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Cal State and UC Applications

‘Tis the season for Cal State University and University of California applications. The deadlines for both are midnight, November 30 for students entering then next Fall

Application tips:

  • APPLY EARLY, get it done BEFORE Thanksgiving weekend. The deadline is midnight, Nov. 30, but with the increased number of applications there is a real possibility that the servers will crash from the overload. Over 220,000 students applied to the UC system last year.

  • The UC has gone away from an essay and gone to a "personal insight question." Applicants pick 4 out of the 8 questions and answer each with a maximum of 350 words for each response. There are numerous helpful tips and strategies from the UCs themselves at: The UCs have said that they are not looking for an essay, they are looking for information and how it has changed or impacted you, your view of the world, how you relate to others, how you view education, and more. The personal insight is additive information, it does not detract from any other information in the application, but allows the admissions staff to know more about you.

  • For the UC insight answer: WRITE IT IN A WORD PROGRAM AND CUT AND PASTE. Do not write it on the application while you are applying. If you pause to think of that detail, craft that phrase, or stop to feed the dog the application may time out and you will lose anything you have written.

  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Get into the habit of saving each page or section of the application. You can always come back later to work on it, only if it is saved.

  • GET STARTED Put in all of your personal and family information ahead of time, even before you have chosen which campus to apply to.

  • REMEMBER YOUR USER NAME AND PASSWORD. WRITE IT DOWN AND TAPE IT TO YOUR MONITOR (or tattoo it on your arm). Once you start an “account” you will not be able to create another one if you forget how to log in.

  • For CSU applications: Completely finish the first application, then and ONLY THEN start applications for the other CSUs you want to apply to. When you finish the first application a great deal of the information will be automatically entered into subsequent applications. If you really like spending time putting in all classes taken in high school, calculating GPA, entering your address etc., then you can start more than one application at a time.

  • Is the website for the Cal States.

  • Some Cal States require that you declare a major and an alternate major. Check to see if the campus requires it. If you can’t’ find the answer, call the admissions office. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo requires major declaration, San Diego State does not.

  • Cal State LA has great advice on choosing a major:

  • Some majors are impacted at both CSU and UC campuses. Check to see if the major you want is impacted. Impacted means that they have more students applying or currently working on the major than they have room for. Some majors are closed, but you may be able to apply as a freshman as a Pre-major (e.g. pre-nursing).

  • Impacted majors may require higher GPA or test scores than other departments at both UC and Cal States.

  • Some campuses require higher GPA and test scores than others, for example: UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

  • Cal State impacted majors and campuses:

  • Cal States, students living within the geographical area of the campus will get some admission's priority.

  • Neither Cal State nor UCs count pluses or minuses in grades.


  • CHECK to see which courses go into which a-g sections on the applications. DO NOT FILL IN THE A-G CATEGORIES ON THE CSU APPLICATION WITHOUT CHECKING FIRST

  • ONE SEMESTER COURSES: On the CSU application, do not enter a grade for a semester the class was not given. DO NOT PUT NC, which means no credit, which = F. For the UC, put NO in the semester the course is not given. This means, no course this semester. So a Spring Econ class will show up as: Fall-NO, Spring-B.

  • FOR 12TH GRADE CLASSES Enter all classes you are taking or plan to take in the 12th grade. Enter Fall semester courses as "in progress" and Spring semester as "planned"

  • Calculating GPA for Cal States both Cal States and UC: only a-g courses taken summer before 10th grade through 11th grade. For both count each grade received each semester. For instance US History, B Fall, A Spring. Count how many A, B, C, D grades gotten for the 10-11th grade If your GPA is close to 3.0, please make the calculation to see if you are qualified under the UC calculation. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  • Cal States only awards an honors point if you got a C or better. Therefore, if you received a D in a AP course, it is not counted and not given a honor's "bump."

  • For both Cal State and UC, a total of 8 semesters of honors will be counted which will weight the GPA. In other words, they will calculate the GPA according to their criteria which means it may be different from your high school a-g GPA

  • The CSU and UC campuses consider the following classes as belonging to the g or college preparatory electives: Economics, AP Economics, AP Computer Science, Global Issues, Psychology, Sociology, AVID

  • Health is not considered a college preparatory class nor is PE

  • Application fees UC: $70/campus (fee waivers available for 4 campuses based on family size and income)

  • Application fees Cal State: $55/campus (fee waivers available for 4 campuses, based on family size and income) If applying for fee waiver, make sure you input family income WITHOUT the comma, e.g. 50000 not 50,000. It's a computer thing.

  • Letters of recommendation are not required for Cal States or UCs. Except for some applicants to UC Berkeley. In early December certain students will be invited by email to submit two letters. The Berkeley letters are due midnight Jan 15.

Confused, anxious, frustrated? Get to work on your applications as soon as possible.

Do all of the easy stuff first to get it out of the way.

REMEMBER submit your application before Thanksgiving! Enjoy turkey day and relax! Get Smart and apply.

If you have questions, contact your counselor, or send me an email at

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