If you live in California or in the U.S. in general you have likely heard of the University of California system, and if you are in high school you might even be considering applying. For those interested this guide could help you get that extra boost needed to get to the top.

Tip 1 (Plan out your Application):

The most important thing is to know what you’re getting yourself into.
The UC Application is a long and complicated process of a hundred different options to choose between and places to write information down.
Therefore I would recommend you to look at what the application portal looks like even before typing anything in.
After you have looked around and gotten the general idea of what you need, I would recommend you to fill out this template, that I created when I applied, to keep the information saved, to get an overview of things, and to check word/character counts:


Tip 2 (What to do about the PIQ):

I have a couple of tips about how to approach the PIQ’s, which I used when I wrote mine.

  1. Generally don’t repeat yourself in the same PIQ, but allude to one of your other PIQs, as this will make the readers remember it better, and therefore it will leave a bigger impact on them.
  2. You should never lie, but that doesn’t mean the whole truth is necessary. Be honest, but don’t harm yourself.
  3. Don’t do “power-write” session, but think about what you want to write everywhere. Shower Thoughts, are a powerful thing, as when you relax, your mind is let loose and can be creative. Use this to your advantage.
  4. Write down ideas, when they come. Losing an idea, is about the worst thing that can happen when you are writing your PIQs. Having an entire desk full of post-it notes is a good thing, and will help you combine ideas into one collective.
  5. Structure Matters! I know that if you have been to a seminar about the PIQs, they will tell you that grammar and structure doesn’t matter, but they are lying. They might try to avoid thinking about it, but in their unconscious, a nice layout in paragraphs will always be prefered against a boring blob of text.

Tip 3 (UC San Diego Extra):

If you do not intend on applying to UC San Diego, then you should skip this step, but if you are, then I would read very carefully.
UC San Diego has a weird “colleges within a college” system, where there are 7 different colleges, which decided where you live, and more importantly what General Education (GE) Requirements you have.
Example Revelle is mostly for STEM majors, so GE’s would be Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics.
Please use this website to find out which college is right for you:


Tip 4 (Utilize UC and Online Resources):

Many people do not know this, but the UCs have semi-internal documents about what to do and what not to do in your application, and I want to share those resources.
They are all presentations, that they give to teachers and counselors, but technically not to students, but they help a lot.
The people who write about what’s right and wrong with these applications are the very same people that are going to read your application, so their words here are very important.

Additional Comment and PIQs:


Just PIQs:


Extracurricular Activities:


General Application Case Studies:


Other websites like College Confidential and Prep Scholar are also great places to look for application advice, and what to expect from college life.
Good Luck 🙂