College Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions


College Admissions

What’s the difference between an eligible applicant and a competitive applicant?

An eligible applicant just does the bare minimum. There is nothing exciting about this student’s application that separates her from everybody else. On paper, the only way she stands out is by her name. Why should a university choose her instead of someone else from the thousands that look like her? Do you have an answer? Me neither. Don’t let this be you.

Be the competitive applicant who goes above and beyond the call of duty. The competitive applicant treats the college application process like a competition. When a student applies to college she needs to do all she can to look better than everybody else does. The competitive applicant takes 4 years of math and Spanish, is involved in clubs and sports, runs for Junior class President, tutors at her local elementary school, has a part-time job, whatever — you get the picture. Just do more. More! More!! More!!!

Wow! It sounds like its pretty tough and a lot of work to be a competitive applicant. I’m not sure I’m up to it. Can I do it? Maybe I should just go to a Community College first.

YES, of course you can become a competitive applicant! Anyone who tries can be a competitive applicant. But that’s the whole point – you have to try. You don’t become a competitive applicant overnight. It’s going to require dedication and hard work. But it will all pay off once you get accepted to the college of your dreams. Just remember that you are not alone – EAOP will work with you and help you stay on the right track.

Sometimes Community College is the best choice for some people. However, if you are eligible to apply to a university right out of high school, then it is recommended that you go for it. And definitely do not use a lack of motivation to work hard as an excuse. If you go to a community college with the intention of transferring to a university in a few years, you will still have to work hard. You would still be expected to be active on your community college campus. So why not just do it now?

What’s the difference between a public and a private college?

Public colleges, like public high schools, receive money from the state. Because of this they can provide great education at a respectively low cost. The public universities in California are the Cal States and the UC system. There are currently nine UC campuses (each with its own personality) from which you can choose. All community colleges are also public.

Then there are private universities, which can be different, or rather “unique.” Each one has different requirements that you as a student must research. They may require you to be 6’ 7″ and have an uncle named Ned. They can do whatever they want – they’re privately owned (hence the word “Private”). Sometimes, they can offer you certain things that public universities may lack, like very small class sizes and an intricate network of connections.

It’s all up to you what kind of school you think will fit your needs. To learn more about what questions you should be asking in order to narrow down your choices, click here.

What’s the difference between a Cal State (CSU) and a UC?

They are both public universities, but the UC is generally more competitive in the admissions process. The Cal States accept the top 33% of the graduating high school class while the UC accept the top 12.5%.  This means that the requirements for admissions are more challenging. The UC is first and foremost a research institution. This means that every year professors and students (even undergraduates) analyze old knowledge and discover new knowledge for the world. For example, Susan Bryant, dean of the UCI School of Biological Sciences, who has spearheaded the creation of an interdepartmental Stem Cell Research Consortium at UCI, and Oswald Steward, director of UCI’s Reeve-Irvine Research Center, are members of the governing commission of the new California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Pretty interesting, huh? Moreover, another goal of the UC is to produce students who will continue their education through professional degrees and graduate research.

If I know that I only want to go to UCLA why should I apply anywhere else?

Unfortunately, universities can accept or refuse any student they want. “So, what if I’m the top student of my class and I volunteer 60 hours a week to feeding my town’s homeless kittens?” This doesn’t guarantee you a spot anywhere; but it definitely increases your chances of being accepted. That’s why it’s best to apply to several schools so that not only will you have a back up school just in case your first choice doesn’t accept you, but also so you can have a few to choose from. It’s always nice to feel wanted.

Is it true that the UC wants the ‘well-rounded’ student?

Yes, this is very true. The UC doesn’t want you to be simply smart, but also outgoing, involved, a leader, a go-getter, determined, funny, romantic and to like long walks on the beach…Oh, wait a minute. Forget that very last part. Just remember that the combination of grades, SAT, extra-curricular activities and personal insight response gives the UC an overall picture of you. Ask yourself, is that picture the best it can be?

Why does the UC want ‘well-rounded’ students? What’s wrong with just being the smartest?

Think about it. College is a whole lot more than just academics. Most students have part-time jobs and are involved in student organizations and clubs. Students need good time management and prioritization skills in order to be successful.

The UC doesn’t want its student to sink and drown from all the responsibility. So it chooses the students who it feels will be most likely to survive in a college atmosphere — and this just so happens to be the “well-rounded” high school student.

Do you have to be a straight ‘A’ student to go to college?

No way! Of course it helps, but it’s not necessary. If you’re not the #1 student in your class, it’s okay. Just remember to do your best because, honestly, when you apply to college you will be competing with some straight “A” students. Just remember our discussion of the “well-rounded” student. If you’re a little low on the academic side, try to make up for it in other areas.

What are my options if I am undocumented?

You can still apply and be accepted to a 4-year college or university. Never let your residency status hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Due to AB 540, as long as you have attended and will graduate from a  California high school, you can pay in-state tuition — the same tuition that everyone else who lives in California has to pay. In addition, the California DREAM Application allows students enrolled in eligible California Colleges, Universities, and Career Education Programs to apply for state financial aid.

Another alternative is to go the community college route, work on your paperwork, and transfer to a 4-year university later.