Basics of the UC essays

October 27, 2006 at 6:30 pm 1 comment

Posted by Helen

The University of California system will begin its application filing period on Wednesday, and will accept applications through Nov. 30. Since well over 50,000 students will be applying to the University of California, we thought we should talk a little about what you need to know regarding the personal statement portion of the application.


1. The application consists of three essay prompts designed to explore the following three areas: the applicant’s academic achievement, potential to contribute, and additional information.
2. The three essays combined are limited to 1,000 words, divided among 2 short responses (200 words) and one long response (600 words). Do NOT break these restrictions. Applicants may choose whichever essay they wish to be the long essay.
3. Remember: The UC system does not accept teacher or counselor recommendation forms. Your personal statement is your chance to be the advocate for your admission, so treat it accordingly!

Prompt #1:

The first prompt on the application is the Academic Achievement Prompt. This prompt focuses on how you made use of educational opportunities that were made available to you. To answer this question completely, UC recommends you brainstorm the following three questions:

1. What opportunities have been available to me?
2. Why did I choose to do what I did?
3. How have I grown as a result of these opportunities?

UC emphasizes that the goal of this prompt is to understand your motivation and dedication to learning.

Prompt #2:

The second prompt on the application is the Potential to Contribute Prompt. This prompt asks for a significant personal quality or experience that you will bring to UC. To answer this question completely, UC recommends that you answer the following two questions:

1. What talent, experience, contribution, or personally quality best expresses my character?
2. How does it define my ability to contribute?

UC emphasizes that the goal of this prompt is to understand your interests, and determine their potential as a contribution to the vitality of UC.

Prompt #3:

The third prompt on the application id the Open-ended Prompt. This is your opportunity to explain anything on your application, or add additionally information that you feel was not represented elsewhere. Although open-ended, UC suggests that you answer the following two questions:

1. What in my application deserves explanation?
2. What about ME deserves further explanation?

UC notes that the objective of this prompt is to learn more about the student, so repeating previously presented information is not valuable.

I detail how to choose which essay is your “extended response” along with some other helpful tips in the post titled, “Choosing UC’s extended response, and more!”


Entry filed under: Academics, Admissions, Application, California, Checklist, Counselor, Deadline, Essays, Motivation, Personal statement, Public schools, Recommendations, Teacher, Tips/Tricks, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA, University of California, Word limit, Writing.

As promised, interview specifics for top schools Remember, remember the first of November

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