Last month UC Berkeley amended the change to its freshman admission policy announced in April – which invited all students to submit two letters of recommendation beginning with the 2015 application season – stating that other UC constituencies needed “time to consider the implications of these broad changes.” Now, only some students will be asked to submit recommendations.
Berkeley adopted the policy to accept recommendation letters as a commitment to its belief in “the value of holistic review.” The letters “can help provide additional academic and personal context.”
To clarify all of this year’s changes, Berkeley recently added a website page that details the steps to take if students receive this invitation.
Specifically, after an initial review of applicants in November (all University of California applications must be submitted between November 1 and 30), Berkeley admissions may email selected students during the first three weeks of December with the invitation to identify up to two letter writers via a provided link. From there, the writers will receive an emailed request from Berkeley to supply their letter electronically.
One letter must be from a teacher, but the second letter can be from anyone with insight to the student’s:
- Academic performance and potential
- Love of learning
- Persistence in the face of challenges
- Cross-cultural engagement
- Demonstrated concern for others
Berkeley now says that “the vast majority of applications” will be reviewed as in years past – without letters of recommendation. Furthermore, students “should not send letters in with their application;” and even students who receive an invitation to submit letters “will not be required” to do so.
However, Berkeley “strongly encourages” invited students to take advantage of the offer. Berkeley also advises applicants that they should “communicate with their recommenders ahead of time” in the interest of giving them “the courtesy of time so they can write a strong letter.”
This means, in effect, that every applicant to Berkeley should have two potential recommenders at the ready – invitations to submit letters may come as late as the third week of December, when recommenders may be unavailable due to school breaks. And to ensure students have every opportunity to enhance their application, the letters also may already need to be on hand – they are due by January 15.