I notice that there is a lot of information online for high school seniors but not much for transfer students. It could be harder if you are new to the country and new to the education system. I did not know how the education system worked when I immigrated to the state in summer 2013 either. Therefore, it worths sharing my experience. I will also mention some hidden secrets that your counselors cannot tell you at their work office (maybe take them to lunch). Since I study Computer Science/Applied Math so I know more and will focus more on the two departments. I hope this gives you, the readers a better sense of transferring and can help you prepare for your applications.
1: I am writing this post not to show off about myself, but more about sharing how and what get me in UC Berkeley/ or what I think to get me in UC Berkeley. 2: This is written in 2017 so please keep yourself update with the current admission process as well
Table of Content:
I: Start early and take the right classes.
II: The Statistics, know yourself and who you compete with. III: Activities & Awards ( to show who you are outside of your classroom). IV: Essays (The soul and the heart of your application). V: Some Tips and Hidden Secrets.
I: Start early and take the right classes.
To be able to transfer to a competitive program, you need to have the required classes. If you think about transferring, you must know about assist.org . Check with your counselor about the classes you take. You should not care too much about General Ed classes either The Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). You should focus on your major classes first, the classes listed on assist.org . There are situations you do not need to fulfill IGETC, my counselor did not tell me this. One of it is that you can prove that you are proficient in another language rather than English. If you went to high school that does not teach English as the primary language (my case, Vietnamese), you could submit your K-12 transcript (Check with UC Berkeley and other schools). You can also take the SAT languages or some languages proficient exams. I did not do a lot of GE classes at my CC so I need to take them at UC Berkeley where 1 class can count for many requirements.
II: The Statistics, know yourself and who you compete with.
For Computer Science at UC Berkeley, UCLA or Stanford, those programs are very competitive. The acceptance rate for transfer students at Stanford is roughly around 1%, and they give the priority to athletics and veterans said by an admission officer. For UCLA is 5%, for UC Berkeley CS is 7% and EECS is 8%. With CS at UC Berkeley, you come in as CS intended and you need to declare with a 3.3 GPA in 3 fixed technical classes. 3.3 is B+, yes and you need to know that they are hard, very hard indeed. The average GPA for CS at UC Berkeley is 2.7 which that is B-. This page can give you more information and better overview of the stats: UC System, Transfer by Majors
In Fall 2016, I did my transfer application. In Spring 2017, I heard back from the schools where I got waitlisted for Stanford for Mathematical and Computational Science major and I got accepted for Computer Science major everywhere else include UC Berkeley and UCLA. I decided to go to UC Berkeley after all. My overall transferable GPA is: 3.92 My Math and Computer Science GPA: 4.00 You may hear a lot of people say that they have an above average GPA and still get in blah blah. Oh well, they may get lucky, or they may have done some exceptional extracurricular activities that overshine their GPA. To play safe and to be honest, your GPA matter a lot. It is the factor they use to filter out whether to read other parts of your applications. So keep your GPA good and above the average range. However, you should apply anyway regardless of your statistic, don't hesitate. You are good enough. You are, yes, believe me, you are amazing. You may suck at many things, but not at this.
III: Activities & Awards (to show who you are outside of your classroom)
I want to love what I do; I try to do what matters to me whether it is a volunteer position or a paid position. I did not do those activities just to make my application look good and polish. I did them because I loved them and enjoyed doing them. Those work for me but they may not work for you. I hope you can find the actives that you enjoy doing as well ( College is stressful so please learn and do what you love). For me, as a nerdy Asian, I wanted to show the admissions that I am passionate about other things too. Also, don't just do a lot of actives, do a few and make it to the leadership roles. Below is the activities that I put in my applications. They are pretty much the same for the UC application and other applications. I hope they give you a better sense to find the actives you love and help strengthen your apps.
1: Educational Prep Programs:
Dong Nai Math competitive team: The Dong Nai Math competitive team selects students who are gifted in Math. The program helps students expand their opportunities in college Math related majors EOPS: serves low-income and educationally disadvantaged students by providing academic support services to assist students in achieving their educational goals. MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement): including MESA Schools Programs, SUCCESS Through Collaboration and California Community College Program The MESA program assists economically disadvantaged students who are majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics to excel academically.
2: Volunteer & Community Service:
AGS club: I am an active member of the AGS honor society club. I make cards and write letters to send to children who have struggled because of cancer. Civic Center Campus, CCSF: I was an ESL tutor at Civic Center Campus where I helped ESL students with their homework and provided resources for their English learning process. Civic Center Campus, CCSF: I volunteered as a librarian at the Civic Center campus of City College. I helped ESL students to find books that fit them and organized some ESL workshops. MESA: I volunteer for my school's MESA program by using my knowledge in computer science to help them develop their website. Women's Resource Center, CCSF : I volunteered as a technology supporter at the center. I helped the center with its computer software and other technological problems.
3: Work Experience
They want you to show that you can handle many responsibilities at once Student Worker: I helped students with their online applications for financial aid. I also trained new student workers. SF Wax Museum Host Server Sciences Tutor
4: Awards & Honors:
List as much as they allow you to, all your accomplishments from different areas of life. If you think you don't have any, ask your parents, your friends and the people around you. They will tell you how amazing you are. They will tell you all the awards and honors that you have received, but you forgot. It is show time!!!
5: Extracurricular Activities:
ESL student representative: As an ESL student representative, I lead ESL students to stand up for their rights and needs in public education. I make sure that our voices are heard. Event Planner: As an Event Planner at CCSF, I planned fun activities for students on the campus such as International Day and Halloween Parties. Vice President Class 2010: I was the Vice President of the Class of 2010 at Bau Ham High School in Viet Nam. Performances: I performed with my classmates when I was in 12th grade. We sang and danced for school events.
IV: Essays (The soul and the heart of your application):
Your job is to help the admission officers read your app with your spirit next to them. Put all your heart and soul into it. This is the chance you let the admission to know you as a whole person more than just numbers and the long lists. You should befriend your English professors so they can help you with your essays. They are very good at this, and they are paid to do this. You should connect your activities from the previous part to your essays as well. The earlier you start writing, the better.
V: Some Tips and Hidden Secrets:
1: Use your P/NP.
Yes, there are classes you just need to pass them. If you don't like it, do not want to put the time in it? Make it a P/NP and suck it up with a C ( enough to P). I wish I used those P/NP more often ( Check with your counselor to see how many units you can spare for those)
2: Having Ws are OK.
W stands Withdraw on transcript. I have 3 Ws on my transcripts. All my 3Ws are in the same semester. Having W does not hurt your GPA or does you any harm in your admission process. You just need to be ready to explain them. But still, though, try not to have so many of them. That being said drop a class if you think you are getting C or even B if it is your major class; retake your major class with an A
3: You still can change your major after you transfer
How many times do they tell you that you can not change your major after your transfer? Yes, you can, at least that is the case at UC Berkeley. You can change majors within your colleges. You need to graduate before you hit 130 units. As long as you plan around that, you should be fine. I wish I knew that I could just apply for Applied Math ( the acceptance rate is higher). When I get in, I can change to CS. Even though I got accepted as CS, I need still need to declare, and the acceptance rate is lower, so why do I need to risk myself at first, right?
4: Take your time.
"My friends are transferring but I am still here, at this small CC" is the sentence I hear a lot. It is ok, take your time, don't rush and overwhelm yourself with a heavy load of classes and works. You will transfer eventually. I love my time at CC and transferring is just a part of it.
5: Apply to many schools.
Don't limit yourself just to one school either the UC system, apply, as many as you can afford. If you worry about the fee, there are waivers. If you worry about the essays, they are pretty much the same; you can reuse a lot of your essays and revise them. If not, you can just put some heart and soul to write it. It is a chance for you to impress others, take that chance. I know that Cornell takes a lot of transfers students
That is all I have to say. I hope this helps you with your transfer process. If you read this articles and get into Berkeley later, please hit me up with your good news. Good luck to you all.