What is the meaning behind the different UC's?


Is it just different locations such as UCLA, UCSD etc. For example Massey university here in NZ, or more such completely different colleges?

And what is the process of applying to them?


@anonymous68 they are each unique colleges and are dissimilar to one another. You can’t apply to UC, and then just pick the one that you like the best. They are each individual in that sense.

The University of California (UC) schools are recognised as some of the best public universities in the United States. I have friends who have attended most of the nine UC Schools, so I’ll provide the best insight I can.

First, the nine schools that offer undergraduate and graduate programs are:

  • UC Berkeley
  • UCLA
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC San Diego
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • UC Riverside
  • UC Merced

In quick summary, there are notable differences in their reputations and selectivity, but the most significant differences between them are their locations and campus cultures. When selecting the colleges you’re going to apply to, and especially when you choose the college you attend, pick the school that will be the best fit for you and your needs.

Each of the schools are more selective than the next and can be categorised in tiers.

Tier 1: UC Berkeley and UCLA
They’re the most selective and generally the most well-regarded of the UC schools.

Tier 2: UCSB, UCSD, UC Davis, and UC Irvine
All of these picks have very similar rankings, average GPAs, standardised test scores, and admission rates. It’d be difficult to pick one over the other, this would be subjective.

Tier 3: UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside
Acceptance rates are similar, but from what I’ve heard UC Santa Cruz has a better reputation.

Tier 4: UC Merced
The newest of all of the campuses (2005 I believe). Has the smallest enrolment, in addition, it’s the the worst ranked of the 9.

In terms of location and culture:

Each university is inherently different based off of its location. For example, Berkeley is located in the actual city of Berkeley, and so is much more urban than some of the other campuses. It is also much more tied to the community of the city than some of the UCs that are more in their own bubble. UC Davis has stronger ties to farming, largely due to its location. Santa Cruz has a tie to the Santa Cruz mountains, while Santa Barbara is connected to the community of Isla Vista and is quite close to the beach. These communities that the UCs are either contained within or are adjacent to can’t help but have an impact or influence on the campus and university life itself. Furthermore, each have vastly different cultures: UCSB is deemed a “party school” but academically is strong; UCLA is considered all-rounded with great sports, great academics, and even is considered to have one of the best student newspapers in the US (The Bruin); Davis is considered a college more for the “free-spirits” or “hippies” and is located in a rural area.

Unlike most Colleges, the UC has a completely independent application portal. You can’t apply to any of the 9 through the Common Application.

This portal can be found: http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/apply-online/index.html

The process mimics the Common App in the sense that you’ll fill out all of your personal information, submit transcripts, sit SAT (or ACT) requirements, and write supplementary essays.


Thank you very much Asher!

You stated they were “public” schools, but I’m guessing their fees would still be pretty high for an international student - just did a quick google search and it seems to be the case.

Thank you for clarifying that for me, I found it quite difficult to see what requirements you had to have to enroll such as SAT, writing etc.

Which do you think is the best for Engineering? Thank you!