Application Advice from UC Berkeley Students Who Have Been There

UC Berkeley students share insight on the application process, what they learned and what advice they would give to current applicants.

“Be honest and as detailed as possible when you write your personal statement [personal insight questions] because those reading it are people who have never met you, and they need to be able to see who you are as a person. Make sure that you have your personal statement read by at least one random person who doesn’t know much about you, to makes sure that it conveys what you want it to convey.” -Brianna A., Ethnic Studies

“The one thing I wish I knew as a prospective student applying to college is it’s not just about the numbers. It’s about you, the holistic you. Focus on you and what impact you want to make on the future.” -Maria J.
“Show passion on your application, whatever that might be, if that’s music or politics or whatever else you’re really passionate about, just try to get that across in the application, because once you come to Berkeley you realize that everyone here is really passionate about their own niche. So if you can get that across in the application that will really help.” -Sergey M., Economics

“Reach out to your college advisors, mentors or anyone who could offer support when applying. These are people who are there for you and if you simply ask, ‘Hey I don’t know about XYZ’, I promise you they will be willing to help, so build your mentorship around you as soon as you can. And come on campus if you can, to get know folks around here as well.” -Anna L.

“One thing I wish I knew when applying is that Berkeley not only looks at your GPA but they also look at the stuff you’ve done outside of the classroom. Berkeley really takes that into consideration. They have a holistic approach when viewing applications. If you’re employed, Berkeley wants to know that. They want to know what awards you’ve gotten, what community service you’ve done, volunteering, internships. Anything you’ve done outside of the classroom to show what you can bring to Cal, to show how unique you are.” -Ashley S., Sociology

“When it comes to editing your personal statement [personal insight questions], grammar is important but no one is going to help you edit more than someone who knows exactly who you are. Either a mentor or professor or family member who will tell you or not if you are underselling yourself or not….people who love us, people who care about us will say, ‘you’re not telling them this about yourself.’ That is why it is so important to have someone edit it who knows you. They’re the best people who can advise you on you.” -Juan P.

“I think the best advice I can give about the application is to start early because you have to take time to articulate the things you want to say and that does not come overnight.” -Amy V., Business Administration & Economics

“Be yourself in your application! So many people tell prospective students to fit a constructed mold of the ideal student to guarantee your chances at getting into university. However, Cal is nowhere near to a cookie cutter university. Each person’s unique background, likes, dislikes, journey, disposition on life, and more comes together to create the campus that we love. Therefore, embrace what makes you special and let that shine so that you can thrive as yourself in college.” -Johnson K.

“Looking back at the application process, something I noticed that a lot of people did that I didn’t and would have like to have done is have people read over my personal statement [personal insight questions]. I feel like the personal statement is one of the biggest components in the application process and what colleges really take a look into and take into account. I really wish that I would have shared my personal statement with a mentor, with a teacher, with a counselor, with anyone who I trusted so that they could read over it and provide me with feedback so that my personal statement was the best that it could be.” -Ulises G., Social Welfare

“For the personal insight questions, really try to be yourself and really show the Admissions officer who you are, not what you think they want you to be.” -Shangjun J.

“You need to do your research. Reach out to scholars who are actually going to the universities you want to go to. And ask them what’s so great about it. Ask them if you can shadow them for a day to see what it’s like on campus.” -Ashley S., Psychology

For more application tips, check out our guide to the freshman application and the transfer application. And get started on your UC Berkeley application today.