Exploding UC Berkeley admissions myths

This transcript is based on Cal Berkeley’s video on myths that pervade the application process: for more info, please visit http://berkeley.edu/ This transcript was produced by this site based on the Fair use exception for educational/public awareness purposes.


Welcome to UC Berkeley. Today we’re busting myths about the application process. You’ll hear from staff, faculty, and students. They’ll tell you whats’ fact and what’s fiction about applying to Berkeley and how you can make your application competitive.

Walter Robinson: We would like students to picture themselves at Berkeley with the understanding that Berkeley is an engine of social mobility. It’s here to serve citizens from the state, from the nation, and from the world. We are building a global community of leaders that we hope that will go out and hold up the Berkeley tradition and the Berkeley legacy of being agents of social change.

One of the myths I’ve heard is that no one reads the admissions applications.

Susan Pendo: So one of the myths at UC Berkeley is that no one really reads you application and that’s absolutely not true.

Roxanne Winston: One thing that I would say about the application process is that it’s easier that people think. You think “Oh, I’m applying to Berkeley. It’s the hardest school to get into.” The reality is that people here in Berkeley, in the admissions office, actually care about every individual student that applies. So they take the time to read your essays, read your personal statements to figure out who you are, who the person applying, so they can admit a diverse, like interesting group to UC Berkeley.

The myth I heard about the application process was it was all about grades.

Georgia Webb: There is a myth that admission to Berkeley is all about grades and test scores. And yes, grades and test scores are very important. However, we look at the whole person. Achievement can be found in different areas of your life. And we are interested in how you have achieved in other ways.

We don’t use weights or any kind of complex calculations. What we do is a holistic review. We look at the entire application, including the personal statement, and we make a holistic evaluation based on all of that information. We spend a lot of time and care training 100 plus readers to be able to evaluate and assess all the information in your application.

Miguel Hernandez: So, three components of the application are gonna be your courses, your grades, and for freshmen applicants, your test scores. So as far as courses are concerned, you need to check the UC website to make sure that you’re eligible. For grades, you’re gonna need to submit all grades that you’ve received up into the point of application. We don’t favor one test over the other but all applicants must submit two essays to subject test. For those taking the ACT, they have to take the written portion. Okay. A few other things you’re gonna include in your application are activities demonstrating leadership, awards and honors, community service and employment. These things are gonna give us a bigger perspective of who you are.

Bridget Wilson: My advice to students would be to make sure that you list all of the information in detail including the position that you’ve held in that activity in any leadership, and the number of hours and the amount of time that you spent doing that activity per year whether it’s during the summer or during the school year.

Michele Lakrith: We’re looking for information that would demonstrate the students’ academic potential. Perhaps, an extraordinary talent. A student who has succeeded in spite of some unusual circumstance or any other information that will help us understand the full academic program and the context of which the student has achieved.

Richie Richards: As a transferee student, I found out that what Berkeley was looking for was not necessarily what was in my GPA or in my test scores per se, but what they were looking for was what I did for my community.

Stephanie Bergtanole: I often here from students both in the classroom and in the admissions office that they are not good enough for Cal, they are not Berkeley material. My advice is have the courage to compete in our applicant pool in their selections in the admissions office.

Christie Richards: I got to UC Berkeley because I checked off the box. Honestly, I wasn’t gonna apply. I wasn’t planning on it. I thought my ACT scores are way too low but my mom said, just check off the box and see what happens and I checked it off. And I think my personal essay was really what got me into the application process.

Joshua Cella: When it comes to the application, I would definitely suggest spending a lot of time on your personal statement. It’s the one thing on your application that you can really make stand out and you can kind of let the admissions department know who you really are versus just numbers and scores.

In the personal statement, we’re looking for the evidence of more in different types of achievement beyond the grades and the test scores. The personal statement completes the application. It goes beyond a list. It expands on those qualities that are your strengths. When writing the personal statement, reflect on whether or not the reader has been given a complete picture of you. What is it that you like your reader to know about your achievements? What can you expend upon relative to your talents, your leadership, the special academic programs, work experience, community service? And when you set to write your personal statements, reflect upon your life, and what makes you shine. What makes you a star in your world? And share that with the reader.

David Moore: One of the challenges that I found about the application process was the personal statement. And one thing I found that was helpful form me was the personal statement writing workshops that were held by community college professors and the UC Berkeley representatives that came out to the community college.

My personal statement was really personal and I think that’s what got me here because I opened myself up in the process and told them who I was, what I wanted to be, and that’s what got me here.

The myth I heard was the campus is large and impersonal.

Jonathan Poullard: Cal is large but there are thousands of ways to make the campus smaller and make it more meaningful to you as a student. And one of those ways is to be involved in one of our 700 plus student organizations, to be engaged in intramurals, compete with your peers, do research, do a study abroad, be engaged in one of the fraternities or sororities on the campus. The bottom line is this: Make Cal your own experience by getting engaged and being involved.

Bob Jacobson: Berkeley is the best place to study just about anything. That’s one of the nice things about the campus and that it has programs in all sorts of things that are full of exciting people doing all sorts of stuff. So pretty much regardless of what it is that you want to study, you can come here and just completely immerse yourself in it.

Andrew Person: I would have to say it was all the people here in campus that really attracted me. Everybody on campus was really welcoming. The student body was really diversified. Academic in Berkeley was a top-caliber school. And it’s a fun school.

Oscar Mairena: One of the best things about coming in Berkeley, I would definitely say, is the history of Berkeley. As a campus, it’s just so rich of so many cultures and so many people. And, like you’re walking on Telegraph and you’re walking down a historical street. You’re walking in on campus. You’re walking around Southern Lane’s prowl. Everything is just like so much rich history to every spot that you stood in on this campus.

We would like each and everyone of you to picture yourself at Berkeley.

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