Ucsb Entrance Essay

Letter of Intent

This is not to be taken lightly!  Please type a one to three-page letter, addressed to the CCS Music Composition faculty, that answers the following questions:

  • What is your background in music?
  • When did you begin writing music and why?
  • Why are you interested in studying at the College of Creative Studies?
  • What are your career goals at this point in your life?  Do you intend to enter the professional music world?  Graduate school?  What would you like to be doing five years from now? Ten years?
  • Talk a little bit about your music.  Why are you interested in writing music?  Who are your major influences?  What instrument(s) do you play?  How do you go about your compositional process?  Where do you feel you are in your creative development?

Please save and upload this letter as a PDF in order to avoid formatting distortions.

Submitting Work in Evidence of Talent

This is the most important aspect of your application to the CCS Music Composition program.  Materials to be submitted fall into four broad categories: 

Scores (required):  It is very important that you know how to notate music.  If you do not have a lot of experience in that, it is important that you make the attempt.  We cannot fully evaluate applications with only a single score.  Ideally, you should submit a minimum of two fully notated works.  Works may be handwritten or produced using a notation program such as Finale or Sibelius.  Handwritten compositions may be scanned or uploaded as images. 

Supporting materials: It is helpful, though not required, to include a paragraph about each work submitted.  For electronic works, the accompanying information should include technical notes, i.e. what program(s) you used in composing the work; your sound sources, etc.

Recordings (optional, but recommended):  You can upload a recording of your work(s) using the CCS Online Application, acceptable formats include mp3, m4a, aiff, wma, wav and aac.  You may also submit recordings of electronic works or sequenced works that have not yet been notated.

How Much to Submit:  In general, err on the side of quantity.  A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve written fewer than 6 works, send them all.  If you’ve written more than 6 works, submit 3-6 works that you believe best show your talent and versatility as a composer. 

Special note to transfer students:  When we evaluate applications from students who would enter as juniors, we use the music submitted to determine if the student is admitted at the sophomore level or at the junior level, based on the requirements for the Sophomore and Junior Juries outlined in the Curriculum guidelines.  It is to your advantage to submit, as a minimum, works roughly equal in quantity to the requirements for the Sophomore Jury:  5 shorter works, for a variety of instruments and instrumental combinations, a single line work (if you have it), and at least two works with a minimum duration of 3-5 minutes each.  One of the longer works should be scored for three or more instruments. 

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are required for applications to CCS Music Composition. Please list at least two persons well-acquainted with your academic background and your ability in Music Composition. The CCS Online Application form will ask for your recommenders’ email addresses and will send them a prompt with a link. This link will direct recommenders to instructions for uploading letters.  We suggest notifying recommenders ahead of time that they should be expecting an email with instructions to upload their letter.  Please request that letters are saved and uploaded as a PDF in order to avoid formatting distortions. 


In addition to the copies you send to the UCSB Office of Admissions, there is a section on the CCS Online Application where you must upload copies of your transcripts from every high school and college you have attended. Transcripts do not need to be official, so a scan or picture of your transcripts may be uplodaed (jpeg or PDF). If you are currently enrolled at UCSB, please upload a copy of your course history, which you can obtain using a screenshot from GOLD. It is your responsibility to ensure that attachments uploaded to your application are clear and legible.

Decision by the College

For Fall UCSB applicants, the College of Creative Studies cannot inform applicants of decisions on their CCS applications until the University of California Santa Barbara has mailed the campus’ admission/deferral letters in March. CCS decision letters follow immediately thereafter. A denial from CCS does not negatively affect your admission to one of the other colleges at UCSB.

The review process normally takes three to six weeks during the academic year.

If you are a registered UCSB student, you may take Creative Studies classes even if you are not enrolled in CCS, on a space-available, instructor-approved basis.

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If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at UCSB is 33%. For every 100 applicants, 33 are admitted.

This means the school is very selective. If you meet UCSB's requirements for GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and other components of the application, you have a great shot at getting in. But if you fall short on GPA or your SAT/ACT scores, you'll have a very low chance of being admitted, even if you meet the other admissions requirements.

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

The average GPA at UCSB is 4.02.

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 4.02, UCSB requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.02, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to UCSB. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

UCSB SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1330 (Old: 1874)

The average SAT score composite at UCSB is a 1330 on the 1600 SAT scale.

On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1874.

This score makes UCSB Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.

UCSB SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1210, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1440. In other words, a 1210 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1440 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile

UCSB SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1690, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2050. In other words, a 1690 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2050 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

UCSB has the Score Choice policy of "All Scores."

This means that UCSB requires you to send all SAT scores you've ever taken to their office.

This sounds daunting, but most schools don't actually consider all your scores equally. For example, if you scored an 1300 on one test and a 1500 on another, they won't actually average the two tests.

More commonly, the school will take your highest score on a single test date. Even better, some schools form a Superscore - that is, they take your highest section score across all your test dates and combine them.

Some students are still worried about submitting too many test scores. They're afraid that UCSB will look down on too many attempts to raise your score. But how many is too many?

From our research and talking to admissions officers, we've learned that 4-6 tests is a safe number to submit. The college understands that you want to have the best chance of admission, and retaking the test is a good way to do this. Within a reasonable number of tests, they honestly don't care how many times you've taken it. They'll just focus on your score.

If you take it more than 6 times, colleges start wondering why you're not improving with each test. They'll question your study skills and ability to improve.

But below 6 tests, we strongly encourage retaking the test to maximize your chances. If your SAT score is currently below a 1440, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.

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UCSB ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, UCSB likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 27

The average ACT score at UCSB is 27. This score makes UCSB Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 24, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 30.

Even though UCSB likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 24 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 27 and above that a 24 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 30 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to UCSB, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 30.

Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?

Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

UCSB requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.

SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

UCSB has indicated that SAT subject tests are recommended. Typically this means that SAT subject tests are not required, but submitting them can showcase particular strengths. For example, if you're applying to an engineering school, submitting science and math SAT subject tests will boost your application.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.


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