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Many of our senior student athletes are in the process of filing their applications to four-year institutions. The filing deadline for most schools is November 30. A “friend” of the program passed on a great document that provides tips and tricks for completing an application. While this information is specific to University of California schools, it is highly applicable to all institutions. If you are in the process of filing an application or plan to attend a four year institution, you will find this information to be highly informative.

Applying to a four-year institution provides an opportunity to represent yourself in a way that shows the university the depth of your accomplishments. Follow the below steps to ensure you give yourself the best chance of getting into the school of your dreams.

Personal Insight Questions
Each question aligns to one or more of the 14 factors considered in admissions decisions. All questions have equal value, so there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others. There is a maximum of 350 words for each response.


Note: No single factor determines admissions.

  1. Grade-point average

  2. Test scores

  3. Performance in and number of courses beyond minimum a-g requirements

  4. UC-approved honors courses and advanced courses

  5. Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) – CA residents only

  6. Quality of senior-year program of study

  7. Academic opportunities in California high schools

  8. Outstanding performance in one or more academic subject areas

  9. Achievements in special projects

  10. Improvement in academic performance

  11. Special talents, achievements and awards

  12. Participation in educational preparation programs

  13. Academic accomplishment in light of life experiences

  14. Geographic location

Tips for Writing Your UC Activities List
This section of the application provides you the opportunity to illustrate all of the hard work and activities you have participated in during the course of your young adult life. This includes sports, employment, clubs, leadership in school or community, performing arts and beyond. The Activities List is a place to demonstrate important characteristics about you such as motivation/perseverance, tenacity, originality, responsibility, leadership, maturity, initiative.

The below illustration should be your guide as to how to prioritize which activities you should list in your application and start with highest levels of competition (e.g., International/World). For example, if you represent the United States or another Country in International competitions list that team, where they competed, and awards won. If you compete for ODP, AAU or club sports list those teams prior to listing high school activities.

TIP: Keep it short and crisp. Use lists and not complete sentences. Only talk about the things that really matter and raise the importance of the activity/accomplishment. 
Instead of: I raised money to donate to a school in Ghana, Africa by selling t-shirts and bracelets. 

Try: Arranged advertising events, organized fundraisers, and gave presentations at school meetings.


TIP: State role and organization in the top box, so you don’t waste characters in the lower 160 character box.

Instead of: (Top Box) School newspaper; (Lower Box) I am the editor for the school newspaper (do not repeat words)
Try: (Top Box) Editor of International Column, School Newspaper; (Lower Box) Responsible for brainstorming, revising, and supervising articles by other writers for my column.


TIP: Include any responsibility you had to demonstrate leadership skills.
Instead of: I swim on the swim team
Try: USA swimming regional qualifier, traveled nationally, planning fundraiser events, assisting in recruiting process.


TIP: Use active verbs to explain what you actually did (list your tasks).
Instead of: Worked at a clinic doing different things.
Try: Organized patient diagnosis notes, sterilized tools for surgeries, assisted with x-ray analysis.


TIP: Aim for variety in your list, making sure your verbs are not redundant.
Instead of: Instructing, helping, teaching children tennis (make sure these are different and descriptive)

Try: Instructing in proper technique, while imparting lessons in sportsmanship, health and integrity.


TIP: Emphasize tangible, measurable impact: Whom did your activity help? How many people? How much money did you raise?

Instead of: Raised money for children in Africa.

Try: Raised $3,000 to provide three uniforms and scholarships for students attending the Joseph Waweru Home School.


TIP: What if there isn’t much to say, or it was a one-time event? Explain the significance of the activity: who did the event matter to and why?

Instead of: Tutored students.

Try: Provided support to fourth graders with particularly difficult math concepts. Helped them increase their test scores.


TIP: Avoid Extreme Language.

Instead of: to help all those in need (or) to end poverty in the world.
Try: to help those in need (or) to aid in the fight against global poverty


Below is an example of how NOT to fill out an application in the Activities Section.

The applicant left three areas blank (e.g., Extracurricular Activities, Volunteer Work and Community Service and Employment). Within Honors and Awards the applicant did not give any thoughtful description of their awards and the significance of receiving them. In the categories when you can list hours and weeks of activities make sure to list ALL the hours/weeks you do the activity and/or sport.

Examples on How to Fill Out the Application

Make sure to share all your activities! You will see applicants completed all the sections. The applicants listed detailed descriptions and provided all the hours they participated in activities (e.g., AAU Basketball 10 Hrs/Wk and 40 Wks/Yr.). Make sure to calculate all the time you devote to each activity.

Academic Preparation Programs

Honors and Awards

Extracurricular Activities

Additional Tips and Tricks for Completing the University of California Application

Visit the University of California website.

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