All freshmen applicants applying to the UCs must answer two essay prompts in a 1,000 words or less. You can allocate the amount of words to answer each question as you please, but it is not recommended to have your answer be less than 250 words.
Prompt 1: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
Your response to this prompt should not center around your neighborhood, family, or your school. You can definitely mention it, but ideally, what the UCs want to see is your discussion about your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Remember to talk about the things you have been doing so far to getting closer to reaching these goals and aspirations. No matter how specific or broad your goals and aspirations are, you should talk about how all your achievements and efforts have helped you towards your goals. You want to further this discussion by talking about steps you would take to continue these achievements during your time in college.
An effective way to talk about your world is to discuss about how your world has influenced your dreams and ambitions. If a person like a family member influenced you, talk about how they shaped you. Your description of the person should be brief because the essay is about you and not the person who influenced you. Anytime you talk about your environment or a person, always bring it back to you.
Prompt 2: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
This is the self promotion part of the essay which can set you apart from other applicants. They want to see the person beyond the grades and test scores. Think of it this way: If you were to make a movie about yourself, what particular scenes in your life would you include?
The freedom to write as only you can
The personal statement is very different from the AP essay and the SAT writing essay. The AP essay requires logic and evidence, whereas the SAT essay requires a 5 paragraph structure. The personal statement on the other hand gives you freedom to write in your own voice, just as long as you answer the questions. No one else should be writing this essay for you; this is an essay about you, your experiences, your values, your authenticity, and your philosophy. Some risk taking is needed because you are putting yourself out there for others to see.
Don’t let others write your story
Some colleges do take action to verify the authenticity of the personal essays. Colleges have their own verification process; others will employ companies to do a extensive plagiarism check. A non-cohesive story and application will automatically get you disqualified. It is important to be truthful in your essay and as well as every other aspect of your application. I had an admission person from Stanford tell me that they disqualified a student for not mentioning an incident regarding alcohol use during a summer program. That incident was mentioned in one of her recommendation letters, but she failed to mention it in her application. Her mistake had nothing to do with her personal statement, but it does show the no-nonsense take the admission committee have on fraudulent information.
Bragging Rights (see askmssun.com)
Take out a piece of paper or open up a word document, and start preparing your brag sheet.
1.) List and put a short description on everything you do outside of school. This pertains to all activities starting from freshmen year to things you are anticipating to accomplish by the end of senior year.
Include these following things:
- Religious activities such as church, mosque, temple
- Language classes such as Chinese school, Vietnamese school
- Music, dance, painting, martial arts lessons
- Volunteer and community service experience
- Competitions of any kind such as martial arts, spelling bee, chess, dance
- Awards and other type of recognition by any organization
- Jobs (this include working under the table)
- Camps, conferences, and workshops
- House chores such as caring for siblings for a long duration of time, paying bills, balancing family finances, caring for a family member.