The UC Application Strategy Guide
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The UC Application Strategy Guide

Learn from a UC Berkeley college admissions expert on how to perfect your application for the University of California.
4.2 (3 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
13 students enrolled
Created by Dan Murray Zhou
Last updated 4/2016
Current price: $12 Original price: $30 Discount: 60% off
3 days left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 5 Articles
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion

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What Will I Learn?
  • present themselves effectively to the University of California
  • complete two essays that stand out
  • utilize every written component of the application
View Curriculum
  • Create an account to apply for the University of California
  • 1 sheet of paper and writing utensil
  • 1 computer and Internet


Every year, I help dozens of high school seniors get into the UC's of their choice. This comprehensive course will teach you how to get accepted by utilizing every inch of your application.

I was trained in College Admissions and Career Planning at UC Berkeley. For just $50, this Udemy course combines the most useful information from my training with my 5+ years of experience as a college admissions professional.

What Makes This Course So Much Different [and Better]

  • Details: While most instructors tell you to brainstorm, my course teaches you how to do that most effectively. I provide this level of detail in every section of my course, so that you aren't left guessing. Furthermore, my course is structured directly after the actual application.
  • Interaction: By enrolling, you have unlimited access to me via Udemy Discussions. Simply post a question and I will answer it -- so long as it has to do with the UC application.
  • Comprehensive: This course provides a holistic approach to your application because students are evaluated on everything -- not just essays or activities. Only by addressing a student's overall profile can one create an inspiring story worth admission.
  • Results: My students, who typically range from 3.4-4.0, consistently earn admission into the UC's, with 98% of them accepted to either their target or top pick UC's.

Take it from me -- a UC Berkeley alumnus -- getting in is harder than it has ever been. And it's only going to get harder.

So if you're interested in attending a UC...learn from my training, learn from my experience, and learn from my results.


Who is the target audience?
  • Any freshman applicant looking to apply to the University of California should take this course.
  • Parents who are helping their students apply should take this course.
Compare to Other Social Science Courses
Curriculum For This Course
31 Lectures
4 Lectures 11:56

The UC Application Strategy Guide is designed for any high school student applying to the University of California school system. The course is structured in the same chronological order as the actual application, and it includes real life examples on how to make your application stand out from the rest. Dan is a UC Berkeley trained admissions expert who has sent hundreds of students, from as far as even China and India, into the UC system.

Preview 02:00

Before filling out your application, it helps to understand the perspective of the admission readers:

  1. They actually read your application
  2. They are not mean people; they are for the most part good people with good intentions
  3. They are only human; they don't know anything about you outside of your application
Preview 04:20

Contrary to popular belief, GPA and test scores don't guarantee successful college admission results. The fact of the matter is there are thousands of students with similar grades, test scores, and even activities -- so how does a student stand out?

For most of today's most competitive universities, students are accepted based on the "overall profile." Admissions readers attempt to get the bigger picture of not only what the student did but why the student did those things. Lastly, the personal statements provides the context for the overall application, differentiating exceptional candidates from the rest.

So why was the 3.5 accepted over the 4.0? The 3.5 student must have exuded a stronger overall profile, which demonstrated a greater potential for academic success and leadership. -- not to mention, a better written application.

Preview 02:18

Parents should be involved members of the college selection process. After all, they're the ones who are paying for college! However, when it comes to contacting schools and filling out the application, parents should refrain from being overbearing.

Parents: Do's & Don'ts
Getting Started the Right Way
5 Lectures 15:59

It helps to create a professional email address and to write down your password.

Preview 02:22

Are you qualified enough to get accepted? Would you like the learning environment? Does the school have a strong program in your area of interest? These are some of the primary questions you should be asking when selecting UCs.

How do I choose the right UCs?

What are you good at? What are you interested in? Should you apply Undeclared? A deep dive into these questions will allow you to determine the best fitting major for you!

Preview 04:01

Before selecting your major, it is important to understand what majors are available and what exactly they mean.

Major List & Definitions
9 pages

Rule of Thumb: play your strengths. Apply to a major only if you have the experience and background to prove your interest. In today's college admissions environment, only the students with the strongest resumes will prevail. And if you find yourself lacking in experience for your desired major, consider applying Undeclared underneath that same college or department. You'll most likely have an opportunity to make transfer later.

Know Your Competition
Activities & Awards: Making the Most Out of Your Accomplishments
3 Lectures 06:18

Using power verbs, details, and numbers to substantiate your activities on the UC application will turn bland experiences into meaningful ones.

40% is what you say, 60% is how you say it.

Take a look at real life examples of UC application activities and awards entries.

Samples: From Bland to Impactful

Some students have more activities than they can list on the UC application. If you find yourself in this situation, choose the activities that are most significant to you and order them based on relevance to your major.

What if I have more activities/awards than I can list?
Personal Insight Questions (PIQs)
13 Lectures 29:01

Dan introduces students to the Personal Insight Questions, including the main obstacles and UC's key criteria.

Preview 02:24

Using this Personal Insight Questions Flowchart, students will be able to quickly select 4 out of the 8 questions to respond to.

PIQ Selection Flowchart

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking a lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about your accomplishments and what you learned from the experience.  What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities.  For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

PIQ #1: Describe an example of your leadership experience...

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  

Things to consider:  What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

PIQ #2: Every person has a creative side...

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  

Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

PIQ #3: What would you say is your greatest talent...

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strived to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

PIQ #4: Describe how you have taken advantage...

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends, or with my family?”

PIQ #5: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced...

Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

Things to consider: Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)?

PIQ #6: Describe your favorite academic subject...

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place – like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act?  What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

PIQ #7: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Things to consider: Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Even if you don’t think you’re unique, you are — remember, there’s only one of you in the world. From your point of view, what do you feel makes you belong on one of UC’s campuses? When looking at your life, what does a stranger need to understand in order to know you?

What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge, or opportunity that you think will help us know you better? We’re not necessarily looking for what makes you unique compared to others, but what makes you, YOU.

PIQ #8: What is the one thing that you think sets you apart...

See a sample personal statement that earned admission into UCLA.

Sample Personal Statement - PIQ #5

See a sample personal statement that earned admission into UC San Diego.

Sample Personal Statement - PIQ #6

See a sample personal statement that earned admission into UC Berkeley.

Sample Personal Statement - PIQ #2
Personal Insight Questions: Remember These Writing Tips
3 Lectures 09:16

Too frequently, students write about someone or something else entirely. Remember: this personal statement is about you. Here's a rule of thumb that is guaranteed to help you remain the focus of both essays.


Used in intros and pivot points in personal statements, dialogue is one of the best ways to make a boring essay way more exciting!

The Power of Dialogue: When & How to Use It

White space is your best friend. Use it.

How to Eliminate Clutter in One Easy Step
The Final Ingredient: Additional Comments
3 Lectures 09:42

Too many students leave this field empty. When understood, the additional comments section after your personal statements can be very important towards helping your admission reader better understand who you are.

After Academic History: When & How to Write Comments

Did you mess up in a class or two? Well, you're in luck -- as long as you know how to explain your situation in the additional comments section at the end of the Academic History component.

After Personal Statements: When & How to Write Comments

Now that you are finished with the UC application, review to determine whether the reader would know everything there is to know about you. Remember: the reader knows he or she is making a big decision, one that can only be made wisely with ample information. Do your best to provide any missing links wherever it makes sense to.

Closing Thoughts - Why Every Component Matters
About the Instructor
Dan Murray Zhou
4.2 Average rating
3 Reviews
13 Students
1 Course
College Admissions Expert & Life Coach

Having worked in the stock market, startups, and Google before creating my own education company, I have always had a passion for learning and teaching. From proven day trading techniques to online display advertising strategies, there are so many areas of expertise that I have longed to share to anyone who is interested. Udemy serves as the ideal platform to help me do that, and I look forward to empowering those who dare to be curious.