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UC Browser vs Other Browsers: Which is the Best for Your Desktop?

When it comes to browsing the internet on your desktop, there are numerous options available. However, UC Browser for PC has become quite popular in recent years due to its speed and user-friendly interface. In this article, we will explore UC Browser for PC and compare it to other browsers in terms of features and performance.

Introduction to UC Browser for PC

UC Browser is a free web browser developed by Chinese mobile internet company UCWeb. It was originally designed for mobile devices but has since been adapted for use on desktop computers. One of the key features of UC Browser is its speed, which is achieved through data compression and cloud acceleration. This means that pages load faster and use less data than other browsers.

In addition to speed, UC Browser also offers a range of features such as ad-blocker, video downloader, and customizable themes. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate, making it a good choice for those who value simplicity.

Comparison with Google Chrome

Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world, so how does UC Browser compare? In terms of speed, both browsers are quite fast but UC Browser has an advantage when it comes to data compression. This can be especially useful if you have limited bandwidth or are using a slow connection.

Another advantage of UC Browser over Google Chrome is its built-in ad-blocker. While Chrome does offer ad-blocking extensions, they are not always effective and can slow down your browsing experience.

However, one area where Google Chrome excels is in its integration with other Google services such as Gmail and Drive. If you are heavily invested in the Google ecosystem then Chrome may be a better choice for you.

Comparison with Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox has long been known as a reliable alternative to Google Chrome. It offers a range of add-ons and customization options that make it a popular choice for power users. However, when it comes to speed, UC Browser once again has an advantage.

UC Browser’s data compression and cloud acceleration mean that pages load faster than Firefox. Additionally, UC Browser’s ad-blocker is more effective than Firefox’s built-in blocker.

That being said, Firefox does have some advantages over UC Browser. For example, Firefox is open-source software which means that anyone can contribute to its development. This has led to a large community of developers creating add-ons and extensions for the browser.

Overall, UC Browser for PC is a strong contender in the world of web browsers. Its speed and user-friendly interface make it a good choice for those who value simplicity and efficiency. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of some other browsers, its data compression and ad-blocker make it a great option for those with limited bandwidth or who are concerned about privacy.

That being said, whether UC Browser is the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It’s worth trying out different options to see which one works best for you.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


17 uc essay examples

College Application Essays and Admissions Consulting

2023 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC Essay Examples

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Mar 8, 2023 | UC Admissions , UC Personal Insight Essay Examples

Here are 20 UC essay examples (also called UC Personal Insight Essay Examples ) from students of ours that have been accepted to at least UCLA or UC Berkeley . If you have writer’s block and want to jumpstart your UC personal insight essay writing process, then these UC essay examples will most definitely help :). Remember, you must write 4 UC essays; the word limit is 350!

Additional UC essay resources:

  • Official UC Personal Insight Question prompts are here.
  • Read our UC Essay / UC Personal Insight Essay Tips

UC Personal Insight #1 Examples

17 uc essay examples

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #7

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Feb 3, 2023 | UC Personal Insight Essay Examples

This UC Prompt is one that students seem to gravitate towards. So, we have tons of UC Personal Insight Essay examples for this one. 

So, what have you done to make your school or community a better place?

A lot, I’m sure. But how do you put all this passion and hard-work into 350 words? That’s what makes answering the UC Personal Insight Questions so tricky. But don’t fret! In this post, we’ve got a successful, creative UC essay prompt 7 example for you. 

And if you’re looking for more UC Personal Insight Questions examples, checkout this blogpost: 2020 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC essay examples .

UC Personal Insight Example: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Within six months, four students from my school district committed suicide, shocking the community.  These were our classmates and neighbors—why did they do it?  As a good friend to one of the students, I knew he suffered from insomnia—and I wondered about the correlation between unhealthy sleep habits and depression.   

My sorrow and yearning for clarity directed me towards sleep research—I walked into Dr. _____ leading sleep research lab at the VA Hospital, seeking to join their mission to better understand sleep.  I was blessed when she took me on as an intern during my sophomore year.  Dr. _____’s lab focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i).  CBT-i tackles insomnia on two fronts: cognitive therapy helps patients overcome mental sleeping blocks, and behavioral therapy ensures that the patients’ behaviors enhance sleep.  We investigate individual effects of the cognitive and behavioral parts.

This was my chance to learn about the science behind insomnia—especially about its effects on our overall wellness—to better understand my friend’s tragic situation.  My first duty was patient recruitment through marketing our clinical study to the community, but soon transitioned to data analysis and treatment.  Statistical programs such as R and SAS became my best friends, and tests for cognitive ability and neuropsychological status like MOCA and RBANS were my favorite patient evaluations.  I’ve always enjoyed science, but my time with Dr. _____ helped me gain a deeper appreciation for research.

Research and medicine are integral parts of my future—there is still ways to go in finding an effective long-term solution to teenage sleep issues and well-being.   I have ideas such as marketing CBT-i sleep therapy to increase its accessibility and prevent more tragedies like the ones at my school, and the guidance of UC professors as well as the tight-knit student body gives me the best chances of pursuing my goals and contribute back to the community.  An education in the University of California system would provide me with plentiful resources to continue making strides towards solving this problem.

Source: One of my students that was admitted to Berkeley & UCLA.

UC Personal Insight Prompt #7 Pro Tips

Hold on! Before you go off and write your UC Essays, take a moment and analyze the strengths of this UC Personal Insight example. We’re giving you highly successful UC essay examples here — in fact, this student got into all the UCs he applied to, including UCLA and Berkeley. So, here are some best practices and tips. 

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Questions

UC Prompt 7 Tip #1: Consider a unique angle

Most essays I read that attempt to answer this UC Personal Insight Question prompt 7 usually delve deeply into volunteering and community service. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always nice to read a fresh take on a prompt that gets almost monotonous. This UC essay example does a fantastic job of creating a unique take on this prompt!

UC Essay Example Tip #2: Discuss goals for the future

Many UC essays I read do a good job of telling the story of the past/present. For instance, this UC essay example does just that — it talks in great detail about the student’s research and the motivation behind his research project. This UC Personal Insight example however, goes one step further than most others: The student ends the essay by giving a concrete idea of how he wants to take his current research and delve deeper into it at a UC. 

This idea is important because UC admissions officers love to see that students aren’t doing activities for the sake of doing it — admissions officers love it when students are passionate about the extracurricular activity, and have ideas to continue pursuing it throughout college to contribute to the academic environment!

UC Essay Example Tip #3. Show your curiosity

A common pitfall that students have when writing UC essays (and college essays in general) is throwing around words like “passion” with nothing to back it up. 

Remember: you’ve got to show , not tell. 

This particular UC essay example does a great job doing that. This student makes it abundantly clear: He has a genuine, deep love for learning. He has a personal WHY he is invested in tackling the issue of sleep, which compels him to follow his curiosities into a research setting. 

This motivation to seek opportunities to deepen your interests in an academic setting is absolutely critical to be a successful UC applicant (at least, for UCLA and UC Berkeley). 

Alright, now that we’ve gone through this successful UC essay prompt 7 example, you’re probably wondering: how are you going to write a stellar UC essay yourself? Well, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at this UC Personal Insight essay guide . 

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #8

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #8

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Jan 30, 2023 | UC Personal Insight Essay Examples

Prompt 8 of the new UC Personal Insight Questions is pretty open-ended and therefore it can be a bit difficult to come up with a topic. However, it’s actually a really solid UC essay prompt. Below is a UC essay example for prompt 8 as a source of inspiration. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for more UC Personal Insight Questions examples, checkout this blogpost: 2020 Ultimate Guide: 20 UC essay examples .

UC Essay Example – The Creative Yoga Essay

What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?  

At the sound of the singing bowl’s ring, marking the beginning of a yoga session, I hesitantly lift both legs overhead, forming the plow pose. Immediately, I feel discomfort seeping into my back.

I begin to ponder: what’s the purpose of this pain? There has to be a reason for the uneasiness of this pose that is deeper than its face value.

“Surrender to the discomfort,” soothes my instructor.  

Strange. I’ve been taught my whole life to fight pain. Why yield now?

Gradually, I give in. I fall in sync with the Ujjayi breathing. With a gentle whoosh, my breath escapes, allowing me to concentrate on the richness of the moment. As my attention turns away from my physical state, my body connects to the world and discomfort fades out of my mind.

Then, I realize the purpose: to find comfort amidst discomfort. As my thoughts are quenched by the moment, I discover that mindfulness is centered around acceptance of the present; I focus on every inhale and exhale, every mental sensation. As I yield to the present moment, with my mind concentrating on breathing, I surrendered to the pain.

I take these epiphanies from the yoga mat and carry them into the real world. I’ve discovered how to handle obstacles in life with tranquility and grace. Emotionally and physically, I am stronger.

Furthermore, I realize that this strength is uncovered in the moment. Sometimes in life, we set our sights only on our end goals, preventing us from enjoying the means of reaching it. Whether it’s learning a new calculus concept or playing an instrument, I now know that the most important skills are discovered amidst the process. Regardless of what lies ahead in college or beyond, I know that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters.

I am unique in my ways of searching for an underlying significance in my journeys. With an unconditional love for exploration and analysis, I can better navigate the world around me.  From brewing tea to creating oil paintings, I have a natural tendency to seek deeper meanings in everything I do.

Analysis of UC Essay Example Strengths:

1.showcases an aspect of the student that’s not apparent in any other part of her application.

This UC essay example is smart because of this: Many students out there will be writing about various clubs, sports, and volunteering opportunities…so, this student wrote about an aspect of herself an admissions officer would NEVER know based on her application! If you have a hobby or interest that isn’t apparent on any other part of your application that you think is an integral part of who you are, then definitely make sure you showcase that side of you in the UC essays!

2. Interestingly crafted sentences  

I’ve read maaaaaany UC essays this past year, and here’s a huuuuge tip for you: Change up the cadence of your writing in at least one of your essays. What I mean is, try to experiment with things like using dialogue and rhetorical questions in these short UC essays. Just think about it: You’re submitting 4 different UC essays during the application process…you don’t want all 4 to sound pretty similar to each other, even if the content is relatively different. Does that make sense? So, switch up your writing and take a slight risk. It’ll pay off in loads by keeping the attention of your UC admissions officer!

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #2

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #2

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Jan 27, 2023 | UC Personal Insight Essay Examples , UC Personal Insight Essay Guide

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #4

UC Essay Example: Personal Insight Question #4

by Winning Ivy Prep Team | Jan 24, 2023 | UC Personal Insight Essay Examples

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Here is a collection of some of the best UC essay examples/UC personal insight question examples I’ve seen.

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UC Application Additional Comments & Academic History Sections

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6 Ways to Add Insight to Your UC Personal Insight Questions

18 UCLA Essays That Worked (and Why) for 2023

UCLA Essay Examples

Do you want to write strong essays that'll help get you into UCLA?

In this article, you'll read and learn from 18 essays written by students who got recently accepted into UCLA and see how they did it.

If you're trying to get into the University of California, Los Angeles, these essays are a valuable resource and give you a peek into UCLA admissions.

Whether you're a student or parent of an applicant, you'll see what to do—and what not to do—when writing your UC essays.

How important are the UCLA essays?

And as of 2022, the UC system no longer uses your SAT and ACT scores to decide whether or not to admit students.

With no more test scores, that means your UC essays are even more important for your application. Besides your grades (GPA) and coursework, your essays are the most influential factor for your UC admissions.

Plus, UCLA is the most applied to school in the world, with well over 100,000 applicants each year. The University of California-Los Angeles acceptance rate is lower each year, which makes your essays even more important.

Since your UC essays matter so much, it's important to get them right.

What are the UC Personal Insight Question Prompts for 2022-23?

It's a mistake to think of the UC Personal Insight Questions (PIQs) as typical essays you'd write for a class.

Rather, the PIQs are a set of eight open-ended questions asked by the UC app. You must choose exactly four questions to respond to, and each response should be no more than 350 words.

Let's go over the UC Personal Insight Question prompts:

  • 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?
  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  • Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

It can be helpful to see how other students responded to the UC Personal Insight Questions.

And since UCLA is one of the hardest UC's to get into, along with UC Berkeley , students that get accepted tend to write outstanding essay responses to the PIQs.

18 UCLA Personal Insight Question Examples

Here are the 18 best UCLA accepted essays that worked written by accepted students for each Personal Insight Question prompt #1-8.

  • UCLA Example Essay #1
  • UCLA Example Essay #2
  • UCLA Example Essay #3: Violin
  • UCLA Example Essay #4

UCLA Example Essay #5: Team Player

  • UCLA Example Essay #6: Flute
  • UCLA Example Essay #7: Optimism
  • UCLA Example Essay #8
  • UCLA Example Essay #9
  • UCLA Example Essay #10
  • UCLA Example Essay #11
  • UCLA Example Essay #12

UCLA Example Essay #13: Computer Science

Ucla example essay #14: korean big toes.

  • UCLA Example Essay #15

UCLA Example Essay #16: LGBT

  • UCLA Example Essay #17

UCLA Example Essay #18: Being Short

Ucla example essay #1: orchestra leadership.

UC PIQ #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. (350 words max)

In my freshman year of high school, I had enrolled in the String Orchestra Advanced Class which was mixed in with the Beginning class. I was the only person with experience, seven years in the Violin at the time, while most of the students in the class were beginners. I got class elected, then re-elected as President my Freshman and Sophomore years, and was First Violin, then First Viola Chair.

My first year consisted of myself and the instructor teaching the basics of each instrument. Learning a new instrument is frustrating, and there were times where older students in the class would get frustrated and unhappy that a Freshman knew more than they did.

As a leader I had to make sure I did not keep a separation between myself and my classmates. Therefore, my Sophomore year, I changed my instrument to the Viola.

By showing my classmates that I too was a beginner, and that I too had to learn because I had a new instrument -inspired the class to learn as well. My classmates no longer saw me as someone who told people to practice and not give up, yet did not have to practice or struggle themselves, but instead, as someone who was there practicing, and struggling along with them.

The Orchestra program at my school started my Freshman year as an experimental class, but the school ended the class after my Sophomore year. Though unfortunate, in the two years of its existence, my classmates went from being novices, to performers, where in the last year of the program, we performed many times for school events and finally in an orchestra conference in my Sophomore year, where judges praised our Orchestra's technique and cohesiveness.

After the class got cut, many of my classmates continued to pursue music independently, or in the District Orchestra. It is a wonderful feeling for me to see my former classmates -to this day- performing, and even teaching others, knowing that I was there when their journeys in music first began, and I look forward to seeing their musical pursuits in the future.

Why This Essay Works:

  • Tells a Story: Gives context and explains how you got this leadership position. By explaining a backstory, it reveals your motivations and what drives you.
  • Shows Takeaways and Lessons Learned: It's not enough to just talk about your achievements. Admissions officers are more interested in why they matter to you, and how you had an impact on others.

What They Might Improve:

  • Fix Capitalization: It's not necessary to capitalize improper nouns like "violin", "viola", and "orchestra".
  • Sentence Flow: Make sure your sentences aren't too long and don't have unnecessary breaks, which can interrupt the flow.

UCLA Example Essay #2: Volunteer Leadership

My group and I spent a total of seven hours preparing five hundred bagged lunches for the extensive homeless community at Oakland. Out of all the obstacles that could have halted our progress, rain was the last thing on our minds. We were lucky enough to distribute three hundred lunches before the rain began to relentlessly pour down on us. There were a few hours left of daylight before we would be able to eat Iftar for Ramadan, so, an overwhelming majority of our group wanted to call it a day. However, there was still a large number of unsheltered and hungry homeless people throughout the city, and I could not bear to let all that food go to waste. So, I raced to one of our nearest vans, grabbed a bullhorn, and yelled to gather the attention of as many people as possible. I instructed them to form lines in front of our eleven vans in order to take everybody to the nearest homeless shelters with the promise of food and entertainment. We went to six other heavily concentrated areas to do the same thing, and within just five hours, nearly five hundred homeless individuals were transported.

This event is one of the dozens of community service projects I’ve performed in my role as vice-president of the youth faction of the Sudanese Association of Northern California (SANC). This Oakland food drive has left me with a sense of clarity of what it takes to get a project, event, or any other endeavor accomplished. The food drive was obviously a success, but what made this particularly memorable is the email the president of SANC sent me the following day: “You have a keen ability to synthesize and communicate anything quickly and effectively.” I realized the explicit connection between my forensics (speech and debate) career and my community service: the power that I carry in my voice can motivate others to do good. I have tried to apply this insight into each new endeavor since.

  • Specific with Numbers: Use exact numbers whenever you can to create authenticity and make it realistic. In this essay, saying "three hundred" lunches makes things concrete.
  • Connects to Academic Interests: Show how your past leadership achievements relate to what you want to do in college.
  • Stronger Conclusion: Make sure your conclusion isn't vague and has a concrete takeaway. Don't just use words like "this insight". Rather, rephrase that insight or draw a new idea from it.
  • Sentence Structure: Having too long of sentences is a common mistake students make. Instead, splitting up complex sentences can make it easier to read.

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UCLA Example Essay #3: Violin Creative Side

UC PIQ #2: 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. (350 words max)

I express my creative side by playing the violin and other musical instruments. Ever since I was a younger child, music had always been a part of my life. The first instrument I remember playing is the piano when I was four years old. My school had a music program, so I went and learned how to read music and play the Recorder. Though it was a simple instrument, it was to prepare us students for the more complex instruments that we could choose to play after completing the Recorder lessons.

I took this class all of first grade, and in second grade I was ready to choose the instrument I wanted to specialize in. I chose the Violin, and now -ten years later- I am still playing it. Throughout the years I have learned to play other instruments as well, such as the Piano, Trumpet, Viola, and more. During that time I have also been able to play those instruments in different styles of music.

From second to seventh grade, I played the Violin and sung in my elementary school district's Mariachi and my middle school's Mariachi even when I did not know how to speak Spanish. I have been playing the Violin at my church's choir almost every Sunday since Seventh grade. I played the Violin and Viola in my high school's Orchestra class in Freshman and Sophomore year, and since my Junior year I have played the trumpet in my school's Jazz Band and Trumpet Choir.

My siblings have also been inspired to be creative musically, and together we perform at our church and other places, and music has become an important part in their lives as well.

Throughout my life I have been able to express my love for music in many different ways. Whether through playing with a group, doing a solo in front of an audience, composing my own music, or teaching my younger siblings how to read and play music the way I was taught many years ago, music has always been a large way that I could express my creative side.

  • Clearly Answers Prompt: For UC essays, being straightforward is not a bad thing. This essay starts off by clearly answering the prompt, before elaborating further.
  • Fix Capitalization: It's not necessary to capitalize improper nouns like "freshman" and "sophomore". An easy fix is to only capitalize proper nouns, like names of people and places.
  • Explain What's Meaningful: Admissions officers want to know more than just "what you did," but also why it was meaningful to you. Try to focus on the impact of your achievements more than just what you did.

UCLA Example Essay #4: Improvised Comedy Creative Side

I was brought into this world with an overactive imagination and an absence of siblings. My abundance of boredom and lack of playmates was solved by creating multiple characters, drawing them, and pretending to be them. When I joined theater my freshman year, I quickly fell in love because it brought me back to that childhood innocence of carelessly being someone else It was an opportunity to evaluate how I could incorporate my personality, experiences, and charisma into a character and to turn my visual concepts into a reality through doing makeup.

I was also introduced to improvised comedy. where I presented my witty and quirky side. On the other hand, working with a cast and crew was something I was unaccustomed to. but I soon saw myself becoming inspired by the surrounding creativity of others. Whether we were doing a dramatic or comedic play, we worked together to evoke an emotional response from the audience. It’s an honor to see people laugh and cry during our performances because I've connected with hundreds of people by putting my heart on a stage. In contrast, painting has been a private indulgence. Every feeling and thought trapped inside becomes free on that canvas into a beautiful visual creation. Like my mood, my paintings aren't uniform and consistent; they range from iridescent beaches to scattered splotches, yet every stroke, color. and mistake had a reason.

As my only patron, my mom couldn't always afford painting supplies, so occasionally I had to improvise with tools like spoons, paper towels, and erasers. Regardless of the tools I was using, my paintings were reflection of myself. The progression of my work is an exhibit of my struggles, success, and how I became who I am today. Painting is not about the finished product; it's about the journey and the lessons I've learned to get there. My creativity is not limited to the arts, but is embedded my appearance, mindset, and career path in solving mental health issues. Creativity, to me, is putting bits and pieces of myself into doing what I love.

  • Strong First Sentence: Starting off with interesting ideas is the best way to get the reader hooked. It doesn't need to be complicated, but find your most interesting idea and start there.
  • Connects Multiple Extracurriculars: Finding multiple examples in your life to explain your answer can make your essay stronger. Rather than focusing on just one activity, how do your activites relate with a common theme?
  • Great Conclusion: A strong conclusion is often one that expands on your ideas or connects to something more universal. Try restating your main idea and add a twist or expand on it.
  • Make Each Paragraph Distinct: Each paragraph should have one central idea or topic. It's better to split up your essay into many paragraphs because it makes it easier for the reader and better organized.

UC PIQ #3: What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? (350 words max)

My greatest talent would be relating to and inspiring others. Throughout my time in school I have demonstrated that talent by becoming a leader where I was trusted by my teachers and peers. It began in 5th grade when I was voted to become Student Council for my class, where my peers knew that I related well with them and that I would do my best to use my position to fix their issues.

In middle school, I became the Knowledge Bowl team Captain. There was a new coach, so the program was small, about five students. There were many students who wanted to join the team but felt that they were not "smart enough" to join. I recognized this and encouraged those students to join and they succeeded. By the end of the year, our team was 3rd in the district overall statistically standing, our highest ranking in a while.

In high school I joined JROTC as a Freshman, and I became a Platoon Sergeant my Junior year. My job for the semester was to teach and motivate cadets in the program. Some cadets did not do well with authority, and felt attacked when other class leaders would be assertive. As a leader I took a different approach, and related to my cadets. My platoon was constantly noted as being a well-rounded platoon by our instructors, and I received the Non-Commisioned Officer Leadership Award.

In Academic League, motivation was key to our team's success. Sometimes personal problems would affect a member of the team, so I showed them I could relate to their struggles and still believe in their ability to help the team. In times when we would be losing in a match, I would inspire the team to keep pushing on, and to remain positive. That year our team placed 5th in the district -again a highest ranking in a while- and I was voted as "Most Inspirational" by the team.

Throughout the years, relating to and inspiring others has been a skill that has allowed me to make great connections with so many people.

  • Uses Multiple Examples: Backing up your answer with various examples from your life makes your case stronger.
  • Unique Take: Rather than thinking of a skill in the literal sense, this author uses a more abstract skill. Sharing your unique perspective is key to having interesting ideas.
  • Show Why It Matters: In addition to explaining your greatest skill or talent, you should tell why it is meaningful. What are the takeaways and how will you use this skill going forward in college?

UCLA Example Essay #6: Flute Greatest Talent

Just when we think we figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So, we have to improvise. The universe is funny like that. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.

When I first started playing flute, I probably looked like a pufferfish choking on a clump of wasabi, but that didn't matter. Blasting deep breaths into my flute, I blew voraciously as I tried to produce a B-flat; but all I could muster was a raspy whistle.

6 years later, I was filled with pride knowing that I had worked hard enough to be selected as the concert soloist for the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County. My moment had arrived; I stand center-stage and begin Chaminade's Concertino Op. 107. Recognizing the minor scales and arpeggios, my fingers glide through the measures with absolute certainty; and with each successive measure, my breathing, tone, and articulation seemed to increasingly synchronize. Before long, the piece came to an end. Holding the D-natural farmada as long I could, I let the note fade into submission and lowered my flute. Taking a bow, I reveled in the magnitude of my hard work.

As I grew older, it became evident that I would need orthodontics and jaw reduction surgeries. With my face full of rubber and metal, I couldn't form a tight enough valve to sustain notes. I was officially back to square one. The following months were brutal, I had to put away Tchaikovsky and go back to the basics; but my effort was genuine and I gradually regained my ability to play.

Today, I consider playing flute my greatest skill. Not because I can play complex scales or win competitions, but, instead, because through the horrors of braces, learning how to double-tongue, and impossibly fast measures, I never gave up. Playing flute had crafted in me the relentless determination which I've exhibited over the past 8 years. I may not know what curveballs life will pitch to me next, but I have confidence knowing I will persevere regardless of the circumstances.

  • Strong Hook: Use your best idea at the start to immediately make the reader interested. First impressions matter, and by having a compelling first paragraph, the tone of your essay is immediately better.
  • Specific in Naming Things: Say the names of groups, places, and other things whenever you can. Being specific whenever possible makes you seem more relatable and makes your essay more interesting.

UCLA Example Essay #7: Optimism Greatest Skill

Life can be an overwhelming obstacle course, but my ability to get over any bump with a smile on my face has been my greatest strength. Maintaining an optimistic outlook has introduced me to new opportunities, made me a better leader, and helped me get through everyday life. Although my determination to get back up was built by a couple scrapes and falls. I learned about the impact of a positive attitude on others through my experience on the tennis team.

The motivation and bond my team had because of the encouragement and support from our captains has influenced my approach to interacting with others. For instance, while working with my peers, I always praise them for the effort that they put in and patiently help them. When applying this to class projects and theater productions, I saw an improvement on our performance and our accomplishments felt more satisfying and meaningful. My positive attitude is also influential during my job at a convalescent home. As an activities assistant, my objective is to get residents to participate in activities and to make them fun.

At times, it’s difficult to convince residents that a macaroni necklace is worth getting out of bed for, but I am always that friendly face that cheers them on and picks them up. Knowing that my happiness is brightening someone else's day is extremely valuable and is the fuel to my enthusiasm.

Preserving my optimism is not always easy; however, my excitement for the future retains my drive to overcome any challenge. Every opportunity given to me is taken advantage of, and if something doesn't go as planned. I am confident another door will open. Even though I enjoy focusing on the bright side of life, I'm aware that some people feel like they cant overcome their challenges alone. I recognized that I can be a hand to help people up, someone to believe in them, and a friend to conquer obstacles with. Using this positive influence is the very reason why I am looking forward to a career in psychology.

  • Shows Impact of Your Skill: Whenever possible, try to show how your skill/talent has impacted others. Why is your skill important? And how will you use it going forward in life?
  • Uses Humor: Having small moments of natural humor, when appropriate, makes for a more enjoyable essay. Even a small remark like "it’s difficult to convince residents that a macaroni necklace is worth getting out of bed for" is powerful.
  • Recognizes Challenges: Nobody is perfect, and even with your greatest skill or talent there are likely still shortcomings. Recognizing your challenges is important to humanize yourself and shows self-awareness.

UCLA Example Essay #8: Significant Educational Opportunity

UC PIQ #4: Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. (350 words max)

I was going to University of Southern California for three weeks, and that was all I could think about as the school year came to a close. After finding out that I had been accepted into the Bovard Scholars program, along with one of my best friends, I could not wait for the upcoming summer. As July 16th neared, I became more and more anxious,as I did not know what to expect, but I was looking forward to this new opportunity.

The program had just been launched this year and 49 of around 500 applicants were accepted. Over the course of three weeks, the 48 other people from all over the country would be my new friends. During my time there, I would be assigned a coach who would help with the college process, whether it be working on the college application as a group or having one-on-one sessions to work on personal statements. Outside of working on college applications and essays, we had guest speakers from admissions offices, student panels where we could ask questions, career panels, and workplace visits. We also had many presentations on financial aid, fields of major, jobs, and interviews which, most of it, I did not know beforehand.

Along with all this help, we also dormed at one of the residence halls, which allowed us to experience what college life might be like. I was amazed by the diversity of people that were attending the program, and I was shocked to find out that my roommate from New York was Egyptian. We even had Resident Assistants who planned evening activities for us to further stimulate college life. However, they were not just our Resident Assistants; as we grew closer we were able to gather information from them about college.

As the program came to its end, I did not want it to stop. I had such an incredible experience and learned so much about college. I knew that the program will never truly end, though, as our coaches will continue to work with us until Spring when we are accepted into colleges.

  • Specific in Achievements: Being specific and saying "49 of around 500 applicants were accepted" creates credibility. It also helps admissions officers have context about your achievements and be able to infer how significant they really were.
  • Stronger First Sentence: Try starting your essay with ideas, rather than retelling events. Starting off with interesting ideas helps hook your reader, and you can later support those ideas with your experiences and achievements.
  • Focus on Meaning: Emphasize what your takeaways were from this educational opportunity or barrier. Admissions officers are looking for what you learned, how it affected others, and how you'll use those lessons moving forward.

UCLA Example Essay #9: Working at Health Clinic

I worked in a health clinic in the impoverished village of Amara in Sudan this summer, expecting to be assigned general administrative duties during my internship. However, those expectations were tossed out the window within the first week. I consider myself a pretty squeamish person, so the thought of blood oozing from any injury disgusts me in ways that I cannot describe in words. So naturally, I was shocked when I didn’t flinch or faint as I held the retractors of a ravaged knee during surgery. I can’t say that I confronted the daunting tasks I was given with complete confidence, but I learned from the experiences nonetheless. At times, I would question the challenging orders given to me by the faculty, but I later realized that it was due to the lack of qualified doctors and nurses at the village.

I observed eleven surgeries, ranging from liver disease to a gruesome foot infection. The clinic worked under severe pressure, as basic resources and equipment were scarce, which ended badly for some patients. There was one particular patient who did not survive a disastrous bus crash due to the unavailability of ambulances. He was laying on the floor in agonizing pain for a lingering six hours. As the viscous blood stained the white cloth that covered him when he was brought to the clinic, I felt a surge of sorrow, anger, and helplessness. It was difficult for me to come to grips with the reality that some things cannot be undone. The emotions I felt that day slowly faded, but never completely receded. I left this internship satisfied with the invaluable knowledge I obtained, but I still feel like I needed to do more. I live a relatively privileged life, and don’t have to spend each day worrying about a measly injury that could end my life. At the time, even though I thought I was worked too hard for a high school student, I now know I didn't do enough. I’m eager to return to the clinic soon, and have hopes of gaining more experience and knowledge.

  • Emphasizes the Impact: After talking about what opportunity you had or what barrier you overcame, focusing on the impact of that experience is what matters. Describing your emotions and lessons learned makes the significance of those events more clear.
  • Strong Hook: Focus on finding your best idea and using that as your first sentence. Often, starting off with a story or retelling what you did can come later and isn't as important.

UCLA Example Essay #10: Most Significant Challenge

UC PIQ #5: 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? (350 words max)

Education has always been important in my household, but never paramount. We were always taught to put familial needs first—even before our own. My parents always emphasized the lesson that selfishness leads to bitterness and loneliness. That value is why six new members were added to my family when my father’s brother died two years ago. I did what was expected and shifted my focus from school to helping my kin.

I remember feeling a mosaic of emotions—apprehension, prudence, and displacement—as I greeted them at the airport. The five-hour-long ride back home was awkward and somber, and the complete silence said so much more than words could. We were all just afraid of what the future had in store for us. My step aunt, my two older cousins and the three younger ones were all compassionate, loving people. Yet, I couldn't seem to shed this foreboding feeling the first time we all entered our house. Every passing week made our financial situation more tenuous. So, my brother and I volunteered to help our dad at his small pharmaceutical wholesale business after he laid off two employees. We worked after school three days a week and would return home around 8:30.

That year of juggling school with my new obligations at home and my father’s business was emotionally and physically wrenching. However, I don't pity myself and I wouldn't go back to change anything because I learned so much about my character in that year. I realized that my parent’s belief in selflessness had shaped me into a more capable person because I was able to sacrifice time from socializing and classes to contribute, in some way, to my family. And even though I was concerned that I would hurt my academic performance, I stuck to my promises. That inexplicable sense of uneasiness I felt at the airport was caused by anxiety in anticipating the new demands that could potentially exhaust me. Thankfully, the challenges prepared me for the academic rigor for my junior year, my senior year, and hopefully, for university.

  • Vulnerable and Authentic: Talking about personal stories can be difficult, but often your vulnerable experiences have a lot of meaning. Being vulnerable also makes you more personable and relatable.
  • Explains Realizations: Rather than focusing on what happened, focus on the impact of it and why it's meaningful. How will these past experiences and academic challenges affect you going forward?
  • Stronger Conclusion: Try to connect your ending back to the beginning while expanding on it or connecting it to a universal idea. Alternatively, leave your conclusion more open ended.

UCLA Example Essay #11: Educational Challenge

Growing up, I tackled the challenge of school without much guidance from anyone other than my older sister, who is one grade higher. When I was at the young age of just five, my parents divorced and my sister and I were left with our dad, who we did not see often. Because our time with him was limited to driving us to school and home and dinner, we could not ask him for much help with homework or projects. Most of the time, we did the work ourselves or asked our uncle and aunt for help when they came on Saturdays. By the time we reached middle school, I was in more advanced classes, and although my dad had received an Associate’s Degree, he did not take advanced classes like I did, so he was unable to provide much help. My dad only took math up to geometry, and his English was not as fluent as mine, preventing him from providing much help.

Once I enrolled in high school, I was able to get help from teachers, programs, and even my sister. With this newfound help, I overcame the struggle of not knowing what to do in school and life, and I learned that help is always there, but I just needed to ask. Throughout my time in high school, I became more motivated than I was before to do the best I can and overcome anything that comes my way. I was able to do this with help from others, and I will continue to strive for greatness, overcoming any obstacles. Without the help of others, I would not have had the success that I have had in school. My good grades are a testament to the help that I have received in order for me to be where I am now. Although I can say that I have overcome this challenge, there is still one last hurdle, which is to graduate from high school, attend college, and apply everything I have learned to the real world.

  • Honesty: Authenticity is most important for your essays. By revealing personal details such as your family life and struggles, you can bring admissions officers into your world.
  • Sense of Gratitude: Showing a sense of appreciation and self-awareness makes you immediately more likeable. Nobody succeeds alone, so how did others in your life help you overcome difficulties?
  • Provide Clarification: Some parts could be given more context, such as "why is your dad not as fluent in English?". You could use this as an opportunity to talk about your cultural background and create a more clear picture of yourself for the reader.

UCLA Example Essay #12: Self-Improvement Challenge

The saying "you can be your own worst enemy" was the embodiment of the time I hit lowest point. Finishing my 22-hour days, I expected to lay down in bed close my eyes, and smile: thinking about all my accomplishments. Instead, I was sleep deprived, rapidly losing and gaining weight, and unhappy.

As a result, I stopped being able to focus and my grades began to fall. I lost motivation and the only reason I did anything was because of my obsession with completion. In this vulnerable state, I would tell myself I was useless and shy away from taking opportunities. I started to question if could get out of the hole I dug. Ironically, I have always been an optimist. I thought about the many things I wanted to do and I wouldn't be able to do any of them from a hospital bed.

Seeing the bright light ahead of me, I moved forward to a journey of self-improvement. First, I isolated myself from things that were affecting my happiness through finding a place where I could peacefully think about why I was enduring so much pain, regularly eat, and get some sleep. When I came back from my retreat, I continued my routine which improved my health and performance in school. The greatest outcome was my realization that I was compensating for my lack of self-esteem, I've been trying to get validation from my parents and peers by trying to be perfect, but when my friends left me and my parents didn't notice my efforts I overworked myself.

It was hard to stop searching for approval, yet the support of close friends and acknowledging that I'm doing everything I'm capable of, revealed to me what its like to love yourself. From then on, I determined my self worth, no one else. Now that I found my own drive and am confident, I don't have to beg for friends. struggle to maintain grades, skip meals, or lose sleep. Presently, I can say I am no longer my worst enemy: we're like friends that get closer every day.

  • Vulnerability: Showing your shortcomings and difficulties is important to reveal how you've grown and changed. Revealing your perspective and emotions also shows that you have self-awareness.
  • Provide More Explanation: Don't assume that the reader will remember everything about you. For essays like this, give more context. Answer questions that will come up in the reader's mind, like "Why did you have 22-hour days?".

UC PIQ #6: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. (350 words max)

An academic subject that inspires me is Computer Science. Computers have fascinated me ever since a young age. I used my first computer when I was 4 years old- the Apple Macintosh Performa. I began learning about how computers worked in first grade, where I had my own Windows XP computer. I did not know what I was doing when I clicked through the thousands of files that made the computer run, but it was fascinating, and almost seemed like magic. I knew that a career with computers had to be in my future.

My fascination with computers took a new meaning in freshman year, when I decided to learn how to program. I did not know where to start, so I just typed in the search browser, "how to start programming". That day, I started with the Processing Language. It was a simple language to learn, but it built the foundation for my furthered interest in the computer programming aspect of Computer Science. After a couple months of using Processing, I learned HTML/CSS and JavaScript. These languages would allow me to program a wider range of applications. Soon enough, I became bilingual in the languages of computers. As time went on throughout my freshman and sophomore years I exposed myself to more languages like SQL, Batch Scripting, and in junior year, Java.

In my junior year I took AP Computer Science A, and finally after all the years of loving computers, I was able to take Computer Science as a class where I learned the Java language. I also furthered my interest in Computer Science by integrating it with the Engineering club on campus, using the Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

This year I am in Computer Integrated Manufacturing, where I can implement my knowledge of Computer Programming into Engineering, through the use of Corel Draw with the Laser Cutter Printer and AutoDesk Inventor and OpenGL C++ Code with the CAD 3-D Printing machine.

Computer Science has always been a part of my life inside and outside of the classroom, and I seek to continue pursuing it as my major.

  • Connects Interests to Extracurriculars: Showing how your activities relate to your passions reveals your motivations and what drives you. By connecting to extracurriculars, it also creates a more complete picture of your application.
  • Specific In Naming Things: Whenever you are able to, being specific is better than being vague. By naming programming languages and classes, the story becomes more compelling.
  • Explain Why These Things Interest You: What is the root aspect of your interests that intrigue you? Try explaining how you feel when doing these activities and what motivates you. Admissions officers want to know how these interests developed, and more importantly, why they developed.

UC PIQ #7: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? (350 words max)

I am "Korean big toes", "a water panda in disguise", and "Mr. Sweatface" - these are the nicknames I happily accepted over the years. My life was a buoyant bubble, full of gratification, funny nicknames, and simple pleasures; but that changed when I was confronted with the inhumane conditions of the LGBT centers around my town.

Stepping into the stone-house building, a few things immediately caught my attention. The rooms were small, full of broken furniture, smelled of mold, and had poor lighting; moreover, there was no privacy and extremely limited resources. It was obvious that the facility didn't have the funds to sustain itself, let alone help anyone trying to assimilate back into society. My heart ached as I realized the advantages I had been taking for granted; the idealistic mirage of reality I previously held, was now replaced by an overwhelming truth: Life isn't fair. Everyone in that facility had been criminalized for their sexuality, and I was going to do something about it!

Over the next few weeks, I brainstormed ideas and eventually decided on creating a blog where I would share the stories of anyone who was willing to speak up for change. The clickety-clack of my keyboard filled the common rooms of LGBT centers around my city. I slowly-but-surely interviewed the residents of these homes, recording stories of inequality and discrimination. As I uploaded each story to my blog, I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I was breaking down barriers and fulfilling my passions. Furthermore, reading the comments flooding my inbox, I realized that although the LGBT centers in my area still remain underfunded, I had made an impact on individuals through my blog and did something for a community I genuinely cared about. It was more than I could have ever hoped for.

In my quest to create change, I forged a new nickname for myself -- "advocate"; except, unlike the titles I was bestowed as a kid, this nickname represented my creativity, ingenuity, and passion, and for those reasons, it is more precious than anyone will ever know.

  • Vivid Descriptions: Painting a picture can make your stories immediately more interesting. By using descriptive language and word choice, your stories have more life to them.
  • Conclusion That Connects to Beginning: Try connecting your ending back to the beginning, but with a new perspective or take. By bringing your essay full circle, it creates a sense of cohesiveness.
  • Name Things Specifically: Rather than being general and saying "LGBT centers", the author could name one specifically. Since not everyone may be faimilar with the concept of "LGBT centers", it helps make your essay more concrete and easier to interpret.

UCLA Example Essay #15: Empowering Others Through Peer Tutoring

I never thought that I would tutor other people after school, but that was what I did my junior year and now in my senior year. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was the one being tutored by upperclassmen who had taken my classes before. Receiving help from others inspired me to become a tutor my junior year so I could give back and share the opportunity that I had. At first, I was not sure if I would be up to the task, as I did not feel confident in my teaching abilities in various subjects. As time went on, however, I became at ease and comfortable tutoring anyone the more I tutored along with my peers.

Every day from Monday through Thursday, I went to library as much as I could to help tutor with others from 3 to 4 o’clock, and it slowly became a part of my daily schedule. To begin with, I was not the greatest teacher, but as I helped more and more, I gradually became better at it due to teaching the same concepts repeatedly. Not only was I helping the person I was tutoring understand the subject, but I also was becoming better at the subject by teaching it. Teaching a subject allowed me to relearn concepts and ideas that I had forgotten, as well as studying for a subject if I was tutoring a classmate.

Motivated by wanting to help other students, I was able to be at tutoring most days, and this led to me receiving a tutoring award at my school’s California Scholarship Federation banquet at the end of the year. It was a surprise to me as I was not expecting to be honored. To me, the best award was the satisfaction of helping others understand how to do homework questions and them being grateful for the help. Although this year tutoring is not being held in the library yet, I joined another club that tutors after school for the time being so I can continue helping others and spread my knowledge.

  • Shows Their Realizations: Realizations and new understanding are how people change. That's why its important to look for what lessons you learned, and what you took away from your activities.
  • Explain Why: Try to predict what questions will arise in the reader's mind, and answer those questions. For this essay, one question that is unanswered is "Why did you never think you would tutor other people?".

UC PIQ #8: Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? (350 words max)

This was the night. Clenching my fists, I called my dad over. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through my veins or maybe just suspense, but time seemed to freeze as anxiety washed over my consciousness. A million doubts flooded my mind as I dreaded what would come next. The pitter-patter of his feet hitting the tile floor brought me back to reality. My dad had always loved and supported me, I just had to trust that things would be alright.

In a quivering voice, my hands shaking, I explained to my dad that I was gay. After a brief moment of silence, my dad said ten words that completely changed my life: "I raised you completely wrong, get out of my house". I was devastated, but I wasn't surprised. This was the same person physically forced pork down my throat when I told him I wanted to become a vegetarian; who would hit me and my mom if either of us voiced dissenting opinions; and the same person who would come home drunk and threaten to kill us. With tears running down my cheeks, I packed my belongings and drove my 98' Nissan Pathfinder away from my home. From that night on I learned to be brave, to follow my dreams, and to fight for what I believe in.

The next few years were tough. In my community, being gay was unacceptable and embracing my identity meant enduring the consequences. I will never forget being dragged into a storage room and choked or hiding the bruises I got from being pelted by textbooks. But looking back, I realize that the lessons I learned drove me towards success. They inspired me to be relentless and graduate early, to surpass expectations by doing college-credit classes, and remain strong in the face of oppression and adversity. Moving forward, as I look to broaden my education horizons, I know that I have the emotional vitality to success wherever I go. So I want to dedicate this essay to my dad and to everyone who made me strong, thank you.

  • Honest and Vulnerable: Talking about personal stories can be impactful. Often the most difficult stories are the ones that need to be shared.
  • Explains Your Perspective and Emotions: Sharing how you felt in a certain moment can allow the reader to "be in your shoes." By telling your perspective, you allow admissions officers to better understand your experience.
  • Focus On Takeaways: Although stories are important, what matters more is the lessons and takeaways from those stories. The majority of your essay should be focused on those ideas, with a smaller portion where you talk about what actually happened.

UCLA Example Essay #17: Fostering Inclusive Leadership

All around us, the world is dominated by big voices, people who can present themselves positively and effectively elaborate on their opinions. Many of our most successful politicians carve their paths to the top through their charisma and articulate language. Unfortunately, while many of them possess a strong voice, many of them don’t possess that same strength in listening. While their job is to represent the people, there is a large disconnect between their perspective and the perspectives of their citizens. Even in Congress, civilized debate has transformed into a shouting battle, where both parties attempt to push their ideas, but neither side is willing to listen.

In contrast, a leader with an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart is exactly what I bring to the table. I believe that everyone has a unique story to share. From the most flamboyant billionaires to the people living on the streets, every single person possesses their own unique set of skills, perspective, and knowledge that can be useful to learn from. Because of this, I make it my priority to listen to and understand the human behind each team member I work with. In recognizing each person’s strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to build a positive environment in which every person is able to reach their maximum potential.

For example, when it comes to group projects, I always make sure to know the personalities of those I’m working with and create a transparent and inclusive environment that is conducive to productivity. Rather than dishing out assignments and deadlines, I make sure everyone is able to contribute in a way that matches their strengths and skills. Furthermore, by creating such a transparent atmosphere, group members are able to understand each other’s situations and help each other out like an actual team, allowing everyone to be both productive and pleased.

With all the divisiveness that is taking place in the country today, it is more necessary than ever to have open-minded leaders such as myself to help bring this campus and this nation together.

  • Strong Hook Sentence: Using a thought-provoking idea to start your sentence immediately draws the reader in. By having a unique take on the world, people want to read more and are interested by your thoughts.
  • Using Examples to Explain: For abstract ideas and concepts, try using a real life example to make things more clear. Capture the essence of your ideas and find what is at the core of them.

Stepping foot in public has been like opening a floodgate to questions and comments about the one thing that I've been looked down upon my entire life for - my height. Standing out because I was 4'9" wasn't something I was proud of; I was picked last for sports, not taken seriously, and often used as a human arm rest. My mom warned me life was going to be hard if I didn't drink my milk. However, people aren't aware that my appearance is a deception and what makes me extraordinary is that I've outgrown myself. People should be asking me how a person so "big" can fit into a girl so tiny. I have a huge personality, dreams, goals, and a plethora of talent. My achievements earned me such a high standing that I do know what the weather is like up there, yet, my head is never in the clouds because my distance from the ground makes me down to earth.

My only oddity is that my anatomy has grown out of proportion. It's hard to believe that with such short arms, I can extend them long enough to touch hearts with my art and performances. I have been devoted to helping people and educating myself ever since I was young, but who knew that my brain and heart would become so gigantic? Despite my how big my brain is, I keep my head as small as my body because I value letting others know that I'll never overlook them.

Although I haven't hit as many significant growth spurts as the average person. I grow with ambition every day, considering every moment a step closer to success. Being able to pursue my passions at a university will allow me to continue maturing into a person who will one day be looked up to by many. The reader of my response cannot see the facade that has been the subject of many peoples first impressions of me. instead, they will observe that even though I can't reach the top shelf, I can still reach my goals in life.

  • Using Metaphors: Explaining something ordinary (like being short) in an unusual or not-so-common way can show your unique take on it. By using metaphors, you can connect seemingly unrelated ideas together.

What can you learn from these UCLA essays?

These UC essays are not perfect—nor should they be—but each has interesting ideas and a unique perspective.

Compared to some private university essays , UC essays are relatively straightforward.

So focus on making each UC essay express one interesting idea as your answer.

Here's my top 4 lessons for UCLA essays:

  • Avoid too much storytelling and descriptions. You only have 350 words, so focus on ideas.
  • Answer every part of the prompt, clearly. Avoid implying your answer. Make sure your idea is crystal clear and relevant.
  • Showcase a different aspect of yourself with each essay. Avoid re-using topics, unless you're taking a very different angle.
  • Show your thinking. As with all successful essays, your thinking is most important.

Also applying to UC Berkeley?

I've collected additional essays from admitted Cal students that are completely unique from these UCLA essays.

If you're interested, check out these our essays that worked for UC Berkeley .

Which UCLA essay that worked was your favorite? Let me know!

Ryan Chiang , Founder of EssaysThatWorked

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Princeton Admitted Essay

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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MIT Admitted Essay

Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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  • College Application

UC Personal Statement Examples

UC Personal Statements Samples

Use our UC personal statement samples to learn how to write a college essay for these prestigious institutions. The UC application system has eight prompts that they refer to as “personal insight questions.” Not unlike other college essays , the UC prompts cover very common college essay topics familiar to all applicants, including background, family, strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and so on. You can go through UC personal statement samples if you are finding it hard to write supplemental college essays of your own. Practicing the writing of supplemental essays will give you the confidence to easily overcome that obstacle when the time comes to submit your application to the university. Read on to learn how to write the best UC essay for your application.

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Article Contents 9 min read

Uc personal statement requirements.

Before we go ahead and have a look at each prompt and the UC personal statement samples, let us go over the UC personal statement requirements.

According to the UC application requirements, prospective candidates must choose to respond to four out of the eight available questions. Each essay has a word limit of 350 words.

UC also offers a piece of advice by suggesting that while the questions you choose are up to you, you should choose the prompts that are “most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.” Keep in mind that the prompts are quite open-ended, so you have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to writing your essays. Try to choose prompts where you can showcase the qualities valued by the UC schools, such as leadership, creativity, diversity, academic prowess, and so on.

Learn how to write your college essays:

Now, let’s review expertly written UC personal statement samples. Below are essays that were written in response to four out of the eight prompts, as is required by UC. The fifth one is a bonus.

Prompt 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.

In my junior year of high school, I set a goal for myself: I would start a jazz club. Although we had several music clubs, including acapella, classical, and rock – there were none for the music I loved: jazz. To me, jazz is a genre that transcends race and nationalities. It is the music of “understanding.” By my junior year, I’d been playing the saxophone for five years, mostly at home, and wanted to continue to play with others. I also wanted to expose my peers to the music that meant so much to me. 

However, I also understood that jazz is the kind of music that attracted a distinct following. One must be exposed to live jazz before one can appreciate the beauty of this genre. I, therefore, knew I had to start by creating a buzz before considering forming a club, or it would be a club of one. And to create this buzz, I had to expose my schoolmates to live jazz and, therefore, create a jazz band.

I started looking for band members among my classmates. Not only did I ask my school to advertise my search in the school newspaper, but I also put up flyers at the entrance of the school to attract musicians. 

Slowly, over three months, I found four musicians to form our jazz quintet. Once we had set up our rehearsal schedules and practiced a few songs, we were confident enough to perform our first gig at the upcoming “Culture Day” hosted by our school.

After enthusiastic ovations for our last song, we took the opportunity to announce our intention to form a school jazz club and welcome everyone to join us in appreciation of this eclectic genre.

Shortly after our performance, we had our club. Over the last year, the club has grown exponentially. I continued to practice with my band and other club members, and we even began to invite local jazz musicians to play with us. Today, the club is growing strong and I hope will remain a part of the X high school for years to come.  (350 words)

As you can see from the UC personal statement samples and prompts, the UC schools are trying to understand what kinds of experiences you will bring to the college community. Remember, research each UC school to strategically choose experiences and skills to highlight in your essay.

Want to learn more about UC schools?

The UC personal statements are submitted using the UC application system, so you will simply be banned from submitting your work.

Your essays should be stories. Tell the admissions committee who you are and what got you to where you are today.

Don’t forget to spell check and make sure there are no grammatical errors.

UC schools are some of the best universities in the world. This means, the competition for admission each year is cutthroat.

Focus on ways you can increase your chances by creating exceptional personal statements and essays.

You can only join a UC school if you have a minimum 3.0 GPA as a California resident and a 3.4 GPA if you are a non-resident.

Not everyone is good at writing personal statements. But, you can go ahead and work with college essay advisors to get some pointers on how to write a competent personal statement.

It really doesn’t matter if the UC prompts change every year or not. The point is that you learn to write the best essays that you can and succeed in getting admitted to the university – regardless of the prompt.

The first thing you need to remember is that the personal statement is like a story about you. If you look at the prompts for the UC personal statements, you can see that they ask about you and how you affect – or are affected by – your community, your background, your experiences, and so on.

To make your personal statement stand out, you need to tell a compelling story when answering the prompts.

Since you’re talking about your life and experiences, you can go with a semi-casual tone. Avoid vulgar terms, stay away from controversial topics, and never write about current hot topics in politics.

Remember: you want to leave a good impression with the admissions committee – so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by inadvertently offending them.

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17 uc essay examples

12 Great University of California Essay Examples

What’s covered, essay #1: leadership, essay #2: creativity, essay #3: creativity, essay #4: creativity, essay #5: talent, essay #6: talent, essay #7: academic interest, essay #8: academic interest, essay #9: community, essay #10: community, essay #11: community, essay #12: community.

The University of California system is comprised of nine undergraduate universities, and is one of the most prestigious public school systems in the country. The UC schools have their own application system, and students must respond to four of eight personal insight questions in 350 words each. Every UC school you apply to receives the same application and essays, so it’s important that your responses accurately represent your personality and writing abilities. 

In this post, we’ll share some UC essay examples and go over what they did well and where they could improve. We will also point you to free resources you can use to improve your college essays. 

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our guide to the UC personal insight questions for more tips on writing strong essays for each of the prompts.

Prompt: Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time. (350 words)

1400 lines of code. 6 weeks. 1 Pizza.

I believe pizza makers are the backbone of society. Without pizza, life as we know it would cease to exist. From a toddler’s birthday party to President Obama’s sporadic campaigning cravings, these 8 slices of pure goodness cleverly seep into every one of our lives; yet, we never talk about it. In a very cheesy way, I find representation in a pizza maker. 

The most perplexing section of physiology is deciphering electrocardiograms. According to our teacher, this was when most students hit their annual trough. We had textbooks and worksheets, but viewing printed rhythms and attempting to recognize them in real-time is about as straining as watching someone eat pizza crust-first. Furthermore, online simulators were vastly over-engineered, featuring complex interfaces foreign to high-school students.

Eventually, I realized the only way to pull myself out of the sauce was by creating my own tools. This was also the first year I took a programming course, so I decided to initiate a little hobbyist experiment by extrapolating knowledge from Computer Science and Physiology to code and share my own Electrocardiogram Simulator. To enhance my program, I went beyond the textbook and classroom by learning directly from Java API – the programmer’s Bible.

The algorithms I wrote not only simulated rhythms in real-time but also actively engaged with the user, allowing my classmates and I to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the curriculum. Little did I know that a small project born out of desperation would eventually become a tool adopted by my teacher to serve hundreds of students in the future.

Like pizza, people will reap the benefits of my app over and over again, and hardly anyone will know its maker. Being a leader doesn’t always mean standing at the front of rallies, giving speeches, and leading organizations. Yes, I have done all three, but this app taught me leaders are also found behind-the-scenes, solving problems in unimaginable ways and fulfilling the hidden, yet crucial niches of the world. 

1400 lines of code, and 6 weeks later, it’s time to order a pizza. 

What the Essay Did Well

This is a great essay because it is both engaging and informative. What exactly does it inform us about? The answer: the personality, work ethic, and achievements of this student (exactly what admissions officers want to hear about).

With regards to personality, the pizza through-line—which notably starts the essay, ends the essay, and carries us through the essay—speaks volumes about this student. They are admittedly “cheesy,” but they appear unabashedly themself. They own their goofiness. That being said, the student’s pizza connections are also fitting and smoothly advance their points—watching someone eat pizza crust-first is straining and pizza is an invention that hardly anyone can identify the maker of. 

While we learn about this student’s fun personality in this essay, we also learn about their work ethic. A student who takes the initiative to solve a problem that no one asked them to solve is the kind of student an admissions officer wants to admit. The phrase “I decided to initiate a little hobbyist experiment” alone tells us that this student is a curious go-getter.

Lastly, this student tells us about their achievements in the last two paragraphs. Not only did they take the initiative to create this program, but it was also successful. On top of that, it’s notable how this student’s accomplishments as a leader defy the traditional expectations people have for leaders. The student’s ability to demonstrate their untraditional leadership path is an achievement in itself that sets the student apart form other applicants.

What Could Be Improved

This is a strong essay as is, but the one way this student could take it above and beyond would be to tell less and show more. To really highlight the student’s writing ability, the essay should  show the reader all the details it’s currently telling us. For example, these sentences primarily tell the reader what happened: “The most perplexing section of physiology is deciphering electrocardiograms. According to our teacher, this was when most students hit their annual trough.” 

Rewriting this sentence to show the reader the student’s impetus for creating their app could look like this: “When my teacher flashed the electrocardiogram on the screen, my once attentive physiology class became a sea of blank stares and furrowed brows.” This sentence still conveys the key details—student’s in the physiology class found electrocardiograms to be the hardest unit of the year—but it does so in a far more descriptive way. Implementing this exercise of rewriting sentences to show what happened throughout the piece would elevate the entire essay.

Prompt: 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. (350 words)

For the past few years, participating in debate has been one of the foremost expressions of my creativity. Nothing is as electrifying as an Asian parliamentary-style debate. Each team is given only thirty minutes to prepare seven-minute speeches to either support or oppose the assigned motion. Given the immense time pressure, this is where my creativity shines most brightly.

To craft the most impactful and convincing argument, I have to consider the context of the motion, different stakeholders, the goals we want to achieve, the mechanisms to reach those goals, and so much more. I have to frame these arguments effectively and paint a compelling and cohesive world to sway my listeners to my side on both an emotional and logical level. For example, In a debate about the implementation of rice importation in the Philippines, I had to frequently switch between the macro perspective by discussing the broad economic implications of the policy and the micro perspective by painting a picture of the struggles that local rice farmers would experience when forcefully thrust into an increasingly competitive global economy. It’s a tough balancing act.

To add to the challenge, there is an opposing team on the other side of the room hell-bent on disproving everything I say. They generate equally plausible sounding arguments, and my mission is to react on the spot to dispel their viewpoints and build up our team’s case.

When two debate teams, both well-prepared and hungry for victory, face off and try to out-think one another, they clash to form a sixty-minute thunderstorm raining down fierce arguments and rebuttals. They fill up a room with unbelievable energy. After several years of debate, I have developed the capacity to still a room of fury and chaos with nothing but my words and wit.

Debate has been instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. Because of debate, I have become a quicker and stronger thinker. Lightning quick on my feet, I am ready to thoroughly and passionately defend my beliefs at a moment’s notice.

This prompt is about creativity, though its wording emphasizes how students aren’t required to talk about typically-creative subjects. That said, it might take a bit more work and explanation (even creativity, one could say) to position a logical process as creative. This student’s main strength is the way they convince the reader that debate is creative.

First, they identify how “Asian parliamentary-style debate” differs from other forms of debate, emphasizing how time constraints necessitate the use of creativity. Then, they explain how both the argument’s content (the goals and solutions they outline) and the argument’s composition (the way they frame the argument) must be creatively orchestrated to be convincing. 

To drive home the point that debate is a creative process, this student provides an example of how they structured their argument about rice importation in the Philippines. This essay is successful because, after reading it, an admissions officer has no doubt that this student can combine logic and creativity to think intellectually.

One aspect of this essay that could be improved is the language use. Although there are some creative metaphors like the “sixty-minute thunderstorm raining down fierce arguments”, the essay is lacking the extra oomph and wow-factor that carefully chosen diction provides. In the second paragraph, the student repeats the phrase “I have to” three different times when stronger, more active verbs could have been used.

Essays should always reflect the student’s natural voice and shouldn’t sound like every word came straight out of a thesaurus, but that doesn’t mean they can’t incorporate a bit of colorful language. If this student took the time to go through their essay and ask themself if an overused word could be replaced with a more exciting one, it would make the essay much more interesting to read.

As I open the door to the Makerspace, I am greeted by a sea of cubicle-like machines and I watch eagerly, as one of them completes the final layer of my print.

Much like any scientific experiment, my countless failures in the Makerspace – hours spent designing a print, only to have it disintegrate – were my greatest teachers. I learned, the hard way, what types of shapes and patterns a 3D printer would play nice to. Then, drawing inspiration from the engineering method, I developed a system for myself – start with a solid foundation and add complexity with each iteration – a flourish here, a flying buttress there. 

But it wasn’t until the following summer, vacationing on a beach inundated with plastic, that the “aha” moment struck. In an era where capturing people’s attention in a split-second is everything, what better way to draw awareness to the plastic problem than with quirky 3D-printed products? By the time I had returned home, I had a business case on my hands and a desire to make my impact.

Equipped with vital skills from the advanced math-and-science courses I had taken in sophomore year, I began applying these to my growing business. Using my AP Chemistry analytical laboratory skills, I devised a simple water bath experiment to test the biodegradability claims of 3D-printer filaments from different manufacturers, guaranteeing that my products could serve as both a statement and play their part for our planet. The optimization techniques I had learned in AP Calculus were put to good use, as I determined the most space-efficient packaging for my products, reducing my dependence on unsustainable filler material. Even my designs were tweaked and riffed on to reflect my newfound maturity and keen eye for aesthetics.

My business is still going strong today, raising $1000 to date. I attribute this success to a fateful spark of creative inspiration, which has, and will, continue to inspire me to weave together multiple disciplines to address issues as endemic as the plastic problem. 

This essay begins with a simple, yet highly effective hook. It catches readers’ attention by only giving a hint about the essay’s main topic, and being a standalone paragraph makes it all the more intriguing. 

The next paragraph then begins with a seamless transition that ties back to the Makerspace. The essay goes on to show the writer’s creative side and how it has developed over time. Rather than directly stating “I am most creative when I am working on my business,” the writer tells the story of their creativity while working with 3-D printers and vacationing on the beach. 

It is the “aha” moment that perhaps responds to the prompt best. Here we get to see the writer create a new idea on the spot. The next two paragraphs then show the writer executing on their idea in great detail. Small and specific details, such as applying analytical laboratory skills from AP Chemistry, make the writer’s creativity come to life. 

From start to finish, this essay shows that the key to writing a stellar response to this prompt is to fill your writing with details and vivid imagery. 

The second to last paragraph of this essay focuses a bit too much on how the writer built their business. Though many of these details show the writer’s creativity in action, a few of them could be restated to make the connection to creativity clearer. The last sentences could be rewritten like so: 

Working on my business was where my creativity blossomed. In my workshop, optimization techniques that I learned in AP Calculus became something new — the basis for space-efficient packaging for my products that reduced my dependence on unsustainable filler material…

Profusely sweating after trying on what felt like a thousand different outfits, I collapsed on the floor in exasperation. The heaping pile of clothes on my bed stared me down in disdain; with ten minutes left to spare before the first day of seventh grade, I let go of my screaming thoughts and settled on the very first outfit I tried on: my favorite.

Donning a neon pink dress, that moment marked the first time I chose expression over fear. Being one of the few Asians in my grade, clothing was my source of disguise. I looked to the bold Stacy London of What Not to Wear for daily inspiration, but, in actuality, I dressed to conceal my uniqueness so I wouldn’t be noticed for my race. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I envied the popular girls who hiked their shorts up just a few inches higher than dress code allowed and flaunted Uggs decorated with plastic jewels, a statement that Stacy London would have viewed as heinous and my mother impractical. 

However, entering school that day and the days after, each compliment I received walking down the hallways slowly but surely broke down the armored shield. Morphing into an outlet to amplify my voice and creativity, dressing up soon became what I looked forward to each morning. I was awarded best dressed the year after that during my middle school graduation, a recognition most would scoff at. But, to me, that flimsy paper certificate was a warm embrace telling me that I was valued for my originality and expression. I was valued for my differences. 

Confidence was what I found and is now an essential accessory to every outfit I wear. Taking inspiration from vintage, simplistic silhouettes and Asian styles, I adorn my body’s canvas with a variety of fabrics and vibrant colors, no longer depriving it of the freedom to self expression and cultural exploration. I hope that my future will open new doors for me, closet doors included, at the University of California with opportunities to intertwine creativity with my identity even further.

Colorful language and emotion are conveyed powerfully in this essay, which is one of its key strengths. We can see this in the first paragraph, where the writer communicates that they were feeling searing judgment by using a metaphor: “the heaping pile of clothes on my bed stared me down.” The writer weaves other rich phrases into the essay — for example, “my screaming thoughts” — to show readers their emotions. All of these writing choices are much more moving than plainly stating “I was nervous.”

The essay moves on to tell a story that responds to the prompt in a unique way. While typical responses will be about a very direct example of expressing creativity, e.g. oil painting, this essay has a fittingly creative take on the prompt. The story also allows the writer to avoid a common pitfall — talking more about the means of being creative rather than how those means allow you to express yourself. In other words, make sure to avoid talking about the act of oil painting so much that your essay loses focus on what painting means to you.

The last sentence of the essay is one more part to emulate. “I hope that my future will open new doors for me, closet doors included…” is a well-crafted, flawlessly succinct metaphor that looks to the future while connecting the end of the essay to its beginning. The metaphors are then juxtaposed with a summary of the essay’s main topic: “intertwine creativity with my identity.” 

This essay’s main areas for improvement are grammatical. What Not to Wear should be italicized, “self-expression” should be hyphenated, and the last sentence could use the following tweaks to make it less of a run-on: “I hope that my future will open new doors for me, closet doors included, at the University of California. There, I will have opportunities to intertwine creativity with my identity even further.”

Since identity is the main topic of this essay, it would also be fitting for the writer to go into more depth about it. The immediate takeaways from the essay are that the writer is Asian and interested in fashion — however, more descriptions could be added to these parts. For example, the writer could replace Asian with Laotian-American and change a sentence in the second to last paragraph to “dressing up in everything from bell bottom jeans to oversized flannel shirts soon became what I looked forward to each morning.”

Prompt: What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? (350 words)

Let’s fast-forward time. Strides were made toward racial equality. Healthcare is accessible to all; however, one issue remains. Our aquatic ecosystems are parched with dead coral from ocean acidification. Climate change has prevailed.

Rewind to the present day.

My activism skills are how I express my concerns for the environment. Whether I play on sandy beaches or rest under forest treetops, nature offers me an escape from the haste of the world. When my body is met by trash in the ocean or my nose is met by harmful pollutants, Earth’s pain becomes my own. 

Substituting coffee grinds as fertilizer, using bamboo straws, starting my sustainable garden, my individual actions needed to reach a larger scale. I often found performative activism to be ineffective when communicating climate concerns. My days of reposting awareness graphics on social media never filled the ambition I had left to put my activism skills to greater use. I decided to share my ecocentric worldview with a coalition of environmentalists and host a climate change rally outside my high school.

Meetings were scheduled where I informed students about the unseen impact they have on the oceans and local habitual communities. My fingers were cramped from all the constant typing and investigating of micro causes of the Pacific Waste Patch, creating reusable flyers, displaying steps people could take from home in reducing their carbon footprint. I aided my fellow environmentalists in translating these flyers into other languages, repeating this process hourly, for five days, up until rally day. 

It was 7:00 AM. The faces of 100 students were shouting, “The climate is changing, why can’t we?” I proudly walked on the dewy grass, grabbing the microphone, repeating those same words. The rally not only taught me efficient methods of communication but it echoed my environmental activism to the masses. The City of Corona would be the first of many cities to see my activism, as more rallies were planned for various parts of SoCal. My once unfulfilled ambition was fueled by my tangible activism, understanding that it takes more than one person to make an environmental impact.

One of the largest strengths of this response is its speed. From the very beginning, we are invited to “fast-forward” and “rewind” with the writer. Then, after we focus ourselves in the present, this writer keeps their quick pace with sentences like “Substituting coffee grounds as fertilizer, using bamboo straws, starting my sustainable garden, my individual actions needed to reach a larger scale.” A common essay-writing blunder is using a predictable structure that loses the attention of the reader, but this unique pacing keeps things interesting.

Another positive of this essay is how their passion for environmental activism shines through. The essay begins by describing the student’s connection to nature (“nature offers me an escape from the haste of the world”), moves into discussing the personal actions they have taken (“substituting coffee grounds as fertilizer”), and then explains the rally the student hosted. While the talent the student is writing about is their ability to inspire others to fight against climate change, establishing the personal affinity towards nature and individual steps they took demonstrate the development of their passion. This makes their talent appear much more significant and unique. 

This essay could be improved by being more specific about what this student’s talent is. There is no sentence that directly states what this student considers to be their talent. Although the essay is still successful at displaying the student’s personality, interests, and ambition, by not explicitly mentioning their talent, they leave it up to the reader’s interpretation.

Depending on how quickly they read the essay or how focused they are, there’s a possibility the reader will miss the key talent the student wanted to convey. Making sure to avoid spoon-feeding the answer to their audience, the student should include a short sentence that lays out what they view as their main talent.

At six, Mama reads me a story for the first time. I listen right up until Peter Pan talks about the stars in the night sky. “What’s the point of stars if they can’t be part of something?” Mama looks at me strangely before closing the book. “Sometimes, looking on is more helpful than actively taking part. Besides, stars listen- like you. You’re a good listener, aren’t you?” I nod. At eleven, my sister confides in me for the first time. She’s always been different, in a way even those ‘mind doctors’ could never understand. I don’t understand either, but I do know that I like my sister. She’s mean to me, but not like people are to her. She tells me how she sees the world, and chokes over her words in a struggle to speak. She trusts me, and that makes me happy. So, I listen. I don’t speak; this isn’t a story where I speak. At sixteen, I find myself involved with an organization that provides education to rural children. Dakshata is the first person I’ve tutored in Hindi. She’s also my favorite. So, when she interrupts me mid-lesson one evening, lips trembling and eyes filling with tears, I decide to put my pen down and listen. I don’t speak; I don’t take part in this story. Later, as I hug the girl, I tell her about the stars and how her mother is among their kind- unable to speak yet forever willing to listen. Dakshata now loves the stars as much as I do. At seventeen, I realize that the first thing that comes to my mind when someone asks me about a skill I possess is my ability to listen. Many don’t see it as a skill, and I wouldn’t ask them to either, but it’s important. When you listen, you see, you need not necessarily understand, but you do comprehend. You empathize on a near-cosmic level with the people around you and learn so much more than you ever thought possible. Everything is a part of something- even the stars with their ears.

The essay as a whole is an excellent example of narrative-based writing. The narrative begins with a captivating hook. The first sentence catches the reader by surprise, since it does not directly respond to the prompt by naming the writer’s greatest talent or skill. Instead, it tells a childhood story which does not seem to be related to a skill at first. This creates intrigue, and the second sentence adds to it by introducing a conflict. It causes readers to wonder why Peter Pan’s stargazing would make a six year old stop listening — hooked into the story, they continue reading.

The writer continues to create a moving narrative by using dialogue. Dialogue allows the writer to show rather than tell , which is a highly effective way to make an essay convey emotion and keep readers’ attention. The writer also shows their story by using language such as “mind doctors” instead of “psychologists” — this immerses readers in the author’s perspective as an 11 year old at the time. 

Two motifs, or recurring themes, tie the essay together: listening and looking at the stars. The last paragraph powerfully concludes the essay by explaining these themes and circling back to the introduction.

Crafting transitions is one area where this essay could be improved. The paragraph after “I nod” begins abruptly, and without any sentence to connect the writer’s dialogue at age six with her experiences at age 11. One way to make the transition smoother would be to begin the paragraph after “I nod” with “I try to be a good listener again at eleven, when my sister confides in me for the first time.”

This essay would also be more impactful if the writer explained what they aspire to do with their ability to listen in the future. While it is most important for your essay to explain how your past experiences have made you who you are in the present, looking towards the future allows admissions readers to imagine the impact you might make after graduation. The writer could do this in the last paragraph of their essay by writing the following: “Many don’t see it as a skill, and I wouldn’t ask them to either, but I find it important — especially as an aspiring social worker.”

Prompt: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. (350 words)

I distinctly remember the smile on Perela’s face when she found out her mother would be nursed back to health. I first met Perela and her mother at the Lestonnac Free Clinic in San Bernardino where I volunteered as a Spanish translator. I was in awe of the deep understanding of biology that the medical team employed to discover solutions. Despite having no medical qualifications of my own, I realized that by exercising my abilities to communicate and empathize, I could serve as a source of comfort and encouragement for Perela and her mother. The opportunity to combine my scientific curiosity and passion for caring for people cultivated my interest in a career as a physician.

To further explore this interest, I attended a summer medical program at Georgetown University. I participated in lectures on circulation through the heart, practiced stitches on a chicken leg, and assisted in giving CPR to a dummy in the patient simulation laboratory. Every fact about the human body I learned brought with it ten new questions for me to research. I consistently stayed after each lecture to gain insight about how cells, tissues, and organs all work together to carry out immensely complicated functions. The next year, in my AP Biology class, I was further amazed with the interconnected biological systems as I learned about the relationships between the human body and ecosystems. I discussed with my teacher how environmental changes will impact human health and how we must broaden our perspectives to use medicine to tackle these issues.

By integrating environmental and medical science, we can develop effective solutions to reduce the adverse effects of environmental degradation that Perela’s mother may have faced unintentionally. I want to go into the medical field so I can employ a long-term approach to combat biology’s hidden anomalies with a holistic viewpoint. I look forward to utilizing my undergraduate classes and extracurriculars to prepare for medical school so I can fight for both health care and environmental protection.

This student primarily answers the prompt in their middle paragraph as they describe their experience at a summer medical program as well as their science coursework in high school. This content shows their academic curiosity and rigor, yet the best part of the essay isn’t the student’s response to the prompt. The best part of this essay is the way the student positions their interest in medicine as authentic and unique.

The student appears authentic when they admit that they haven’t always been interested in medical school. Many applicants have wanted to be doctors their whole life, but this student is different. They were just in a medical office to translate and help, then got hooked on the profession and took that interest to the next level by signing up for a summer program.

Additionally, this student positions themself as unique as they describe the specifics of their interest in medicine, emphasizing their concern with the ways medicine and the environment interact. This is also refreshing!

Of course, you should always answer the prompt, but it’s important to remember that you can make room within most prompts to say what you want and show off unique aspects of yourself—just as this student did.

One thing this student should be careful of is namedropping Georgetown for the sake of it. There is no problem in discussing a summer program they attended that furthered their interest in medicine, but there is a problem when the experience is used to build prestige. Admissions officers already know that this student attended a summer program at Georgetown because it’s on their application. The purpose of the essay is to show  why attending the program was a formative moment in their interest.

The essay gets at the  why a bit when it discusses staying after class to learn more about specific topics, but the student could have gone further in depth. Rather than explaining the things the student did during the program, like stitching chicken legs and practicing CPR, they should have continued the emotional reflection from the first paragraph by describing what they thought and felt when they got hands-on medical experience during the program. 

Save describing prestigious accomplishments for your extracurriculars and resume; your essay is meant to demonstrate what made you you.

I love spreadsheets.

It’s weird, I know. But there’s something endlessly fascinating about taking a bunch of raw numbers, whipping and whacking them into different shapes and forms with formulas and equations to reveal hidden truths about the universe. The way I like to think about it is that the universe has an innate burning desire to tell us its stories. The only issue is its inability to talk with us directly. Most human stories are written in simple words and letters, but the tales of the universe are encrypted in numbers and relationships, which require greater effort to decode to even achieve basic comprehension. After all, it took Newton countless experimentation to discover the love story between mass and gravitation.

In middle school, whenever I opened a spreadsheet, I felt like I was part of this big journey towards understanding the universe. It took me a couple of years, but I eventually found out that my interest had a name: Data Science. With this knowledge, I began to read extensively about the field and took online courses in my spare time. I found out that the spreadsheets I had been using was just the tip of the iceberg. As I gained more experience, I started using more powerful tools like R (a statistical programming language) which allowed me to use sophisticated methods like linear regressions and decision trees. It opened my eyes to new ways to understand reality and changed the way I approached the world.

The thing I love most about data science is its versatility. It doesn’t matter if the data at hand is about the airflow on an owl’s wing or the living conditions of communities most crippled by poverty. I am able to utilize data science to dissect and analyze issues in any field. Each new method of analysis yields different stories, with distinct actors, settings, and plots. I’m an avid reader of the stories of the universe, and one day I will help the world by letting the universe write its own narrative.

This is an essay that draws the reader in. The student’s candid nature and openness truly allows us to understand why they are fascinated with spreadsheets themself, which in turn makes the reader appreciate the meaning of this interest in the student’s life. 

First, the student engages readers with their conversational tone, beginning “I love spreadsheets. It’s weird, I know,” followed shortly after by the phrase “whipping and whacking.” Then, they introduce their idea to us, explaining how the universe is trying to tell us something through numbers and saying that Newton discovered “the love story between mass and gravitation,” and we find ourselves clearly following along. They put us right there with them, on their team, also trying to discover the secrets of the universe. It is this bond between the student and the reader that makes the essay so engaging and worth reading.

Because the essay is focused on the big picture, the reader gets a sense of the wide-eyed wonderment this student experiences when they handle and analyze data. The student takes us on the “big journey towards understanding the universe” through the lens of Data Science. Explaining both the tools the student has used, like R and statistical regression, and the ideas the student has explored, like owl’s wings and poverty, demonstrates how this student fits into the micro and macro levels of Data Science. The reader gets a complete picture of how this student could change the world through this essay—something admissions officers always want to see.

The biggest thing that would improve this essay is an anecdote. As it’s written, the essay looks at Data Science from a more theoretical or aspirational perspective. The student explains all that Data Science can enable, but besides for explaining that they started coding with spreadsheets and R, they provide very little personal experience working with Data Science. This is where an anecdote would elevate the essay.

Adding a story about the first data set they examined or an independent project they undertook as a hobby would have elicited more emotion and allowed for the student to showcase their accomplishments and way of thinking. For example, they could delve into the feeling of enlightenment that came from first discovering a pattern in the universe. Or maybe they could describe how analyzing data was the catalyst that led them to reach out to local businesses to help them improve their revenue. 

If you have an impactful and enduring interest, such as this student does, you will have at least one anecdote you could include in your essay. You’ll find that essays with anecdotes are able to work in more emotional reflection that make the essay more memorable and the student more likable.

Prompt: What have you done to make your community a better place? (350 words)

Blinking sweat from my eyes, I raised my chin up to the pullup bar one last time before dropping down, my muscles trembling. But despite my physical exhaustion at the end of the workout, mentally, I felt reinvigorated and stronger than ever.

Minutes later, I sat at my computer, chatting with my friends about our first week in quarantine. After listening to numerous stories concerning boredom and loneliness, it struck me that I could use my passion for fitness to help my friends—I jumped at the chance to do so. 

After scouring the internet for the most effective exercises and fitness techniques, I began hosting Zoom workouts, leading friends, family, and anyone else who wanted to join in several fun exercises each week. I hoped these meetings would uplift anyone struggling during quarantine, whether from loneliness, uncertainty, or loss of routine. I created weekly workout plans, integrating cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises into each. Using what I learned from skating, I incorporated off-ice training exercises into the plans and added stretching routines to each session. 

Although many members were worried that they wouldn’t be able to complete exercises as well as others and hesitated to turn their cameras on, I encouraged them to show themselves on screen, knowing we’d only support one another. After all, the “face-to-face” interactions we had while exercising were what distinguished our workouts from others online; and I hoped that they would lead us to grow closer as a community. 

As we progressed, I saw a new-found eagerness in members to show themselves on camera, enjoying the support of others. Seeing how far we had all come was immensely inspiring: I watched people who couldn’t make it through one circuit finish a whole workout and ask for more; instead of staying silent during meetings, they continually asked for tips and corrections.

Despite the limitations placed on our interactions by computer screens, we found comfort in our collective efforts, the camaraderie between us growing with every workout. For me, it confirmed the strength we find in community and the importance of helping one another through tough times.

This essay accomplishes three main goals: it tells a story of how this student took initiative, it explores the student’s values, and it demonstrates their emotional maturity. We really get a sense of how this student improved their community while also gaining a large amount of insight into what type of person this student is.

With regards to initiative, this student writes about a need they saw in their community and the steps they took to satisfy that need. They describe the extensive thought that went into their decisions as they outline the planning of their classes and their unique decision to incorporate skating techniques in at-home workouts.

Additionally, they explore their values, including human connection. The importance of connection to this student is obvious throughout the essay as they write about their desire “to grow closer as a community.” It is particularly apparent with their final summarizing sentence: “For me, it confirmed the strength we find in community and the importance of helping one another through tough times.”

Lastly, this student positions themself as thoughtful when they recognize the way that embarrassment can get in the way of forming community. They do this through the specific example of feeling embarrassment when turning on one’s camera during a video call—a commonly-felt feeling. This ability to recognize fear of embarrassment as an obstacle to camaraderie shows maturity on the part of this applicant. 

This essay already has really descriptive content, a strong story, and a complete answer to the prompt, however there is room for every essay to improve. In this case, the student could have worked more descriptive word choice and figurative language into their essay to make it more engaging and impressive. You want your college essay to showcase your writing abilities as best as possible, while still sounding like you.

One literary device that would have been useful in this essay is a conceit or an extended metaphor . Essays that utilize conceits tend to begin with a metaphor, allude to the metaphor during the body of the paragraph, and end by circling back to the original metaphor. All together, it makes for a cohesive essay that is easy to follow and gives the reader a satisfying opening and conclusion to the essay.

The idea at the heart of this essay—working out to strengthen a community—would make for a great conceit. By changing the anecdote at the beginning to maybe reflect the lack of strength the student felt when working out alone and sprinkling in words and phrases that allude to strength and exercise during the essay, the last sentence (“For me, it confirmed the strength we find in community and the importance of helping one another through tough times”) would feel like a fulfilling end to the conceit rather than just a clever metaphor thrown in. 

Prompt: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? (350 words)

The scent of eucalyptus caressed my nose in a gentle breeze. Spring had arrived. Senior class activities were here. As a sophomore, I noticed a difference between athletic and academic seniors at my high school; one received recognition while the other received silence. I wanted to create an event celebrating students academically-committed to four-years, community colleges, trades schools, and military programs. This event was Academic Signing Day.

The leadership label, “Events Coordinator,” felt heavy on my introverted mind. I usually was setting up for rallies and spirit weeks, being overlooked around the exuberant nature of my peers. 

I knew a change of mind was needed; I designed flyers, painted posters, presented powerpoints, created student-led committees, and practiced countless hours for my introductory speech. Each committee would play a vital role on event day: one dedicated to refreshments, another to technology, and one for decorations. The fourth-month planning was a laborious joy, but I was still fearful of being in the spotlight. Being acknowledged by hundreds of people was new to me. 

The day was here. Parents filled the stands of the multi-purpose room. The atmosphere was tense; I could feel the angst building in my throat, worried about the impression I would leave. Applause followed each of the 400 students as they walked to their college table, indicating my time to speak. 

I walked up to the stand, hands clammy, expression tranquil, my words echoing to the audience. I thought my speech would be met by the sounds of crickets; instead, smiles lit up the stands, realizing my voice shone through my actions. I was finally coming out of my shell. The floor was met by confetti as I was met by the sincerity of staff, students, and parents, solidifying the event for years to come. 

Academic students were no longer overshadowed. Their accomplishments were equally recognized to their athletic counterparts. The school culture of athletics over academics was no longer imbalanced. Now, everytime I smell eucalyptus, it is a friendly reminder that on Academic Signing Day, not only were academic students in the spotlight but so was my voice.

This is a good essay because it describes the contribution the student made to their community and the impact that experience had on shaping their personality. Admissions officers get to see what this student is capable of and how they have grown, which is important to demonstrate in your essays. Throughout the essay there is a nice balance between focusing on planning the event and the emotions it elicited from this student, which is summed up in the last sentence: “not only were academic students in the spotlight but so was my voice.”

With prompts like this one (which is essentially a Community Service Essay ) students sometimes take very small contributions to their community and stretch them—oftentimes in a very obvious way. Here, the reader can see the importance of Academic Signing Day to the community and the student, making it feel like a genuine and enjoyable experience for all involved. Including details like the four months of planning the student oversaw, the specific committees they delegated tasks to, and the hundreds of students and parents that attended highlights the skills this student possesses to plan and execute such a large event.

Another positive aspect of this essay is how the student’s emotions are intertwined throughout the essay. We see this student go from being a shy figure in the background to the confident architect of a celebrated community event, all due to their motivation to create Academic Signing Day. The student consistently shows throughout the essay, instead of telling us what happened. One example is when they convey their trepidation to public speaking in this sentence: “I walked up to the stand, hands clammy, expression tranquil, my words echoing to the audience. I thought my speech would be met by the sounds of crickets.”

Employing detailed descriptions of feelings, emotions, fears, and body language all contribute to an essay that reveals so much in subtle ways. Without having to be explicitly told, the reader learns the student is ambitious, organized, a leader, and someone who deeply values academic recognition when they read this essay.

While this essay has many positives, there are a couple of things the student could work on. The first is to pay more attention to grammar. There was one obvious typo where the student wrote “the fourth-month planning was a laborious joy”, but there were also many sentences that felt clunky and disjointed. Each and every essay you submit should put your best foot forward and impress admissions officers with your writing ability, but typos immediately diminish your credibility as a writer and sincerity as an applicant.

It’s important to read through your essay multiple times and consider your specific word choice—does each word serve a purpose, could a sentence be rewritten to be less wordy, etc? However, it’s also important you have at least one other person edit your essay. Had this student given their essay to a fresh set of eyes they might have caught the typo and other areas in need of improvement.

Additionally, this student began and ended the essay with the smell of eucalyptus. Although this makes for an intriguing hook, it has absolutely nothing to do with the actual point of the essay. It’s great to start your essay with an evocative anecdote or figurative language, but it needs to relate to your topic. Rather than wasting words on eucalyptus, a much stronger hook could have been the student nervously walking up to the stage with clammy hands and a lump in their throat. Beginning the essay with a descriptive sentence that puts us directly into the story with the student would draw the reader in and get them excited about the topic at hand.

Prompt: What have you done to make your school or community a better place? (350 words) 

“I wish my parents understood.” Sitting at the lunch table, I listened as my friends aired out every detail of their life that they were too afraid to share with their parents. Sexuality, relationships, dreams; the options were limitless. While I enjoyed playing therapist every 7th period, a nagging sensation that perhaps their parents should understand manifested in me. Yet, my proposal was always met with rolling eyes; “I wish they understood” began every conversation, but nothing was being done beyond wishing on both sides. 

I wanted to help not just my friends but the countless other stories I was told of severed relationships and hidden secrets. Ultimately, my quest for change led me to BFB, a local nonprofit. Participating in their Youth Leadership program, I devised and implemented a plan for opening up the conversation between students and parents with the team I led. We successfully hosted relationship seminars with guest speakers specializing on a range of topics, from inclusive education to parental pressure, and were invited to speak for BFB at various external events with local government by the end of my junior year. Collaborating with mental health organizations and receiving over $1,000 in funding from international companies facilitated our message to spread throughout the community and eventually awarded us with an opportunity to tackle a research project studying mental health among teens during the pandemic with professors from the University at Buffalo and UC Los Angeles. 

While these endeavors collectively facilitated my team to win the competition, the most rewarding part of it all was receiving positive feedback from my community and close friends. “I wish my parents understood” morphed into “I’m glad they tried to understand”. I now lead a separate program under BFB inspired by my previous endeavors, advancing its message even further and leaving a legacy of change and initiative for future high schoolers in the program. As I leave for college, I hope to continue this work at the University of California and foster a diverse community that embraces understanding and growth across cultures and generations.

The essay begins with a strong, human-centered story that paints a picture of what the writer’s community looks like. The first sentence acts as a hook by leaving readers with questions — whose parents are being discussed, and what don’t they understand? With their curiosity now piqued, readers become intrigued enough to move on to the next sentences. The last sentence of the first paragraph and beginning of the second relate to the same topic of stories from friends, making for a highly effective transition.

The writer then does a great job of describing their community impact in specific detail, which is crucial for this prompt. Rather than using vague and overly generalized language, the writer highlights their role in BFB with strong action verbs like “devised” and “implemented.” They also communicate the full scope of their impact with quantifiable metrics like “$1,000 in funding,” all while maintaining a flowing narrative style.

The essay ends by circling back to the reason why the writer got involved in improving their community through BFB, which makes the essay more cohesive and moving. The last sentences connect their current experiences improving community with their future aspirations to do so, both in the wider world and at a UC school. This forward-looking part allows admissions officers to get a sense of what the writer might accomplish as a UC alum/alumna, and is certainly something to emulate.

This essay’s biggest weakness is its organization. Since the second paragraph contains lots of dense information about the writer’s role in BFB, it would benefit from a few sentences that tie it back to the narrative in the first paragraph. For instance, the third sentence of the paragraph could be changed like so: “Participating in their Youth Leadership program, I led my team through devising and implementing a plan to foster student-parent conversations — the ones that my 7th period friends were in need of.”

The last paragraph also has the potential to be reorganized. The sentence with the “I wish my parents understood” quote would be more powerful at the end of the paragraph rather than in the middle. With a short transition added to the beginning, the new conclusion would look like so: “ Through it all, I hope to help ‘I wish my parents understood’ morph into ‘I’m glad they tried to understand’ for my 7th period friends and many more.” 

I drop my toothbrush in the sink as I hear a scream. Rushing outside, I find my mom’s hand painfully wedged in the gap between our outward-opening veranda doors. I quickly open it, freeing her hand as she gasps in relief. 

As she ices her hand, I regard the door like I would a trivia question or math problem – getting to know the facts before I start working on a solution. I find that, surprisingly, there is not a single protrusion to open the door from the outside! 

Perhaps it was the fact that my mom couldn’t drive or that my dad worked long hours, but the crafts store was off-limits; I’ve always ended up having to get resourceful and creative with whatever materials happened to be on hand in order to complete my impromptu STEM projects or garage builds. Used plastic bottles of various shapes and sizes became buildings for a model of a futuristic city. Cylindrical capacitors from an old computer, a few inches in height, became scale-size storage tanks. 

Inspired by these inventive work-arounds and spurred on by my mom’s plight, I procure a Command Strip, a roll of tennis racket grip, and, of course, duct tape. I fashion a rudimentary but effective solution: a pull handle, ensuring she would never find herself stuck again.

A desire to instill others in my community with this same sense of resourcefulness led me to co-found “Repair Workshops” at my school – sessions where we teach students to fix broken objects rather than disposing of them. My hope is that participants will walk away with a renewed sense of purpose to identify problems faced by members of their community (whether that’s their neighbor next door or the planet as a whole) and apply their newfound engineering skills towards solutions.

As I look towards a degree and career in engineering and business, these connections will serve as my grounding point: my reminder that in disciplines growing increasingly quantitative, sometimes the best startup ideas or engineering solutions originate from a desire to to better the lives of people around me.

This essay is a good example of telling a story with an authentic voice. With its down-to-earth tone and short, punchy paragraphs, it stands out as a piece of writing that only the author could have written. That is an effective way for you to write any of your college essays as well.

After readers are hooked by the mention of screaming in the first sentence, the writer immerses the readers in their thinking. This makes the essay flow very naturally — rather than a first paragraph of narrative followed by an unrelated description of STEM projects, the whole essay is a cohesive story that shows how the writer came to improve their community. 

Their take on community also makes the essay stand out. While many responses to this prompt will focus on an amorphous, big-picture concept of community, such as school or humanity, this essay is about a community that the writer has a close connection to — their family. Family is also not the large group of people that most applicants would first attach to the word “community,” but writing about it here is a creative take on the prompt. Though explaining community impact is most important, choosing the most unique community you are a part of is a great way to make your essay stand out.

This essay’s main weakness is that the paragraph about Repair Workshops does not go into enough detail about community impact. The writer should highlight more specific examples of leadership here, since it would allow them to demonstrate how they hope to impact many more communities besides their family. 

After the sentence ending with “fix broken objects rather than disposing of them,” a new part could be added that shows how the writer taught students. For example, the writer could tell the story of how “tin cans became compost bins” as they explained the importance of making the world a better place. 

Then, at the end of the paragraph, the writer could more concretely explain the visions they have to expand the impact of Repair Workshops. A good concluding sentence could start with “I too hope to use engineering skills and resourcefulness to…” Adding this extra context would also make the paragraph transition better to the final paragraph of the essay, which somewhat abruptly begins by mentioning the writer’s previously unmentioned career interests in engineering and business.

Where to Get Feedback on Your UC Essays

Want feedback like this on your University of California essays before you submit? We offer expert essay review by advisors who have helped students get into their dream schools. You can book a review with an expert to receive notes on your topic, grammar, and essay structure to make your essay stand out to admissions officers. In fact, Alexander Oddo , an essay expert on CollegeVine, provided commentary on several of the essays in this post.

Haven’t started writing your essay yet? Advisors on CollegeVine also offer expert college counseling packages . You can purchase a package to get one-on-one guidance on any aspect of the college application process, including brainstorming and writing essays.

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

17 uc essay examples

Essay Hell

Find help for writing your four required essays for The University of California application. There are eight prompts, which are called Personal Insight Questions, to choose from. Each of your four essays must be under 350 words.

Read more about the Personal Insight Questions for both incoming freshman and transfer students on the UC Admissions web site .

If you need more help, learn more about my tutoring and other services .

Find Tips, Ideas and Strategies on How to Write Your UC Essays (Click the Flames!)

17 uc essay examples

UC Personal Insight Question 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.  , uc personal insight question 5.

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?

UC Personal Insight Question 2

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, … Describe how you express your creative side.

UC Personal Insight Question 6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

UC Personal Insight Question 3

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill?

How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

UC Personal Insight Question 7

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

UC Personal Insight Question 4

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

UC Personal Insight Question 8

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

10 Quickie Tips to Nail Your UC Essays

Nov 5, 2017

uc essays

If you are just starting to write your four short UC essays (called Personal Insight Questions ), here are ten simple tips that can help you crank them out.

I’ve written longer posts on how to brainstorm and map out answers for each of these questions for the University of California application, if you have the time and inclination. Find them here .

Too busy to read all those posts? No worries. read more…

UC Shares Videos on Personal Insight Questions

Sep 12, 2016

As you probably know, the University of California changed its required essay prompts for 2016-17.

Instead of writing two longer personal statement essays, you now chose from eight prompts (which they call Personal Insight Questions) and write four short essays, each under 350 words. (For incoming freshmen; transfer students have similar, yet slightly different requirement. )

The University of California recently shared several videos intended to help students understand what is expected from these new Personal Insight Questions prompts. read more…

Start Your UC Personal Insight Question Essays for 2016-17 Now!

Jul 28, 2016


Want to Go To College In California? Get Your Application in ASAP!!

This year marks my 30th year living in California.

I love this state! I moved here from across the country to join my future husband in 1986, and never looked back.

The people are welcoming and forward-minded (for the most part), the dramatic natural beauty of ocean, mountains and dessert is everywhere, and the weather is near-perfect.

Also, California’s public educational system is unsurpassed, from the network of community colleges to the Cal States to its world-class research and learning universities, like Berkeley and UCLA. read more…

Strategies for Each of 8 New University of California Essays 2016-17

May 8, 2016

new uc essays

Quickly Find Ideas for Each of the 8 New Personal Insight Questions

I hope everyone applying to any of the University of California schools this fall got the big news : They have all new essay prompts for 2016-17!

Instead of writing two longer essays, incoming freshmen now are required to write four shorter essays—and have eight new prompts, called Personal Insight Questions , to choose from.

Since the big announcement this spring, I’ve written eight new posts on each of the new UC essays.

I’ve listed them all together here (below) in this post so you can find them easily. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 7: Volunteer Your Best Story

May 2, 2016

uc essay prompt 7

University of California Personal Insight Question 7:

Time to talk about one of those volunteer experiences.

UC essay prompt 7: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

The minute I read UC essay prompt 7, I thought most students would jump at this question because most have spent endless hours volunteering during high school.

Now it’s time to recall some of your most interesting or meaningful “times” or experiences.

You could write a strong essay about giving back, but you have to be careful to avoid the cliche trap.The trick is to think of something unusual or unexpected that happened during one of those experiences.

read more…

UC Essay Prompt 6: Your Favorite Academic Subject

uc essay prompt 6

University of California Personal Insight Question 6:

Brainiacs, nerds, geeks and former slackers—this essay is for you.

UC Essay Prompt 6:6.  Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. 

Well, this is probably the most straightforward of the eight Personal Insight Questions (which I call essay prompts) that the University of California admissions has to offer wannabe freshmen for 2016-17.

It’s also your best chance, similar to UC essay prompt 4 , to showcase your passion for learning.

When you read UC essay prompt 6, did an answer pop into your head immediately?

If so, this could be a no-brainer essay for you to write. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 5: Take the Challenge

May 1, 2016

University of California Personal Insight Question 5: Your Chance to Get Real and Personal

If you have faced hardships, share them.

If you are a high school student who has had to deal with some tough issues in your life or background, you should seriously consider writing about at least one of them in UC Essay Prompt 5 (also known as Personal Insight Question 5)

This is not whining or complaining.

In fact, students who have had to overcome or deal with obstacles in their life and managed to succeed in school despite those issues are highly desirable to almost all college and universities. And the UCs are no exception. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 4: Educational Experiences

Apr 30, 2016

UC Essay Prompt 4

University of California Personal Insight Question 4: A Chance to Showcase Your Field of Interest

(For those of you just starting the UC application for 2016-17, incoming freshman pick four essays—each under 350 words—out of eight all-new prompts, known as Personal Insight Questions . I’m writing separate posts on ideas about how to write about all eight of them.)

If you know what you want to study in college, I would seriously consider writing about UC essay prompt 4.

It’s your chance to show the University of California that you already know something about this field and were serious enough to learn about it. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 3: Talents and Skills

Apr 19, 2016


What Are You Good At?

(yes, uc essay prompt 3 can be about almost anything).

I believe all students who need to answer four of the new University of California “ Personal Insight Questions ” should seriously consider the third one, otherwise known as UC Essay Prompt 3.

If you’re a student who has focused on one special talent or skill in your life, and are recognized in that field as “among the best,” this is your chance to share that in detail.

However, you don’t need to be a star at your talent or skill to write an effective essay about it.

And your talent or skill doesn’t even need to be impressive. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 2: Your Creative Side

Mar 30, 2016

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017 (Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 2)

2. 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..

If this prompt jumped out when you first read through the eight essay prompts for the University of California application, good chance you have a creative side.

And you should seriously consider writing about it.

Even if this prompt didn’t initially appeal to you, consider it anyway.

It’s not just intended for aspiring artists! read more…

UC Essay Prompt 1: Leadership Experience

Mar 29, 2016

UC Essay Prompt 1

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017 (Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 1)

UC Essay Prompt 1 is the first of eight essay prompts for the University of California application that you can choose to answer if you are an incoming freshman.

Of the eight Personal Insight Questions , you only need to answer four.

If you consider leadership one of your defining qualities, or have had an interesting experience as a leader in some capacity, you might want to consider this essay. read more…

21 Tips for UC Personal Insight Questions and Essays

Mar 28, 2016

personal insight questions

Pick the 4 Best UC Personal Insight Questions for YOU!

If you’re applying to any of the University of California schools, you need to write four short essays.

To start, read through all eight of the Personal Insight Questions you have to choose from.

(Find specific ideas and strategies for each of the 8 new Personal Insight Questions at the bottom of this post!)

The goal is to write four short essays that as a whole will provide the UC admissions deciders with a picture of what makes you unique and special—and help set you apart from the competition. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 8: How Do You Stand Out?

prompt 8

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017 (Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 8)

Uc essay prompt 8: beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the university of california.

Out of the eight new University of California essay prompts for Fall 2017 , I think that most students should consider writing about Prompt 8 as one of their four required mini-essays.

More than any of the other questions, this prompt targets most directly what makes you YOU, and asks to understand something about your most fundamental qualities, characteristics or values.

It is also the most open-ended of the bunch. read more…

NEW University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017!

Mar 24, 2016

First New University of California Essay Prompts 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!

In the past, incoming freshman wrote two core essays answering two prompts .

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.)

That’s a huge  shift. (more…)

Last Minute Help for UC College App Essay Writers!

Nov 24, 2015

UPDATE: as of March 23, 2016 The University of California announced NEW essay prompts for 2016-17. Read about how to answer them HERE .

It’s Not Too Late to Write Your College App Essays Before the Nov. 30 Deadline

Yes, you have waited until the last minute. But don’t despair!

There’s still time to pound out two awesome essays!

If you’re working on your two college application essays for the University of California freshman application, I’ve put together a short list of my most helpful posts.

Read through them, watch the videos, and get crankin!!

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.   read more…

Last-Minute Help for UC Essays!!

Nov 26, 2014

17 uc essay examples

If you are applying to the University of California schools, you have until the end of this month (this Sunday, Nov. 30!). As busy seniors, some of you might have waited to write your two college application essays over Thanksgiving, when you have some days off and can catch up.

The key, however, is to not let this last minute deadline dash ruin your Thanksgiving. So yes, you are really cutting it close. If you don’t have a plan, it could hang over your head the entire holiday weekend.

To not let these essays ruin one of the best times of the year–when you are supposed to be feasting with your family, watching football games and focusing on all you have to be grateful for–take a few minutes to map out a plan. These essays don’t have to take days and days to write. If you can latch on to some  strong topic ideas , and then  pound out a rough draft , you could crank them out in a matter of hours. read more…

UC College Application Essay Instant Boot Camp

Nov 11, 2014

This post is now outdated. The information is no longer relevant!!

If you are working on your two college application essays for the University of California freshman application, I’ve put together a short list of my most helpful posts.

17 uc essay examples

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.  

How to Describe the World You Come From

Sample College App Essay for UC Prompt 1

Brainstorm the World You Come From read more…

Sample College App Essays for “Describe the World You Come From”

Sep 9, 2014

17 uc essay examples

Looking for your World to answer the University of California Prompt 1?

A high school English teacher contacted me this week asking if I had any sample essays for the University of California college application Prompt 1.

She was using my guides and Essay Hell blog posts to help teach her students how to write their college application essays.  read more…

How to Write the UC Transfer Essay: Why This Major?

Aug 21, 2014

The University of California CHANGED its prompts for transfer students this year (2106)!

Read Strategies for the New University of California Transfer Essays for the updated information on the new prompts.


(outdated) why you chose your major: a love story.

If you want to transfer into any of the University of California schools (UCLA, Berkeley, UCI, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, etc.), you need to write two college application essays. One is the same prompt that all students are required to write—which basically asks for a personal statement style essay. It’s known as Prompt 2, and I wrote “Personal Quality, Talent, Achievement…”   as a guide on how to write this essay in a narrative style.

Now I want to offer some ideas on how to answer the second prompt required for transfer students:

Transfer Student Prompt 1: What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.  read more…

Don’t Let UC Deadline Ruin Your Turkey Day!

Nov 21, 2013

17 uc essay examples

If you are applying to the University of California schools, you have until the end of this month. As busy seniors, some of you might have waited to write your essays over Thanksgiving, when you have some days off and can catch up. Yes, it would be better if you already had them in, but there is still time.

The key, however, is to not let this last minute deadline dash ruin your Thanksgiving. The holiday comes late this year–Nov. 27–so it’s closer to the Nov. 30th deadline than ever. So yes, you are really cutting it close. If you don’t have a plan, it could hang over your head the entire holiday weekend. read more…

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College Spotlight: UC Application 2016-17

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Campuses and Locations

Below is a map of all of the UC campuses. The great thing about UC is that they offer the opportunity to become educated in some of the most beautiful and fun places California has to offer. From the sunny city of San Diego to the excitement of the boardwalk of Santa Cruz , you will probably find at least one UC school to fall in love with.

UC Application 2016-17 General Information

  • SAT/ACT Required: Yes
  • Regular Application Deadline: November 30, 2016
  • Application Release Date for Fall 2017: August 1, 2016

Social Media

The University of California is very active on social media and you can find out a lot about the institution on its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. In addition to the overarching University of California profiles, each of the nine individual campuses are active on these sites. Connect with all of the universities by checking out the individual campus’ highlights after you explore the essay prompts!

  • UC Facebook
  • UC Instagram

Essay Prompts and Instructions

*Pick 4 of 8 questions to answer, maximum of 350 words each

Essay Option 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.  

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?

Essay Option 2:  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.  

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?

Essay Option 3:  What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

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?

Essay Option 4:  Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

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 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?

Essay Option 5:  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?

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?”

Essay Option 6:  Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

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)?

Essay Option 7:  What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

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?

Essay Option 8:  What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

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.

Individual Campus Information

  • Number of undergrads: 38,140
  • Student/faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Acceptance rate: 16%
  • Top Majors: Social Sciences , Biological and Biomedical Sciences , Engineering , English Language and Literature/Letters
  • Social Media:  University Facebook , Admissions Facebook ,  University Twitter , Admissions Twitter ,  University Instagram , Admissions Instagram
  • Number of undergrads: 27,728
  • Student/faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Acceptance rate: 40.6%
  • Top Majors: Research and Experimental Psychology , Economics , Biology/Biological Sciences , Business/Managerial Economics , Neurobiology and Anatomy
  • Social Media:  University Facebook , Admissions Facebook ,  University Twitter , Admissions Twitter ,  University Instagram
  • Number of undergrads: 24,489
  • Student/faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Acceptance rate: 37.4%
  • Top Majors: Public Health , Biology/Biological Sciences , Social Psychology , Political Science and Government , Business/Managerial Economics

Los Angeles

  • Number of undergrads: 29,633
  • Acceptance rate: 18.6%
  • Top Majors: Social Sciences , Psychology , English Language Literature/Letters , History
  • Social Media:  University Facebook ,  University Twitter , Admissions Twitter ,  University Instagram
  • Number of undergrads: 6,237
  • Acceptance rate: 64.9%
  • Top Majors: Biology , Psychology , Social Sciences , Engineering
  • Number of undergrads: 18,782
  • Student/faculty ratio: 24:1
  • Acceptance rate: 58.3%
  • Top Majors: Social Sciences , Business Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services , Biological and Biomedical Sciences , Psychology , Engineering
  • Number of undergrads: 24,810
  • Acceptance rate: 33.5%
  • Top Majors: Biology , Economics , Computer Engineering , Electrical and Electronics Engineering , Psychology

Santa Barbara 

  • Number of undergrads: 20,238
  • Acceptance rate: 36.3%
  • Top Majors: Social Sciences , Psychology , Biological and Biomedical Sciences , Visual and Performing Arts
  • Number of undergrads: 16,277
  • Acceptance rate: 57%
  • Top Majors: Psychology , Business/Managerial Economics , Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology , Sociology
  • Social Media:  University Facebook , Admissions Facebook .  University Twitter , Admissions Twitter ,  University Instagram , Admissions Instagram

So, now that you’re a UC expert, you’re probably all ready to apply! Even though you won’t be able to submit your application until August 1st, we suggest you start writing your answers to the essay questions now . Good luck trying to choose between all nine of UC’s beautiful campuses!

Check out the University of Michigan’s 2016-17 essay prompts .

Conquer your supplemental essays with these 4 simple strategies .

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Category: College Admissions , College Spotlight , Supplemental Essays

Tags: 2016-17 essay prompts , college admissions , college essay , essay prompts , facts , freshman application , stats , tips , uc , uc berkeley , ucla , university of california


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