In term of UC application, you have to write both essays. Total word count is 1000, and it’s up to you to decide which essay to allocate more words.
Here are some official recommendations from UC.
- Start early
- Topics can include but not limit to: Personal challenges, leadership opportunities, Extracurricular experiences, and culture influence.
- Have someone proofread your essays.
- Write a sound and logical essay.
- Write in first person
- Be careful with humor and clichés
- Don’t fake hardship in life
- Use real life examples.
- Give yourself lots of time to revise.
The two topics are as following.
- 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.
This topic is basically your personal statement. When a student first encounters this topic, he/she might not know where to start, or write so much but without a focus. When this essay is done right, your reader should feel like he or she has been welcomed into your world, and your world better be special. Because this prompt can be so broad, your first step is to narrow down your focus. Don’t write about USA or CA, or LA, you can write about YOUR LA. Whatever you write, it needs to have personal significance to it. It can be the church where you grow up, or the factory owns by your family, or the tiny diner you used to go to when you were a latchkey kid. UC gives you three examples, family, community, and school, doesn’t mean you need to write all of them. Pick the one that has the most influence to you and dig deep. If you have experienced genuine hardships in life, such as a parent who surfers mental disorder or a father who was laid off, this is a great place to write it. If you have volunteered at many places, here’s where you put all of them together under one theme. Make sure you end your essay with some dreams and aspirations. If you have done your first part right, the dream part should come easily. Make sure you describe in detail, and not something like “world peace.
- 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?”
This is another angle of your personal statement. It suggests you five factors to write. I suggest personal quality and experience because they are more flexible to write, especially “personal quality” should be the over-arching theme of everything you have done. I would recommend against writing talent and accomplishment only because you don’t want to sound too cocky. A good strategy would be to start with your personal quality, and then experience, and ends with your contribution. Sure, it only asks you to write ONE factor. That’s why “personal quality” is a great one to use. It covers all.
The second part of this prompt asks you who this factor makes “you proud.” This can be a trap if not careful. You can end your essay on a proud moment; you should keep going. For example, “I am proud to be at where I am today, so I can better contribute to society.” You want to end your essay on how “the person you are” today can contribute to the school.
Personally, I find the first prompt easier to write than the second one. It’s less likely to make mistake and easily to introduce self, so I might do a 600-400 words split between these two prompts. Each person has different stories to write. Good luck!