Tips on the Personal Statement

As school begins, most seniors have turned to the task of beginning their college applications.  The University of California system requires applicants to write two essays to help admissions counselors determine which students are right for which UC campuses.  The two essays have a combined word limit of 1000 words; each must be 250 or more words.

The questions give students the opportunity to show admissions officers more than just their grades, test scores and extra-curricular activities; they should be seen as an opportunity for students to tell their story, share their passions and illustrate the person they are.  The two essay prompts are here (for high school students, the two to which they must respond are “Freshman Applicant Prompt” and “Prompt for All Applicants.”).

While some admissions officers will tell students not to worry too much about grammar, spelling and punctuation, I would caution that each UC campus hires many outside readers to review essays, and many of them are or were teachers.  You don’t get to know who will read your essay!  So proofread and send in the absolute best essays you can.

Here’s a short video with some advice from UC admissions officers, and students:

I’ll post thoughts on the Common Application essay prompts next week.

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