My previous blog of March 26th, 2016 divulged the new UC essay prompts that will debut with the fall 2017 application, becoming available on August 1, 2016. As stated in my previous blog, the UC will be moving from two personal statement prompts with a 1,000 word limit to a choice of four out of eight short-answer questions with a maximum of 350 words per prompt. To reiterate the questions for freshman applicants, they are:
- 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?
- Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
- What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?
For transfer students, there is one mandatory question which reads:
- Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.
Transfer students then must choose an additional three out of seven questions. The questions are the same as the above with the exception of the omission of question number six, which is a variation on the one required question for transfer applicants.
Helping Hand College Guidance views the coming change as one that will benefit both college applicants and admissions readers. The new approach will provide a clearer picture of the information that the UC seeks to gain from applicants in addition to greater freedom for the applicant to select what aspects of their life they wish to share with the UC. The revised prompts will also eliminate the possibility for applicants to reuse essays they are submitting to other universities or recycle an essay from English class. Applicants will need to create new material and reflect on the specific questions that are being asked of them. Here are some additional thoughts to ponder and tips to remember in regard to the revamped UC personal statement:
- The time to complete to essay portion of the fall 2017 UC application may take more time than in the past. The total maximum word limit has gone from 1,000 words to 1,400 words. It will take additional time to mull over which questions to answer and what information will be most likely to positively enhance the student’s application. Students should allow adequate time to reflect, brainstorm, outline, construct an initial draft, edit, and revise their responses. Students may wish to write up drafts for more than the 4 required prompts in order to select which ones they will ultimately submit. However, additional questions may not be submitted in the “Additional Comments” section. This section is optional and is meant to be used to clarify details in the application, explain unusual circumstances, or describe something that cannot be done in any other part of the application.
- It is yet to be seen as to whether this new format will affect the number of applications to the UC. With the virtual elimination of recycling or reusing other essays to complete the UC application, students will need to invest the time and energy to complete these questions in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.
- The selection of which questions to answer is crucial. These responses are basically an interview in essay format. The purpose of these questions is to gain insight into your personality, interests, talents, background, and achievements. Every student’s approach to these questions will vary as their life experiences are all different. UC states in their instructions that there is no right or wrong answer. As a tool to deciding on which questions to answer, Pam Ohriner, founder of Helping Hand College Guidance, suggests that each student create a resume and evaluate the points that make them stand out or contribute to their uniqueness. Ideally, the questions will present an opportunity to further explain an accomplishment, activity, or talent listed in the application or talk about a positive aspect of themselves that is not listed anywhere else in the application. Another tool would be to draw upon information in a personal journal that a student has kept over a number of years.
- The best approach would be to outline the points you wish to make in the response. Then go back to the outline as a tool in creating the initial draft of the response.
- Personally, Helping Hand College Guidance sees tremendous opportunity in the questions pertaining to leadership, creativity, and talent to accent a student’s accomplishments. The prompt on creativity is particularly open-ended and leaves a lot of room for self-expression.
- Helping Hand College Guidance views question 7 on community as a chance to make a big impact on college admissions staff. Colleges are looking for students that will contribute to and enhance their community. This is a chance to demonstrate that a student is capable of benefiting others and sees a world beyond their own. If a student has the relevant experience to answer this prompt, Pam Ohriner views this as a question that should come under deep consideration.
- The last question on what sets a student apart from other UC candidates is also another chance to provide information on another topic that is not disclosed in your application. It is also an opportunity to persuade the Admissions staff why they should accept you over other equally qualified candidates. Remember, UC admission is extremely competitive and there are many qualified applicants for the available spots. This is a chance to be persuasive and present a case on your behalf.
- Allow yourself enough time to create amazing essays.
- Write in the first-person.
- Ask others for valuable feedback.
- Never plagiarize.
- Think about what is most meaningful in your life as a clue as to what to write about.
Helping Hand College Guidance, top Los Angeles private college counselors, offers guidance and help on all aspects of the college admissions process. Whether you are a freshman, transfer, or international applicant, Pam Ohriner’s expert guidance can provide the one-on-one assistance desired in making your transition to college a triumph. With a proven track record of success, our college admissions counseling with give you the confidence and knowledge necessary for a smooth application process. If you desire further information, please call us at 310-733-8433 or email us at Pamela@helpinghandcollegeguidance.com.