Are you a senior in high school applying to UC Berkeley in November 2018? Than this Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer is for you. Our yearly check-in with the UC Berkeley admissions team for frosh admissions brings us Djenilin Mallari and Henry Tsai. This year we discuss using online resources, tips for writing an essay that will highlight who you are and how the admissions team approaches each application (hint: it is a holistic process).
***This podcast was recorded in November 2018. Since COVID-19 there have been changes to the application process and requirements. Please visit the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the most up-to-date requirements.***
If you are applying to transfer to Berkeley Engineering, please check out tips on the Transfer Admissions podcast.
- Office of Undergraduate Admissions, UC Berkeley
- Admissions University of California
- Prospective Freshmen FAQs
Freshman Admissions Fall 2018 (2019-20)
LAURA VOGT: Hi my name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services. Welcome to this week’s episode of The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And this week I’m really excited to welcome Djenilin Mallari and Henry Tsai from the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Admissions. Today we are discussing students that are applying as incoming freshmen to Berkeley Engineering. Djenilin would you please tell us a little more about yourself?
DJENILIN MALLARI: Sure I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me. My name is Djenilin Mallari. I’m an assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions here UC Berkeley.
LV: Thank you and thank you for coming in for the first time over here in our little podcast. Henry can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you came with us last year.
HENRY TSAI: Yes. Thanks for having me again. And my name is Henry. I’m also an assistant director of undergraduate admissions at UC Berkeley.
LV: And thank you. I really do appreciate you taking your time and coming over here talking with us a little bit. Let’s start it off with the application dates. I know we’re in November now so those are the important things that we’ve got to remember right.
DM: Yes. So the application opens for August 1st and the submission period is the entire month of November so November 1st starts admitting it is due November 30th 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time LV: Excellent and does it matter when you get your application in and does it looked better if you turn in at the beginning of the month versus the end of the month.
DM: Makes no difference whatsoever between November 2nd November 22nd it has no impact whatsoever on the application.
LV: Just make sure you give yourself time right?
HT: Yeah we do see not a lot but enough where students panic and 11:00 p.m. and then their computer decides not to work or whatever. You know life happens. So definitely give yourself that time.
LV: Excellent. And once students have applied when do they find out if they’ve been accepted?
DM: Sure. So we try to release our decisions by the end of March. There’s no specific date just yet but usually by the end of March are freshmen decisions.
LV: And that’s that we’ve got a CAL day that comes up in April that kind of welcomes everyone that’s been accepted.
HT: Yeah exactly. And so definitely check out the CAL day website to see when that is. But yeah that’s exactly why we have it at the end of March. And that leads right into CAL day.
LV: And what exactly is part of the application process either essays or do they have to do letters of reference or letters of recommendation or anything along those lines?
HT: Yeah letters of rec are a part of our process but it’s only for a very small number of students. So it’s not for everyone and it’s not a positive or a negative thing. If you are asked or if you are not asked for a letter of rec so don’t share the link. It’s not going to work for other people when you get it in your email and you can choose to have two people to write letters of rec for you.
One of them we prefer to have a academic person I guess write you a letter of rec so it to be a teacher or a counselor of that sort. And then the other one could be anybody you want who knows you pretty well to answer the other letter of recommendation. And yeah. So don’t worry if you aren’t asked or if you are it doesn’t mean you’re in or out either way.
DM: it is an invitation that comes out to students after they submit their application. So it’s not something that’s a part of the application initially the students maybe invited to submit up to two as Henry mentioned. With the overall or as I should say the initial application. Some components of it are the academic history. It’s entirely self reported. So it’s really helpful to have an unofficial transcript in front of you for the applicants who are reporting all of those grades each of the classes the types of classes they’re taking things of that sort. They’ll also write a little bit about their extracurricular involvement special program participation awards and honors and then we do have as you mentioned are essays they are called the personal insight questions. Logistically there are eight options from which students will choose four and for each of those four questions students have up to 350 words with which to respond. So those are the components of the application.
LV: OK. And how important are the personal essays to the application process. I had someone asked me that yesterday.
DM: Sure. So we do conduct a holistic review. So while we want to say there’s a formula or any kind of percentage assigned to any one component of the application I’d like to argue that the personal inside questions are impactful because it’s really an opportunity for students to use their own voice to really share with us their experiences talk about their extracurricular involvement their lived experiences to really give us the context with which to understand their entire application. So well you mentioned earlier that components are the academic record extracurriculars all of that I like to frame it as while I can see all of that information the personal insight questions really are an opportunity for students to provide the lens through which to understand all of those pieces.
LV: And when we were talking about the essays is there any one particular question that you think is more important for them to answer?
HT: Not at all. The eight are viewed as equally as as any others. And we would prefer students to choose the ones that really speak to them that would read it and read the question and say oh wow I have a lot to say about this. That’s the one we want them to write. So there is no preference. I’d rather not read the same four for know 100,000 applications.
LV: And when we’re talking about the extracurricular activities I had someone ask me Is it better to do one activity and do everything about it and be really involved in that one. Or do you want to see him spread out and do a couple different extracurricular activities.
HT: We would like to see whatever really kind of fits in the students narrative and in their life really. So there’s no really one or three or five or 10. Usually we do we see students have multiple areas of of interest. And so that’s great. Usually we don’t see just one. So just in general don’t feel like you have to limit yourself or overextend yourself. That’s kind of the message that we would like to get out there. What does it mean for you to participate in these activities. How much time does it take for you to participate in these activities and in-depth so not 400 activities in one day out of the year and that’s it. And so it’s more about the depth and how much you’re gaining out of the activity versus the number and balancing that with your grades and the classes you’re taking. So it all has to make sense for you. That’s that’s kind of the idea.
LV: And it doesn’t matter if it’s a public service extracurricular activity or if it’s to be in band or debate or the robotics club
DM: It can be whatever it is the students interested in it could be related to their academic interests or field of interest but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. I like to tell students that it’s not only what you do but why you do it. So you’re able to speak to you in your personal take questions or additional comments you’re able to speak to why you dedicate this time in this effort to this particular activity. So we don’t look for a specific type of activity or involvement. It really is what is the student doing outside of the classroom and why.
LV: OK. Talking more about the academic side of it if we switch gears just a little bit. Is there a specific GPA that we’re looking for?
HT: No we do not have a minimum requirement for a GPA. But no there’s not one that we’re looking for GPAs themselves could tell us a lot of different stories depending on the student’s context even from if you just have a 4.0 versus another student 4.0 a totally different things depending on how many honors and AP and all the stuff that you’re taking. So no there is not a single number or a range of numbers that we’re looking for.
Now a lot of students take a look at our brochures or look on our website and see an average and that is an average that happens after all the students are admitted.
And we just look at the average is not something where we pay attention to while we’re reading applications oh this student does not fall into this range and so therefore we’re not going to admit that that’s not how it works. It’s just something that we pull out after all the students are admitted.
DM: Yeah I think speaking to that GPA it’s one piece of the hole that we’re looking at with holistic review particularly with the academic record that GPA tells of one piece of the story but we’re also looking at the types of classes students are taking. So I like to remind students that at three point five looks very different between taking just the basic core curriculum versus eighteen point five would say challenging courses like honors and AP classes. So those are usually a combination of those things so we are looking at the overall context of that academic record.
LV: OK. When we’re talking about what classes they should take I know a lot of our students come in with a lot of AP courses. Are there specific ones that you would suggest that they tried to take if it’s available at their school?
DM: Yes. So with students who are interested in the college of engineering it’s also always really helpful to have a really set foundation in the subjects of math and science specifically which I think students usually assume is the case. So taking the highest level of math and science at their school that’s available is always really helpful because we want students to be prepared for success once they get toward campus and are able to address and take on the challenge of the academic rigor particularly within the College of Engineering on our campus so I won’t name all of the AP classes just consider the context of the school that you’re coming from and what is available. And that’s also something that we consider that not every school has every challenging AP math and science course. And so again we are considering the context of this clear coming from but as far as what is available I’m challenging yourself within that is always really helpful.
HT: And another thing I’d like to add is that a lot of times we see students with scheduling conflicts in between AP exams AP classes. So if they have I don’t know 15 AP classes available to you at your school and you take six or seven if you have scheduling conflicts then feel free to tell us that and say OK I couldn’t take these two together because they’re at the exact same time. So some of those little contextual information can help us determine what’s going on. You have 15 and you took you know three or five or whatever what was going on there.
LV: And do you have a list or do you know some way of what schools had 27 AP classes and what schools are only able to offer for.
DM: We do for the most part so we do ask counselors at every high school that we have access to to send us what we call a school profile and in those school profile students are the counselors able to report these are the types of AP courses available. Here’s the number. We also aren’t necessarily talking about IB courses as well included in that number was in what we consider challenging courses but that’s context that we can get from the school profile. It’s also something that students can report to us in the application whether through additional comments sections if they want to talk about their personal insight and take questions that the space as well they usually is context that we receive from the school directly.
LV: Let’s go back and look at that. Talk about the personal essays a little bit. Are there any of the topics that when people answer the questions that it become too cliched that you’ve heard the same story over and over again that maybe people can either expand on it or try to find a different way to answer the question.
HT: So I guess in a sense yes there is a way that students respond that becomes commonplace and the only thing I would say about that is that it’s because students tend to stay very very general. So the information they’re giving us is all big concept and the concepts and big ideas. And so therefore it’s very general. It’s very general. The word says General. So it becomes commonplace. So what we’re what we’d like to see is that students dig deep a little bit and tell us about themselves and their own motivations. Why are you doing something or why did something why is something impactful to you in that case. If they do dig deeper a little bit and give us more about themselves then it becomes not common and it comes unique and it becomes who they are and what they can tell us about themselves. It requires a little bit of reflection or a lot of reflection hopefully and something unique to them. If it’s a true story of them and they’re digging deep then it becomes unique. That alone will make it unique. The cliche the common place is when everything is just super general and you’re just saying I persevered. What does that mean. I don’t know what perseverance means for you right. It’s a very common idea. What does that mean. So it’s when it becomes cliche when it’s general.
DM: And I think if I can add a little bit more I think Henry is also talking a lot about the style of writing that students write in and then in terms of content I think I get a lot of students who asked me that my best friend is my co-president and we have the same exact experiences in the same exact clubs. Is there a concern from an admissions reader reading the same exact thing. I like to remind students that their perception and their point of view and the perspective I should say it really is independent of all of their friends. You might be having the same exact experience as you might be coming from the exact same if not similar backgrounds but you get to speak to your truth and your narrative. And I think that’s really important for students to know that we’re looking for their story and they’re the best person to tell us that story.
LV: And that last year we talked a little bit about some students might get too technical if they’re talking about a project that they’re doing especially in engineering. So that’s still kind of the same idea of trying to explain things in a layman’s terms maybe?
DM: Yeah we never know who’s going to be reading the applications are all trained the same way to read applications to understand and take context from an application but do try to take the perspective of somebody who isn’t quite in that same mindset of oh I know all of this terminology all the jargon that you might know. And I think focusing not so much just on the product itself but really the impact it’s had are your leadership role in it and it’s really talking about that and not so much just a project.
HT: Yeah think of these as the title of these are called personal insight questions and so it’s not a technical manual that you have to recite or anything. It’s a personal insight question so that’s where you have to kind of bring it back if something has to be said about this project that is technical sure put it in there it’s it’s what it’s called. But other than that it should be what is it about that that you got a lot out of that you learn that you influence that you lead that you follow. But in a very impactful way for you all this information is a lot more relevant than as many technical terms as I can throw into 350 words.
LV: And last year just as a side antidote we heard in the news a lot about a student who wrote his application essay that just said Pick me pick me or something along those lines where it just said the same thing over and over again because it’s a holistic review that’s not necessarily going to get you anywhere right?
DM: It’s not helpful. It really doesn’t help us learn about a student. I like to assume when I’m reading an application a student wants us to pick them right. And so you don’t have to tell me that you’re applying to our school. It says it on its own. What’s the most helpful in these personal insight questions as you said earlier it really is tell us your story tell us who you are. I can’t make assumptions about your application and I would hope that applicants don’t want us to make assumptions and so they get to fill in those gaps and provide those details for us to consider. I say experience is a lot but we’re considering your achievements in the context of your life. Considering your family responsibilities or considering your home life. And like I said you get to tell that story to us so we get to consider all of that in the holistic way in your application.
LV: So let’s talk a little bit more about actually when you’re choosing your major to come to UC Berkeley. I know within the College of Engineering we are really specific about when you choose your major you’re coming in as either electrical engineering and computer science or you’re coming as mechanical engineering. Is there a way once you get here to change so what have you got accepted into letters in science instead of engineering.
HT: Yeah. So it’s going to be incredibly incredibly difficult for you get what we call a change of college from letters and science or natural resources environmental design and change into college of engineering after you get to Berkeley. So if you even though it is very difficult and it’s competitive to get into the college of engineering if you know you want engineering then apply to the College of Engineering. Within engineering I believe you can change it to different majors and things like that within. But again if you think it’s hard to get into Berkeley try to do that change to college it will be very very difficult.
LV: I know relying on CAL day when we meet a lot of students that are trying to decide which college to go to is if you got accepted in the letters and science but you really want to do electrical engineering and computer science. And you got into a different college where you’re actually in that major. We suggest doing that we don’t actually take any transfers or change college into engineering electrical engineering and computer sciences. And then a lot of the other ones are impacted. But I know it’s just it’s difficult. We have a lot of people that apply and a lot of people that were not able to accept so it’s hard to make everything work out right.
HT: And we yeah we get that question all the time on the road which major or which college should I apply to. And then you know let’s just say and they try to be you know sly about it whatever. What if I want to do engineering later. And maybe way back when I don’t know where this myth came from but ever since I’ve been around it’s been seven or eight years now. This hasn’t been the case you can’t or it’s extremely extremely extremely extremely difficult to do a change college. So yeah
DM :I mean if students are open to considering computer science as a major. We do have them in the college of arts and science so that is an option for students who are admitted. But it really does take some understanding of the differences between the two where computer science can be the same between the two majors but it doesn’t quite have that electrical engineering aspect of it and that that’s something that’s really important to students than it really is the decision is up to them of what do they want with their degree and if that’s not here at Berkeley because they’re not admitted already or enrolled in the College of Engineering then that’s definitely something that’s important for them to consider.
HT: There’s also in the College of Letters and Science a computer science major if you’re admitted in the College of Letters and Science and you want computer science that’s something that you will have to declare at the end of your second year. So that means you’re going to need to fulfill their requirements so you’re not in that major right away. Whereas if you’re in the college of engineering you’re in that major right away you’re admitted to that major and there’s no other sort of set of circumstances or criteria that you need to meet to be in that major. So that’s a big difference and where you have to meet another set of requirements to get into college letters and science computer science major. So if you’re debating on which one to get into actually they’re equally hard to get into. One is just in the beginning freshman if you will and then the other one is after your second year hopefully you’ve met the requirements.
LV: OK. I think that third thing to really get out of this is we don’t do change of college for EECS. It’s not we just don’t have the capacity to do it. So definitely take that into consideration when you’re picking what your major is. And I know it seems funny to just single out EECS but that’s the big one right now.
DM: It really is.
LV: And is there any downfalls to applying to multiple universities within the UC system I know you get to select when you’re doing your application.
DM: Yeah. No not at all. So a lot of students will ask me if I get into this campus will I not get into another one we don’t consider that I actually can’t see we can’t see which campuses a student is applying to unless they explicitly state which ones they are planning to in their application. So it makes no difference and our hope is actually that they are applying broadly within the UC system.
LV: In the preparation of getting ready to come here if we look at that for their standardized test the students have to take. We’ve got quite a few questions about it is it better to do the S.A.T. or the ACT what extra test did they have to subject test should they do.
HT: Yeah you definitely have to take either the SAT or the ACT even if you are an international student with writing but there’s no preference either one whichever one you feel most comfortable with or take all of them and just send us all of them what we’ll do is we’ll look at the highest sitting scores. So we do not superscore. We just take the highest sitting and for subject exams SAT twos or SAT subject exams they are not required at all. A lot of students do get in without taking them. But if you do decide to take them or you can and you know you’re going to do well then take a math level two and a science that’s related to your major bioengineering take bio and things like that. So again there’s no preference for either one and you do not have to take them. But think of your application as evidence or reasons to admit you. If you have more reasons and you take those SAT 2s and you do well then that’s more reasons to admit you. So it’s not required but it could definitely help.
DM: And to add on to that as we mentioned earlier with math and science being really pivotal and integral to success in the college engineering and checking for that in the foundational course in high school taking those SAT subject exams can be helpful in showing me your academic achievement again in those subjects.
LV: OK but for the AP classes how many AP classes were actually transfer to UC Berkeley? Should you stop at a certain amount because you don’t think it’s going to count for anything?
HT: Yeah I believe Berkeley is a little different than the other UCs in this respect. So all the AP exams that you take that you get a three or above will have or you’ll have units when you come to Berkeley. So there’s no limit. So you could have five to 20 to 30 to 40. And depending on how many AP exams you take you could have all those units. Not all of them will take the place of a course. And it’s up to your advisers and the college to dictate that.
So the other units could be elective or whatever and your college will kind of determine that once you get here. But there is no limit to how many units you can have. Oher UCs might have different policies on that. So definitely check with the UC schools that you want to apply to and see what their policies are.
DM: Yeah. So into that also. IB courses or IB exams we accept a higher level 5 6 and 7 for very very similar things to what Henry said.
LV: Oh OK. So this is when you come in you’re basically are coming in when however many units of classes that you took. All right.
LV: And how likely is it that a student actually going to be accepted? Iknow for engineering we’re pretty competitive.
DM: We are so for UC Berkeley our fall 2017 I guess for 2018 admissions we had about an 18 percent admin rate. And so to contextualize College of Engineering usually teeters between around 8 to 10 percent. It just depends. That’s why I hesitate a little bit within the specific number because it does. It can vary depending on the applicant pool. Every year it does shift a little bit but as you said the College of Engineering overall is very very selective
LV: But that doesn’t mean to not apply right now.
DM: Exactly. So it’s not impossible to get in. So again it’s really helpful in that holistic review or to understand where a student is coming from not just their academics while of course academics are absolutely an important part of the entire equation if you will. We are looking it up at what else a student is doing so with holistic review it is that academic as well as non-academic achievement in terms of what are they doing outside of the classroom what are their academic opportunities or extracurricular opportunities are they taking advantage of. So it’s definitely not impossible to get in. It’s just a matter of doing really well in the courses that you’re taking and really speaking to your experiences and your strengths in your application.
HT: A lot of students ask me that once they hear about the percentages and things like that and I always like to kind of tell them something that’s that’s weirdly profound to them although it’s not to me. Maybe I’ve just been doing this for a long time. But there’s one guarantee here and we can see this as an absolute fact. If you do not apply you’re definitely not going to get in. So that’s that kind of it’s obvious but honestly when you self select out just even if it’s a hard score to get into or whatever you take yourself out of the pool that’s it. So you know if you really have a passion for something and you really want to try to give it a shot.
LV: Speaking on that. If somebody was worried about it’s costing too much to apply to a bunch of different schools. Is there something to help them pay for the application fees.
DM: Yeah sure. So in the application itself some students can essentially apply for a fee waiver for up to four schools. As I mentioned it is all calculated in the UC application. It’s a consideration of the annual family income and the family size. So there are just a couple of things that we take into account. So some students can be eligible for that fee waiver like I said for up to four campuses there are also other fee waivers. I always recommend students talk to their counselors at their school. There’s a thing called College waivers we have our NACAC waivers so I know there are things that students may or may not be familiar with. But again I always recommend speaking with a counsellor at their school.
LV: There’s things out there and resources for you to try to help you. Don’t self select out just because you’re worried about money or anything along those lines. Tell us more about the wait list what does it mean. How did the students get on.
HT: OK so the wait list is something that we use every year in a very specific manner in the sense that we actually use it. Some colleges have a waitlist but they don’t really go to it for whatever reason. For us it is part of our process. So if you are put on the waitlist it is a possibility that you’ll get in. Every year it depends and it’s it varies in regards to who and how many students or how many not who I guess how many students get in and it depends on the how many students decide to come in the first wave when all the decisions go out and students by May 1st need to tell us if they’re coming or not. So how many students say yes. So that basically dictates the waitlist. If it’s low one year then we’ll have more that will admit off the waitlist and vice versa. So it is a tool that we use to make sure we can gather as many students as we can and not over admit. If you over admit then resources dwindle. Right. You got to many students for the number of resources on campus so it’s very important to us in a logistical sense. So that’s something that we use very strategically in helping us manage that process.
DM: So that’s important for students if they are put on the waitlist. The decision that they can make is whether they opt into that waitlist. So opting in means that they’re like okay I’ll stay on the waitlist I’ll wait a little bit for the decision to come out and we may admit students from the waitlist and I think every year again it changes as to who commits to our campus things of that sort. But I think the biggest thing for students to know is that if they are put on the waitlist to whether to opt in or to not opt in if students don’t opt in. It’s very similar to what Henry said earlier that if you don’t opt in you’re just no longer considered for admission to UC Berkeley. But if students are like I’m going to hold out hope and I’m going to stay on this waitlist they do have to opt in and the deadline is very soon after those first decisions come out.
HT: Also to add as we get questions like should I say I want to go to a different institution while I’m waiting on the waitlist. The answer is yes. Don’t give up a chance that you have already in the bag if you will. Somebody has admitted you already say yes to that campus if you can. I don’t know what their policies are wait list and whatnot but if you can then say yes to that campus that when you have a spot somewhere else and don’t give up that spot because a waitlist is not a guarantee. Depending on the numbers that come in every year then you may lose that spot. If you don’t say yes to that campus then you’re waiting on our waitlist.
And so when do you find out if you’re on the waitlist. When do you start releasing admission offers?
DM: Sure. So we do try to release those decisions in late March but by the end of March and so that’s for everyone for students for whom we are accepting admission for students who were not offering admission as well students were accepted onto the wait list. And then after I think May 1st that’s when where that’s essentially the national deadline for students to accept their offer of admission and after that we have more of an idea. Here are some more opportunities and spaces we have available to admit students into. And so it’s kind of on a rolling basis but it kind of is a rolling basis admitting there after I’m after me. So for students on the waitlist it’s usually wait until after the first and then we’ll still be admitting then. If for varying reasons we’re not able to admit any more from that waitlist that will usually come around June time.
HT: And also when you get information about the waitlist there will be deadlines. So it’ll tell you by this time you should hear back from us and that way you can kind of plan it out and things like that and then follow up if after that part of the deadline has passed then you can always follow up. But the communication for waitlists would include deadlines and when you should hear back.
DM: And to that point I think we’ve talked about optional essay with the waitlist as I mentioned earlier with opting in. Students do have that. I think it is optional where students can report anything that hasn’t been included in the application maybe something happened between December 1st and the time they received their decision that oh we really need to consider this whether it was a project that they pursue that they didn’t write about or an opportunity they took advantage of or a recognition they received. So there is that option to include a short term brief essay for us to consider in considering them on the waitlist.
HT: And they will be reviewed. So it’s not a wasted space.
LV: Speaking about that what if a student is not accepted and they something happened between when they turned in their essay and when we sent out admissions to make it so that their application would be stronger at this point. Can they appeal?
DM: Yes. So we do have an appeal process that would be included for students again who are now for that admission there are what we call FAQs for any student really for any other applicants. And so if a student is not offered admission if they go into their FAQ there is an option to appeal the decision. And in that appeal they are able to report in a very brief essay again anything else that hasn’t been again and considered in their application of if that wasn’t included in their application or anything like I said that hasn’t been included or something that was new that happened from December to the time that they received their decision. So there is an option for appeals. It is challenging though not impossible to be admitted off of an appeal case.
HT: Yeah really has to be something new and compelling I guess is the term that we like to use. And of course compelling is relatively subjective. But the idea is that we get a lot of appeals and I’ve seen some of them where they just say I really really really wanted to get into Berkeley or you know some form of that. And that’s not really new or compelling.
LV: That’s all the questions that I have for you is there anything else that we didn’t talk about that you wanted to add?
DM: Not really I think just to echo with holistic review it really is looking at every aspect of the student and the best way we do and the only way we can do that is through the application. And so I just want to reiterate with holistic review we are considering your academic as well as your non academic achievement with academics. We are considering the full picture so your GPA any exams that you take in your overall the courses that you take in the types of classes all of that but then also don’t sell yourself short when you’re talking about yourself and your application in terms of your personal insight questions the experiences that you’ve had and that we consider everything and all of that. And so I think one of the challenges that students face is that RPI accuser personal insight questions are very different in how students are use to writing. It’s not an academic essay it really is their narrative in a very very brief form. So I think the biggest piece of advice that I can share is that it is your time to shine. And this really is an opportunity for you to brag about yourself that we really want to know who you are as a student as a community member as a person your family whatever that might look like. That we are looking at every piece of you and your application.
HT: And just use your resources. The UC Office of the president has a lot of information on there in regards to how do you how do you present yourself on that UC application including the personal insight question responses and how do you write those. And it’s not an essay it’s not a creative writing piece it’s not it’s not a writing sample and it’s different than the common app and all this stuff is on their website. So use your resources find the Web sites that can help you start with you know UC Berkeley Berkeley dot edu you try that and than office of the president.
So kind of do your research and kind of see and if you’re a junior or a sophomore and start filling out the application and don’t submit it because you’re not done yet but make make an app or fill out an application and just see what the application is like and see what the questions are and how do you fill it out. And that way you can kind of get a jumpstart on hey this is what I have to plan to do in my senior year. So I’ve been telling a lot of students do that and they didn’t know they could even make one. And anybody can make one.
DM: And I think for folks who are listening who might not be applying this year but are thinking about and are trying to get familiar with the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley you are welcome to look like Henry said at the University of California website and you can find all of the personal insight questions listed there. I don’t think it’s ever too early to look at those and consider what you might want to write about and even think about how you might want to set the next however many years you have left in high school. So I think having that preparation is really helpful whether that’s drafting or personal insight questions before you even apply or just getting familiar with some of the things that we look at in the application.
HT: Yeah and again I don’t know if we talked about this but in the application we only see what you put down right so we can’t assume anything and we do not use race or gender or religious affiliation or any of that information in the consideration of your application. So just know that ahead of time that that’s not a consideration. And that’s one of the myths that we always get when we’re on the road. We get asked. You know I’m a woman or I’m transgender or I’m white or Caucasian, Asian or whatever is either a negative or a positive or whatever it is not a consideration that we use when reviewing application.
DM: And with that said you can talk if that’s an identity or those are identities that impact you. Again we’re looking at you as an entire person that while we might not consider that just as pieces of your application if you feel it’s necessary to write about identities have impacted you. That’s something you can do in the application but it’s the decision we made will not hinge on those identities.
HT: Thank you. Thank you for that clarification.
LV: Thank you so much both of you for coming by and talking to us today. I really appreciate it.
DM: Thanks for having us.
HT: Yeah definitely. It was really fun.
LV: And thank you everyone for tuning into the not so secret Guide to Being a Berkeley engineer. I’m your host Laura Vogt and if you’re looking at going to UC Berkeley and you want to know more about our resources please by all means check out our other podcast. We talk about students have given their opinions about why you should choose UC Berkeley what they liked about their time here. We’ve had the library come in, the career center all kinds of different things will give you a little bit more of an insight history into the resources that we have available for our students. So thank you everyone for tuning in and we’ll talk to you next time.
HT: Go Bears!