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Bruins in Paris

The Transfer Take: The Reintroduction

Photo credit: Isabella Lee

By Ashley Tsao

May 30, 2024 10:24 p.m.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, The Transfer Take is back! Podcasts contributor Ashley Tsao sits down with prospective UCLA applicant Christina Bui to discuss the transfer application and the emotions involved in the process. If you want informational, relatable and maybe some cringey content regarding the transfer application experience, tune in!

Ashley Tsao: Hello, everyone. My name is Ashley Tsao, and I want to thank you for tuning in to the first reintroduction episode of The Transfer Take by Daily Bruin Podcasts, where we aim to dive deep into the nitty-gritty parts of the transfer experience at UCLA.

Since 25% of UCLA’s undergraduate population is made up of transfers, I wanted to have a series that shines light on how we might experience college life differently as, say, from a first-year student. Whether it’s thinking through the application process a bit differently or having a significantly shortened timeline, there’s always a story out there to share on this podcast, whether it’s my own or the interviewees that I have lined up for future episodes. I hope those listening will either find it relatable, informational or cringe depending on your tastes.

And today, I thought a good place to start the series would be the dreadful transfer application process, and specifically what raw emotions, thoughts and actions might go through an individual when they’re filling out the application.

We are currently joined by one of my good friends that is currently preparing the transfer application at Pasadena City College and is a potential UCLA applicant hoping to transfer in fall of 2025.

Hey, Christina, do you mind introducing yourself and your major to the listeners?

Christina Bui: Hello, hello, my name is Christina. I’m currently in my second year at PCC, and my major is biomedical engineering.

AT: How have you been lately? I know it’s been a while since we were in class together.

CB: Oh my god. A long time. Like hanging out together. Yeah, long, long time. You know, I’ve been OK. I’ve been OK. It’s – last semester was the worst because of all the STEM classes being in the same semester. Now, physics is tough, but I have more time to study.

AT: So I assume you’re over the class hump now or difficulty hump?

CB: Yup yup.

AT: Because you’re a biomedical engineer, you have to take a lot of biology, chem and even physics.

CB: Oh my god, I am taking all of them. It’s so bad.

AT: So is this why you can’t transfer as early as other majors?

CB: No, I’m taking three years. I’m taking three years, summer and winter. Yeah, that was me the first year when they showed me the assist.org. When they’re like, “These are all the classes you need.”

AT: So now that you’re over the hump, have you been thinking a little bit more about transfer applications?

CB: It’s gone by so fast. By the way, when I first met up with my counselor, she was like, “It’s going to go really fast.” Sure, it’s only two years, and then bam, I meet her again. She’s like, “By the way, you’re applying this fall.” So yeah, I’ve been looking into it in the past semester, but actually sitting down looking at a question, kind of have an outline of what I want to answer – I only really started this month, I would say.

AT: So have you been really digging deep into your emotions? Because I feel that the UC application is really an introspective process.

CB: Yes. And you know, the thing is, I don’t want to trauma dump. Because that’s so … no offense – I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to put their, you know, that’s the big thing right into the essay, and that’s fine by me. I was just saying it’s a little – I don’t want to force myself to put it in the college apps.

AT: Right. And you have to understand a lot of these admission officers, they probably read, like –

CB: They already read all. They’re like, “Oh, another 300 people already wrote that down.” So something unique, not trauma-related and stand-out. That’s really tough.

AT: Yeah. That’s really tough. And I think if you’re going to get something unique that stands out, you need to start probably now or at least during the summer.

CB: Like really think, think about it.

AT: Because a lot of transfer students, what they do is they procrastinate. They procrastinate till probably November or October, and then they realize, “Oh shit.”

CB: That was me in high school, which is why I am not doing that again.

AT: Right. Right. So I think it’s a very, very smart idea to start now.

CB: I mean, everyone said to start now. And we’re like, “Oh, I have time after time.” You really don’t know, especially when you’re taking class as well. Or have a job. You know, all of that. One month is going to go by in 30 seconds.

AT: Right and I don’t know about you, but when I write, I have to have a really long timeline because I’m not very good at writing.

CB: I need to get in the zone.

AT: Right, you have to be in the mood.

CB: There are so many factors. I have to be in the mood. I have to be in the zone. I have to already have an idea of it to write it out. I’m very sucky with essays overall, especially English. And now you want me to write so many of these to apply.

AT: I think it’s only four.

CB: I don’t consider other schools – private, all that, which I’m not, thankfully.

AT: I’m not sure if we actually went in depth into this but what schools are you actually thinking of applying to?

CB: UCSD, UCLA, UCI – that’s all the UCs for now. CSU Fullerton probably, Cal Poly Pomona. I think that’s it for now. I think I’m going to keep the privates to the side. I was going to do USC, if I’m being very real with you. My first year I was like, “USC, let’s go. Never mind.”

AT: As a UCLA Bruin, I’m so glad.

CB: They have beef. I just think it’s a little crazy, I think maybe for my master’s, maybe at USC, or if I want to pursue higher education. But just for bachelor, I’m going to keep it fun but also put the minimum wage on it, put a cap on the wage just because I don’t think it’s worth it to pay, like, 100K for a bachelor. And that’s without the cost of living.

AT: Right. Like, dorms.

CB: Yeah, just tuition. Just tuition is already that much. I don’t know, man. Whenever I think about private and liberal arts schools where people are paying paying for it. If you are able to, if your parents are able to, go for it. For the experience. Sure. But if you’re really thinking about the overall aspect of it, yeah.

AT: But you get financial aid from the government?

CB: I get financial aid, and I’ve been saving up. It’s good, but I just think it is a bit ridiculous that they (tuition) still rise.

AT: Yeah, especially, I guess, currently in this economy, everyone knows it’s not –

CB: We’re going by scrap. We’re just grabbing anything we can.

AT: Yeah. And I think it’s really important when you choose campuses or within the UCs, it’s very important for you to pick based on what each school is good at. I think a lot of people say, “Oh, I want to get into Harvard. I want to get into Stanford.” Not really because of what they’re known for or if you fit there. Now a lot of people think, “I fit there. No problem.”

CB: Don’t force yourself to fit in the school you selected.

AT: But I think what’s even more important is what is each school known for, and I think you need to do a little more research.

CB: Do more research. For example, the reason I really want UCSD because they’re known for bio. Oh, I must be thinking of Davis. It’s because they have a farm.

AT: They have a farm? You like farms?

CB: Because I want to work with animals. I want specifically to become a prosthetic engineer for animals or something relating to vet.

AT: Aw, that’s so cute.

CB: And Davis has a great veterinarian school.

AT: Yeah, I heard. I definitely heard.

CB: So, do more research. Think about your big career, what do you really want to be in.

AT: And don’t look at the brand name.

CB: Don’t look at the brand name because UCLA, they’re great. But they might not be the best for some people. I’m totally applying, but I also have a track of, “What school do I really like?” I know a couple of people from high school who was from UC, come back to PCC. Or just like private – Pepperdine, everywhere, right? And they told me they just didn’t like it. And they felt bad because they wasted a lot of money.

AT: And I’d rather you not waste time, not wasting money. And I think not wasting energy because you’re 20.

CB: OK, wasting time is the biggest thing because you can never get that back. Money, maybe you can get that back, hopefully you get that back when you make more. Time is something you cannot get back.

AT: Time is – I think a lot of people take for granted is a very scarce commodity. Well, not saying it’s some sort of product, but it’s a very scarce element in our lives, and we shouldn’t exactly waste it, but maybe put that time into something that’s a bit better.

CB: You said it a bit better. You said it a bit better. I think that’s what the whole fall semester has taught me is just, time goes by really, really fast. And if you’re just going to slave away with academics and not have fun at all, it’s going to be a little rough on you.

AT: Besides you digging deep down into your soul and trying to find some stories that you can give or at least put onto the UC application, have you been doing anything, for example, physically, ,to help you write your application? For example, I know PCC has a transfer center –

CB: The writing center.

AT: Writing center, transfer center, or at least jotting notes down.

CB: Yeah, definitely jotting notes, outline. I’ve tried the Writing Success Center. They’ve been very helpful. I just, you know, CAS, our math center, has a system where you just raise your hand and they come over. With the writing center and most centers in PCC, they use a sign in – you worked at the MSC, you know it. Like a ticketing system. So that was the only thing where I’m like, “Oh, I have to wait 30 minutes.”

AT: Yeah. And if the listeners don’t know, the CAS is the Calculus Achievement for Success center that we have at Pasadena City College. And MSC is the Math Success Center where we both worked as math tutors, and I think she’s currently still working.

CB: I’m still at CAS.

But yeah, in terms of the writing center, been there. The Transfer Center, to be honest, I didn’t know because I had a high expectation, they were just repeating what I already know.

AT: I wanted to talk about that. Because I’m not here to diss PCC. It’s just facts. I know, when I went there last year, actually no, two years ago, I went in a little early, around summer time. I was asking them questions, and they just sort of regurgitated –

CB: What I think I could Google?

AT: Yeah, I was hoping for more of some insider facts or something.

CB: I said these questions, right? Or like, PIQ.

AT: Yeah, right. Personal insight.

CB: I wrote these out, and I was just discussing with them what I can write ,and I’m like, “Oh, this is OK?” I was hoping for more like, “Oh, they want to see this. They want to see that.” Like what the schools tend to look for. But they were just, “Yeah. Yeah, OK.” Huh?

AT: Because I have a feeling they don’t really know what to look for either.

CB: Which I would appreciate it If they just told me.

AT: Instead of wasting time.

CB: I was there for 30 minutes. And all I got was like, so I’m going to keep writing.

AT: And I think at a certain point, when you try to go find resources, I think it’s better just to look on YouTube.

CB: Yeah. And you know, the good thing is I’m just going to ask her what to read my essay. I think that’s the only really big thing that I can really do.

AT: I think it’s always a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes. So besides the Transfer Center and jotting down notes, have you done anything else in terms of preparing to write the PIQs?

CB: Yeah, had to just sit down alone, man. Just sit down alone and write.

AT: Get into the zone.

CB: Get into the zone. It was really hard. For me, I don’t know about other people, when I get into the zone, I cannot get out. But I need to get in.

AT: Getting in is the first step.

CB: Getting in is the first step. Getting out … When I’m hungry, when I’m thirsty, I’ll get out. But when I get in that is so for some reason, everything – there’s always something that is prohibiting me from entering. But I’ve been able to like once or twice. It’s good, writing everything out and just sort of rereading I think is the biggest part. I think my biggest red flag is that I don’t reread my stuff – I just submit it. let’s just say –

AT: Let’s not do that.

CB: Let’s not do that for college apps.

AT: So I don’t know about you, but I think this tactic works the best in terms of people who, like me, I don’t write essays very well. So what I do is info dump on a piece of paper, like, Google Doc, Word doc. Spit everything out because sometimes you have inspiration. You’re locked in.

CB: You’re locked in. You just have to write.

AT: You just write. Just let your fingers fly. And then set it aside for maybe one to two days, come back and look at it.

CB: Restructure it.

AT: Or just say like, “This is absolute trash.” But in that piece of info dump that you have, maybe you can take a couple ideas because I think a lot of people nowadays, they are forcing the idea of “I need to get this creative idea. I need to get this unique idea,” and I think it’s so not authentic.

CB: And I think unintentionally to be doing that, in the sense I’ve practiced rereading.

AT: What do you mean?

CB: For English class, I’ve always just sort of glanced through it and then, OK, fine, I’ll submit it. It works so far because I aced both my English classes at PCC but didn’t really learn from it.

AT: Right. And I think it’s probably be a very good time to change that habit because –

CB: I have to. I’m forcing myself to for the college apps. It’s a serious business thing. Yeah, I’ve had to reread and really see if the flow matches up.

AT: It can’t just be like you talking about and then cut, like, it has to be a smooth transition.

CB: Yeah, that’s the thing that I’m more focused on. I think having a topic is good but detailing it and then making sure that everything connects is a big, big thing.

AT: Right. And so for your PIQs, currently, are you going with the storytelling part?

CB: It’s a bit of storytelling. I mean, there’s one question that all transfers have to write.

AT: The transfer one. Yeah, the one that you have to answer as a transfer, which it says, “Please describe how you’ve prepared for your intended major and including your readiness.” That is, every transfer needs to answer that. And I actually didn’t take a storytelling point of view.

CB: How’d you do it?

AT: I actually just award dumped everything in there and just said, “I accomplished this, this, this, this, and I think I’m ready.”

CB: You’re like, “These are all the things that I’ve done.”

AT: Yeah. But because basically, it asks you, at least the PIQ asks you how have you prepared for your intended major. Yeah, and I don’t think a storytelling unless the question – unless if you met President Biden or something, then that’s something else. But I haven’t met President Biden. I don’t plan on it.

CB: I don’t really want to. I think storytelling works on certain things. I think the essay prompt, the storytelling might work a little bit better, like personal statement, because that kind of require you to really reflect on your life and talk about it.

AT: Or, for example, like the leadership experience leadership –

CB: That’s telling a story. They’re asking you to tell a story. But in terms of the transfer question, yeah. We need a different approach.

AT: We need to award dump.

CB: I slay at this.

AT: Yeah. And that’s basically I did that in professionalism, obviously.

CB: Don’t say, “I slay at this.”

AT: So I think that’s a very important decision you need to make for each PIQ.

CB: For sure. For all the transfers out there, you have to adapt to the question.

AT: I think now that we’ve talked a little bit about the application, as you’re slowly getting into it, how have you been feeling overall in terms of getting into it? Are you nervous, are you like, I’m chill. I’m locked in?

CB: I don’t think I’m chill. I think chill and locked in have been little time compared to the stress.

AT: It’s very, it’s very normal, though.

CB: Yeah, I’m sure I’m sure everyone felt that way when they are – Literally, this is the decision of my future so obviously it is a little nerve wracking. But I think what it is, is more of just, I want to take it day by day, and just try my best to do everything. But also keep in mind, I still have a job, I am still attending school, doing homework, all of that. Really hard to balance out. But been trying, still trying.

AT: Right. Right. I think that’s a very good approach to take it because a lot of people what they do is they stress out about the future, but they don’t focus on the present, which then they mess up for the future. So it’s not a very good cycle.

CB: Yeah. And I think that’s why time flies so fast. It’s going come, guys. It will be there.

AT: So not to be egotistical, but if you do put your best foot forward and they reject you, that’s their issue. That’s their issue. And if you believe, like they lost you, that’s on them. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if that’s delulu …

CB: But sometimes that’s the solulu.

AT: I think if you do put your best foot forward, you have really nothing to worry about.

CB: I have a decent chance. And with the TAG thing, I also think that’s going to help boost a little bit.

AT: Right. And I actually wanted to get into like the TAG TAP situation as I look through the transfer application, have you been able to get into like TAP TAG because there’s a difference between the two: TAG is actually given by the UC system, where it’s Transfer Admission Guarantee, which they guarantee you to one of the one of the schools that you tag to. But TAP, I believe, is the Transfer Alliance Program. So what they do is schools like UCLA, Berkeley, what they do is they create these agreements with community colleges at least in California, I’m not sure about outside, but they at least is what I’ve heard, because I enrolled in TAP and TAG is, as long as you’re through this program, you have a high chance of getting into whatever UC you’ve tapped into. So those two are the most advantageous I think? It’s not like I don’t think they read my essay, but I do think TAP and TAG –

CB: They read your essay with that in mind.

AT: Yeah. So it’s not an automatic admission for TAP. TAG, it is. Unless if you don’t meet their requirements.

CB: TAG is good in the sense of well, first, I need to finish all the course requirements for TAG and then meet their GPA requirement, which I’m being for real, it’s not that high. It’s high in the sense of for STEM is pretty high, actually. But overall, it’s achievable.

AT: It’s achievable. And I remember UCI was 3.5.

CB: Yeah, 3.5. 3.7 if you want to do the Honors to Honors thingy, but I’m not too worried about that. I just want to get in, guys.

AT: Right, right. Right. And so currently, you’re planning on enrolling in TAG? What about TAP?

CB: TAP? Yeah, I have started looking into that a bit further. I don’t know if UCSD is on the list. I don’t think UCSD is on the list.

AT: Not on either of them. I know it’s not on TAG. It’s probably not in TAP. So they –

CB: It’s all me, guys. UCSD is on me.

AT: And have you gotten all your prereqs almost done?

CB: Yeah, I’m done with GE. It’s fully required course now.

AT: So you’re done with IGETC and everything?

CB: Yeah. Everything is out the way I’m done. Technically done with the honors as well.

AT: Oh, yeah. The honors. I think that’s really easy to get?

CB: Yeah, if it’s 15 units. You can do six of them where you do an honors option. It’s basically an agreement with the Professor and school saying, “I want to do an extra project. And you’re going to give me the honors credit.”

AT: I never actually did an honors option, because I hate projects. So I just took honors classes through –

CB: Yeah, that’s fair, which already had embedded project into it.

AT: So now we have classes that you have to deal with. Do you have any remaining classes you need to take regarding to your major?

CB: All the damn physics.

AT: Just physics?

CB: Pretty much the biggest part is the physics.

AT: Physics. Anything else?

CB: I have Math 10 left, like some of the math and then the bio.

AT: Are you taking Math 10 this semester?

CB: Next semester. I’m taking Math 55 right now.

AT: You’re currently in your spring semester, right?

CB: Yeah. I am.

AT: So are you saying summer for Math 10?

CB: No, it’s fall 2025.

AT: 2024 because you’re going to transfer in 2025.

CB: Time is not a concept to me. I’m so over time.

AT: That just proves that time flies so fast and in terms of the transfer process. And I do not blame you. Because –

CB: Yeah, like, what do you mean it’s almost April? Like, what do you mean? What do you mean? Oh god. I just remember entering the spring semester. And then now, all the tests are done. And then there’s a second round test. Oh, midterm all that. I’m like –

AT: So you guys just had your finals or midterms?

CB: We’re going to have the midterm next week.

AT: Yeah, we’re starting our spring quarter next. I mean, tomorrow while we’re recording this. So I am excited? I mean, it’s a 10-week quarter. I’m not a huge fan of the quarter system.

CB: Oh I see, I don’t know how to feel about it yet.

AT: I need the degree.

CB: For now, though, the semester system works to an extent, because I feel like I get burned out by the end-ish of it.

AT: I really love the semester system though. The quarter system is so punishing, because it’s fast and if you get sick, you’re done for. Are you looking forward to the quarter system?

CB: For now I am. For now just because I haven’t really experience experience it. All I know is that semester is not my fave.

AT: I don’t think quarter is going to be your favorite either. I think semester –

CB: I think I’m just going to drop out.

AT: I think semester system will become your favorite.

CB: That’s true. That’s true.

AT: So it’s really important to find that school-life-work balance and I think as college students, we’re slowly making our way into the world as adults.

CB: We’re getting into the work field, guys.

AT: So now we have to worry about it used to be high school, just school. And maybe like –

CB: Maybe a job, maybe like a part time job.

AT: But now it’s school, life, work, money.

CB: Taxes.

AT: Yes, because tax season is in. And so it’s really important, I think college itself is really important not because of getting the degree in my opinion, yes, degree is really important. You’re like paying a butt ton of money,

CB: A crap ton of money.

AT: But I think it teaches us all a really important lesson of having a balance because as you move on toward life, either you get your MBA, Ph.D., or you don’t care about those, and go straight to work, you’ll either want to start a family, and then you have more on your plate. And so I think college does a terrific job at teaching us many lessons.

CB: Specifically life for sure. If you’re commuting, maybe that’s different. But if you’re literally moving out, living with a roommate, someone like a literal stranger. You’re doing everything responsibility on your own, that maybe in the past your parents was taking care of that. Rough rough.

AT: How have your activities or extracurricular activities different from high school and PCC?

CB: You know, I will say there’s one thing: I’m kind of glad that I went to community college first and then transferred. High school and CC, I was both cabinet of clubs, both board member. There is some similarity in terms of like, the kind of club that I join. Like I was in Animanga in high school and now I’m in JSC, which stands for Japanese Social Club.

AT: I like it, I like it. Anime representation.

CB: We have an anime club in PCC though, they’re different.

AT: They’re different. I see.

CB: JSC is more cultural.

AT: Oh, appreciating Japanese culture.

CB: Appreciating Japanese culture rather than just focusing on the mainstream stuff that most people already know. So there’s similarity. And I do like club activity. It’s all good.

AT: You mentioned that in high school and CC you were a board member?

CB: So, in order to prep myself just to get a little bit socializing outside of the STEM shackles that I have. I’ve been joining clubs, even as a member just like for funsies. It’s been helping a little just like, “Oh my God. There’s people in the same major or same industry that similar experience, share the same hobby,” something like that.

AT: And I think that’s cool. Because a lot of people they just stay in their own major.

CB: I’m going to be for real: Try to join clubs and see. If you don’t like it, you can stop.

AT: Like no hard feelings.

CB: No hard feelings. We’re going to take it personal. But if you don’t try and just focus on academics, you’re never going to have the networking and that might be a little rough for you in the career aspect.

AT: So have you felt sort of pressured to join into clubs at PCC or at least be somewhat on a board or at least be a board member?

CB: I’ll tell you what, I think the first year it was definitely that and I think high school students too, they are pressured to join the board, to put it on their application, to put it on their resume. I think it can be started as that. I think if you’ve joined more because of that, I’m not going to blame you. But if you keep doing it and you end up hating it.

AT: It’s so disingenuous.

CB: It’s so disingenuous. Me and my friend called them college clout chasers because a lot of clubs unfortunately end up disbanding, discontinue when so many disingenuous people join because they aren’t actually passionate about it. They just don’t because there’s something that you can put on it. There’s no activity, there’s nothing. It was just a front. And I really hate that when that happens.

AT: Right. And I think the main reason why I want to start this podcast was also there are some issues that many don’t exactly talk about. And I think this is one of the main issues that a lot of people are a bit afraid to talk about, because some people join, some people make clubs just for the sake of college apps.

CB: And I feel like everybody knows it, but no one talks about it.

AT: No one talks about it. Now, if you come after me for saying these kinds of things, I’m just telling the truth.

CB: At me. It’s not that, I think everyone knows that’s the thing. Everyone knows and guilty of it. I mean, at first, I’m guilty of it, too, like when I was in high school, during club rush, it’s always like that. Even the board member, “Join us, you can put it on your app.” See, if that’s your attraction, what kind of people are you going to add – I get it. But it’s a little disheartening still seeing it.

AT: Yeah. And especially like you said, during club rush, if some people are advertising their club like that, do you know how normal it is nowadays?

CB: It’s very normal. It’s normalized, but I feel like it shouldn’t.

AT: It shouldn’t be normalized. But I feel like more and more admission officers or at least universities, they know that these things are happening. So when I think nowadays, if I were an admission officer and if I see so many clubs, that’s a red flag for me.

CB: If you have more than five, are you really in more than 5?

AT: Yeah, I think I remember seeing this interview, at least on YouTube, talking about an admission officer saying if they have more than like, you said five or six –

CB: Some people are in 10. I’m like, let’s be –

AT: It’s a little bit of a red flag because it seems like you’re more of award dumping rather than actually appreciating.

CB: It overlaps too. Like club meetings definitely overlap to an extent. You have seven days a week.

AT: And 24 hours in a day. Let’s just say six hours of sleep if you’re lucky. So to them, it just doesn’t make sense.

CB: The math is not math-ing.

AT: Yeah. So I think it’s very important for you to be genuine in what you want to pursue in clubs. And I think for everyone that you need to join clubs for the sake of your interests.

CB: You want to join. You want to discover more things about it, that’s fine.

AT: Now, if there are no clubs in your school, then make one. But make one for the sake of because you love the subject like anime.

CB: Pick a subject that you really like, you know, I elaborate on it.

AT: Right. Right. And I think now with Daily Bruin Podcasts currently, I really love talking. I can’t stop yapping.

CB: I am a professional yapper. I am guilty of that.

AT: Have you actually gotten any awards from PCC?

CB: I’ve got scholarships. Not awards, I don’t think.

AT: Because while you’re actually filling this application out, put on everything, like awards, like even a participation award.

CB: Oh, what?

AT: Because what about Dean’s honors? Put that on. And well, you didn’t take any AP tests. So what about high school awards?

CB: High school awards, I got some.

AT: Like presidential, put that on there.

CB: Actually, I got a lot.

AT: Put that on there. Put all of that on.

CB: I got a lot from high school because I was in a lot of sports.

AT: Put it on there.

CB: Sports participation award.

AT: Put it on there. Yeah, I mean, even though it looks useless, but if they see like such a long list, they’re like, oh shoot –

CB: I was the most improved for all the sports that I was in. It’s crazy. I don’t know. I mean, partially because you cannot go below at where I was. I was in swim. I was very, very slow. And then I improved a lot.

AT: Progress is progress.

CB: Progress is progress.

AT: Yes. And now you get to put that on your UC app. Because on first glance, like the first impression when your admission officer looks at it –

CB: She improved.

AT: They would be like, “Dang, she has so many awards.”

CB: She has the ability to improve. I think I think that’s the biggest part that I overlooked in high school. I was like, “Ugh these awards, Great. I love that. Keep that in mind.” But I did not realize how useful it could be when I’m trying to apply.

AT: And I think it’s really important to be as transparent as possible on the UC app, because once they sort of figure out, I mean, the admission officers that you’re sort of only hiding stuff.

CB: It’s not worth it, guys.

AT: Or you are lying on your application. So people they overly enhance it a little bit, which I think is a gray area, but flat out lying… Because I don’t know if you’ve heard the UC system does verification scans.

CB: Oh, you told me about it.

AT: Yeah, I told you about this before, they actually picked me to show some sort of proof. For example, I believe it was the presidential award that I got in high school. And I still luckily had the award in hand because my mom loves to throw away stuff.

CB: Mine does too. I’m going to be honest, that’s why I’m hesitating on the award stuff just because I don’t think I have –

AT: Yeah, well, first check. But I think your high school will have it regardless.

CB: Right? I just need to ask my coach.

AT: Or at least have some sort of proof from your coach. Yes, she got this in, like what year but I think the UCs are starting to become more and more aware that a lot of people are flat out lying, or at least overly enhancing their application. So they’re, they’re not fact checking everyone. So see, there’s a fear factor in there as well, because you know don’t know if you’re going to get picked. Now, if everyone gets picked, everyone’s probably going to find a way to lie through that like, or like Photoshop, or something.

CB: Like everyone had prepped up.

AT: But now, if everyone were to be randomly picked, I think that the fear factor is very, very effective. Now, I honestly got through the verification process, or else I wouldn’t be here.

CB: You’re the first one that I heard about it by the way of being verified.

AT: I don’t know why, though. Like I said, it’s probably randomly picked. No, because what I think is that if they ask you for a verification of something, or an award test score, they’re probably interested in you.

CB: You’re within the vicinity.

AT: Now if you don’t get it, that doesn’t mean you’re not getting in. It’s just why would they waste a verification process on someone like that is not –

CB: Like first batch, second batch. So the first batch is they’re actually really interested in you. And then if you don’t get in, you don’t get in the verification part. That doesn’t mean you’re not in the second batch.

AT: That is a tip for you as well. If you get it. But, keep in mind when you have the awards, try to think of backup plans if you don’t actually have it, where you can get it from. The thing is, is that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have it and tell the UC, “Hey, look, I don’t have it, I can’t find it” because they’ll find something else to verify off of your application.

CB: What’s that hamster meme with a bow?

AT: Like the violin?

CB: I don’t have it.

AT: But it’s not the end of the world because it’s innocent until proven guilty kind of approach.

CB: They give you a bit of that.

AT: Because things happen. Now, if it’s the second time and you say you don’t have it, red flag, red flag.

CB: They’re like, “Put her on the list. Put her on the warning list.”

AT: So always keep that in mind, because I actually didn’t think of that. I just put everything on there. But luckily, I still had the award paper. So I am chilling.

And so now we’re sort of coming back to the PIQs from the beginning. I know they have a 250 word limit max. And so –

CB: That’s hard. I think I am going to max it out on all the PIQs I will pick just because lot of them is storytelling and compressing it into 250.

AT: I think because they don’t want you to BS.

CB: They don’t want you to BS and they don’t read all that.

AT: I ain’t reading all that.

CB: They don’t want to read 1000 words of your story.

AT: I think some common apps are a little less restrictive.

CB: But keeping it precise is always good because they don’t need to know every detail. Like, “That day was rainy.” No, they don’t need all that. Just tell me what happened.

AT: Yeah, and I think that’s a pretty efficient way. Especially nowadays, I don’t know if you saw the admission statistics in terms of applications received. It was like 160,000 just straight for UCLA. I don’t even know the other UCs. It’s really important that you keep it concise and to the point, but also get the point across.

CB: Get the point across, make sure it’s a smooth transition.

AT: And I think once they see they, meaning the admission officers, they see what you’re trying to get at, it will be very quick. So keep in mind, if you’re yapping, if you feel like you’re yapping, you are probably yapping. But that’s why you need this timeline, because you need time to understand and reread your application.

CB: Yeah, reread. Is it going okay? Good flow, and it’s good.

AT: And what these admission officers from YouTube videos that I’ve seen, admission officers really want to, this is not BS by the way, they really want to see you as a person because a lot of these institutions are now looking at a holistic point of view. Seeing your test scores, grades, GPA, academics, outside of academics or extracurriculars. And just you as a person in general. Now, if you don’t exactly come off as a holistic person and you’re sort of one sided, I feel that the admission officers can sort of feel that.

CB: They can while reading your thing and while they’re looking at what you put on. They can feel it.

AT: And they definitely can feel if you’re disingenuous, because when you’re writing something you’re really passionate about, remember the thing we talked about clubs?

CB: Yeah. Like your word choice, your expressiveness, it’s going to show in your essay.

AT: And if you’re not writing in a top-tier voice, it doesn’t have to be top tier. It’s just as long as you have your passion, the admission officer is going to know.

CB: I think it’s more high school students: They try to use big words, but here’s the thing, big word is okay, if that’s just how you naturally talk. I think the admission officer will tell, it’s pretty obvious. But when you try to use so much big words and you lost the focus of the story, what’s the point?

Lasting insight, I would just say, I think the fall semester was the worst for me because I was taking Math 5C, Chem 1B, Bio. So triple stem was rough. It was wearing on my body. That was the first time where I was carrying ibuprofen with me everywhere I go, just literally, painkiller just to be like, “One more hour, one more hour.”

AT: Was it for headaches?

CB: Headache, but also just like, well, ibuprofen was more for inflammation. So it was just more like a painkiller or like Adderall, just something to calm myself. But after that, I realized a lot of lessons. First thing is scheduling. Scheduling in terms of, once again, 24 hours a day. Using time really efficiently. I always say “I don’t have time, I don’t have time.” I do.

AT: Because sometimes it’s either finals week, midterms, and I need to lock in because I cannot be scrolling stressfully.

CB: Scrolling stressfully. That’s such a perfect way to capture this entire generation.

AT: I’m just scrolling stressfully.

CB: Scrolling stressfully. I think it’s fun and you know, “hee hee ha ha” moment. But two hours on scrolling. It can be used on something else.

AT: I know and I think that’s a very good point because now when I was scrolling through spring break, I’m like, “Why am I scrolling stressfully? This feels so nice.”

CB: I’m just scrolling.

AT: I’m just scrolling. I don’t have anything to do. Oh my God! And so I think that feeling is like really satisfying in terms of –

CB: Because you’ve done all the work. Very lasting insight is to try to apply for either REU or internship, just something outside of academics.

AT: I want to thank you again, Christina, for coming on to the podcast. And this definitely won’t be the last time you will be hearing from Christina, as she will be featured probably in my future miniseries.

I hope you, the audience, took away one or two things from our conversation regarding the transfer application process. I’m Ashley Tsao, and thank you for listening to The Transfer Take.

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