When you apply to college, there are a lot of sections and questions that need to be filled out. One section that many students find confusing is the additional comments section on the University of California application. This is a section where students can note anything substantial that affected their performance or ability in some way. It’s not a required portion of the application, but it can be helpful for admissions officers to have more information about your candidacy. So what should you include in this section? Here are some tips:
UC Personal Insight Questions (UC PIQs) & UC Application Additional Comments Portion
The University of California Personal Insight Questions (UC Personal Insight Questions, UC PIQs) are your UC application’s most important non-academic component. After answering four of the eight UC Personal Insight Questions, students can use the “Additional Comments” field to note anything substantial or extraordinary that affected their student life and environment.
Leaving those sections blank is perfectly fine if you have nothing extra to add to the UC Application. You should not use “Additional comments” as overflow for the Personal Insight Questions or a place to add a resume, an extra Personal Insight Question, a recommendation letter, or links to websites (the UCs have very specifically said they don’t want to see any of these things).
Here is the official prompt for the UC Application Additional Comments Section
Additional Comments: Use the additional comments field if there are issues you’d like to address that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss elsewhere on the application. This shouldn’t be an essay but rather a place to note unusual circumstances or anything that might be unclear in other parts of the application. You may use the additional comments field to note extraordinary circumstances related to COVID-19 if necessary.https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-freshman/filling-out-the-application.html
Tip #1 Gap Years or Prolonged School Absence
More often than not, students will feel compelled to include information about gap years or a leave of absence on the academic history section of the UC application. Although this is not an incorrect idea, it can be useful to include gap year information in the UC application’s additional comments section.
Using the UC application’s additional comments section can also be beneficial to mention any irregular or exemplary academic achievements. If you took an extra year off to work on a research project or study for a major exam, this is the place to mention it!
Tip #2 Meaningful Activities That You Were Unable to Mention
Use this tip with caution because the UC Personal Insight Questions and the UC application have a section for professional and personal activities. However, for the additional comments section, students can include activities they could not include in the UC application because the questions answered did not solicit, nor make it appropriate, to mention them.
For example, if you are a transfer student, there is going to be a lot of information about your time at community college. However, if you had an internship in high school that was super meaningful or developmental for you, then it would be appropriate to include that in the UC application additional comments section.
Let’s say you raised capital for a nonprofit or community organization, you can include the amount received (always beneficial to include quick quantitative statements) and the utilization of those funds to support the organization’s mission.
Tip #3 Do Not Feel Compelled to Use the Additional Comments Section
One very important tip is to remember that the Additional Comments section of the UC application is completely voluntary and not required.
In other words, if you do not have anything meaningful to put in the additional comments section, refrain from using it completely.
So, if you don’t have anything else to add to your UC Application, that’s totally cool. You don’t need to use the “Additional Comments” section to overflow or add a resume or an extra Personal Insight Question. The UCs specifically said they don’t want to see any of that stuff.
Tip #4 Avoid Dramatizing Personal Struggles
Students should remember that thousands of students submit applications to the University of California system. Admissions counselors from UCSD, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, and UC Davis have heard the same story, more or less, from thousands of other students.
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The experience these admissions counselors gain from reading so many UC applications is that they can quickly discern when a student is exaggerating their struggles in the classroom.
Rarely do personal struggles need dramatization, but it does not stop students from using hyperbolic language to seem superior to other students who share similar, if not worse, personal accounts.
The additional comments section on the UC application is for simple statements or contributions that subscribe to the holistic overview of your application.
Showcasing over-the-top emotion in your UC Personal Insight Questions is not something that should be looked upon favorably. Therefore, using the UC application’s additional comments section is inappropriate.
Tip #5 Health, Personal, or Family-Related Issues
Arguably the most important thing to include in the UC application additional comments section is any difficulties you had with your health, personal issues, or family-related problems.
Encompassed with the personal issues is the possibility of financial hardship as more and more students are having to work while attending college due to the rising costs of living and college tuition.
The additional comments section of the UC application is your opportunity to explain any personal issues, health-related issues, or family misgivings that may have impacted your academics or extracurricular involvement. This is not the section to list your awards or accomplishments – that’s what the rest of the application is for.
Instead, use this space to provide context for any negative information in your application, such as a low GPA or a suspension from school. Be honest and upfront about your experiences, but avoid dwelling on negativity.
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The admissions committee is looking for evidence that you’re able to learn from your mistakes and move forward. Ultimately, they want to see that you’re resilient and capable of overcoming challenges.
So use this section as an opportunity to give them a glimpse of your character and how you’ve grown as a result of your experiences.
UC Application Additional Comments Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are UC Application Additional Comments Required?
No, the University of California does not require the additional comments section to be filled out. Students can successfully submit a UC application without having to enter anything into the Additional Comments field.
Do Colleges Look at the UC Application Additional Comments Sections?
The additional information section is one of the most common questions on college applications. It can seem like a throwaway question, but colleges actually pay close attention to these responses.
The additional information section is your chance to share anything that doesn’t fit into the other sections of the application. This could include extenuating circumstances, obstacles you’ve overcome, or anything else that you think would be helpful for admissions committees to know.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an opportunity to simply list your accomplishments; admissions committees already have access to your transcripts and test scores. Instead, use this space to give a fuller picture of who you are as a person.
Be honest, be open, and be yourself. Colleges are looking for applicants who are a good fit for their school, and the additional information section is one way to help them see if you’re the right match.
Remember, why would the UC system continue to have the additional comments section on the UC application if the admissions officers did not read them?
Of course, they read what you put in the additional comments section of the UC application, it could contain something significant about your application that could turn the tide either way.
Should I add additional comments to the UC application?
Yes, if you have something meaningful to say. Most students can write something in the additional comments section because we all have experiences, situations, or circumstances that affect our personal and educational lives.
So think about what that situation might have been and try to formulate a clear, concise, and declarative statement for the UC application additional comments section.
So, what should you put in the additional comments section on your UC application? That’s up to you, but we have a few tips for you to get started. If you took a gap year or had an extended absence from school, be sure to mention that here.
If any meaningful activities or experiences you had didn’t fit into the other parts of your application, this is the place to talk about them.
And finally, remember that you don’t HAVE to use the additional comments section if you don’t want to – it’s optional!
Just be aware that if something important happens between now and the time your application is reviewed (like an illness or family emergency), the admissions committee may not have all the information they need to decide.
Finally, if there are health, personal, or family-related issues that you think might impact your admission chances, go ahead and mention them here.
But try not to dramatize them – after all, everyone has struggles! We hope these tips help as you work on your UC application. As always, let us know if you have any questions.