The second installment of UC insight question quick guide talks about prompt 3 & 4: Talent and opportunity.
What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
It is too easy for someone who has dedicated his or her whole life to a certain talent to kick off this essay with a long list of accomplishments. At what age you started learn to golf, what’s your national ranking, what tournaments you have been invited to compete…etc. It is too easy to students to basically repeat their resume in the form of paragraph here.
Just like all other prompts, this prompt is designed to help the school to better know you as a person. You need to write about what this talent means to you. It might help you to relax, to gain confidence, to help others…etc. Even if your piano is ranked #1 in the national, but you have no strong feeling toward it, I would suggest you to pick other talent or just a different prompt to write. Or better yet, you might write how you entertain and comfort a certain group of people with beautiful music.
Ideally, your greatest talent will also be a significant part of your life not because it takes a lot of time but because it has great personal meaning to you. This might be a more extreme example, but if you thin your greatest skill is to play Mahjong because that’s how you connect with your grandparents. I can see that being an interesting way to go.
You also need to write about how you develop and demonstrate. How do you practice this skill? Any special way you use to improve yourself. Even thought, the prompt asks you how you demonstrate this talent over time. I will be very cognizant of your word count here. You don’t want to spend your precious word count on something that’s already written on your application. Write about it, and move on.
You need to first define “Educational opportunity” to yourself. Do not limit yourself with school work only. Educational opportunity can also be summer camps, enrichment programs, church groups, work-related training. I consider “education opportunity” to cover a very wide range of topics. I am fairly certain that you will have a story or two to write about for this prompt, but the question is “how strong is your story?”. Attending a summer camp is not “take advantage”, but if you use this time to connect with the professors and other like-minded students, then that is more like “taking advantage.” The point here is how you actively initial an action to take advantage and not just sit there passively.
The second option asks about overcoming an educational barrier. Some topics you should try to stay away from. Please don’t write about how you got a bad grade because it feels trivial compare to someone who lives in a tiny house with 8 other people.
When you write the option, the point will be on how you stand back up and how this process shapes you to be who you are today. This is not a place to complain but to show resilience. Again, this is about you showing more of you to the school.