A different audience for today’s podcast: Potential junior transfer students into the College of Engineering. November 1-30 is the application period for admission UC Berkeley. Joey Wong and Sharon Mueller stopped by the podcast to answer some questions about the junior transfer admission process. Topics covered include what they want to hear from you in your personal questions, what you have to have in order to be considered for admission and whether it is possible to change majors and/or colleges once you are at UC Berkeley.
- Office of Undergraduate Admissions, UC Berkeley
- Admissions University of California
- Prospective Junior Transfer FAQs
LAURA VOGT: Hi, my name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services. Welcome to another episode of the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. Today, I’m excited to welcome Sharon Mueller and Joey Wong because they’re here to discuss applying as a transfer student to UC Berkeley in the College of Engineering. Joey, please tell us about yourself.
JOEY WONG: Hi, I’m Joey. I’m one of the college advisors here in the College of Engineering and I help coordinate the transfer admission process.
LAURA: And Sharon?
SHARON MUELLER: I’m Sharon Mueller and I’m Director of Advising and Policy in Engineering Student Services.
LAURA: We were excited that we had the folks from Admissions in earlier today and we talked about freshmen admissions. So this time we’re going to change it up just a little bit. Some of the questions are the same but we’re completely focusing on our transfer admission process. So first question: When is the application due?
SHARON: The application is open now and can actually be submitted as of today. But the deadline is November 30th. I should point out that the UC Office of the President is allowing an extension for students who might have been affected by recent fires or hurricanes or earthquakes. And that is on a case by case basis and there is a process to request that extension and the extension is till December 15th. So if students are in those affected areas and are having difficulty submitting by November 30th then they should go to admission.universityofcalifornia.edu. And in the news feed is more information about how to request that extension but for everybody else or for those who are not requesting the extension, it is November 30th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
LAURA: Is there any preference given to students who apply earlier than November 30th?
SHARON: No. No preference, It doesn’t really matter when students submit as long as they submit by the deadline. They’re all going to be reviewed at the same time.
LAURA: When will students know if they were accepted?
JOEY: Admission decisions usually come out in April.
LAURA: They’ve got a couple of months that they’re going to be waiting to hear back?
SHARON: Yeah. Usually it’s towards the end of April, right Joey?
SHARON: I don’t think we have an exact date yet but it’s usually around the end of April.
LAURA: As you answer the admission questions, I know there’s quite a few questions in there that you get to choose from where you don’t answer every single one. Are there certain questions that are better to answer than others?
SHARON: For the personal insight questions? No not really. I think all transfer students have to answer one question, which is sort of tell us why you’re interested in this major. And then they have a choice to choose among I think maybe seven other insight questions. I think they choose three of those. So no not really we just want students to pick the ones that resonate most with them. Certainly pick the ones where you feel like you’re going to give us more insight into who you are. We don’t really have a preference for which ones they pick.
LAURA: Is there anything that they should avoid talking about or any ideas that have become too cliched?
SHARON: This is the part of the application where we really get to learn more about who you are as an applicant and who you would be as a UC student. So I think you know don’t spend too much time talking about other people. I know sometimes students are motivated to get into a certain major because of a family member or because of a mentor. So you can certainly mention that but we want to hear your story. We don’t want to hear about that other person. You know maybe don’t put in too many quotes about other people we really want to hear your words not the words of other people. And certainly if you’ve done some research or an internship or maybe you created a phone app. That’s great. We kind of want to hear what was your motivation for doing that. How did you go about doing that. We don’t necessarily want to hear all the technical details about the app. We kind of want to understand what was your reasoning behind doing that and what how does that display your interest in what you want to major in.
LAURA: We’ve had students that have had different tragedies or different life experiences or they’ve been away from school for a while and are coming back. Is there a place on the application where they get to explain that better and say maybe why they didn’t have the best GPA to begin with and then they went and changed their lives, made different decisions, came back with a different focus.
JOEY: Yeah definitely. The personal questions are definitely there for you to express some of your stories and some of your hardships or obstacles that you’ve had to overcome. Things like that.
SHARON: And there’s also that I think it’s called additional information section on the application, where students can put in – let’s say they have kind of an errant C-grade in math and they want to explain what happened that semester in that class. That would be a good place to put that. So maybe something like that maybe doesn’t fit perfectly within a personal insight question but we do read those additional comments that students can put in. And I actually would really encourage students if they have more than one “W” they have a “C” in a technical course. I would say we’re looking for information about that especially if it doesn’t seem in line with the rest of your grades. We kind of want to understand what happened that quarter, that semester, or what happened in that class. So for additional information, you can put that kind of information.
LAURA: Are there letters of references that our students are going to need in order to apply?
JOEY: No, letters of reference aren’t involved in the junior transfer admission process.
LAURA: How likely is it that students applying for the College of Engineering will get accepted?
JOEY: So the rough percentage is about 9.2 percent or about 10 percent each year and that fluctuates from year to year but it’s pretty close to that number.
SHARON: And I think that number could sound discouraging. But that’s the number that we’ve based upon the number of applications we’ve received for transfer students to the College of Engineering. But keep in mind that some of those students haven’t fulfilled all of the required courses for admission. And so those students are not eligible. So that percentage includes when we’re looking at all the applications. When you cut out the students who aren’t eligible it’s actually a much higher percentage for admission.
JOEY: Right. So your chances of getting in are definitely a lot higher than that if you have 100 percent of your required core courses completed.
LAURA: As a student, if I was applying to be a transfer student, if I hadn’t taken both of my R&C courses, is that just a complete no-go. You need to make sure that you’ve gotten everything?
JOEY: Yes, that would be a completely no-go.
SHARON: Yeah that would make you ineligible.
LAURA: Where can students find out the best way to be eligible?
JOEY: The course articulations on assist.org is a great place to look at what minimum prerequisites you need to apply.
SHARON: Yes. So they just choose their community college and then UC Berkeley and then choose that Major that they’re applying to and at the at the top it’ll just say required courses for admission. So they just need to make sure they do all of those.
LAURA: So if it’s required…
SHARON: It that has to be done. Yeah. By the end of the spring term I should point out. If they’re planning for next fall by the end of spring 18.
LAURA: So they can’t plan to take things over the summer?
SHARON: Right. Because those won’t count.
JOEY: If you’re applying from a four year or another UC, assist.org is still a good source of information for what are the minimum prerequisites for each major. However, keep in mind that priority of transfer admission goes to California community college students.
LAURA: How important are extracurricular activities?
JOEY: They are very important. Ideally we want to see what you’ve been doing outside of the classroom as well during your time at your community college or other college. We don’t like to see too much of the activity you’ve done in high school. Although if it’s relevant to your major interests it’s OK to put on. But we don’t need to know that. You know you were part of a chess club in your high school or anything like that.
LAURA: Do the extracurricular activities need to be engineering focused or engineering major focused?
JOEY: It doesn’t all have to be engineering focused. I mean we like to see engineering and your major focused extracurricular activities but if you’re you know volunteering elsewhere and if you’re doing tutoring on the side, things like that, you could definitely put that down as well.
SHARON: Yeah I think certainly anything that shows leadership or even outreach then I think certainly include those even if they’re not necessarily engineering related.
LAURA: Is it a problem if students went to multiple community colleges in order to get the required courses?
JOEY: It does get trickier during the reading process, but as long as you’re taking the courses that are articulated on assist.org it doesn’t matter if you complete different requirements at different community colleges. We understand that you know students may be traveling or students may have priorities and they can’t necessarily just attend one school the whole time and sometimes going to different schools in different colleges in the same network is more convenient. And we understand that.
LAURA: Do you take into consideration if a student took longer than say two years to go through a community college?
JOEY: We do take that into consideration in that we do look at the number of technical courses each student is taking each semester. So you know, we want to see a good number of technical courses each semester because coming to Berkeley thE academic workload here will be rigorous. And if you’re only taking one or two type of goals each semester that’s not necessarily going to show or reflect whether you will be able to succeed here or not.
LAURA: And that’s something that if you had to do that maybe you could address it in the additional information?
SHARON: Yeah if there were a few semesters where you did need to take fewer technical courses or fewer units overall that would be important to explain to us the need to do that. Like Joey said, when students come here they are expected to take a full time load and transfer students often need to take three to four technical courses each semester in order to graduate on time. So we want to make sure that they’re properly prepared to do so. And it’s hard to judge that if they’ve only done one or two technical courses each semester at community college.
LAURA: Now if a student applies to UC Berkeley and is accepted and applies for say Letters & Science or College of Chemistry and they want to transfer into the College of Engineering is that something that is an option for them?
SHARON: No, we do not accept transfer students from other colleges, from say College of Letters and Science. So the only way for a transfer student to get into the College of Engineering is to put the College of Engineering major on their UC application for UC Berkeley. They also cannot change majors within the College of Engineering. So it’s critical that transfer students choose their major wisely when they fill out the UC application for Berkeley, because it’s not possible to change majors within the College of Engineering. And it’s also not possible to change into the College of Engineering from another college if you are admitted to Berkeley as a transfer student.
LAURA: Is there any other question or any other aspect of the transfer admissions process that we’ve missed or you wanted to highlight again?
SHARON: Well, I just want to point out that in January transfer students will receive an email that will instruct them to update two different online forms that they need called supplemental forms. And one of them I think they call it the transfer admissions update and that actually updates your UC application for all UC’s you apply to. On that students will need to report their grades for fall and also their intended courses for spring or winter and spring if they’re on the quarter system. So that must be filled out and then the other part is specific to the engineering major to which they applied. And we call that the prerequisite form and that’s where students indicate how they have fulfilled each of those required courses for admission and those two pieces must be done by January 31st, otherwise the student in eligible for admission. So it’s really important when they fill out the application that they put an e-mail address that they’re going to be checking regularly and really critical that as soon as they get that e-mail they go in and put in those updates. Otherwise the application will not be read.
JOEY: You know my tip is that if you have any questions we have a transfer mission specific e-mail address that you can send questions to. It is email@example.com. And you know questions will get answered if you send them there.
LAURA: Well thank you both so much for stopping by the day and talking about those I know our transfer students all our potential transfer students will really appreciate it.
SHARON: Thank you.
JOEY: You’re welcome.
LAURA: And we’ll talk to you again later. Thank you.