Do YOU want to get into UC Berkeley? Or are you a transfer student wondering how that process works? Sit down with one of our former employees, Jenny, as she tells you about her experience transferring from community college to UC Berkeley!!
Hey, I’m Jenny! Before I share about my transfer process to UC Berkeley, I’m aware that the majority of you reading this are probably high school students who are looking to enroll directly into a four-year university after graduation. However, there may be some of you who are considering an alternate route of enrolling at a community college, and then transferring to a university. I personally enrolled at a community college after high school, transferred within two years to UC Berkeley, and graduated on time with my peers. In this video, I’ll be sharing about my personal journey, as well as some admission tips, which will hopefully be beneficial to you.
TEST SCORES & LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION:
Before I talk about what I needed for Berkeley admissions, I’ll first talk about what I didn’t need. As a transfer student, I didn’t need to submit any diagnostic tests, such as the SAT and ACT. I also did not need any letters of recommendation, because the UC system did not require them. (However, some majors and campuses require supplemental letters of recommendation, so be sure to do your research.)
Now let’s dive into what factors really mattered!
- There were two differences in regards to my academic experiences in community college and high school.· GPA was unweighted in community college: Whereas in my high school, AP courses were weighted, in my community college, all courses were unweighted. This meant that the maximum GPA was a 4.0. My community college GPA was 3.86/4.0. In terms of course load, I took a total of twenty courses, five courses each semester. I got eighteen As and two Bs, which brings me to my second point.· Letter grades did not have +/- in community college: Whereas in my high school, letter grades had +/-, in my community college, letter grades were solid. This meant that, depending on the instructor and course, a 99% and a 90% in the same class could both equally manifest as As on a transcript.
- Here is some information regarding transferring to UC Berkeley from a California community college, which is what I did.
· IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum): The UC website describes the IGETC as a “series of courses that California community college students may complete to satisfy the lower-division breadth/general education requirements before transfer to the California State University and some colleges and majors at UC campuses.”
In other words, the IGETC is simply a list of courses you can take to fulfill your generational education at community college. After completing my general education at community college, I mainly took major requirement courses at Berkeley, and even had room to take extra fun classes.· Assist.org: Assist.org is a very helpful website that basically tells you what courses taken at a community college transfer over to a university. For example, English 234, the Shakespeare course I took at my community college, counted as English 17, the Shakespeare course at Berkeley.
In terms of extracurricular activities, I included ones I did in community college, as well as some significant ones from high school.
In community college, I focused on two activities. One was being a leader at Epic Movement, a Christian club, and the other was writing for our campus magazine. A tip for transfer students is to pursue an extracurricular activity that aligns with your major. For example, as an incoming English major, I wrote articles and published poems in my community college’s magazine publications.
As for activities I did in high school, I included my volunteer work at PAVA (Pacific American Volunteer Association), official piano certification (Certificate of Merit up to the maximum level 10), and performance drumming in a traditional Korean musical team.
For transfer students, my advice is to primarily focus on activities you did in community college, especially those that relate to your major and/or career interests. For high school activities, including the ones you had a leadership role or big time commitment in won’t hurt your application!
The current UC personal statements are a bit different from those when I applied. Today, you must answer one required question, and then three out of seven additional ones, each a maximum of 350 words.
When I applied back in November 2014, I had two prompts, with 1,000 words to answer both, 250 being the minimum for one prompt.
Prompt 1.) What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field – such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities – and what you have gained from your involvement.
For this prompt, I wrote about how my intrigue for language developed from an early age, especially as a bilingual Korean American. I then talked about how I loved English during high school, and how I received an award in AP Literature. Moving onto community college – here, I described in detail my extracurricular activities related to my major. I wrote about my experience as a journalist for the school magazine, such as describing my published articles in detail.
Prompt 2.) Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
This prompt is where you can tell your personal story. I wrote about my community college journey, how it was a fruitful time where I matured mentally, academically, and spiritually. I wrote about how in high school, I wasn’t exactly a stellar student, but rather a mediocre one with an aloof mindset. I actually didn’t get admitted to any universities of my choice, which was a huge reality slap. To me, this was the absolute turning point in my life, and I viewed community college as the second and final chance to start fresh. I shared about how I deleted all forms of social media in one night to eliminate distraction, and entered community college with a clear mindset, ready to take advantage of this institution to eventually get into the school of my dreams.
In regards to my actual experiences at community college, I wrote about how I started developing an intellectual thirst to learn new subjects. I genuinely enjoyed expanding my knowledge with general education courses, from Geology to Psychology to Economics. At the end of the essay, I wrote that through this journey of renovating myself at a community college, I discovered that I inherently possess strong willpower, determination, and self-control, and that I can achieve what I put my mind to. It all sounds kind of tacky or cheesy, but this is really my authentic experience!
If there’s any advice I could give for the personal statement portion, it’s to simply be you and tell your story. I believe that when you’re genuine, it radiates through the screen and reaches your reader, no matter how cliché you may think it all sounds.
In summary, for my transfer process, it all boiled down to three things: GPA, activities, and personal statement. With hard work, persistence, a carefully planned out academic map, and a goal-oriented mindset, you can do it too!
BERKELEY ADMISSION ADVICE:
1. Berkeley values diversity. So be yourself; be unique.
If there’s anything I noticed from my time at Cal, it’s that it is very diverse. Berkeley really likes unique individuals that have passion, ambition, drive, and vision. So don’t be afraid to be you. If you have a passion, pursue it intentionally, actively, and relentlessly. Everyone I met at Cal was passionate about something, whether it was anti-human trafficking rights, medicine, or 18th century literature.
2. Work hard.
There is not one person I met in Berkeley who wasn’t hard-working. Berkeley students aren’t necessarily geniuses or even spectacularly intelligent – but they are extremely hard-working.
3. Be a leader.
Lastly, Berkeley seems to really, really like leaders. Whether it was in high school, community college, or both, most Berkeley students were leaders of something, such as a club/organization or athletic team.
PERKS OF UC BERKELEY:
Student Body/Campus: As I mentioned earlier, the student body is incredibly diverse, especially because of Berkeley’s admission of transfer students. I’ve met people of all ages and backgrounds, from college freshmen from the East Coast, to single mothers pursuing their dreams, to grandmothers who are continuing their educational journeys. If there’s one thing I truly respect about Berkeley, it’s that it gives people a second chance, and provides them with the extra resources to do so successfully.
Culture: Berkeley cares. The administration truly cares about its students, whether it’s helping them achieve their goals, or giving mental health awareness and support during seasons of high stress. Even though it’s physically a huge campus with a big student population, Berkeley takes the extra steps to make each student feel important and valued, by providing so many available resources.
The City of Berkeley: Berkeley is a true college town, so you get to have the full “college experience.” It’s not a campus situated in a suburb or big city, but actually in the midst of undergrad and grad students!
Location: I think one of the biggest perks of attending Berkeley is that it’s so close to San Francisco. A lot of times after my friends and I finished midterms or papers, we would hit San Francisco for a day trip as a reward.
My two years at Berkeley were the most vibrant, colorful, stimulating, and joyful times of my entire life. It is where I met my lifelong friends, made priceless memories, developed my character, and gained golden lessons. If I could do it all over, I would choose Berkeley again in a heartbeat. If you have any questions, particularly those of transfer admissions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Good luck, and GO BEARS!