UCLA Application Essays: Getting it Write

The Common Application for 2010 became available on August 1st, but the University of California schools aren’t part of the Common App.  They’ve got their own special application and it won’t go live until October 1st.  So while your friends are busily writing their common app essays, you’re resigned to twiddling your thumbs, right?  Wrong.  Even though the UC application isn’t open yet, the two essay questions are already known.

In this second of three blogs about the personal essays for the UC’s, we’ll be looking at the essay questions themselves.  What I like about the UC application is that they don’t give you a choice of essay prompts.  So you don’t have to waste time deciding which essay to answer. There are two questions and you have to answer both of them.

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.

Okay, so this could be fun. You get to talk about what’s unique in your family and your town.  Talk about the environment that’s shaped you.  Have you overcome any obstacles in your world?  In particular, UCLA is looking for you to emphasize your CHARACTER.  Webster’s dictionary defines character as: one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.  The key word is distinguish. How are you different?

Next essay question.

2) Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

Emphasize PASSION.  And I’m not talking about what happens at the senior prom!  Show the admissions department how much you love what you do and why it’s so important to you!

With over 57,000 essays being read, you don’t want to be subtle!  Talk about your awards in greater detail here.  Sing your praises but with a little bit of humility, of course.  Tell your story.  In terms of length, both essays shouldn’t total more than 1,000 words.  And no essay should be less than 250 words.  Most importantly, don’t wait to start writing!  And if you’re looking for help with your essays, give us a call today!

Juliet Giglio
Educational Consultant in California

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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