We have an update for the Transfer Admissions podcast. There is some important information about Assist.org that students need to make sure they are aware of. Plus – did you know that you aren’t done with your application in November? There is an additional questionnaire that you must fill out in January. Sharon Mueller and Joey Wong stopped by the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer to fill us in on changes for this year, why you should keep checking your email and why having the required courses is important to your application.
***This podcast was recorded in November 2018. Since COVID-19 there have been changes to the application process and requirements. Please visit the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the most up-to-date requirements.***
If you are looking for information about frosh admissions please check out our Frosh Admissions podcast.
- Office of Undergraduate Admissions, UC Berkeley
- Admissions University of California
- Prospective Junior Transfer FAQs
- Email transfer application/admissions questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Sharon Mueller and Joey Wong are joining us today to discuss transfer admissions and how you can apply to Berkeley Engineering, what is important on your application and what you need to know about Assist.org. Welcome both of you – thank you for coming on the podcast! Sharon – you’ve been a guest many times but for those that are joining us for the first time, please introduce yourself.
SHARON MUELLER: I am Sharon Mueller and I’m the Director of Advising and Policy in Engineering Student Services.
LV: Thank you for being here! Joey – please tell the folks listening about what you do at UC Berkeley.
JOEY WONG: Yeah sure. Hi, I’m Joey Wong. I’m one of the advisers here in Engineering Student Services and I helped coordinate and manage the transfer admission process every year.
LV: Welcome back both of you and thank you again for being here. And earlier this month I interviewed a couple of folks from admissions about the Frosch applications and admissions. So if you’re in high school and applying to UC Berkeley that’s the podcast for you. Today we’re focusing on transfer admissions which is either from a community college or from another four-year school. First question, what other application dates and deadlines.
JW: Yes all the applications are open now and the deadline is November 30th to apply.
LV: And is there any preference given to students who apply earlier than November 30th.
JW: No, no preference at all. Each application received by the 30th is viewed similarly.
LV: And when will the students know if they’ve been accepted?
JW: This is a good question because historically we’ve released the transfer admissions date near the last Friday of April but this year the University is trying to release that admission information a little sooner. And the target date right now is Friday, April 19.
LV: Friday April 19th? That’s quite a bit early and then.
JW: Yes, Friday, April 19th.
LV: What part does Engineering Student Services and the College of Engineering play in the transfer application process?
JW: We play a pretty big role. We review all the applications, the eligible transfer admission applications and there are a couple rounds of reading. It gets read by staff and then read by faculty. And it also goes through adjudication process as well.
LV: For the students, what exactly is the application process entail? What are the different parts of it?
JW: Yeah there’s personal questions. It’s a big part of it. A four part question where you can submit an answer in essay form. So that’s definitely a good place where you can tell us about yourself. Kind of tell us about your passions and your history and your story and kind of give us a picture of that outside of the grades and the academics that we can we can see as well. So that’s definitely a big part of it.
SM: And I would add that the there is a part for community service or organizations that student’s been part of. There’s a whole extracurricular part at the application and I think what’s important to note about that part, we’re really interested to know for transfer students, what have you done since high school. So we don’t necessarily want to know what you did during high school, it’s really important to ask that you show us what you’ve done while you’ve been in community college or at another college and how have those experiences influenced your choice of major.
LV: And how important are the extracurricular activities in terms of how many you do or is it about the amount of time that you spent. Does it have to be STEM related extracurricular activity? What is it that you are looking for in those activities?
JW: That’s a good question. I don’t I don’t think there’s any particular extracurricular activity that we’re expecting or looking for. I think what we really want to see it’s depth in that activity whatever it may be. If it’s STEM that’s great but if it’s not STEM that’s totally fine too. If you are part of some sort of band or you’re really involved in music we just want to see a lot of depth within those activities and not just, you know, multiple activities that you do maybe one or two hours a week.
SM: Yeah, when you have some depth in a certain activity, often you can show your leadership skills by your continued involvement in that and your continued responsibility with that. So even if it’s not STEM maybe you’ve been playing a sport and maybe you’re the captain of that team that’s shows us leadership. Or maybe you’ve been tutoring science or math for a year or two. That shows us that you have a strong command of that subject. It’s really to supplement your application, but it doesn’t have to be stimulated.
LV: Okay. And are there any letters or recommendations that students have to start getting and gathering.
JW: No not at all. Letters of recommendations are not required for the junior transformation process.
LV: Are there additional forms that they’ll have to fill out once they’ve done their initial application?
JW: There is! Once the new year comes around, there will be a supplemental form that will be due at the end of January that all transfer applicants will be asked to submit and complete. With that supplemental form you’ll be able to fill out a lot of key parts of the application that will be available to review.
SM: Part of that is is reporting your fall grades. So it’s really important that transfer students don’t slack off because by the time we see the application, we’re going to have those supplemental forms and we’re going to see your fall grades. We are also asking for what courses are you taking or are planning to take for the winter and spring. And it’s important to note that all of the required courses, which I think we’re going to talk about in a little bit, those have to be completed by the end of spring of the year in which you are applying. If students are applying this November have to finish all of their required prerequisites by the end of Spring 2019.
SM: So all of that’s going to be reported on the supplemental forms. If those forms are not filled out the application will not be reviewed. So it is extremely important that students pay attention to their email, make sure that they put an email on the application that they’re going to keep. And that works because that’s how they’re going to get notified that these supplemental forms are ready for them to fill out.
JW: And also just just checking with your admissions portal. If you if you keep on top of that you should see the supplemental form. It’s definitely a chance at a very good place to provide more and new information if you have in January, whereas if you are filling it out now, things may change.
LV: So it’s really important just to stay on top of it. Just because you finished your application on November 30th like you were supposed to. You still got more after that.
SM: Right. You’re not done with the process yet.
LV: And so let’s talk a little bit more about the essay questions. Is there any one essay because how many asking questions do they have to fill out?
SM: There is one that they all have to fill out and then they have to do three more. And they have a choice I think of 7 or so prompts that they can choose from for those three.
LV: And so of those is there any one essay question that you think is better than another for them to answer?
JW: Honestly I don’t think so. I mean, I think they all present students with different ways to showcase themselves and their abilities and skills and their stories. It really really is up to the student for you to kind of pick which questions you resonate with more and which ones you can feel that you can answer and you can present yourself truthfully as best as possible.
SM: Yeah and I would say it’s also important that like for instance, sometimes a student will spend a lot of time in a personal insight question talking about perhaps a unique research or internship experience they had. So that’s wonderful, that’s an opportunity for a student who perhaps put that in their extracurricular section, but you don’t have a lot of space in there to actually tell us what did you do there, how did you spend your time. So then they can use a personal insight question to really expand upon that.
JW: Yeah sometimes that’s a missed opportunity for a lot of students where they would mention that they did research somewhere and some time but they don’t actually go in depth on how that research changed or affected them in their lives and how they want to go forward from there.
LV: Are there any answers that have become too cliched, something they ought to avoid?
JW: Possibly, yes, we did get I think a lot of Lego’s.
SM: Students who knew they wanted to be engineering because they always loved playing with Lego’s or something, that’s pretty common. Which is kind of interesting, but we want to know what’s happened since then. Hopefully, something has happened at community college during your college years that has really reinforced that for you.
LV: And is there a style of writing that you’re looking for? Something much more personal or less technical.
JW: No I don’t think there’s any specific style of writing. Hey you have the ability to you know change it up for each personal insight question you could. That’s one way to showcase your creativity and writing style.
SM: Yeah. And I would say you know sometimes I read the personal and like questions and there’s a lot of detail about what they’ve done on our research project and because I’m not an engineer it kind of goes over my head. But keep in mind that there are also faculty reading these applications so they’ll certainly get it so it’s ok if they want to take some of their space and get more technical with it. But I think it’s also important that they don’t just focus on that research project but really focus on how did that project influence them. As I always bring it back to the personal story.
LV: And we’ve said, not in this podcast but in freshman podcasts especially, we talked about how it’s a holistic review process and this one is also a holistic review process. What exactly does that mean to the student?
SM: So that means that we’re not just focused on grades. Yes grades are important but we don’t have a formula for you know this GPA gets this many points and this extracurricular activity gets this many points. There is no formula so the holistic review is as a whole student. How do we feel this student would contribute to Berkeley Engineering and how do we expect the students to participate and connect with Berkeley Engineering and be successful here. So that’s what the holistic review is. I think the grades are really important. But if a student has all A’s but then hasn’t done anything outside of academics. Well that’s a missed opportunity. And I would expect that there had been some opportunities in the students life to engage in some kind of extracurricular activity. So it just means we’re looking at the whole person and not just the academic student.
LV: Okay. Tell me a little bit more about the GPA requirements that we have as an overall, is it different for each major within engineering? Is there a certain target that you should be looking for?
JW: Well as a College we have a 3.5 GPA minimum for junior transfer admission. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will not get in if you don’t have a three point five. If there are certain cases where you can if you have a returning student in your previous grades from years before are dragging down your GPA overall, in recent years your major GPA in your technical courses have been stellar and proving you can definitely let us know and we flag those applicants to make sure that we pay closer attention to those as well.
SM: How did they let you know?
JW: Yeah we have a great email, email@example.com that gets checked regularly and gets answered. So definitely if you have questions there you can send that email and also let us know if you fall you fall under that category of students.
LV: And what kind of life experiences did students have that maybe would make it so that they left and came back to school or is you look at a little bit of everything?
JW: Yeah we see we see all sorts of returning students from veterans to returning student parents and things like that. I mean we know that life happens and sometimes students need a break away from academics and that’s totally fine. You know we take that into consideration as well in our holistic review as Sharon mentioned and in some ways that that really kind of fills out your application and almost completes the application picture of who the applicant is if you have a lot of these life experiences.
LV: Part of our application process is there are some required courses that students have to have before they are admitted. Is there a way to not do the required courses and still have your application evaluated?
JW: Unfortunately no. So the prerequisite courses are required if you don’t have the prerequisite courses required by spring of 2019 you should not apply.
SM: Yeah. And then maybe apply next year right. Once you have those courses done and maybe even some additional engineering or computer science courses done.
LV: There’s suggested courses that the student should take or courses that maybe aren’t even suggested, they’re just engineering courses that are available at their community colleges or four-year colleges. Does that help in the application process?
JW: It does. It definitely doesn’t hurt. So I mean if if there are engineering courses that are offered in your community college that are not necessarily articulated on Assist you know you take advantage and take these courses. They will help in your application.
LV: And if nothing else they may help when you get here.
SM: Yeah right. So even if they haven’t articulated one to one with a requirement they’ll certainly give you a strong foundation.
LV: You had mentioned Assist.org, tell me a little bit more about Assist.org and what it does for our community college students.
JW: Yes. Assist.org is a website articulation that has all the California community colleges and the UC Berkeley school course articulations. However, I think it’s important to keep in mind, that thought has not been updated recently. There should be a message there that that links you to our admissions website at Berkeley that kind of gives you an update on the biggest changes in our curriculum changes and application prerequisite changes as well so make sure that yes review Assist.org but know that some of the information might be a little old and that you may want to double check the Berkeley admissions website that’s linked from Assist to make sure you know all the updates.
SM: I would say that also I would encourage students to let us know in their application if for instance at your community college there is a course number change and perhaps on Assist it has the old course numbers but the course numbers have changed since then. There is a part in the application, I think it’s just called additional information, and that’s really good information to tell us because we too are using Assist and Assist is a couple of years old. So when we’re looking for a Physics 4A and you know that Physics 4A is now Physics 10A, if we don’t see Physics 4A we’re going to think you have not fulfilled the requirements so it would be imperative that students use that space to tell us anything that is not updated in Assist to help us and our review process.
LV: Is there any one major that’s had more teams than others that they should watch a little bit more carefully?
JW: Yeah there’s a couple of majors that have some bigger curriculum changes in the recent past. Bioengineering is one and then also civil engineering has some changes as well in terms of what prerequisites they are strongly recommended courses that they would want.
SM: And that as Joey was saying, at the top of Assist there’s a disclaimer. I think it’s in the red type actually indicating that Assist is out of date and I think it actually links you to the UCOP website and there from there you can click on Berkeley. When you do that and you get to the Berkeley site, in the first paragraph there is a link to update summary. And if you click on that update summary, you will see that the changes for bioengineering and civil engineering. So I think it actually results in students needing to take less fewer courses. So it’s definitely to the students benefit to see what those updates are.
LV: Does it matter if students have to end up going to multiple community colleges to take all these courses?
JW: It doesn’t. You know if the courses articulated one the one that really we really don’t mind if you take it in different community colleges. In some ways it shows how resourceful you are actually, so that’s good. However, you know it’s important to watch out for some of the articulations that are not one to one. These series articulation courses where you know that you need two or three courses at a community college to equate to one of our courses here that you will need to take all of them their, at one community college. Let’s say for our Chem 1A requirement you need to take Chem 1 2 and 3, that means that if it’s if it’s like that then you wouldn’t take all three there.
SM: Even if it’s Chem 1, 2 and 3 as a group equals Chem 1A and 1B here, but your major only requires Chem 1A, you still have to take all three courses because it means that the Chem 1A content is somehow mixed in all three of those courses. I would say the only exception to that is Math 54. So a lot of schools Math 54 is broken up into two courses one is linear algebra and one is differential equations and that’s a very common break. So if students say do linear algebra at one school and then differential equations at the other that’s okay because those are very clearly separated for most schools so we’ll just put those together and say okay fine you’ve done Math 54
JW: Right. Just make sure that those courses that both those can be equate to Math 54.
LV: If students have more than a certain number of units that you can actually transfer over, that’s okay if they they have too many undergraduate units they just will not transfer over correct?
JW: Yes. So there’s no cap on community college units so you can you can take up plenty of community college units and in 70 units transfer over. When and if you are admitted. Now the units that get students in trouble sometimes are units from four-year universities or out of state schools and things like that because those units don’t go through the cap and they’ll keep piling up and adding up.
SM: Then students could have too many of those units to be eligible for transfer but students who are strictly at community college, while UC does cap at 70 units, all the coursework will still fulfill requirements, even the coursework that they’ve taken beyond 70 units.
LV: Oh, okay. So for some reason when you started community college you were thinking of majoring in English and you got this change of heart and you decided to do engineering, it’s ok that you switched over.
SM: Yeah, totally fine. It’s not unusual for our transfer students to have maybe 90 or 100 community college units.
LV: Do you take into consideration if a student took longer than say two years to get through community college?
JW: No, we actually don’t mind if students take longer to complete the prerequisite courses. However, one caveat with that is when we’re reviewing for the application we want to see that each semester you’re challenging yourself right. And usually that’s the case by taking a more technical course load since you’re applying to engineering. Now if you take three or four years through community college and you’re taking only one technical requirement every semester that is going to make your application you know a little weaker because we want to see semesters where you challenge yourself and where you’re taking multiple courses to make sure that you are able to make that transition and come here and take multiple technical courses here and do well.
SM: Yes, because that’s the requirement here we don’t have a part time program, I mean students are really expected to jump in and take two to four technical courses every semester. So we really want to see evidence that they’ve been able to manage that in community college and for students who perhaps have done one or two technical courses a semester I would want to understand why. You know maybe they’re a parent and they have childcare responsibilities or maybe they’ve had to work 40 hours a week or maybe they had a sick parent and they were taking care of someone. So that’s where students really want to make sure that we have a full picture of them. How have you been spending your time and if you’re in one or two technicals how have you been spending the rest of your time and what other obligations have you been managing.
LV: Do you have any tips about students who still are working on fulfilling their American history as an institution requirement?
SM: Yes so that is actually a requirement that it’s a UC wide requirement so all UC schools have this requirement. And the trick with that is that if you fulfill the requirement before you come to Berkeley, if you did not fulfill the requirement in high school because some students did, then you can fulfill the requirement with one course before you come to Berkeley, but once you’re at Berkeley you usually have to take two courses to fulfill the requirement. So, many times students who have not fulfilled it, who are committing to a UC, will try to fulfill it the summer before they actually start at Berkeley if they haven’t done it already. Because then they can get two requirements done with one of course. There is a course at Berkeley that was just approved for both American History and American Institutions but it’s not a huge course so it’s not like every student here is going to have the opportunity to take it. So in most cases it’s definitely beneficial to the student to try to fulfill that before they start. It’s certainly not a requirement for their admission. That’s just a tip to make sure you are checking to make it easier for when you get here.
JW: It’s also important to note that if you’re an international student that these the American History an American Institution Arment is waived.
SM: That’s true, so let’s say if you’re still holding let’s say an F1 or a J1 visa at during your last semester, you will get waived from those requirements.
LV: OK. If a student has applied at UC Berkeley for the College of Letters and Science as a transfer student are they able to change their major once they get to Berkeley?
SM: They can certainly change their major within Letters and Science and they might be able to switch to say the College of Natural Resources or some other colleges on campus but they cannot switch to the College of Engineering. And that’s also an important point for students who apply directly to the College of Engineering. They can’t change their major. So it’s really important that students apply to the major they want to keep because once they accept their offer of admission, they cannot change their major.
LV: And that’s the same for students that are going here. You only allowed them to change their major before their junior year.
SM: Yeah that’s right. So even students who start here as a freshman they have to they’re going to change their major within engineering. They have to do it before they’re juniors. So it really is consistent with how other students are treated. We expect that transfer students know what major they want to pursue and that is generally true. But we make it very clear that they just they can’t change their major once they’re here. They could transfer out of the College and change to the College of Letters and Science. But students in the College of Letters and Science can’t change into Engineering and students admitted to Engineering can’t change their major as a transfer.
LV: So if you had applied a couple different places and you got into college it’s going to let you get into the engineering program that you want whereas here you applied and got into Letters and Science go with the program that you really want. Don’t plan on trying to change into it.
SM: That’s right. Because you won’t be able to change into engineering here.
LV: Let’s talk about the admission rates. What are the admission rates for the College of Engineering for transfer students.
JW: Well for transfer students previous 2018 year the transfer admission rate for the campus was about 23 percent. For the College in general I think it was about 12 percent. So significantly lower than that. However, we want to point out that out of the eligible students, so students who completed all their prerequisite requirements, submitted supplemental forms, close to 40 percent of the students of those, were admitted. So you know the admit rate of 12 percent is very deceiving and maybe discouraging but you know you should be happy to hear that if you’ve satisfied all your prerequisite require, filled out the supplemental forms and you have a three point five GPA or higher, that you know your chances are pretty good at getting admitted.
LV: So overall those numbers really shouldn’t discourage the students.
SM: No, the 12 percent shouldn’t discourage students because if you’ve taken all the courses that you should have taken, the required courses, and you filled out the supplemental forms you had to fill out, and your overall GPA is at three point five or higher. You actually have a 40 percent chance. So that’s a pretty good chance.
LV: And if you self-support not apply…
SM: then you have a zero percent chance.
LV: Are there any other questions or any other aspect of the transfer admissions process that we’ve missed or that you want to highlight one more time? I was thinking I want to say for sure if something’s happened in your life that you may have started with a really low GPA and you’ve been struggling to come back and haven’t quite hit that three point five. Let us know.
SM: Yeah, send that email.
JW: Yes, firstname.lastname@example.org.
LV: And if you had a question about courses that maybe you were unclear in Assist about what course and how it’s going to transfer over or if it will transfer over, can you also email
JW: Yes, email@example.com. You could most definitely.
LV: Do you have any tips for maybe some out-of-state transfer applicants that we might be getting?
JW: Yeah. You know, definitely look at Assist to know what the prerequisite courses are for applying and then trying to see which of those courses match up to also the courses available at your university or college. However, you know there is no guarantee that those courses will be evaluated as equivalent. So you know there’s always a danger that if you apply and you believe you’ve finished physics when you really have not to our equivalency of physics that you would you would not be admitted. Unfortunately we can’t do pre-admission evaluations for courses out-of-state.
SM: Students can use the Berkeley Academic Guide to see course descriptions. A lot of the department websites at Berkeley have syllabi by for their courses published. So with those resources they can they can make their best guess. But we don’t pre-evaluate courses during the application process.
LV: Thank you Sharon and Joey for being here today to talk about the transfer admissions. And thank you to everyone who has tuned in for the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. If you want to know more about Berkeley Engineering and the resources we offer please check out our other podcasts that cover topics ranging from the Career Center to faculty and student tips. And thank you again, I appreciate your time.