If you are a parent of a senior applying to the University of California schools, your child’s essays should reflect more than a few activities they’re involved in or how they scored a goal with the right moves.  Their UC essays should reflect ALL their strengths and talents.

Last year, the University of California made significant changes to their essay requirements.  Asked to write four personal insight essays of 350 words each, many students found themselves in over their heads.  Scrambling to figure out four distinct angles and misinterpreting prompts, they missed a valuable opportunity to present their best selves to UC schools.

Given the significant spike in applications with over 100,000 applications submitted to UCLA alone last year, I can guarantee these personal insight essays are one of the most important ways admissions officers are differentiating between applicants.

When I worked in admissions for UCLA, my time was limited when reading applications.  But when I stumbled upon an application that was well-crafted, with the essays clearly presented, the applicant stood out to me.  When the essays did not shine, I moved on quickly.  I didn’t have time to reflect on the things they forgot to include, and regardless of the student’s grades and scores, this kind of situation could have led to a quick denial.

How we work with students on UC Essays

When we work with students on UC essays, we start with a significant listening phase, where we get to know the student and draw them out. We explore all their potential stories so they have a clear direction for each essay.

One of our students, Joanna, needed help developing her ideas; she needed to think more expansively about herself.  Joanna was already a capable, smart young student. She was passionately involved in her local community’s political campaigns, and a leader of the Model United Nations chapter at her school.

After spending many hours together, and reviewing her first UC drafts, we found she had some interesting ideas about being Korean American, and about how her English teacher inspired her, which were both good topics.  But after James, our essay specialist, pushed her further with a few deeper brainstorming sessions, Joanna opened her writing to new possibilities.  She discovered several even richer topics to focus on – the unique spelling and meaning of her Korean name, and how she fell in love with books and reading after struggling her way through Moby Dick.  James gave her writing exercises and assignments to help her think outside the box.

Taking in James’ feedback, Joanna was inspired.  She couldn’t wait to get home to write. She had so much more to share than she originally thought she did.  James provided just the right kind of critical thought and encouragement that Joanna needed.  Joanna wrote four fantastic essays for her UC application.  She was accepted and will attend UC Berkeley this fall!  We are thrilled for Joanna!

If you want your child to avoid the common pitfalls of writing UC essays like procrastination, not answering the prompt, or thinking they’ve got it all figured out by themselves, contact Colledge to help them with the UC personal insight essays. Click HERE to schedule a free initial phone consultation with us today!

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