What is UCSD Known For?
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- Overview of UC San Diego Admissions
- Unique Aspects of UC San Diego
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at UC San Diego?
The University of California, San Diego, located in La Jolla, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in California. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides, it is no wonder that UCSD’s mascot is a Triton, the Greek god of the sea.
With over one billion dollars in annual research funding, UC San Diego is a premier research university. UCSD (and its award winning faculty) often tops the list of the world’s best universities offering over 140 undergraduate majors with 29 programs ranked in the top 10.
What else is UCSD known for? Keep reading to find out more about this beautiful university.
Overview of UC San Diego Admissions
Location: La Jolla, California
Undergrad Enrollment: 30,200
Acceptance Rate: 32.3%
Middle 50% SAT: 1300-1520
Middle 50% ACT: 28-34
UC San Diego is a public university in La Jolla, California, a neighborhood in San Diego. UCSD looks for students who will thrive in the university’s challenging research focused academic environment. Therefore, the school places an emphasis on academic excellence through GPA, standardized test scores, and the rigor of courses taken in high school.
In addition to academics, the university is looking for students who will add to the diversity of the student population through their individual identity, unique talents, extracurricular passions, and community involvement.
UC San Diego is part of the University of California system which is made up of 9 universities scattered across California. Students can apply to these universities through the UC Application Portal. The great thing about this portal is that all UC schools use the same application! So after filling in your general UC application, you just have to check-mark the UC’s you want to apply to and your application is sent!
The UC application opens each year on August 1st and students can begin submitting their applications on November 1st. The deadline to apply to the University of California schools is November 30th of each respective year. There is no early admission for the University of California schools.
The UC application is composed of these sections:
- About You: This section will ask for general information regarding you and your family such as name, address, and social security number.
- Campuses & Majors: Here you will select which of the 9 campuses you’re applying to and the majors you’re interested in at each university.
- Academic History: In this section, you’ll manually enter all the courses and grades from all of the schools you’ve attended while in high school. It’s easiest to have your transcript handy while filling out this section!
It’s also important to note the UC System has specific high school course requirements. While most students attending US public high schools will be fine as this coursework is quite common, you should keep in mind that you must have passed the following A-G courses:
- History/Social Science: 2 years
- English: 4 years
- Mathematics: 3 years (4 years recommended)
- Laboratory Science: 2 years (3 years recommended)
- Language other than English: 2 years (3 years recommended)
- Visual and Performing Arts: 1 year
- College Preparatory Electives: 1 year
- Test Scores: Although the UC’s will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions. You can still submit these test scores as they are used to determine your eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, and as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.
Activities & Awards: In this section, you’ll be able to discuss your accomplishments and activities outside the classroom. Each of these activities/awards will need to be classified as one of 6 categories:
- Award or honor
- Educational preparation programs
- Extracurricular activity
- Other coursework (courses other than those required for UC admission/courses that do not fit in UC’s A-G subject areas)
- Volunteering/Community service
- Work Experience
- Scholarships & Programs: Here you will select categories that apply to you to be considered for scholarships.
- Personal Insight: Arguably one of the most important sections of the UC application, in this last section you’ll answer the personal insight questions. The UC application requires you to respond to four out of the eight personal insight questions. There is a 350-word limit on each prompt. As mentioned previously, there is only one application for all 9 universities, therefore your responses should not be school-specific.
Unique Aspects of UC San Diego
Although UC San Diego is a large university with over 30,000 students, the university strives to give students an individualized educational experience with a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
A unique feature that sets UCSD apart is its “Sixth College” system which is mirrored after the small colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. The system is designed to provide students with the perks of a large research university, but with the individualized features of a small liberal arts college. Each of the colleges has its own residences, general education requirements, facilities, staff, and traditions. Although undergraduates of each college may select from the full range of majors offered, the general education courses between colleges differ and are based on the students preference.
When applying to UCSD, students must rank the colleges in order of preference:
- Revelle College: As the oldest of the colleges, Revelle College, combines arts, sciences, and humanities to make well-rounded students.
- John Muir College: The most flexible of colleges, Muir College has broad requirements that allow students to choose the courses that are most interesting to them. Additionally, Muir College has the most student organizations and leadership opportunities compared to the other 6 colleges.
- Thurgood Marshall College: Named after Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Marshall guides students to become engaged citizens with a core curriculum focused on exploring racial, governmental, and political topics.
- Earl Warren College: Named after the former governor of California and chief of justice of the United States, the Warren College stresses ethics. The Warren College is commonly known as the engineering college, as many of the requirements align with students pursuing majors in engineering or the sciences.
- Eleanor Roosevelt College: Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s commitment to public service, this is the most worldly of the colleges. Eleanor Roosevelt College strives to provide students an international perspective with general education requirements such as foreign language and world cultures/regions.
- Sixth College: The Sixth College is for those with a creative side as it’s centered on examining the intersection of arts, technology, self-awareness, and action.
- Seventh College: The newest of the colleges, the Seventh College’s theme is “ A Changing Planet”. This college strives to improve society by exposing students to global issues, such as the climate crisis, and providing them with the knowledge and skills to combat these challenges.
Clubs are a wonderful way to get involved on campus, and UCSD provides the perfect setting with over 600 student organizations along with sports and social/professional fraternities and sororities!
UCSD has something for everyone. Here are some of the most well known clubs and organizations on campus:
- Education Corps at UCSD: This organization provides one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to students from underrepresented schools across San Diego.
- UCSD Zor: UC San Diego’s official Hindi fusion dance team.
- The Maasai Initiative: This organization strives to improve the livelihood of the Maasai, an ethnic group native to East Africa, through fundraising, educational seminars, and projects targeted towards the community’s most pressing issues. On an annual basis, members go on a service trip to Tanzania.
- United Students Against Sweatshops – San Diego: This organization seeks to hold accountable companies that exploit the people who work on university campuses, in San Diego’s communities, and in the overseas factories where collegiate apparel is produced.
- Triton Consulting Group: This premier student consulting group works to provide pro-bono consulting services to companies in all stages of business development, ranging from start-ups to multi-generational businesses.
Additionally, UCSD’s beautiful location and weather promotes a plethora of outdoor activities. In fact, UCSD has one of the largest recreation programs in the nation allowing students to participate in a variety of classes, programs, and sports. UC San Diego was even named as the top surfing school in the nation by surfer.com.
Finances are an important consideration when looking at colleges. Luckily, UC San Diego consistently ranks as one of the most affordable universities. In fact, Money Magazine recently ranked UCSD as #2 in the nation for superior education at an affordable price.
For California residents, the University of California’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan covers the complete cost of UC tuition and fees if your family’s income is less than $80,000 and you qualify for financial aid.
Additionally, UC San Diego’s admissions process is need-blind, meaning, financial status will not affect the admission decision.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at UC San Diego?
Students admitted to UC San Diego typically have an average GPA between 4.07 and 4.28. However, admissions officers at UCSD aren’t just looking for students with perfect GPAs. They are also looking for students who follow their passions, so make sure to get involved in extracurriculars during high school!
To better understand your chances at UC San Diego, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. Using your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on how to improve your profile.
You can also search for best-fit schools based on your chances and other factors like size, location, majors and more. This tool will make it a lot easier to create a strategy for your college application process.