.

UC Essay Example 17: Volunteering through Debate Club


In [xth] grade, I was lucky enough to join the middle school debate team; it made me articulate, graceful, and deliberate with my thought process. However, in high school, I learned that my middle school debate program was shut down–my childhood playground was torn down in front of my eyes! Nearly 100 kids, including my little brother, would be robbed of the opportunity given to me.

I envisioned a program that would meet after school, getting kids and parents excited about forensics at a younger age. Within 2-weeks, I started meeting with the school principals in my city to communicate my visions. Fortunately, they were very receptive to the idea, prompting me to begin advertising the [name of organization] immediately. By November, we held our first practice.

We started our meetings by teaching the kids to give 30-second speeches debating fun topics like Spiderman versus Superman or Chocolate versus Vanilla Ice Cream, to capture their interest. The students were unruly out of excitement for learning “big kid stuff”, but their enthusiasm made the extra effort truly worth it.

Each of the 30 students approached debate differently and pushed me to expand my own understanding of public speaking. Eventually, we progressed to topics like yearlong school and California’s 3-strikes law. It was gratifying to see the kids’ growth through this process. The most amazing experience I had was when [Name], who would cry behind his wireframe glasses when asked to stand in front of the class, gave a one-minute speech in front of everyone. In his courage I saw the grit and wit of a successful speaker.

I’m thrilled that my humble platform has gained traction in the community. This is my second year running the club and my other team members clearly show the enthusiasm to keep the organization alive. Best of all, within two years, we will see the first batch of [name of organization] alums in varsity debate at my high school.

UC Essay Example 18: Caring for Disabled Patients


She was nothing like I imagined. Sitting in a wheelchair like a pale doll, she had tubes and inch-long stitches covering her body.

I had no idea what I had signed up for when I took the job of caring for [Name], who has disabilities that prevent her from talking, walking, and standing. I knew that this would be an enormous responsibility, but I resolved to stay committed, believing that helping someone who needs it is a must.

For months, I didn’t know how to act around  [Name]: how should I talk to her? Can I touch her? Despite my efforts, there was a palpable distance between us–physically and emotionally.

I had to gain [Name’s] acceptance. Eventually, I noticed her irrevocable schedule, consisting of stretching, using her standing frame, watching movies  then napping in an endless loop. Her nurses rarely engaged with her or even asked her what she wanted to do. So I took a  different approach by simply talking to her and treating her like any human should.

Slowly she began opening up to me, and eventually, I learned that she enjoyed piano. A week later, I brought a keyboard to teach her how to press the keys and she began clapping when I entered her room! As we became closer, it felt wrong to get paid for caring for a close friend, and I proposed to  [Name’s] family how I would be happy to continue taking care of [Name] on a voluntary basis.

I have been taking care of  [Name] for three years now. Through her, I’ve learned my greatest lesson: learning how to be happy and enjoy the present. [Name] enjoys everyone and everything around her, despite her limitations. She blows me a kiss when I play piano and claps when I walk in the room. Even the healthiest people I know don’t have the same capabilities to be genuinely happy like she does. Through [Name], I’ve been inspired to adopt her joyful and unconditionally loving  mentality, which are perspectives and contributions that I aspire to bring to my UC community.

UC Personal Insight #8 Examples

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Personal Insight Prompt 8: Pro-tip

This UC essay makes people a bit anxious.  I mean, what is that ONE THING that sets you apart from everyone else? Here’s my argument, whether or not you decide to answer this prompt: One day, you will go out into the workforce and interview for your dream job. A question your future employer WILL ask is something very similar to this UC essay. “So, there are tons of qualified candidates for this dream job… what makes YOU so special?” And, you’ll have to convince them. 

So, see this UC Personal Insight Question as the perfect opportunity to practice your answer. The essay examples below do a great job showcasing the plethora of different interpretations you can take on this prompt.

UC Essay Example 19: Culture of Hard Work


“Did you get that from the Dollar Store?”

My cheeks blushed with embarrassment, as I glanced over my 64-pack of crayons that were, in fact, from the Dollar Store. I was told by my parents to value these crayons because their sheer quantity would last me through elementary school. And, out of all my friends, I was the only one to receive free meals. I was convinced that our family was special; when in actuality, I was being protected from a harsher reality.

Years later, when it came to the discussion of my father’s retirement, I intermediated as a translator. Yet, before I could decipher our financial consultant’s advice, my father stormed off, shouting with his thick accent:

“No retire! I work!”

Thus, my father continued his career as a postal carrier. He endured an exhausting daily cycle: delivering mail along a 10-mile route, running errands after work, then resting until his next shift. His ceaseless fatigue affirmed that our family’s income was hard-earned money.

“Why does Papa keep working?” I asked.

“He just likes to work,” my mom replied.

But this was a white lie. Tears trailed down from my eyes when I discovered the surmounting amount of loans—all confessing the magnitude of my parents’ sacrifices to create a “normal life” for me. I was given a quality education, because my parents took out a mortgage for a house in a better school district. I was given ceaseless love and support, because my mom gave up her career to become a full-time mom.

In some form, sacrifices are always being made by our family, friends, and community—all for another’s benefit. Having grown up in a working class family,  entitlement did not exist; only hard work, regardless of whether it was mine or my parents, would better the conditions over time. Thus, raised by the altruistic and diligent examples that I call Mom and Dad, I became an individual who aids others unconditionally and values the simple pleasures of life. Yet, above all, I value connectivity, as there are always people who have pushed me towards success.

UC Essay Example 20: LGBTQ Advocacy


As a newly-minted driver, I had limited options where I was permitted to drive my mother’s Camry. Amongst the tantalizing choices–including Chevron–I chose CVS for my escapades.

I’d peruse each aisle, starting with toiletries. I enjoyed reading shampoo ingredients, leading me to learn about the chemical bonds of its compounds like sulfate, an insecticide.

One Tuesday in late-January, I found myself crashing into the velvet adorned Hallmark card aisle. Reading each Valentine’s Day card, I realized: ALL these were geared towards heterosexually-identifying people.

As a straight female, I unquestioningly supported LGBTQ rights. However, this moment opened my eyes to the nuances that quietly lurked in my pharmacy–nuances that could make a gay person feel excluded.

I later learned 1-in-10 Americans identify as LGBTQ, meaning Hallmarks of the world were turning a blind eye to 32-million LGTBQ-identifying people, sending the message that their love was different!

I wanted to back my support with action, prompting me to attend my school’s LGBTQ Club meeting. I felt uncomfortable, like all eyes were on me as my classmates witnessed me walking into LGBTQ meeting. A fraction of myself began to understand how difficult it might be to “come-out” even in a supposedly open-minded environment.

Later, I wrote a piece in my school newspaper detailing my CVS revelation and LGBTQ Club experiences, imploring our school to be more mindful of the unconscious biases we create. I also spearheaded my school’s prom committee, ensuring it was inclusive. This year, I helped launch “LGBTQ Week” at my old middle school, teaching students to be mindful of the language they used.

I smile as lightbulbs go off in the kids’ minds as they realize that we can’t simply assume that a boy automatically has a girlfriend, meaning we have to be mindful of the gender pronouns we use. I smile when a student who I later learned has two mothers came to give me a fist-bump. At the UCs, I’m steadfastly committed to ensuring that we create a loving, inclusive community; to the UCs, I aspire to continue turning on more lightbulbs of realization, intellectually and personally.

How To Get Into UC Berkeley

How To Get Into UC Berkeley

Wondering how to get into UC Berkeley? With just a 16.4% acceptance rate, becoming a Golden Bear is no easy task. So, how will you stand out? In this post, we’ll break down UC Berkeley’s holistic review process, finding out exactly what Cal is looking for in its applicants.

How Does UC Berkeley Evaluate Applications? 

You’ve heard about this idea called a “holistic” review or “comprehensive” review when it comes to college admissions, right? Well, it’s one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, and honestly, it’s pretty vague. So let me demystify this for you. 

There are 14 admission factors that all the UCs consider when evaluating their applicants. On top of these standards, Cal takes a holistic approach to admissions. In other words, they look at both academics and personal attributes.

Personal attributes is the often overlooked KEY to successfully getting into a place like Berkeley. More on this later. 

Check out the 6 criteria that Berkeley specifically deemed as important: 

  1. Grades, GPA, and rigor of coursework
  2. Standardized tests: SAT/ACT (with writing), AP exams. And, SAT Subject exams 
    • Note: while SAT Subject exams are not required, having one can positively impact your application. In fact, Berkeley’s College of Chemistry and the College of Engineering highly recommend that you take Math level 2 and a science test.
  3. Personal Qualities
  4. Contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus 
  5. Achievement in academic enrichment programs (think: Cosmos, ATDP, RSI, etc)
  6. Other evidence of achievement.

Think about this. 2 out of 6 admissions factors are extremely academic — cold, hard facts that can be seen via your transcripts and test scores. Basically, numbers that summarize you as an applicant. 

Of course, because Cal is so selective, it is vital that your academic stats are nothing short of stellar (check out our Berkeley Acceptance Rates post to get an idea of where you stand). 

However, there are literally 4 other factors that your transcript and test scores do not illuminate. And if you think about it, this is actually a great thing. Let’s take a look at why this is.

What Does UC Berkeley Look For In Applicants? 

How to get into UC Berkeley

By the time you’re applying to UC Berkeley, you probably won’t be able to change your test scores and GPA. What you can control, however, is how you come across to the admissions officers: not as a number, but as a human being. 

  • Who is the person behind the test scores and grades and activities? 
  • What are your struggles and how did you overcome them? 
  • What opportunities were you given and how did you take advantage of them? 

This is where your UC essays and activities lists come into play. 

And because UC Berkeley doesn’t require teacher recs, your activities and responses to the personal insight questions are all the more important — they’re the sole window that admissions officers have into your personality, experiences, and life.

So now that you know the importance of essays and extracurriculars to get into UC Berkeley, let’s discuss what qualities these things should show about you.

Personal Qualities 

All elite schools have their own vibe and mission that is core and specific to the school — and they look for students with personal qualities that align with this. 

What qualities does UC Berkeley look for?

Take a look:

“Personal qualities of the applicant, including leadership ability, character, motivation, insight, tenacity, initiative, originality, intellectual independence, responsibility, maturity, and demonstrated concern for others and for the community are considered.”

So, that’s a list of seemingly random personal attributes. But, here’s a hint: Berkeley values leadership. If you want to get into Cal, it’s non-negotiable; you have to be a leader.

Leadership has long been a staple of Berkeley’s culture. In fact, in the 60’s, Golden Bears led the charge in the Free Speech Movement, challenging the campus’ restriction of freedom of speech. 

Now, don’t worry; Cal isn’t expecting you to single-handedly lead a protest in support of the first amendment. However, they are expecting you to show demonstrated leadership. 

But, here’s the thing: leadership isn’t just a title. So just snatching up that “president” or “chair” title really doesn’t mean anything if all you’re doing is hanging out and eating pretzels during club meetings. 

What Berkeley actually wants when they mention leadership is a change-maker. You can definitely accomplish that by executing meaningful work as president or chair; however, leadership could also mean taking care of younger siblings or working a job to help your family.

Ultimately, Cal is looking for someone who has the ability — and burning desire — to lead others and make a difference.

So, why does all this leadership stuff even matter?

If after looking at your academics, extracurriculars, and achievements, the admissions officers are still on the fence… the personal qualities displayed throughout your UC essays will be an important deciding factor.

In short: your personal qualities can be the make or break.

Intellectual And Cultural Vitality

UC Berkeley admission process

Two things here: intellectual AND cultural vitality. What do these even mean?!

Intellectual vitality means that you have a fiery passion for learning — for expanding your horizons. It means you have an innate curiosity that drives you to delve extremely in depth into your endeavors, whether that is lab research or athletics or community service. 

Berkeley, in other words, wants passionate, curious students that will — without hesitation — take initiative to learn more and become more.

Cultural vitality, on the hand, comes from the perspective of wanting a diverse class, with diverse backgrounds, thoughts, and experiences. 

How do you give EVIDENCE that you bring intellectual and cultural vitality to UC Berkeley? Again: your essays and activities list. 

And if you look at the UC Personal Insight Questions, you’ll find that there are a plethora of opportunities to divulge this information. 

For instance, if you look at prompt 4 and 6, both of these are practically begging you to talk about your intellectual curiosities. So do it! And with 6 more prompts to choose from, you will be able to easily find places to express intellectual/cultural vitality in your UC essays.


Berkeley wants to accept students who have a history of success beyond the vacuum of a high school classroom, because those students are most likely going to also succeed as a Gold Bear. So, they’ll pay close attention to your achievements outside of school — both academic and non-academic. So what type of achievements are they looking for?

Well, let’s start with academic achievement. This could mean anything from research with a local professor to participation in prestigious summer programs like RSI and COSMOS. Conducting cutting-edge research — or even publishing a research paper — will make it quite evident to the admissions officer that you are not only deeply passionate about what you do, but also able to succeed at a high level.

But what if you live in an area that doesn’t have local colleges to research at? Or companies to intern at? 

Don’t worry! Chances are, most of your peers won’t have access to these things either. UC Berkeley understands that not everyone has the same opportunities and resources. So, in the admissions process, you are always evaluated in a local context — you’re essentially competing with your classmates. 

However, that doesn’t give you a free pass. The things you will do — despite the lack of resources — to continue pursuing your intellectual interests is still extremely important. For instance, if there are no local tech companies, perhaps you’ll find a remote internship. Or if there are no local biology professors, you could start your own research club. Really, the opportunities are endless!

Now let’s move on to “other evidence of achievement.” 

This is all about excelling in your extracurriculars. These achievements could be about the originality you show through your creative endeavors, or the responsibility and maturity you show through family responsibilities, or perhaps it’s the impact you made volunteering for a community organization. Ultimately, Cal wants to see that you’re able to truly succeed in whatever endeavors you choose to pursue.

Getting Into UC Berkeley: The Bottom Line

How to get into UC Berkeley

Yes, GPA and test scores matter. A lot. If you don’t have the academic achievement, even the best written essays and stories will not pull you through. 

On the flip side, having a great GPA and test scores don’t mean you’re in the clear, either. We’ve seen plenty of awesome students that are academically more than capable who end up getting rejected from top tier schools because they lack — or are unable to effectively showcase — the personal qualities that colleges are looking for. However, if your academic stats are at the right place, then the UC Personal Insight Questions are absolutely instrumental.  

Because it is such a competitive university, applying to UC Berkeley can be quite intimidating. However, ultimately, if you have strong essays, demonstrated leadership, and stellar stats, it will be hard for admissions officers to overlook your passion and determination. 

Have more questions about how you can distinguish yourself, how to get into UC Berkeley and become a Golden Bear? Ask us in the comments below!

UC Personal Insight Essay Example: Greatest Talent or Skill

UC Personal Insight Essay Example: Greatest Talent or Skill

Here’s an UC Personal Insight Essay example about your greatest talent or skill (also known as UC Essay Prompt 3). This is a UC essay prompt that many students gravitate towards, so the key is to make sure that you have your own unique angle on the essay topic! 

UC Personal Insight Essay Best Practices

The student who wrote this UC Personal Insight essay got into all the UCs he applied to, including UCLA and UC Berkeley — woohoo! Don’t worry, we got you: We only pick the best UC essay examples here at Winning Ivy Prep 💪.

Here’s a UC Essay tip: Don’t just read the UC essay examples. Analyze them. Come up with a list of 3 strengths that this student does very well. Then, paste these strengths at the top of every new UC essay draft you’re writing, so you’re consciously looking at these best practices while you work on the drafts. This is the only way to effectively learn from and model a compelling UC essay example.

UC Essay Example Prompt 3

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

UC Essay Example Prompt 3 Surfing

Submerged in the murky waters of the Pacific, I blindly reached out for my surfboard…

…and panicked. My board was nowhere to guide me, and the massive wave that had pulled me under had completely discombobulated me. Which way was up? 

When I was 8, my parents bought me a foam Costco “surfboard.” I vaguely remember actually “surfing,” but that first day on the water cemented my love for the ocean. As I grew older, surfing became a weekend ritual: Saturday mornings, my brother and I piled into Dad’s minivan, playing 70s rock on our drive to [beach]. 

I loved paddling and learning how to read the waves. Surfing was meditative, and called for a blend of intuition and technique to carve the waves.  

My sophomore year, however, school and Biology Club meetings competed for my time. My dad began traveling more, leaving my brother and me to continue our ritual. 

I now found myself impatiently bobbing atop the waves, anxious of all the schoolwork I had to complete. Ironically, I was a better surfer now, but I no longer experienced that meditative nirvana that drew me to surfing. 

During the “storm of the decade,” my brother and I were adamant to continue surfing. In that choppy ocean, we waited. 

Impatiently, I charged towards the mouth of the next wave–and wiped out. However, in my distracted mental state prior, I hadn’t secured the leash to my ankle fully, separating me from the board. PANIC!

Somehow–lungs and eyes burning–I managed to swim towards my board, 70-feet away. 

I sprawled out on the beach like a starfish, completely shaken. 

My accident reminded me what initially drew me to surfing: I loved the zen-like focus that was required once I caught a wave. Surfing taught me to be calm in the face of pressure, and to be prepared for the next wave ahead. Like surfing, college will be full of unanticipated waves and challenges that will push my boundaries. I’ll tackle each with a grounded approach, knowing each obstacle is a chance to grow and learn alongside my peers. 

Additional UC Essay Example and Resources

So, what’d you think of the UC essay example? Let us know what you’re thinking of writing about for UC Personal Insight Essay prompt 3!


UC Admissions And Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide

UC Admissions And Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide

Everyone seems to be talking about this coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic that’s impacting college admissions, worldwide. We thought it would be helpful for high school students and parents to understand the impacts of UC admissions and coronavirus/COVID-19. In this post, we’ll talk about what the new, suspended SAT/ACT requirements are, and what that means for you as a 2021 UC applicant. 

So… is it finally time to throw away those college prep books? Not quite… Let’s take a look at how exactly the UCs’ COVID-19 response will affect you.  In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the UCs have rolled out some temporary changes to ease admissions requirements. Read the following guideline about the UC Admissions and Coronavirus (COVID-19) to gain a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on UC admission and take better actions accordingly.

Impact Of Coronavirus On UC Admissions 2020/21

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the UCs are dropping:

  • SAT/ACT score requirements for prospective fall 2021 freshman
  • letter grade requirements for A-G courses completed in the winter, spring, or summer of this school year

Note: Our advice on these unprecedented times are solely our own opinions.

What Does “UC Admission Easing” Mean?

UC Admissions and Coronavirus

With all the time you spent maintaining your GPA and test scores, these new changes may be a bit frustrating. So why are the UCs now relaxing all of these requirements you worked so hard to meet? 

Well, if you think about it, these changes are actually a great thing. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted the lives of students and families — the UCs are recognizing this and adjusting accordingly.

They’re also catering to those families that are vulnerable during these times of financial instability. 

To put it bluntly, there are students whose parents lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Piling the stress of standardized testing on top of economic uncertainty would be simply unjust.

In short: the UCs are leveling the playing field of opportunities driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.

How Does UC’s Coronavirus Response Affect SATs/ACTs/SAT IIs?

Here’s something to consider: in admissions, you are always evaluated in relation to your peers and opportunities available in your community. 

What does this mean? 

For example, if you’re from the Bay Area and you want to pursue computer science (CS), then admissions officers will expect you to have significant CS experience given the abundance of local colleges and tech companies.  However, colleges recognize that it wouldn’t be fair to compare an aspiring CS major from the bay with a student from a place like Idaho, where CS opportunities are far more sparse in comparison. So they don’t. Instead, you’re essentially competing with your classmates. 

So, if your school is competitive, then your classmates are most likely still striving to take the SATs/ACTs/SAT Subject exams. And these are the same classmates you will be evaluated alongside in admissions. 

So think to yourself… will your peers take these exams? Do you live in a socioeconomic situation that allows you to take these exams? 

If yes, then you really have to think of it like it’s business as usual. Take those exams. 

But What If You Took the SATs/ACTs Already?

COVID-19 and Admissions guide

Your test scores will still be critical. 

In fact, this is what the UCs have to say about taking the SAT or ACT:

“Students applying for fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships…”

In other words, while an SAT/ACT score is not required for prospective fall 2021 freshman, having one can only help.

How Does UC’s Coronavirus Response Affect GPA?

If your school has resorted to pass/fail, credit/no credit — that’s totally fine. Why? Because again, in admissions, you are always evaluated in relation to your peers and the opportunities available in your community. 

Everyone is in the same boat. Don’t sweat it. 

In fact, if you’re a student who consistently always did well in terms of grades, pass/fail is actually not a horrible thing. Because of your consistency, admissions officers will see that you’re consistently a good student and that’ll carry over into admissions.  So don’t worry! It’s not like your hard work is for naught. You’ve laid down a solid foundation of awesome grades throughout high school… so you’re good!

But what if you have significant blips in your grades? 

Well, then this pass/fail thing can be a bit more tricky for you. But here’s the thing: don’t worry. Instead, what you have to do… and it’s a life lesson… is to focus on what YOU CAN CONTROL. 

Ask yourself: what can I do right now given my constraints to make myself “look better” in the eyes of admissions officers when it comes to my academics?

Some ideas:

  • Use this extra time to crush the SATs/ACTs/Subject exams 
  • Refine your extracurriculars

UC Admissions And Coronavirus (COVID-19): Bottom Line

Impact of Coronavirus

1. If your family situation allows for it, take your SAT/ACT/SAT Subject exams like you normally would have. Keep an eye out for SAT and/or ACT updates.

2. If a school goes pass/fail, then other aspects of your application may be weighed more heavily: first semester grades, testing, extracurricular… and the UC ESSAYS!

So instead of worrying about your GPA, focus on what you can control. What can you do to make yourself better on paper between now and October 2020?

Hint: Start working on your UC essays soon with all the free time you have! See our UC essay examples for some inspiration

3. UC trends won’t significantly deviate from previous years. Each year, UC provides data on its applicants, admits, and enrollees (See: UC admissions trends). You can use this tool to better understand UC admissions trends within your own high school.

For example, let’s say you go to Gunn High School, and you’re applying to Berkeley.

UC Admissions 2020/2021

As you can see, in 2019, 51 out of 234 applicants from Gunn High School were accepted. And if you look at acceptances from Gunn in the last 5 years, the figures are relatively constant: around 40 – 50 students are admitted each year. You can expect those numbers to be quite similar for you.

Coronavirus and UC Admission

Bottom line: whatever admission trends you see for your high school for each UC will NOT deviate simply because of COVID-19.

So now I want to turn it over to you: are you stressed about how UC admissions will be impacted due to coronavirus/COVID-19? Or, do you feel motivated to keep crushing it?

Remember, challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. How will you make meaning out of this pandemic?

Tell us what you’ll do to take a step forward in the comments below!


UC Berkeley Acceptance Rates [Updated 2020]

UC Berkeley Acceptance Rates [Updated 2020]

So… you’re thinking about applying to UC Berkeley. But with Berkeley’s notoriously competitive acceptance stats, what are your chances of being admitted? What SAT/ACT and GPA will you need? In this post, we’ll take a close look at UC Berkeley acceptance rates in 2019 and 2020, and discuss the scores it takes to become a Golden Bear.

Related Article: UC Admissions and Coronavirus

UC Berkeley Admissions Stats

This is a snapshot of the statistics of Berkeley’s admitted freshman class for fall 2019.

Acceptance Rate:


SAT Range:

1340 – 1540

ACT Range:

30 – 35

GPA Range:

4.15 – 4.30

What Are The UC Berkeley Acceptance Stats?

UC Berkeley Acceptance Rates

What are the chances of getting into UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley acceptance rates for prospective 2019 freshmen was 16.4%. In other words, for every 100 applicants, just 16 students were admitted — making UC Berkeley the second most competitive undergraduate campus in the UC system (after UCLA). 

With 80,000+ applicants vying for so few spots, applying to Cal may seem quite intimidating. But remember: UC Berkeley practices holistic admissions. A combination of strong stats, stellar UC essays and meaningful extracurriculars is what will truly distinguish you.

Berkeley Admissions Stats

Applicants 87,393
Admits 14,336
Overall Admit Rate 16.4%

Average ACT/SAT For UC Berkeley Admission

What ACT/SAT is required for UC Berkeley? 

While UC Berkeley acceptance rates are very high and it requires all applicants to submit scores from either the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing, there is technically no minimum SAT/ACT score requirement. 

But what ACT/SAT score will you need to be competitive?

You’re more than just a number, of course. But, you need top SAT and ACT scores alongside a strong UC GPA at minimum to get into Berkeley. To give yourself the best shot, aim for the 75th percentile — that means at least a 1540 on the SAT or a 35 on the ACT.

Here’s a look at the test scores for admitted students in the 2018-2019 admissions cycle:

Berkeley SAT Score Range

Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Evidence Based Reading & Writing 660 750
Mathematics 680 790
Essay 16 19


Berkeley ACT Score Range

Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English Language Arts 28 32
Composite 30 35

Average GPA To Get Into UC Berkeley

How to get into UC Berkeley

What GPA do you need to get into Berkeley?

To be a Golden bear, you’re required to have at least a UC GPA of 3.0 (3.4 if you’re out-of-state). 

Not too bad right? 

Not so fast. Merely fulfilling the minimum admission requirements won’t suffice. Aim high. To be the most competitive, you should have mostly A’s and multiple AP or IB courses under your belt. 

Popular Majors In UC Berkeley

What majors are UC Berkeley known for? 

UC Berkeley offers over 150 undergraduate majors and minors. Some of the most popular majors include:

  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (EECS)
  • Economics
  • Business Administration
  • Data Science

UC Berkeley Tuition And Cost

UC Berkeley acceptance stats and Tuition

What is the cost to attend UC Berkeley?

Well, check it out: Tuition for Berkeley students during the 2019-2020 academic year was $14,254 for California residents and $44,008 for nonresidents. 

Especially if you’re out-of-state, Berkeley’s tuition is quite a hefty one. So, how much financial aid does UC Berkeley give?

You’re in luck: Berkeley is ranked as the nation’s 5th best value college by Forbes in 2019. In fact, more than 65 percent of Berkeley undergraduate students receive financial aid.

The table below shows the estimated student budget of 2019-2020 freshman:

Tuition and Fees $14,254 $14,254
Nonresident supplemental tuition $29,754
Student Health Insurance Plan** $3,286 $3,286
Room and board $17,220 $17,220
Food $1,644 $1,644
Books and supplies $870 $870
Personal $1,876 $1,876
Transportation $400 $400
TOTAL $39,550 $69,304

UC Berkeley Post Graduation Outcomes Class of 2019

So you got into Berkeley. But what happens after?

For the class of 2019, the vast majority were employed full-time straight out of UC Berkeley. Not only did these Bears secure jobs, they secured the bag as well: The overall average starting salary for UC Berkeley’s Class of 2019 was $75,000! 

Here’s what the starting salaries look like by college:

Class of 2019 First Destination

Employed Full-time 60.5%
Graduate/Professional School 18.7%
Other Endeavors 7%
Still Seeking 13.8%


Class of 2019 Average Starting Salary

College Starting Salary
Haas School of Business $82,273
College of Engineering  $100,577
College of Chemistry $66,576
College of Environmental Design $53,834
Rausser College of Natural Resources $55,995
College of Letters & Science $79,206

UC Berkeley is, no doubt, a launchpad for successful lives and careers. As a result, Cal is also extremely competitive. But don’t be discouraged, becoming a Golden Bear is far from impossible. You can do it! 

Related Article: UC GPA Calculator For UC Applicants

Have more questions about How to get into UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley acceptance rates and stats, and your admissions chances? Ask away in the comments below!

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