Tag Archives: college prep

How to Write the “Why Major” or “Why College” Essays?

During the college admissions process, you may come across many supplement essays. The most challenging one is the “why” essay. Generally, these college essay prompt asks, “Why do you want to attend our school” or “why do you want to study this specific major?”

 

(Rather watch a video instead? Check out Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach’s video on How to Write the “Why Major” and “Why College” Essays!)

 

What Do College Admissions Officers Want to See in a “Why College” Essays?

It depends on the specific college or the specific program you are applying to. When you respond to the “why college” essay, you want to address the reasons that you’re drawn to that college. Essentially, you’d share what you find unique and different about that particular university.

 

Think of the “why college” essay like a love letter. There are thousands of colleges out there you can apply to, but what makes this college THE ONE? A good “why college” essay is based on in-depth research. You really have to do your homework! Don’t just jot down the first few things you see on the college’s website. Dig deep. What are some of the opportunities that this university offers that draw you in? How do you find yourself fitting perfectly into the campus culture? Why is this college the best fit for you academically or socially? What are some of your personal goals and values that can only be achieved at this school?

 

Just like any love letter, you want the reader to feel special. The why essay should not feel generic. The easiest way to check if your why essay is too general is to substitute the name. If you can replace “College A” with “College B” in your essay and it still reads fine, then you need to rewrite and be more specific.

 

What about a “Why Major” Essay?

The “why major” essay is specific to what you are hoping to accomplish or what career path you hope to be on in the future. Not every high school student knows exactly what they want to do. That’s perfectly normal. For those who are undecided or those who have several interests, be as clear as possible on what you are trying to achieve. What drives you to this set of majors? What do you hope to explore within this particular program?

 

For those who have a better idea of what they want to do, you’d want to research the resources that this major (or program) offers. What classes are available? Why do you find them intriguing? What research opportunities are offered? What facilities and labs will you be able to utilize? What professors would you study or research under? You want to demonstrate that you’ve really looked into this program, and only this major/program at this school can offer you the unique chance to achieve your goals.

 

How to Write a Good Why Essay?

Be specific! The more focused you are on expressing what attracts you, the better. The why essay is as much about you as it is about the school (or program or major). Don’t rely on samples or templates that are out there. You may want to talk to friends or alum who went to this college, but what they tell you to write might not make good content.

 

This really needs to be about you. Think about it from the admissions officer’s perspective. They are reviewing thousands and thousands of applications. You don’t want to sound like just any average joe. You don’t want your love letter to this school/program/major to sound generic. You want it to be unique. You want it to be authentic and specific. You want your own voice to come out. Most importantly, you want your why essay to supplement your personal statement.

 

A good why essay should provide another dimension to who you are. You shouldn’t repeat information that’s already in the activity section or your personal statement. Ultimately, a good why essay shares why this college is a good fit for you while allowing the college admissions officers to get to know more about you.

 

Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?

One way to get started on your why essay is to ask – “What did you enjoy doing?” You want to reflect on what you’ve done thus far. Think back on your high school years and what you have accomplished so far. What are the ways you can continue excelling at the college level? How can this college help you grow?

 

For example, if you have been involved in certain charity work and you love it, look for opportunities on this college campus that will allow you to explore this. What are the ways this college or program will help you expand this experience? If you have started a particular research at the high school level, you will have access to more resources, better tools, and professors that can help you to further your research. It may lead to jobs and future career paths.

 

Another way is to visit the college. Check out research opportunities online. Walk around the campus. Join a virtual information session. Schedule informational interviews with alumni. Essentially, use all the possible resources to learn more about this college. This can help you convey why you are drawn to this school with detailed examples and reasons.

 

The key point to remember as you write your why essay: you want this college (or major) to do as much for you as you can for it.

Need professional guidance for your college essays? Schedule a personalized one-hour consultation with our College Admissions Counselor


Written by Zach Pava

This article is inspired by an interview by Insight Senior Counselor Zach Pava.

Zach has guided hundreds of students throughout the college admissions process. His extensive writing background includes essay contributions online and in print, a sports blog, screenplays, and film reviews. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Zach. Read his full bio here.

5 Important Questions to Ask When You Plan Your Summer

Summer activities are a crucial part of the college evaluation process. Colleges want to see what high school students do with their long breaks and free time. Outside of the more-confined, structured school year, the activities you choose to pursue over the summer demonstrate what you value. In this Insight guide, our counselor will walk you through how to plan for your summer.

 

What Should High School Students Do Over the Summer?

The options and opportunities are limitless, and your summer plans may not be the same as your friends. In fact, it’s better if your plans are different – you are more likely to stand out! Whether taking a class online or working on a research project, you should focus on the skills that you need or want to build on. The five questions below will help to guide you through the process of narrowing down your potential summer activities so that you can create the best summer plan for yourself.

 

1. Do I need an academic boost?

The past two years have been challenging for many high school students. The summer can be a great opportunity to re-take a class that you didn’t pass. Unlike during the school year, you can focus on just one or two subjects over the summer. Not only do you have more time to study, but you will also have more energy to evaluate what study habits work for you (and what doesn’t). Before you take this route, be sure to talk to your guidance counselor to see if your school allows you to retake classes for a grade. Even if the answer is no, you could take a class without credit to demonstrate to colleges that you did whatever you could to understand the material and improve your knowledge in that subject.

 

Beyond a GPA bump, summer classes can also help you to explore a subject that you are interested in but know little about. Other local high schools or community colleges can be convenient places to start. However, many four-year universities now offer summer programs for high school students to experience life as a student on their campuses too. These classes are taught by real college professors, and you will sometimes get to live in actual dorms! Some of these programs are very competitive though, and may require an application, complete with letters of recommendation and essays to write. Thus, when in doubt, start researching and planning early!

 

2. Will SAT or ACT scores help me to stand out?

While many colleges are still test-optional, you should explore if your SAT or ACT scores can add positive value to your college applications. Over the summer break, you have time to assess whether you should take the ACT or the SAT, create a study plan with your counselor, sign up for one-on-one tutoring, or join a test preparation class to help you manage your time. Once decisions are made, you can sign up for an upcoming test and a backup test from there, only to be taken when you are fully ready. Studying for them over the summer keeps your brain active and gets you ready for school in the fall. It may also allow you to stay one step ahead of your peers. And remember, even if some colleges will not be reviewing your SAT or ACT scores, thousands of other schools will!

Read more: List of Test Optional Colleges 2022 and Beyond

 

3. What interests me?

Beyond the classroom, what do you do for fun? Give this real thought and then do something that’s meaningful to YOU. If research programs or internships sound interesting to you, figure out the requirements and start your applications early! The application process can be very similar to a mini college admissions process involving a personal statement, supplemental essays, activity lists, letters of recommendation, and interviews. You can also start your own project or your own business. You can volunteer at an organization whose goals match your own. You could even learn a new skill in your own backyard. Sky’s the limit!

 

Whatever your plans are, be sure to schedule some family time, as well as time to hang out with your friends. As you get older and prepare to head off to college, you will find that these opportunities begin to pass by quickly.

Need summer acitivity ideas: Top 6 Summer Activities for High School Students

 

4. What will it cost me?

One crucial consideration when you make your summer plans is the price. Some summer programs are free or low-cost, while others may not be. Some programs last for eight weeks, while others are two-week adventures. Their start and end dates also may not align with your high school’s. Your schedule and goals combine with cost to make committing to a summer program an important decision. If you are planning to save up for college, it may be a great idea to secure a job over the summer. Getting a job will be a valuable experience as you put together a resume and practice for interviews. Your work history can demonstrate your accountability and initiative. If you work for a company with multiple locations, you might even be able to continue that job elsewhere when you head off to college. Seriously, it happens!

 

Having said that, unpaid opportunities can be incredibly rewarding as well. If you are an aspiring medical student and you have the chance to shadow your doctor or work in a hospital setting as a volunteer, that valuable experience can go a long way.

 

5. How much time can I devote?

At Insight Education, our students typically engage in a mix of activities over the summer. Some may devote part of their summer to studying for the ACT or the SAT, and another part to volunteering and work. Others may join an intensive summer research program and spend time with friends and family on vacation. The key is BALANCE. Don’t pack your summer with six or seven different activities to impress college admissions officers. Prioritize what is important to you. Colleges value students who know how to juggle their schedules and focus on the things that matter most to them. It’s a sign of maturity.

Read more: Don’t Seek Summer Internships Just To Impress Admissions Officers

Ultimately, you want to build a summer experience that is both fun and meaningful. With so many options out there, it can be confusing. We are here to help! If you need guidance to figure out what will result in the most productive summer for you, schedule a 1-hour personalized planning session with an Insight counselor today.

 

We can’t wait to meet you!

Zach and Team Insight

 


Written by Zach Pava

This article is written by Insight Senior Counselor Zach Pava.

Zach has guided hundreds of students throughout the college admissions process. His extensive writing background includes essay contributions online and in print, a sports blog, screenplays, and film reviews. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Zach. Read his full bio here.

ACT vs. SAT: Which Test Should You Take?

Standardized testing remains a key part of the college admissions process. Many students and parents begin their admissions journey by comparing the SAT and the ACT. One of the most commonly asked questions for Insight Counselors is “which test is easier/better?”

The SAT and the ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not have a preference for which standardized test scores are submitted. Neither the SAT nor the ACT is harder than the other. The deciding factor is often your preference.

Before you dive in and pick one test over the other because all your friends are doing it, here is our detailed breakdown of both standardized tests. 

 

Insights into the ACT and the SAT

 

SAT

ACT

Purpose

 

Colleges use the SAT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes

 

Colleges use the ACT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes
Test Structure

Reading

Writing & Language 

Math (No-calculator section)

Math (Calculator allowed sections)

 

English

Math

Reading

Science

Essay (optional)

 

Length 3 hours

 

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

 

Test Breakdown

 

Reading

 – 52 questions, 65 minutes
 – 5 passages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences)

Writing & Language

 – 44 questions, 35 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, vocabulary in contexts, writing and editing skills

Math (no-calculator)

 – 20 questions, 25 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Data Analysis

Math (calculator allowed)

 – 38 questions, 55 minutes
 – Same topics as no-calculator sections

 

English

 – 75 questions, 45 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, editing skills, and summarization

Math

 – 60 questions, 60 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics

Reading

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – 5 passages (humanities, social science, natural sciences, and literature)

Science

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – Testing your critical thinking skills and ability to interpret data (NOT specific science knowledge)

 

Essay

 

None

 

 

40-minute optional essay testing your abilities to evaluate and analyze issues

 

Test Score System

 

The SAT test is scored on a scale of 400 – 1600

 

The ACT test is scored on a scale of 1 – 36
Test Dates

 

The SAT is typically offered on a Saturday in these months: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December

 

The ACT test is typically scheduled on a Saturday in these months: February, April, June, July, September, October, and December

 

Which should you focus on, the ACT or the SAT?

In our previous article, “Should You Be Taking Both the ACT and the SAT?”, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach Pava listed these three criteria:

Which test are you most comfortable with? 

Which test is the best fit from a timing perspective?

Which test can you score better on?

He also analyzed a few differences between the two standardized tests (summarized below)

 – The ACT tends to be more straightforward in its questions and presentation of material.

 – If you’re a student who is generally science-focused, and you enjoy reading, graphs, & data, the ACT may be a good fit for you.

 – The SAT allows students more time to spend on each question and therefore presents fewer timing challenges than the ACT. If you find time management to be a big obstacle, then you may want to consider the SAT.

 – The SAT contains one Math section in which no calculator is allowed. If you are not very confident with your computational skills, this may also be a point for consideration.

Compare your scores – Click here for the ACT – SAT Score Conversion Table.

However, the only way you would know for sure which test is more suitable for you is through experience. At Insight, we strongly encourage students who have not tried either test to take both for practice before making a decision. Doing this will expose you to the style and structure of both exams, and then we can establish which test you are more comfortable with in terms of content and timing, and ultimately which test youre likely to score better on.  From there, we can plan for when to take the exam, which is important because the SAT and ACT are offered on different dates and in some cases, different months throughout the year. We also want to establish a goal score for each student, as well as an end date when we want students to be finished with testing altogetherIdeally, you should be done before the start of your senior year, because once senior fall starts, your college applications truly will become a full-time class away from school, and you don’t want to have to give up valuable weekends preparing for these standardized tests.

 

Want to know which tests you should take? Contact us and schedule your full-length SAT and ACT practice tests today and see your score analysis!

 

Curious whether you should opt for test-optional? Check out our article: To Test, Or Not To Test? and see if your top choice colleges are in our List of Test Optional Colleges 2022 and Beyond

Top 10 Summer Tasks for College Admissions

Summer is the perfect time to get a jump-start on your college admissions process. There are several steps that you can take to make the admissions process as stress-free as possible during the Fall. Even though your friends may procrastinate, there is no reason for you to do so.

 

 1. Create your college list

Spend your time researching colleges since you have more free time now. Simply looking at the rankings is not enough. Check out academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, campus environment, social atmosphere, size, location, student body, etc. You are going to be at this school for at least four years so you want to make the best decision possible. Once you have a list of schools that you love, assess your chances of getting in. And be as honest with yourself as possible. Have other people help you make this assessment as well.

Read more: Why It Is Important to Find Your “Best Fit” College

 

 2. Request Teacher Recommendations

As you start to create your college list, think about how many recommendations you will need. Some schools will also specify which grades and/or subjects the teachers should have taught you. Also really think about which teachers know you well. The grade is not as important as the relationship. Colleges use this recommendation to learn about your personality and how you interact with others.

 

 3. Visit Colleges – Virtually or In-Person

While many college campuses tend to be quieter during the summer, it is still a good idea to visit different types of colleges. If you are unsure about what setting will suit you best, these visits will tell you much more than reading information. Make good use of virtual college tours and online information sessions, too. While you might not visit every college on your list, you will have a much better sense of what is a better fit for you.

Read more: How to Get the Most Out of Virtual College Tours

 

 4. Brainstorm Essay Topics

Sit down and just write about the experiences you have or the things that you want colleges to know about you. This is a time to reflect on what is important to you. It is fine to read past essays, but it is not okay to copy the exact content. Remember that colleges want to learn what makes you unique – and you ARE unique!

 

5. Draft Your Personal Statement

Once you have brainstormed some ideas, try to draft an actual personal statement. The Common Application and Coalition Application essay prompts are already available. While you will be able to swap out essays for different colleges, write personal statements that you are comfortable sending to multiple colleges. Also start drafting supplemental essays since you might have to do research or more reflection.

Read more: How to Answer the Common App Essay Prompt

 6. Complete the Common Application or Universal College Application

These applications will go live in early August. Fill them out completely as soon as you can. At Insight, we typically host Senior College App Clinics in the first week of August to walk our students through every step of their applications, from background information to extracurricular activities. Having all the data entry finished before school starts gives you more time to focus on important things, such as your personal statement, course work, and standardized testing preparation.

 

 7. Fill out the online Net Price Calculators

No matter your family’s financial situation, your parents are certainly thinking about how to finance your college education. Your parents can complete a Net Price Calculator online for each college you are considering. This will give them an estimate of what each college will cost. While this does not take into account merit-based scholarships, it gives you a starting point.

 

 8. Prepare for Standardized Testing

For those who want to improve their ACT or SAT scores, summer is the best time to prepare. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer. For rising seniors who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take the ACT by September or the SAT by October. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take the ACT or the SAT by December.

Need help boosting your test scores? Join our SAT Boot Camps HERE or check out our ACT Boot Camps.

 

 9. Check out Interview Policies

Once you have a final college list, find out if interviews are required or recommended. There might be earlier deadlines if you want to request an interview. If schools offer you the option to interview, take advantage. This is a chance to really show a different side of you to someone representing the college. If you are worried about your interview skills, practice with a parent or mentor.

Read more: How to Answer College Interview Questions (In the Way Your Interviewer Wants!)

 

 

 10. Create a timeline for deadlines

If you miss a deadline, there is very little that you can do to recover. So mark your calendar. Set alerts for yourself. Plan ahead to submit everything at least two weeks ahead of time to avoid any problems.

 

Your entire summer should not be spent focused on college admissions, but use your time well. The more you do now, the less you will be worried about later. More importantly, you will be approaching your applications with confidence and preparedness.


Written by Purvi Mody

This article was written by Insight’s Co-Founder and Head of Counseling Purvi Mody.

Since 1998, Purvi has dedicated her career to education and is exceedingly well versed in the college admissions process. Her philosophy centers around helping kids identify and apply to the schools that are the best fit for them and then develop applications that emphasize their unique attributes and talents.

GPA Test Prep College Admissions

Top 3 Tips to Help You Start to Prepare for College Admissions

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to every aspect of our lives, from how we socialize to how we learn, and of course, to how we need to prepare for college admissions. If you are still unsure about which path to take on your college admissions journey, don’t worry – you’re not the only one.

 

While we don’t have the superpower to predict the future, Team Insight has been keeping a close monitor on the latest college admissions news and making projections that can help keep your options open as we gear up for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

 

Now, let’s dive in!

 

Insight Advice #1: Provide Positive Data (as much as you can).

 

A solid GPA, a progressively challenging curriculum, and well-written college essays – all of these are considered positive data about yourself. College admissions offices want to see that you can handle the academic work, but they also want to get to know you. What are your values? How do you spend your spare time? What are you devoting your time to during the summer?

 

In addition to GPA, academic profile, college essays, extracurricular activities, and awards, another positive data you can provide on your college application is test scores. A strong ACT or SAT score adds value to your college application, even for test-optional schools. In 2021, more than half of the applicants chose to submit their test scores. From the data, those who included their test scores have a higher chance of acceptance. Approximately 60% of the students who applied for Rice University submit a test score. Of the students accepted by Rice University, 80% submitted an SAT or an ACT score.

 

Insight Advice #2: Stay Informed. Prepare Ahead.

 

While we are uncertain whether test-optional admissions policies will continue, what you can do is research thoroughly into the school of your choice. Stay informed about their testing policies. Check the admissions website and their emails to see if there are any changes in test-optional policies. Most importantly, don’t wait till the last minute! It takes time to prepare for the ACT or the SAT, so plan enough time for test prep.

 

Read more: How to approach standardized testing this summer

 

At Insight, we use the term “relative to your peers” as a guide. What does it mean? In the case of testing, if your friends are planning on taking the SAT or ACT in the fall, it may be a good idea for you to take the test, too. When the admissions office evaluates your college application, they are comparing you to those similar to you, such as your high school’s graduating class. In addition, if you are applying to a competitive school or program that may have many applicants with test scores, you should also prepare for the ACT/SAT.

 

Need help improving your SAT test scores? CLICK HERE to see our summer programs

Taking the ACT instead? CHECK OUT our ACT summer boot camps

 

Insight Advice #3: Research. Research. Research.

 

The biggest 2021 college admissions trend we’ve noticed at Insight is the rise of virtual sessions. Learning about your potential school is now as easy as tapping a few keys. Attend virtual college tours. Ask your questions at virtual info sessions. Use different websites to gather information about a school of your choice. At Insight, our counselors guide students to conduct college research starting in May or earlier, and we continuously revise their list with them.

 

Read more: How to conduct virtual college visits?

 

Another trend that has been accelerated during this time is more students are applying to selective schools, which leads to decreasing acceptance rates. For example, the acceptance rate at the University of Pennsylvania in the 90s was 39%; the acceptance rate in 2021 for UPenn was 9.9%. So be practical when building your college list. Remember, every college on your list, even your safety school needs to be a school you can see yourself in.

 

Read more: Why is it important to find your Best-Fit college?

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Even if your top schools remain test-optional, remember that test scores may still be required for scholarships or other funding opportunities. During transitions like this, you want to remain flexible and keep your options open. This may mean spending part of your summer doing test prep, but the upside is that you will not be scrambling to take the SAT or ACT at the last minute. Keeping your options open may also mean joining a virtual tour of a college you have not heard of, but you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. As always, we are here for you! Reach out if you have any questions!

Top 3 Tips to Help You Prepare for College Admissions

 

 

Need a boost to your college admissions success?

Schedule Your 1-Hour College Planning Session

Summer Internship, Research, Academic Programs – Which Suits YOU?

Summer Internship, Research, Academic Programs – Which Suits YOU?

Planning your summer activities? You might have heard of summer internships, research projects, or academic programs for high school students. In this webinar, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselors Zach Pava and Meilin Obinata will share their insights on the difference between these programs and how you can pick one that best suits you!

**Note: In light of the College Board’s recent announcement, our counselors have allocated time in this event to address any arising concerns regarding SAT subject tests and the essay.

Date: January 23, 2021

Time: 10:00am – 11:00am (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

Please note: due to the high demand of this webinar, we recommend you reserve your spot early.

 

What we will cover

  • Do you need summer projects and programs?
  • How to use summer programs to build your high school resume?
  • What are the criteria for picking your summer programs?

Transferring Between UC Campuses…Wait, That’s Possible?

You’ve probably heard about transferring from a community college to a UC institution, but did you know it’s possible to transfer between UC campuses?  This is the path I took—I spent my first two years at UC Santa Barbara before transferring to UC Berkeley for my last two years of undergraduate studies. If you’re interested in hearing about my experience at both universities, please read my Insight Alma Mater: UC Santa Barbara and Insight Alma Mater: UC Berkeley blog posts. 

 

As someone who has successfully transferred between two UC institutions, I want to share my experience; however, I do not want to downplay the potential challenges (and rewards!) students who choose this path may face.

 

 Ultimately, this blog post aims to give an honest account of my experience and things you should be mindful about if you’re considering this option in the future.

 

Transferring Between UC Campuses: Who, What, and Why?

 

What Does This Mean & Who Is Eligible: As alluded to previously, students who attend one of the nine UC campuses can apply to transfer to a different UC campus and finish their degree, as long as they meet the transfer prerequisites to do so.

 

(The requirements to transfer are beyond the scope of this article; however, I strongly recommend consulting Insight counselors if you’re interested in pursuing this option).

The degree conferred is from the latter UC.  In my case, I have a BA in Linguistics and a minor in Chinese from UC Berkeley. 

 

Reasons for Considering This Option: A few notable reasons to consider this path include a student’s ideal major is not offered at their UC campus; a student feels that another UC institution may fit them better; personal reasons; or special circumstances.  However, please read the full article to better understand what this may entail.

 

 

10 Things To Know Before You Transfer

 

Now that you hopefully have a better idea of what it means to transfer between UC campuses, I’ve compiled ten things you should be aware of if you’re interested in pursuing this option.

 

#1 From My Experience, Transferring Between UC Institutions is Not Easy 

Like I said, I want to provide an honest account, and from my experience, IT IS NOT EASY to transfer between UC institutions. During my sophomore year of college, I had to complete the UC application again and take college-level courses while balancing my other commitments, which was a lot to handle.

 

What’s more, the official University of California, Office of the President website states, “we give the highest priority to California community college students transferring as juniors—who make up over 90% of our transfer class.”

 

With few spots available for students transferring from 4-year universities, a strong profile at your original UC institution will only benefit you if you plan on pursuing this seriously.

   

 

#2 Try to Make the Most of Your Time at Your Original UC Institution

While transferring is an option, I also strongly encourage you to make the most of your time at your original UC institution by building community; being engaged with your professors, TAs, and the material you’re learning; and exploring all that your school has to offer. 

 

After all, college will pass by quickly, so take advantage of it! Your school could potentially grow on you, and you might prefer completing all four years there.  

 
You now know that you need to work hard at your original school and that you should make the most of your time there. What happens if you’re still looking to transfer in the future? Keep the following in mind:

 

#3 You Might Feel Like a Freshman…But with University Experience and Less Time  

When I transferred to UC Berkeley, I felt like a freshman all over again in some ways, even though I was technically an upperclassman.  I got lost multiple times during the first few weeks of school and knew very few people. On the flip side, I already had a sense of how lectures and discussions section worked; I knew how clubs and organizations generally operated; and I had experience living in the dorms from UCSB. 

 

This could possibly be viewed as an “advantage” of transferring from another UC institution—you already have a sense of what being at a 4-year university is like. Nonetheless, this dichotomy of being an upperclassman but feeling like a freshman was something I had to grapple with.  

 

In addition, as I will explain in more detail below, you inherently have less time than freshman by nature—less time to get acclimated, less time to make friends, less time to join clubs, and less time to explore all that your new school has to offer. This will be the reality you will face should you choose to transfer.

 

#4 People Might Not Understand What It Feels like to Transfer Between UC Campuses

As previously mentioned, California community college students make up the vast majority of transfer studentsEven within the transfer community, you’ll likely be in a unique position if you transfer from another UC campus, which can feel isolating. I would strongly encourage you to reach out to your support system as you try to build a community at your new school. 

 

#5 There is a Big Difference Between Quarter System & Semester System 

I spent my first two years in the quarter system before transferring to a school that uses the semester system.  From my experience, that was an adjustment. I had to learn how to pace myself so that I wouldn’t burn out by the end of the fifteen weeks.  So, if you plan on applying to schools with a different system, I suggest taking that into account. Also, your units might not transfer, as I will elaborate on below.  

 

#6 You Might Need to Retake Classes  

I had to retake many of my major classes, perhaps partly because quarter system units and semester units might be weighted differently. On one hand, this was a chance to solidify the information in my major classes or see the information presented in a different way.

 

On the other hand, I also had to decide if I wanted to take all the classes I was interested in and risk not graduating in four years, or focus on taking the mandatory classes which would give me a higher chance of graduating “on time.” 

 

This is something that would be imperative for those seeking to transfer between UC institutions to consider. To better understand your specific major, I recommend reaching out to the major adviser of the schools that you are interested in transferring to and asking if you would need to retake your major classes should you decide to transfer.

 

#7 You’ll Likely Experience Activities You Wouldn’t Have Had the Chance to 

While I had to retake many of my classes, one thing I appreciated about transferring was the amount of extracurricular activities present at UC Berkeley. As I mentioned in my Insight Alma Mater blog post, I taught Taiwanese; joined a dance club for a semester, which was something I’ve always wanted to try; and mentored some community college students. Take advantage of these organizations and experiences that were not present at your old school, especially when you theoretically only have two years to do so. 

 

#8 You Will Gain Some & You Will Lose Some

To sum up, you will gain some and you will lose some if you decide to transfer in case that wasn’t already clear. However, a few years from now, you will ideally have a stronger sense of your values and what you are willing to compromise on if you choose to reapply, given that school culture, environment, weather, relationships, extracurricular activities, academic rigor, research opportunities, and future job prospects are just a few areas that can change should you choose to transfer.

 

#9 Understand Schools from the Perspective of a Transfer Student

If you receive acceptance as a transfer student, it’s imperative to not only try to understand the school and environment but also understand the school from the perspective of a transfer student.

 

How big is that particular school’s transfer population? What specific resources are available for transfer students and students transferring from another UC institution? How much support is given to the transfer population? What courses can you transfer over, and what courses do you need to retake? Know the answers to these questions.

 

#10 You Will Get a More Holistic College Experience 

I learned quickly that UC campuses, at least the ones I attended, are unique schools in many ways, even if they’re all classified under the UC system. From noticing the difference in school culture down to the nitty-gritty of how students get to and from campus, you’ll gain a more holistic experience and nuanced perspective of what university is like that other students don’t experience should you decide to transfer. 

 

After witnessing what culture and learning environment best fits you, this could be incredibly valuable insight if you plan on applying to graduate school in the future.   

 

Since it’s uncommon to transfer between UC campuses, I hope this blog post has provided some insight into what this may entail should you pursue this in the future.

 

However, your Insight counselor is a great resource who can provide more details about the process and offer suggestions given your individual circumstances, so please consult your Insight counselor if you’re interested in hearing more about this path.

Thanks for reading! Good luck, and you got this!

Authored by Jenny Huang.