Best Public Universities in the United States: University of California System

There are fifty states in the United States of America, as represented by the white stars of the US flag. The United States is a relatively large country with different geographies and climates. Texas is the biggest state in size, and Rhode Island is the smallest. California is the state with the highest resident population in the United States in 2021, with 39.37 million people. Wyoming has the lowest population with about 580,000 residents. The biggest US cities with respect to population include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. In previous articles, I have already discussed weighing geography and climate factors when deciding on a location for college study. I always prioritize the geographic location of a school, and compile facts about the physical environment for my students. Our students and their parents usually do not know about this important fact (location), since they usually focus instead on the financial issues. I also believe that where they live, and in what conditions, can have profound positive or negative psychological effects on students. Further, it is very clear that students’ psychology is also directly related to their academic and disciplinary performances. In this article, I would like to discuss California and some of the top colleges located there. Specifically, we will examine the University of California System, which includes 10 of the top state colleges in the US.

California is nicknamed “the Golden State”. The gold rush, as well as the state flower, golden poppies, contributed to this nickname. When gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma in 1849, more than 100,000 people, known as “forty-niners,” flocked to the state to pursue their fortunes. California was founded as a state a year later, in 1850. California gets its name from a 16th-century Spanish novel about a fictional paradise called California. Sand beaches, cliffs, and mountains can be found along the 1,100-mile coastline. Alternatively, head northeast to find forests of 380-foot-tall redwood trees—roughly the length of a football field. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states and part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is located east of the redwoods. Do you enjoy the heat? Travel to the 25,000-square-mile Mojave Desert in the southeast, where the world’s high-temperature record, 130F, was recorded in 2020.

Such a beautiful state is one of the best places to continue the higher education experience for domestic and international students. The state has some globally ranked top schools, including Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, Berkley. California also has the best public university system, called the University of California System. This system includes 10 universities that are ranked as top public colleges in the United States. In 1869, the University of California was established with just 10 faculty members and 38 students. More than 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff make up the UC system today, with two million graduates living and working around the world. The current system includes the following colleges: (1) UCLA, (2) UC Berkley, (3) UC Santa Barbara, (4) UC Irvine, (5) UC Merced, (6) UC Riverside, (7) UC San Diego, (8) UC Santa Cruz, (9) UC San Francisco, and (10) UC Davis.

Let me share some basic and interesting facts about this system for the student who might prefer one of those schools for their further education.

1. All UC schools use the same application, but each school chooses whether to approve you on their own. Your application is considered separately by each school to which you apply. This means that the decision of one UC school to accept or refuse you would have no bearing on the decision of any other UC

2. You must answer four personal insight questions in order to apply. When you apply to UC, you’ll be asked eight questions about yourself. Four of them must be answered in no more than 350 words each. The admissions committee makes no distinctions, and all questions are given equal weight. Here is one example for your reference: “What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?”

3. The University of California has a reputation for having world-class facilities. UC has hundreds of museums, concert halls, art galleries, botanical gardens, observatories, and marine centers.

4. UC findings have resulted in billions of dollars in sales, thousands of California workers, and countless inventions that impact your everyday life (to name a few, there’s the flu vaccine and the wetsuit, as well as the discovery of vitamin E).

5. There are 1.7 million living alumni of the University of California system There have been 61 Nobel laureates, 63 National Medal of Science winners, and 38 Pulitzer Prize winners from UC.

6. STEM, arts, and social sciences are all areas where UC schools excel. However, the university system offers 150 academic disciplines.

7. Grants and scholarships are awarded to more than two-thirds of undergraduate students, with an annual reward of about $15,000.

According to US News & World Report, here are UCS’ Rankings:

Campus Public National
UCLA    1    20
UC Berkeley    2    22*
UC Santa Barbara    7*    34*
UC Irvine    9    36
UC San Diego    10    37*
UC Davis    11    39
UC Santa Cruz    34*    84*
UC Riverside    39*    91*
UC Merced    44*    104*

*denotes a tie with another institution

The University of California System is one of the most prestigious school chains in the United States. Endowment assets of this system are worth 13 billion US dollars. This places UC system as the fourth largest school chain in the US after the University of Texas system, the Texas A&M University system, and the University of Michigan system.

UC Berkeley and UCLA are the most competitive of the UC schools, with acceptance rates below 20%. Even if UCLA and Berkeley seem to be out of reach, you might be able to attend one of the other UCs. UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, and UC Merced have acceptance rates of over 50%, making them the easiest UC schools to get into. With proper college consulting, you can increase your chances of being accepted by one of those UC colleges and with substantial scholarship support. Submitting an impressive personal statement and resume and providing convincing answers to the schools’ admission questions make a great difference for admissions to any colleges in the US. And this documentation should be prepared in a personalized framework. We highly recommend such personalized college consulting to ensure a strong application.

Fall 2020 Freshman Admission Profile | University of California

College SAT scores for middle 25%-75% of students % Accepted
Berkeley Reading and Writing: 650-750 |

Math: 670-790

Davis Reading and Writing: 600-710 |

Math: 630-780

Irvine Reading and Writing: 620-720 |

Math: 660-790

Los Angeles Reading and Writing: 670-760 |

Math: 680-790

Merced Reading and Writing: 490-620 |

Math: 490-640

Riverside Reading and Writing: 550-670 |

Math: 560-710

San Diego Reading and Writing: 640-730 |

Math: 670-790

Santa Barbara Reading and Writing: 630-730 | Math: 650-790 36.9%
Santa Cruz Reading and Writing: 580-690 |



By Erkan Acar, PhD.

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