3 The Basics Two Questions Overall length: 1000 words No more/less than 750/250 words eachYour choice which is longer & which is shorterDon’t come up too short:A 700 word total looks badDo not go over: The online system isset to reject essays totaling more than 1000words.
4 The Purpose Completes the application for admission Adds clarity, depth and meaning toinformation provided in other parts of theUC applicationA forum for you to explain factors thathave enhanced or impeded your ability tosucceed academicallyDistinguishes you from others that mayhave similar academic recordsShows your ability to think analytically and write criticallyMay be used for awarding scholarships
5 Keep in mind as you write… …that this is like a personal interview. Use “I” statements. The UCs would like to interview each applicant to get to know them beyond the application, but that is impossible! So this is the next best thing. Simply put, they want to know “who you are, what you do, and what is important to you”. (UCB)
6 What makes a good essay? Must be personal; there is no perfect template to follow!Is thoughtful, honest, and REFLECTIVECompliments your application, withoutrepeating itHas quality, not quantityTransforms negatives into positivesExudes confidence, not arrogance
7 What makes a good essay? Conforms to guidelines Is well-designed Answer the questions; adhere to word countIs well-designedIt’s not an academic essay, but should follow good structural guidelines
8 Prompt #1 What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subjectdeveloped and describe any experienceyou have had in the field—such asvolunteer work, internships andemployment, participation in studentorganizations and activities—and what youhave gained from your involvement.
9 What is Prompt #1 asking? How did your interest develop? Moment in timeInspired by someoneWhat experience do you have in this field?What have you done to develop/explore thisinterest? i.e. volunteer, work, co-curricularWhat have you gained/learned?How has it motivated/inspired you to continue to pursue this field?What do you want to do with it in the future?
10 Prompt #2 Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution orexperience that is important to you. Whatabout this quality or accomplishmentmakes you proud and how does it relateto the person you are?
11 What is Prompt #2 asking? What is your potential to succeed? Discuss your initiative, motivation, intellectual curiosity, leadership, persistence, service to others, special potential, and/or experience with other culturesUnusual talent or abilityExceptional personal or academic recognitionAre you the first in your family to attend college?Actual experiences that exemplify qualitieslisted above
12 Common mistakes Repeating what’s already in other parts of your essay Essay will be read with application—no need to repeat, except to talk about hows and whysListing accomplishmentsAlso repetitive and offers no depthComplaining about your circumstancesObstacles are ok if you can show growth and learning in response to challenges and how you took advantage of resources available to youTalking about someone elseThey want to know about YOU!
13 Common mistakes Grammatical errors; not proofread Too many errors disrupt the flowCould also look like youTelling the university about itselfEx: “UCLA has an excellent film department”Too general or theoreticalStick to facts and specifics you want the UC to know about youCreative writing (poems, clichés, scenes)This is not a creative writing assignmentEssays that don’t answer the questionsEssays that don’t support the writer’s thesesLeaving important information out that can make a differenceTechnically speaking – typing directly onto the application. Use Windows Notepad and paste your statement in.Procrastinated!
14 Tips for Success REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT This is the most important partStart early. An effective essay takes timeConsider your audienceAdmissions counselors have to read hundredsof essays, so distinguish yourselfBe yourself – it’s a personal statementProofread, and get others to proofFeedbackPeople who can be objective and/or know the current UC requirements
15 Tips for Success Be specific Back statements up with concrete examplesExplain “what” statements with “why” and “how” detailsIt’s better to focus on one concept andexpand on it, than three and be generalBe concise and succinctDon’t rambleSay more in less words
16 Additional Comments Boxes Optional sectionsUp to 550 words eachUse only to explain or clarify info presented elsewhereIrregular academic historyGap in educationInterest/experience in an alternate majorEnrollment challengesExplanation of foreign transcript grading systemDo not use this section unless truly needed
17 Personal Statement Checklist Did you answer the questions?Are your statements supported with details?Did you avoid repeating content already in the application?Grammar and spellingConcisenessOriginalityHave several people look this over and prepare to do several revisions – this is not a “last minute” endeavor!
18 Have questions? Need help? UC Personal Statement websiteCounseling Center –Transfer Center –Check out our drop-in hours during November – no appointment neededUC reps will be in the Transfer Center throughout October/NovemberGood luck!