UCI-Specific College Application Tips: Advice from an Admissions Counselor

UCI-Specific College Application Tips: Advice from an Admissions Counselor


If you’re a prospective applicant, you probably have some questions, questions that as a student, I am not the most equipped to answer. So, I enlisted the help of a very wonderful and kind Admissions Counselor, Kelvin, who also happens to be my great grandfather in the Campus Reps program!

It took us a minute, but we finally got it together for a picture. It’s the whole fam (minus my grandpa)!

It took us a minute, but we finally got it together for a picture. It’s the whole fam (minus my grandpa)!

I asked Kelvin about common mistakes and how to avoid them, the importance of the Personal Insight Questions, and general application tips. He gave me some helpful answers, and I’m excited to share them with you!

What is the most common mistake you see in applications? How can applicants avoid it?

I think students are often times scared to be vulnerable and show who they are on the application. Students will try to hide aspects of their life they’re embarrassed by, whether that be overcoming an illness or a learning disability, family struggles, reasons for lower grades, etcetera. This kind of information is important and helps us gain a fuller picture of a student’s individual situation, accomplishments, and character; it often times provides context to a student’s academic record, which is valuable information on the UC application.

How important are the insight questions compared to test scores and grades?

The Personal Insight Questions are an opportunity for students to provide further context behind their academics, as well as a way to show application readers their personality and elaborate on achievements. Treat this section like an in-person interview. Hype yourself up for it (without getting cocky)!

Can you give an example of a response to a personal insight question that stood out to you, and why it made an impact? Any tips for answering the insight questions?

I think the most successful Personal Insight Questions I’ve read address a few things in the small space allowed – they explain a situation, but most importantly, they show what the student learned from their experiences.

As far as tips are concerned, I would recommend applicants be mindful of how much space they are using in their responses. Each response is only allowed 350 words – that’s not much space! Find a way to be brief, but thorough. If you’re struggling, ask for help! Asking for help is one of the most valuable skills you’ll learn in life, so you might as well start now.

If you could give one to three pieces of advice on how to strengthen someone’s application, what would they be?

  • Take your time with the application – review your application a few times to ensure all information is accurate and reflects who you are.

  • Don’t be afraid to use the “Additional Comments” section to explain something. For example, if you had a year where your grades slipped because you were struggling for any reason, don’t be afraid to explain that reason.

  • Ask for help from people you trust, be they family, friends, teachers, mentors, etcetera. Their guidance has likely shaped who you are and who you will be, so ask for their input.

What makes UCI different from other universities?

So many things! We have some unique majors, a unique campus design (it’s a circle!), a unique academic structure, and unique students for sure! I love that UCI students are always trying to innovate and push the boundaries of what we know and accept to be true. On a more personal note, UCI is the only campus where I felt like I was truly at home – and it has been my home for 10 years now, and I could not be happier with the decision I made when I was 18 to attend UCI. It’s given me lifelong friendships, valuable work experience, and an environment where I can grow with the support of my peers and mentors.

If you were in UCI’s first class, what would you have voted for as our mascot?

Definitely the Anteater! I love our anteater, and I’ve always enjoyed funky mascots. In elementary school, our mascot was the stingray. I think that set me up for a life of obscure mascot appreciation.

* * * * *

Thanks, Kelvin! In addition to those helpful answers, here are a few relevant numbers to keep in mind. Disclaimer: Please remember that these are averages and UCI accepts students both above and below these numbers!

The Numbers

Acceptance rate: 28.7%

Average Weighted GPA: 4.10

Average Unweighted GPA: 3.90

Average ACT Score: 29

Average SAT Total: 1310

There you have it! If you’re curious about more averages and the numbers side of things, more information is available here, and if you’re going to apply (WOOHOO!), you can view necessary application criteria here.

Now that you have these helpful tips and insights, I hope you’ll use them to share your story with UCI! We look forward to hearing from you!

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