University of California Essays
The UC Personal Insight Questions offer eight wide-ranging 350-word prompts from which the applicant chooses four to answer. These prompts are designed to be a window into an applicant’s academic and personal life. Choosing the right four prompts is crucial. Done correctly, these prompts are an opportunity to give admissions officers a more complete picture of who an applicant is.
- Via telephone we discuss the UC prompts, identifying which four the applicant is most excited about and has the best answers for. Together, we brainstorm the first two then create an outline for first drafts.
- We discuss the drafts, identifying what works and what doesn’t. The applicant then writes a second draft using the notes and suggestions we agree to.
- We then repeat the process for the second two prompts.
- Finally, we review all four short answer essays before they are turned into final drafts.
The UC admissions places as much emphasis on these essays as they do on grades and test scores. And since the UC schools do not offer in-person interviews, the essays are as close to a personal interview as it gets. I encourage applicants to take their time, carefully choose which four prompts to answer, and to work hard to show different sides of their personalities.
The UC Personal Insight Questions (Choose 4 of 8)
- Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
- Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
- What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
- Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
- Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
- Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
- Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
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