Ask Me Anything: Tips From Inside UC Berkeley Admissions

In this post, we asked a former UC Berkeley admissions employee for some helpful college advice for high school students. Read below for insider knowledge from a college expert with experience working in admissions!

What does UC Berkeley look for in a student?

UC Berkeley looks for exceptional humans. An exceptional student is one who has leadership skills with an innovative mindset and is able to apply those skills inside and outside of the classroom. Berkeley is looking to see that the student has demonstrated these leadership abilities through a multitude of extracurricular activities. The admissions office at Berkeley heavily prefers students that provide the full package. There is no hesitation in turning away students with 4.5 GPA’s and perfect scores one their SAT/ACT tests if that is the only positive attribute that applicant can provide.


How long do you evaluate each application and how many different pairs of eyes read each application?

As many as 6 different people can look at one given application depending on the student. On average there are three different admissions officers that look at one application and each application is always looked at by at least 2 officers. Berkeley uses a numbered scale to rate their applicants in at least 4 different categories: essays, SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and extracurricular activities. The admissions office might ask for or rate a letter of recommendation but having a letter of recommendation is not required and does not give anyone a greater chance of admittance. The admissions officers will compare the scores they give each applicant with each other to come up with a clear consensus.

What are the most common misconceptions students have about the application process?

Some students believe that quantity over quality is the right way to approach representing extracurriculars on their application. Applicants think that because they’re in multiple school clubs and participate in the maximum amount of AP classes it looks like they are super qualified but that is not the case! Berkeley is looking for students that are heavily invested in a couple of activities and contribute to the success of their club, team or organization. If a student is president of their club but are unable to mention any real contributions they have made, then the admissions officers might dismiss that extracurricular all together. If a student participates in an individual contest then Berkeley is looking for ways in which the student has had success on a state or national level. Berkeley can tell the difference when students play a productive role in their organization rather than just the role of a participant.

How are students essays weighted in comparison to their GPA and SAT?

Students essays are crucial to their acceptance into Berkeley. However, they are not weighted more or less than a students academic scores. Essays give the applicant a platform to speak their voice and describe something that isn’t necessarily shown in detail on just their academic resume. It also gives students the chance to provide an explanation to some type of discrepancy on their application. If the student had an illness during a semester in high school they can use their essays as a platform to describe what happened, how they were able to recover, and then how displayed an upward trend moving forward.


So there you have it folks. Be sure to connect with one of our team to discuss which of our package options would be helpful for your college applications journey.

Questions? Let us know!