University of California San Diego

On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, guest host Sally Ganga turned her attention to California, with a double segment on the University of California system. She finished the show with a finance segment on the ever-popular topic of negotiating scholarship offers from colleges.

Admissions at the University of California System

To kick off the show, Sally welcomed College Coach educator Steve Brennan, a former long-time resident of California and an expert on all aspects of the UC system. They spent the first segment digging into the admission process for the system, and the selectivity of the different schools within it, offering some helpful application strategies along the way. They also discussed how much more transparent the UC schools are these days, as they now publish the middle 50% ranges for test scores and GPA’s of admitted students. Finally, they wrapped up this segment with a helpful conversation about how the UC admission process plays out for out-of-state vs. in-state applicants.

The UC Campuses: What’s the Difference?

In the next segment, Sally (also a former CA resident) and Steve went on to describe the “vibe” of each of the different UC campuses (except for UCLA and UC Berkeley, because they ran out of time, and, well, because they’re already pretty well known). Starting with UC Merced, the newest campus, and ending with UC Irvine and UC San Diego, Sally and Steve shared insights about each of the campuses and their unique offerings, cultures, and settings. If you’ve got UC’s on your college list, you won’t want to miss this episode!

Negotiating Scholarship Offers

Sally ended this week’s show with college finance expert Alex Bickford and a conversation about how to approach schools to negotiate a better scholarship offer. On an earlier episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Shannon Vasconcelos covered how to appeal a need-based financial aid package. This week’s segment was instead focused on merit-based scholarships, and Alex offered many important tips, like how to draft an effective letter, who to approach, and when is the best time to submit your request. He and Sally also both shared some success story anecdotes, confirming our philosophy that it never hurts to ask—the worst that will happen is that the school will say no!

Don’t forget to tune in for our next episode, when guest host Ian Fisher will talk with two former college admission officers, who will share their insiders’ view of the inner workings of the admissions office during reading and committee season. He’ll then welcome a college finance expert to discuss how to plan financially for all four years of college.


Written by Kathy Ruby
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Senior Financial Aid Officer at St. Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.