Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

Dear Cal – Can my rec get me in?

Seniors submitting an application to UC Berkeley should make sure to notify their teachers well in advance, because this year for the first time, Cal will encourage students to submit letters of recommendation.


Cal, with an acceptance rate of only 17%, is one of the most selective public universities in the country. But in April 2015, the admissions office quietly enacted a new policy that would allow students to submit two letters of recommendation – one from a teacher and one from somebody else who knows them well – along with their regular application.

But not every student applying to Cal will have to politely email their English teacher asking for a rec. According to the university’s website, only some applicants will be invited to submit optional recommendations.

Some opponents of the new policy argue that tacking additional content onto applications will impose too heavy a burden on admissions officers, allowing less time per application. This could potentially reduce student’s chances of getting in, as their application will be read less thoroughly and may not be considered as critically.

Cal, however, assured applicants on its website that the “new policy remains committed to making sure that all freshman applications are thoroughly and thoughtfully read, with or without a letter.”

Ms. Candy Navarro, director of college counseling, says that the new policy could “make a significant difference for students with holes in their application.”

Students who don’t get invited to submit letters “shouldn’t be worried,” Ms. Navarro said, because it’s “more for students with an academic story or inconsistency that triggered an ‘I want more info’ reaction [from admissions].”

As of this year’s application cycle, Berkeley is the only UC to implement this new policy, however, other UCs may contact applicants for additional information after they have already submitted their apps.

— Sarah Burrola, Co-Editor, Veritas Shield