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University of California Example Essay Freshman Prompt 7

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

My high school had become a very unpleasant place to be. This was not because of the teachers or students, or even the building. This was because of a major problem with littering. Trash was strewn throughout the halls of our school on a daily basis. Trash was also thrown haphazardly on the grounds of our school including our sports fields and parking lots. When it became windy, large piles of trash would be thrown up against the walls of our school. Our school’s culture had become accepting of a high level of garbage. It was time for a change, so I initiated an anti-littering campaign. Along with 5 other students, I embarked on a project to reverse this disturbing trend.

First, we held a school-wide “cleanup” event. We invited all students, teachers and family members. We had a live band and food at the event, and everyone was put to work. We assigned volunteers to clean up specific parts of our school. The event took all day on a Saturday and resulted in a truly transformed setting. That week, when school began on Monday, it was as if we had entered a brand new school. Our clean-up event had restored a sense of pride and responsibility. We decided to make it a monthly event. We all reinforced the change in culture by placing large posters reminding everyone to take care. We even held a car wash to raise cash to purchase 20 new large garbage bins to place strategically around our school.

This type of community organizing can be applied to almost any institutional problem. What it takes is a small group of dedicated individuals. This results in a “trickle down” effect. Everyone can be influenced by a small group if the group is passionate and devoted enough to the cause. Our cause was to beautify our campus to inspire a sense of community and pride. Beautifying work areas, whether schools or business plazas, is important for the mental and physical health of people who use the facility. Life is messy, and organized clean-ups are a way to create community while solving a very common problem.

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University of California – Admissions

Accessibility

How to apply

Personal insight questions

The personal insight questions are about getting to know you better — your life experience, interests, ambitions and inspirations.

Think of it as your interview with the admissions office. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it.

While this section of the application is just one part we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.

University of California – Admissions

Accessibility

How to apply

Freshman: Personal insight questions

What do you want UC to know about you? Here’s your chance to tell us in your own words.

Directions

  • You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you: But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

Keep in mind

  • All questions are equal: All are given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions: It’s about getting to know your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.  

Questions & guidance

Remember, the personal questions are just that — personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who you are, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC. 

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.  

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?”

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little.

Need more help?

  • Download the worksheet for freshman applicants [PDF]
  • See our writing tips & techniques

Ready to get started?

It’s a good idea to work on the questions before you enter them into the application. Here’s a word doc with all the questions to help you.

NEW University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017!

for their College Application in 10 Years!

The University of California just listed brand new college application essay prompts—for the first time in a decade!

The two essays had to be a total of no more than 1,000 words.

The UC is now calling its new essay prompts, “Personal insight questions,” and students must choose four out of eight to answer.

And they are each supposed to be under 350 words. (So, total under 1,400 words.)

I love that there are more prompts to choose from, with themes ranging from leadership, creativity, service and personal individuality to more serious ones, such as sharing personal challenges or barriers to success.

I’ve written separate posts for each of the 8 new prompts, and you can find them below. Just click the blue link to get specific ideas and strategies for each Personal Insight Question.

After reading through these new prompts, I believe it will be important to choose four that show a nice variety as well as balance to showcase who you are.

In essence, these mini-essays will serve as your one personal statement, in that the goal is to highlight your most core qualities and values–and help you stand out from the crowd.

These new prompts are great news since they allow more flexibility in how you write about yourself. I also believe they should also be easier to craft than writing two longer essays.

If you are just starting the admissions process, I would just take the time to read through them and start thinking about which ones you might like to write about.

Unlike the old prompts, each of these new University of California essay prompts includes a series of additional questions, which can help you brainstorm ideas for your essays and also help you understand exactly what the UCs want to learn from you.

That is super helpful, so read them closely!

The UC also provided a new worksheet–Personal Insight Questions: Guide for Freshman Applicants–to help students brainstorm and craft their answers to these new prompts. This is an invaluable tool, and I urge everyone to use it!

One piece of advice: If you are a student who has faced significant challenges or obstacles so far in your life or personal background, I would strongly urge you to write about them.

Numbers 4 and especially 5 would be the most obvious ones to help you write about those issues. I also believe those two prompts will produce the most poignant and meaningful mini-essays.

(I would suggest all students explore if they could include Number 4 or 5 as part of their four essays for the same reason.)

I also think UC Essay Prompt 8 is a terrific prompt, since it asks you to write about something unique about yourself. What a perfect opportunity to stand out!

The main danger of some of the other prompts is that you simply answer them and they end up being dull or boring to read. Even though these will be shorter essays, they still need to be engaging and meaningful!

As with all essays, I would advise you to always try to think of specific examples to support any main point you make.

Even though these are shorter pieces, look for your real-life moments and experiences to help you illustrate your points, especially when talking about your leadership, creativity, talents, skills, favorite subjects or volunteer activities. And ditto for sharing personal struggles.

One bit of sad news about these new prompts is that this will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for students to recycle their essays from other applications, especially The Common Application. Students also will need to come up with four rather than two strong topic ideas.

The key is to look at these new University of California essay prompts as opportunities to showcase yourself through a variety of lens so the admissions deciders can get an accurate picture of your individuality.

Locations of UC campuses

Here are the new University of California essay prompts and admissions instructions from the UC web site for incoming freshman (I will address the new University of California transfer essay prompts in an upcoming post):

Freshman: Personal insight questions

What do you want UC to know about you? Here’s your chance to tell us in your own words.

You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.

Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.

Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you: But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

All questions are equal: All are given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.

There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions: It’s about getting to know your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.

Remember, the personal questions are just that — personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who are you, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC.

TO LEARN MORE ON HOW TO ANSWER EACH PROMPT, CLICK ON THE NUMBERED BLUE PROMPTS

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or a taking lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about your accomplishments and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strived to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends, or with my family?”

Things to consider: Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)?

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place – like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

Things to consider: Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Even if you don’t think you’re unique, you are — remember, there’s only one of you in the world. From your point of view, what do you feel makes you belong on one of UC’s campuses? When looking at your life, what does a stranger need to understand in order to know you?

What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge, or opportunity that you think will help us know you better? We’re not necessarily looking for what makes you unique compared to others, but what makes you, YOU.

Here are some additional details about these new University of California essay prompts that you might find helpful or interesting (This was released from the admissions department today.):

The new questions also provide students with better direction and focus on topics that are important to campuses. Each new question aligns to one or more of the 14 comprehensive review criteria (nine criteria for transfer students) that campuses consider in their admissions decisions. “We hope this new format will not only provide us with additional insight into applicants, but also allow students to better choose the questions that speak to them most directly,” stated a UC admissions director.

Check Out These Related Posts!

4 Comments

Thanks for taking the time to write about these. One thing that the new questions aren’t are essays. I would really discourage you and others from using that language in future blogs.

Thanks for the feedback.

Most pieces of short writing, especially ones that express personal views, are called essays (this goes back centuries!). I understand that the UC admissions refers to them only as “Personal Insight Questions” on its web site, which in effect is another name for an essay-type “prompt,” but the resulting piece of personal writing is called an essay. There’s no other word that defines it more accurately.

These could even be called personal statement essays, since they serve the purpose of trying to capture something unique or defining about the writer (and they are highly personal since they ask for the writer’s opinions and experiences), however, they are on the short side. In my opinion, it would be accurate to say that the sum of four of these short personal essays are being used by the admissions departments of the UCs as a working personal statement.

Also, even though we in the college admissions industry refer casually to “supps” for the shorter essays required by most colleges in addition to the “core” or “personal statement” essay (eg “The Common Application Essay”), they are still “supplemental essays.” And many of these are much shorter than the 350 word limit of these new UC essays.

I would love to hear how you think about this, and what you would call these pieces of writing. I think “Personal Insight Questions Answers” or “responses” just won’t stick. ; )

What a semantic freak. These are essays through and through, no ifs or buts about it. An essay is any piece of organized writing with a cohesive theme, purpose, or message. In fact, this very response I’m typing here could very well be called an essay, even if I ended the post right here. It doesn’t matter what the UCs call these essays. “Essay” is a generic term that readily applies here. Trying to discourage people from calling these pieces of writing “essays” is insanity, just like it would be to discourage the use of the word “person” simply because you may prefer a different term, like “human.”

what the prompt from Dominguez hills university for this spring?it the same or different from others.

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About this course: Course 2: Getting Started with Essay Writing This is the second course in the Academic English: Writing specialization. By introducing you to three types of academic essays, this course will especially help prepare you for work in college classes, but anyone who wants to improve his or her writing skills can benefit from this course. After completing this course, you will be able to: – create effective thesis statements for your essays – plan and write compare/contrast, cause/effect, and argument essays – write well-developed body paragraphs Note: The lectures and practice activities are available for free, but you must upgrade to the pay version in order to take the quizzes and get feedback on writing assignments.

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  1. Reading : Pre-Course Survey
  2. Video : Course Introduction Video
  3. Peer Review : Introductions
  4. Video : Academic Integrity Video Lecture
  5. Reading : Message about Opinions
  1. Reading : Learning Objectives
  2. Video : What is an Essay? Video Lecture
  3. Reading : Learning Objectives
  4. Video : Introduction Paragraphs Video Lecture
  5. Reading : Thesis Statement Practice
  6. Reading : Learning Objectives
  7. Video : Body Paragraphs Video Lecture
  8. Reading : Learning Objectives
  9. Video : Paragraph Basics Video Lecture
  10. Reading : Topic Sentences Practice
  11. Practice Quiz : Essay Writing Practice Quiz
  12. Reading : Learning Objectives
  13. Video : Conclusion Paragraphs Video Lecture
  14. Video : The Writing Process Video Lecture
  15. Peer Review : Academic Essay Discussion
  16. Reading : Sample Essay
  1. Video : Introduction to Writing Compare/Contrast Essays
  2. Reading : Learning Objectives
  3. Video : Compare/Contrast Essay Video Lecture
  4. Reading : Compare/Contrast Practice
  5. Video : Teacher Discusses a Compare/Contrast Essay
  6. Peer Review : Compare/Contrast Essay Discussion
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  8. Reading : Compare/Contrast Writing Assignment
  9. Reading : Sample Compare/Contrast Essay
  10. Reading : Links to Other Resources
  11. Reading : Quiz Instructions
  1. Video : Introduction to Writing Cause/Effect Essays
  2. Reading : Learning Objectives
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  4. Reading : Cause/Effect Practice
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  8. Reading : Cause/Effect Writing Assignment
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  10. Reading : Links to Other Resources
  11. Reading : Quiz Instructions
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  2. Reading : Learning Objectives
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  4. Reading : Debatable vs Non-Debatable Practice
  5. Reading : Argument Practice
  6. Video : Teacher Discusses an Argument Essay
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