Uc Common App Essay Prompt 2013 Calendar

Are you considering applying to one of the UC schools? UC schools are known for being one of the best state school systems available, regardless if you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. To apply, here are the UC essay prompts you can expect. 

Students choose 4 out of the 8 total UC essay prompts and respond with 350-word answers. The prompts were updated as recently as last year, so we can anticipate no change for the 2017-2018 application season. UPDATE: No major changes to the essay prompts this year! Just more details in essay prompt 6 & 8.

Here are the UC Essay Prompts for 2017-2018:

  1. Leadership experience

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

    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.
  1. Talent or special skill

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

  2. Overcoming educational barrier

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

  3. Overcoming significant challenge

    Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

  4. Academic inspiration

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

  1. Bettering the community

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

  2. What makes you special?

    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?

Applying to college?

View the app files and essays of accepted students.


Are you planning to apply to University of California schools? Or you must just be starting the process of building your college list. Make sure to search through profiles of students accepted. Read full essays, stats, and student advice. See how our students got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

Overview of UC Santa Cruz's Selection Process
Frequently Asked Questions About the Admissions Process
Options for Freshmen Who Were Not Offered Admission
Appeal Information 

Overview of UC Santa Cruz's Selection Process

UC Santa Cruz received over 56,000 freshman applications for fall 2018. The freshman enrollment target for fall 2018 is X,XXX students. This enrollment target reflects a decrease from fall 2017.

Admission offers were made to students based on a comprehensive evaluation of their application, as set forth by the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, and our campus Academic Senate Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (CAFA). Applicants were selected following an extensive review process that evaluated the applicants' academic achievement, accomplishments, and other information contained in their undergraduate application. Applications were reviewed for UC qualifications, completion of required college preparatory coursework ('a-g' pattern of courses), required test scores, and demonstrated academic and non-academic achievements. The following 14 faculty-approved criteria were taken into consideration, although no fixed weight or fixed points were awarded for any of the criteria.

Criteria Used in UCSC's Comprehensive Review

  1. Grade Point Average (GPA) - computed for all 'a-g' courses completed (10th and 11th grades), including additional grade points for UC-approved honors courses.
  2. Test Scores - best single-sitting scores on the ACT Plus Writing exam, the SAT exam, or the SAT with Essay exam were considered. For applicants who took both the ACT and the SAT exam (or the new SAT with Essay exam), the higher test scores (from a single sitting) were considered.
  3. Courses Completed/In-Progress/Planned - number of, content of, and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum ‘a-g’ requirements were considered, within the context of the number of course offerings at an applicant’s high school.
  4. Honors Courses - number of and performance in UC-approved honors courses, which include Advanced Placement (AP) courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, UC-transferable college courses, and UC-certified courses at specific California high schools, were considered, within the context of an applicant’s honors courses offered at their high school.
  5. Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) - students from California high schools who were identified as ELC (defined by the University of California) by being in the top 9% of their high school class.
  6. Quality of Senior Year Program of Study - determined by the type (honors or not) and number of academic courses in the applicant’s senior year, within the course offerings at an applicant’s high school.
  7. Educational Opportunities in California High Schools - an applicant’s academic performance was reviewed in relation to the educational opportunities within their high school.
  8. Performance in Academic Subject Areas - outstanding performance in one or more 'a-g' subject areas (minimum of four years with superior grades).
  9. Achievements in Special Projects - outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.
  10. Improvement in Academic Performance - recent, marked improvement in academic performance as demonstrated by an applicant’s GPA and the quality of their coursework completed, in progress, and planned.
  11. Special Talents, Achievements, and Awards - consideration of special talents, significant achievements, and awards that demonstrate the applicant’s promise for making a positive impact to the UCSC campus community.
  12. Participation in Educational Preparation Programs - participation and persistence in academic enrichment programs, including but not limited to those sponsored by the University of California, was considered.
  13. Academic Accomplishments Within Life Experiences - if student has demonstrated academic accomplishment despite some personal circumstances or life experiences (as discussed in the personal statement), that an applicant has overcome. Life experiences might include (but are not limited to) disability, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, and other special circumstances.
  14. Geographic Location - defined by the location of the applicant's secondary school and/or residence.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Admissions Process

How many freshman applications did you receive this year?

56,288, over 3,700 more than last year.

How many freshmen did you offer admission to this year?

We admitted XX,XXX students to enroll a class of X,XXX students. Our enrollment target is approximately XXX fewer than the number of freshmen who enrolled for fall 2017.

How many freshmen did you deny admission to this year?

XX,XXX freshman applicants were denied admission.

Were UC-qualified students denied admission?

Since we are a selective campus, the majority of our denied freshmen met UC’s minimum qualifications.

How did you make your admissions decisions?

We employed a faculty-approved comprehensive review of the freshman applicants. Our selection guide is online if you'd like to review the different factors that we take into consideration.

Each application received an in-depth review, known as Holistic Review, by one or more professionally-trained Admissions readers. A final, single score of 1-5 was determined, with 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. Grade-point average and test scores accounted for approximately half of the score a reader determined. Scoring was in accordance with guidelines issued by UCSC faculty. Admissions offers were made to the applicants who received a higher score, within the constraints of the campus’s enrollment goals.

Students who did not report completing the required test pattern (the ACT Plus Writing, the SAT, or the SAT with Essay) by the December 2017 sitting would have been denied admission. UCSC did use both official and self-reported test scores when reviewing first-year applicants.

In addition to the selection criteria noted above, if an applicant had notified our campus of receiving a grade of D or F in any 'a-g' course in their senior year, that student would not have been selected for admission by UC Santa Cruz. All students offered admission to UCSC are held to earning grades of C or higher (or the equivalent) in their senior-year courses or their admission will be cancelled.

Did you admit any out-of-state or international students?

Yes, but all these students would have been held to the same selection criteria as in-state students, although the minimum GPA for a non-resident of California is higher than the CA resident GPA (3.40 vs. 3.00, respectively). In addition, most international students are also held to the UCSC English proficiency requirement.

What was the average GPA of your admits?

Our mean GPA for freshman admits was X.XX, although the GPA was only one component of our Comprehensive Review Score.

What were the average test scores of your admits?

Our mean SAT scores were: Critical Reading XXX.X, Mathematics XXX.X, Writing XXX, and Total XXXX.X. Our mean SAT with Essay scores were: Reading/Writing & Language XXX.X, Math XXX.X, and Total XXXX.X. Our mean ACT Composite score was XX.X, with the following subscores: Reading XX.X, Mathematics XX.X, and English with Writing XX. As with the GPA, test scores comprised only one component of our Comprehensive Review score.

Does UCSC have a waitlist?

Yes. UCSC offered XX,XXX denied freshmen the opportunity to be considered on a waitlist. The waitlist is for freshman applicants who were not offered admission due to enrollment limitations, but who are considered excellent candidates for admission, should space become available later in the admissions cycle. Students who have this option have been notified by the Office of Admissions and will have to respond to UCSC by April 15 if they want to be on the UCSC Waitlist. Being placed on the waitlist does not guarantee admission to UC Santa Cruz.

For more information on the fall 2018 waitlist process, please see the UCSC Waitlist FAQ.

How did you select students to be offered the waitlist option?

These students were well-qualified (as determined by our comprehensive review), but given campus enrollment constraints, could not be offered admission.

Can I be placed on the waitlist even if I wasn't offered that option?

No. Only the students who were originally selected for the waitlist have that option. UCSC will not consider any additional students for the waitlist.

If I was not selected for admission, may I appeal the decision?

UC Santa Cruz does not set aside space in our class for students who appeal admissions decisions. Every application has already been thoroughly reviewed using our selection process. Although few (if any) appeals will likely be granted due to enrollment constraints, students who choose to appeal should follow the procedure listed on the UCSC Admissions Appeal Information page.

Options for Applicants Not Offered Admission

Applicants who have not been offered admission at UC Santa Cruz may wish to consider the following options:

1. All UC campuses offer a quality education. If you applied to another UC campus and have been offered admission, we strongly encourage you to consider this offer. Many of our applicants also have admission offers at a number of other excellent public and private colleges and universities and could consider those offers.

2. UC Santa Cruz is committed to assisting students in transferring from a California Community College. At the transfer level, we give the highest priority for admission to junior-level California community college students who present a well-planned course of study, including coursework for their intended major and a competitive grade point average. If, after considering all of your options for higher education, you decide to enroll at a California community college, we urge you to contact the Transfer Center or Counseling Department at that college for assistance in planning a course of study that will lead to successful transfer. UC Santa Cruz maintains a transfer admission guarantee program (TAG) with every community college within the state to ensure that you can earn your degree at our campus.

The University of California maintains a strong relationship of advising and articulated course agreements with the California community college system. A listing of transfer centers within the state can be found at californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu/Students.aspx.

A transfer center adviser or community college counselor can help you plan an appropriate transfer program that will allow you to complete your studies at the University of California.

Appeal Information - Fall 2018

Although few (if any) appeals will likely be granted due to enrollment constraints, students who choose to appeal should follow the procedure listed on the UCSC Admissions Appeal Information page.

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