Responding to the UC Waiting List Essay
Being in California, UC schools are important to many of my students. Many of your parents have attended UC schools, and the system’s stellar reputation combined with its low price makes these schools the best options for many of my students and their families. Admission decisions for UC schools will be released during the month of March, bringing good news, and some disappointment, to high school students around the world. But for some students, the decision exists between a yes and a no, in the form of a waiting list.
One of the challenges of the UC application is that there is one form that covers all schools. So whether you are applying to one school or several, you can only submit one application, a set of essays, and a list of your activities and accomplishments. When all schools see the same materials, there is no opportunity to specifically discuss what you like about a particular school. Unless you are invited to join the waiting list.
Many colleges will accept and even encourage students on the waiting list to submit new information. Your most recent quarterly grades may show colleges that your upward trend continues. Or it could be an award or honor that you have received in the last few months. But UC is unique in that it has a required essay for students who want to be on the waiting list. The UC Davis message reads: “Please tell us briefly why you think UC Davis is the right place to continue your education.” Students may regret the fact that they have to write another essay for their college applications, but I see this as a wonderful opportunity to tell a college why you are interested in going there and why you are still excited about it months later. you submitted your request first.
The key to this type of essay is to get personal. I always encourage my students to think about how other students might answer this question. They will probably talk about how strong the [insert your major] the program is. Could you say something about how beautiful the campus is? They could talk about how much they like the city of Davis, the facilities, or the sports teams. But these answers are missing a crucial element: why is that important to you? And besides, why is that unique to UC Davis? Maybe you like campus because you grew up in a city and you love the idea of looking out your bedroom window and seeing open fields for miles. Maybe you like the town of Davis because when you visited it, you found this quirky coffee shop where a group of students were studying together, and you immediately imagined yourself there, having intellectual discussions about cold coffee. Whatever your reason, you should make it specific to the school and specific to you. So if you get a chance to write one of these essays, sixteen and give the most compelling reasons why you fit in well.