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Applying as a freshman

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Personal insight questions

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  • You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you. However, you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.

Keep in mind

  • All questions are equal. All are given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions. It’s about getting to know your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.  
  • Use the additional comments field if there are issues you'd like to address that you didn't have the opportunity to discuss elsewhere on the application. This shouldn't be an essay, but rather a place to note unusual circumstances or anything that might be unclear in other parts of the application. You may use the additional comments field to note extraordinary circumstances related to COVID-19, if necessary. 

Questions & guidance

Remember, the personal insight questions are just that—personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who you are, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC. 

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn't necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family? 2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side. Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career? 3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? Things to consider: If there is a talent or skill that you're proud of, this is the time to share it.You don't necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule? 4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that's geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you; just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you've faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who you are today? 5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you've faced and what you've learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you're currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family? 6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. Things to consider:  Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can't get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community? 8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? Things to consider:  If there's anything you want us to know about you but didn't find a question or place in the application to tell us, now's your chance. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?

From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don't be afraid to brag a little.

Writing tips

Start early..

Give yourself plenty of time for preparation, careful composition and revisions.

Write persuasively.

Making a list of accomplishments, activities, awards or work will lessen the impact of your words. Expand on a topic by using specific, concrete examples to support the points you want to make.

Use “I” statements.

Talk about yourself so that we can get to know your personality, talents, accomplishments and potential for success on a UC campus. Use “I” and “my” statements in your responses.

Proofread and edit.

Although you will not be evaluated on grammar, spelling or sentence structure, you should proofread your work and make sure your writing is clear. Grammatical and spelling errors can be distracting to the reader and get in the way of what you’re trying to communicate.

Solicit feedback.

Your answers should reflect your own ideas and be written by you alone, but others — family, teachers and friends can offer valuable suggestions. Ask advice of whomever you like, but do not plagiarize from sources in print or online and do not use anyone's words, published or unpublished, but your own.

Copy and paste.

Once you are satisfied with your answers, save them in plain text (ASCII) and paste them into the space provided in the application. Proofread once more to make sure no odd characters or line breaks have appeared.

This is one of many pieces of information we consider in reviewing your application. Your responses can only add value to the application. An admission decision will not be based on this section alone.

Need more help?

Download our worksheets:

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UC Essay Prompts 2023-24

Uc essay prompts 2023-2024.

Students applying to UC schools must be prepared to answer the UC prompts as part of the application process. Each year, the University of California receives over 200,000 undergraduate freshmen applications. An important part of these applications are the UC Personal Insight Questions, also known as UC PIQs. In this article, we’ll break down the UC essay prompts to help you ace your UC application.

In addition to reviewing each of the UC essay prompts, we will discuss unique aspects of the UC application. We will also share tips to help you choose the UC prompts that are best suited to you. Finally, we’ll share additional resources that can aid you in writing your UC PIQs, including UC essay examples.

Applying to the University of California

Many of the University of California’s campuses are ranked among the best colleges in the nation. Not only that, the UCs are also some of the most affordable schools, especially for California residents. So, it’s no surprise the number of students that end up applying to UC schools. With so many qualified applicants, it’s important to start early and put dedicated time and effort into your UC PIQs.

Ready to learn more about UC Personal Insight Questions? Before we dive into the UC PIQs, we’d like to share a bit about the UC application process . The UC admissions process differs in several ways from many other U.S. schools. Here are a few key facts to keep in mind before you start responding to the UC essay prompts:

You must apply through the UC system’s application, known as UC Apply .

The UC schools do not accept the Common Application or the Coalition Application. As such, they will not see the personal statement that many schools require you to submit via these applications. Ensure anything you want to share comes across in your responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions.

The UC Apply deadline is November 30 .

The UC schools do not have special deadlines like early action or early decision. However, their general application deadline is earlier than it is at most other schools. The UC application is available to fill out from October 1 to November 30 each year. As a result, we recommend choosing your UC essay prompts as soon as they become available. That way, you can write several drafts of your UC essays and polish them in advance of the November deadline.

The UCs use a holistic admissions process.

After reading your UC Personal Insight Questions, each UC school will consider your application as a whole. That means your grades, courses, special research projects, talents, and high school rank, among many other factors, are all important. As such, put effort into every part of your application. Notably, the UC schools are test blind , meaning they do not review test scores. Hence, do not lose sight of the importance of answering your UC prompts fully. Each of the UC Personal Insight Questions is a chance to prove yourself as a candidate for admission. 

We hope this provides more context as to how the UC Personal Insight Questions fit into the broader application process. Next, we’ll explore the UC schools more in-depth.

How many UCs are there?

There are ten University of California schools in total. However, only nine have undergraduate programs. These nine schools are the following, in order of most selective to least selective:

UC Acceptance Rates

  • UCLA – 9% acceptance rate
  • UC Berkeley – 11% acceptance rate
  • UC Irvine – 21% acceptance rate
  • UC San Diego – 24% acceptance rate
  • UC Santa Barbara – 26% acceptance rate
  • UC Davis – 37% acceptance rate
  • UC Santa Cruz – 47% acceptance rate
  • UC Riverside – 69% acceptance rate
  • UC Merced – 89% acceptance rate

Several of these schools rank among the best colleges in California . Keep in mind that you can apply to all nine with the same application using UC Apply. While this makes applying convenient, it also means that all the UCs you apply to will receive the same UC essays. As a result, your UC Berkeley essays will be identical to your UC Davis essays and UC Irvine essays.

With this in mind, you might be wondering how to make your application stand out to a specific UC. First, start by reviewing the admissions processes for each of the UC schools you wish to attend. Then, identify key characteristics those UC schools are looking for in their applicants.

For example, consider UCLA. A successful UCLA application will demonstrate a student’s academic and personal achievements, despite any challenges they may have faced. Touching on these themes in your UCLA essay can help you build a strong UCLA application.

Make sure that your UC essays reflect your best characteristics in some form. Since the UC schools are part of the same system, they share many of the same values. Common characteristics they are looking for include creativity, problem-solving, persistence, leadership, and diversity. Use your responses to UC essay prompts to highlight how you demonstrate these qualities.

Which UCs require essay prompts?

All of the UCs require students to respond to UC Personal Insight Questions as part of their UC application. When you submit your responses to the UC PIQs on UC Apply, you’ll select which UCs to send them to. Unlike the school-specific nature of some supplemental essays, your UC essays should not mention a specific school. They are, instead, solely focused on your personal experiences.  

Furthermore, each of the UCs you apply to will review your application independently. Schools are not aware of which other UCs you applied to. Nor are they able to tell whether you were admitted to another UC. In short, although the UC essay prompts are the same at every school, they are evaluated separately by each school.

How many UC Personal Insight Questions are required?

Freshmen are required to submit responses to four of the eight available UC Personal Insight Questions. Meanwhile, transfer students must only respond to three. However, in addition to these UC essay prompts, transfer students must also submit a response to one additional required question.

Later, we’ll explore each of the eight UC PIQ prompts in depth. We’ll also share tips for selecting the right UC PIQs for you. Before we get to the prompts, let’s look at how long your responses to the UC essay prompts should be.

How long are UC Personal Insight Questions?

Each of your four responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions can be up to 350 words long. With limited space, you should focus on sharing only the most important reflections and details to strengthen your story. Once you’ve written drafts, ask a friend or mentor to help edit your responses to the UC essay prompts. A second set of eyes can help you remove unnecessary words or phrases, finding space for more critical ideas. 

While 350 words for one essay is not a lot of space, remember you are writing four essays in total. As such, you have 1400 words in total to express who you are in your UC PIQs. 

Next, we’ll share the UC essay prompts that you can respond to for your PIQs. 

What are the UC Essay Prompts?

As we mentioned above, there are eight UC essay prompts. Remember, all eight UC essay prompts are the same no matter which school you are applying to. So, you can use the same prompt for your UC Irvine essay, UC San Diego essay, or UC Davis essay. 

Here are the eight UC prompts for the UC PIQs:

Below, we’ll explore each UC essay prompt in greater detail. And, we’ll provide tips and reflection questions to ensure your responses answer the prompt effectively .

UC Essay Prompt #1: Leadership

The first of the eight UC essay prompts is about leadership. The question is as follows:

UC Personal Insight Question #1

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time..

The word leadership often calls to mind a formal title, such as president of a club or head of student council. However, that is not how these UC prompts define leadership. In fact, the UC essay prompts allude to the fact that leadership occurs in many different scenarios. Colleges also value informal forms of leadership, such as the examples listed in the prompt.

Importantly, the UC essay prompts ask for an example of your leadership. Be sure to provide a specific example in your essay, rather than simply stating that you are a leader. For instance, maybe you stood up for a friend who was being bullied. Or maybe you created a study group to help your classmates do well on a difficult test. These are instances of informal leadership that would be excellent ideas for UC PIQ prompts.

Writing UC Personal Insight Questions about leadership can be intimidating if you feel like you haven’t had much formal leadership experience. However, almost everyone has had some experience where they’ve positively influenced others. Use these tips to discover and capture your leadership experience when answering your UC PIQ prompts:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #1

1. ask friends, family, and mentors for examples..

Sometimes, it can be hard to see our own accomplishments. Consider surveying your friends, family, and mentors, like teachers or coaches, for examples. Ask them how they have seen you positively influence others. From there, note if any examples feel particularly meaningful to you.

2. Be specific.

As with all UC essays, you’ll want to be specific to make a captivating argument. Spend time brainstorming specific details about your experience so that you can write about it in a compelling manner. For example, if you stood up for a friend who was being bullied, consider including details about the incident. How did you feel in the moment? What stands out to you now? 

3. Highlight your impact.

In this UC PIQ, admissions is looking for an example of how you made an impact on others. So, don’t forget to include what the effect of your involvement was. Perhaps in the bullying example, your friend told you they felt supported and safer at school, and the bullying stopped. What you learned from your experiences is as important as what happened to you.

If you choose the leadership prompt as one of your UC PIQ prompts, be sure to use these tips. Thoroughly reflecting on an experience is key to writing successful UC PIQs. Strong UC PIQ examples demonstrate strong critical thinking, another valuable trait to demonstrate in your UC Personal Insight Questions.

UC PIQ #1 Reflection Questions

As you review your draft response to the leadership UC PIQ, consider whether your response answers the following questions:

  • Does your response clearly demonstrate a positive impact you had on others?
  • Did you provide details to illustrate your story?
  • Does your essay have an insightful reflection on what you learned about leadership?

Responding effectively to PIQ #1 requires answering yes to all these questions. Now, let’s continue looking at the UC prompts with UC PIQ #2.

UC Essay #2: Creativity 

The second of the eight available UC PIQ prompts focuses on creativity. Like the leadership question, you should interpret creativity broadly. Here is the second of the UC prompts:

UC Personal Insight Question #2

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. describe how you express your creative side..

You might read this question and think: “I’m not creative!” However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose it for one of your UC Personal Insight Questions. As the UC prompts state, every person is creative. We simply express our creativity differently. Creativity can include finding new routes to school in the morning to evade traffic. It might also look like discovering new ingredients and recipes for your school lunches. However you define or express your creativity is valid and could make a great topic for your UC PIQs.

When selecting a topic for your UC essay prompts, think about moments when you were particularly mentally energized. Reflect on what you were doing and how you approached that situation. Then consider whether you can tell an engaging story about that situation that demonstrates your creativity. 

Here are some tips for writing strong responses to UC essay prompts on creativity:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #2

1. think outside the box..

Creativity at its core is about tapping into your individual passions and interests. Allow yourself to think broadly about your own creativity and release any assumptions about what it means to be traditionally creative. Your UC essay prompts are a space for you to be yourself.

2. Pick a passion.

This prompt is designed to let you highlight personal passions. Maybe that passion is drawing or singing, or maybe it is solving math problems. Whatever you choose to describe, make sure it is a topic that matters deeply to you. 

3. Paint a picture.

Even if your chosen topic has nothing to do with art, use details that awaken the reader’s senses. Help us feel the joy behind your creative endeavor by giving us specific sensory details that excite you. Make your UC PIQs enjoyable and exciting to read.

Of all the UC essay prompts, this one is about creativity – so be creative and have fun writing! That will translate into an interesting response. If you’re feeling stuck, it might be helpful to review other UC PIQ examples. That way, you can get a sense of how different students respond to their UC essay prompts.

UC PIQ #2 Reflection Questions

As you finish drafting your UC Personal Insight Questions, use these questions to reflect upon your response:

  • Does your topic reflect a unique way of thinking or creating?
  • Does your response reflect your passion for a creative endeavor?
  • Do you include sensory details that make your creativity come to life?

Whether you are working on a UC Irvine essay or a UC San Diego essay, ask yourself these questions. That way, you can feel confident you’ve done a comprehensive job responding to your UC prompts.

UC Essay Prompt #3: Talent

When choosing among the UC essay prompts, you might be drawn to one that allows you to talk about one of your strengths. This is your opportunity to brag about yourself, while also having self-awareness and reflecting upon your skills or talents. The third prompt on our list of the UC prompts is as follows:

UC Personal Insight Question #3

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill how have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time.

The key to answering this question well is to respond to all parts of the question. Start by reflecting on talents and skills that you have. A talent is anything you feel you can naturally do well, while a skill is something you’ve acquired over time. Both require work to hone. Sharing how you put work into your passions is important for any student including this talent prompt in their UC PIQs.

Again, keep an open mind as you reflect. We often associate talents and skills with huge accomplishments, like being a famous singer or an Olympic swimmer. In fact, talents can be seemingly small abilities, like memorizing difficult rap lyrics or putting together a stylish outfit. Skills can include everything from planning fun birthday parties to listening well to others. No talent or skill is too small to mention, so long as you provide engaging descriptions and meaningful reflections. (You might hear that caveat a lot when reviewing the UC prompts.)

Here are some tips for acing the third of the UC essay prompts:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #3

1. brag a little..

As we mentioned, these UC prompts are designed to learn more about you. If you don’t tell UC admissions officers about your accomplishments, they won’t know about them. The strongest UC essay examples share achievements that may not be evident elsewhere on an application.

2. Be honest and vulnerable.

Just because you have a skill doesn’t mean you are perfect. Feel free to share what you find challenging about this activity or how you have sought to improve. Several UC PIQ examples highlight where students have struggled or failed in learning a new skill. Whether writing a UC Davis or UC San Diego essay, this vulnerability will stand out.

3. Focus on growth.

A strong response to UC prompts always includes self-reflection. Find the balance between bragging and highlighting weaknesses by finding the lessons you learned from this experience. Maybe you have always had a knack for predicting the weather, but one day predicted wrong and ended up soaked by a downpour. Perhaps your lesson is to be humble and always find secondary evidence to back up your predictions. 

As with all UC essay prompts, try to pick a topic you enjoy writing about. That genuine interest will come across, whether you’re writing a UCLA essay or UC Berkeley essay.

UC PIQ #3 Reflection Questions

After capturing your talent for one of your four UC PIQs, consider these reflection questions:

  • Did you highlight a talent or skill that is important to you?
  • Did you find a balance between bragging and reflecting upon your growth?
  • Did you describe your talent or skill with descriptions that make it come to life?

Check out other UC essay examples in this guide for ideas of how other students approached their UC prompts. But for now, let’s continue our exploration of the UC prompts.

UC PIQ #4: Educational opportunities and barriers

Uc personal insight question #4, describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced..

The fourth of the UC essay prompts is a unique question that asks you to share an educational opportunity or barrier. Other UC prompts thus far have asked you to focus on experiences you chose. However, this question opens the door to discuss an experience that happened to you. But remember, your PIQs should always focus on you. Just as you would for other UC essay prompts, you must make a point to highlight your own growth or learnings.

Indeed, the UC school system is very aware of educational inequities across the state and country. This question acknowledges that disparity, providing space for UC admissions officers to consider a student’s educational experience in their evaluation. Students working on their UC Berkeley essay or UCLA essay might be worried about their grades not being strong enough. Those students may wish to choose this prompt if their grades or course choices don’t reflect their best abilities. 

On the flip side, applicants can also use this PIQ to share further details about an opportunity they took advantage of. For example, maybe your UCLA application includes your summer research experiences but doesn’t offer space to elaborate on them. In that case, you may want to choose PIQ #4 as one of your four UC essay prompts.

When writing about education barriers or opportunities, you should be cautious about how you explain your experience. Here is some guidance about responding to this question as one of your UC PIQs effectively:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #4

1. choose a barrier or an opportunity that had significant impact on your academic career..

Your UC PIQs must highlight experiences which shaped you profoundly. Some UC PIQ examples highlight how students were accepted into programs that exposed them to a new career path. Other UC essay examples discuss how their school’s lack of classes for students with special needs prevented them from excelling. Use your UC essay prompts to your advantage by being strategic about which experiences to highlight. 

2. Remain an active participant in your story.

The goal of these UC prompts is to learn more about how you approach life. After describing the barrier or opportunity, share how it shaped you. What did you learn from the experience? What did you put into the experience to make sure you could succeed? A UC Davis essay passively complaining about a high school’s lack of advanced courses is unlikely to impress UC Admissions.

3. Focus on your growth and goals.

In many of the UC essay prompts, you have an opportunity to share your intentions for the future. Whether you grew up extremely privileged or lacking resources, UC Admissions wants to understand the quality of your character. Share how you have grown and what you hope to accomplish next.

No matter which UC prompts you select, give your full effort towards making sure they reflect your best qualities. 

UC PIQ #4 Reflection Questions

In contrast to other UC prompts, this response can be answered in two distinct ways. By focusing on an educational barrier or an educational opportunity. Regardless of which route you take, you’ll want to review your response to ensure it answers these reflection questions:

  • Does your response highlight an opportunity or barrier that is academic in nature?
  • Do you demonstrate how you played an active role in overcoming the barrier or making the most of the opportunity you chose?
  • Does your response demonstrate how you grew or learned from your experience?  

As much as your UC essay prompts are about your experiences, they are ultimately about you. Make sure you demonstrate how you became who you are in your responses to the UC essay prompts.

Alright, we’re halfway through reviewing the UC essay prompts! If these first four UC prompts didn’t speak to you, there are four more you can choose from. Keep reading to learn about PIQ #5.

UC Essay Prompt #5: Significant Challenge

Next is the significant challenge prompt. Of the UC prompts, this UC PIQ is considered the challenge essay. This is a common topic – you’ve probably encountered similar prompts for supplemental essays on other applications. The prompt for #5 of the UC PIQS is as follows:

UC Personal Insight Question #5

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. how has this challenge affected your academic achievement.

Like all the UC essay prompts, this requires some thought before diving in — what do successful UC essays cover here? Firstly, remember all of the UC PIQ prompts are very particular with their wording. Note “overcome” and “affected” in this UC PIQ. These are the “whats” of your essay.

The UC essay prompts ask for essays that reveal more about who you are as a person and a learner. Therefore, if you use this prompt for one of your UC PIQs, your challenge should be linked to your academics. That is to say, while not all successful UC essay examples for this prompt concern academic challenges, many do.

So, what topics are ideal for these UC essay prompts? Although you may have faced many academic challenges, the best UC Personal Insight Questions go above and beyond. Some UC PIQs discuss challenges that have little to do with academics but nevertheless have an effect. When brainstorming here, think about times that you struggled academically, and pinpoint the source. Common challenges are not off-limits, provided you tackle them with specificity and nuance in your UC PIQs.

Your responses to UC essay prompts should give your readers a better sense of who you are. Think of how many UC PIQs the UC Berkeley essay readers or UC Irvine essay review team see every year. The strongest UC PIQs will discuss a challenge and the writer’s reaction in a compelling way. Here are some tips to consider when answering #5 of the UC essay prompts:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #5

1. consider your personal narrative..

Once you’ve decided on your topic, consider the most unique or interesting aspect of your journey with your challenge. Answering UC essay prompts starts with determining how your topic relates to your personal narrative . Let your writing capture something about your personality while highlighting certain aspects of your background.

2. Focus on the journey.

It may be tempting to get caught up in the what and the why of the challenge. While these are important details to include in your essay, be sure to detail what you did to overcome this challenge. Effective responses to UC essay prompts about challenges illustrate the writer’s character through their response to adversity. 

3. Connect back to academics.

Even if your challenge was not directly related to academics, it should connect back to some aspect of your education. Emphasize ways in which you continued to apply yourself academically, despite or in spite of this challenge. Successful UC essay examples demonstrate academic tenacity—not necessarily unbroken success—throughout hardship. 

Remember, this prompt is about overcoming a challenge. Frame the challenge as something you surmounted when drafting your UC PIQs. 

UC PIQ #5 Reflection Questions

Here are some reflection questions to consider if you choose to write about #5 of the UC PIQ prompts:

  • Does your essay clearly define the challenge you overcame?
  • Does your approach to the challenge highlight your unique and compelling traits?
  • Do you describe the effect of the challenge on your academic achievement?

Keep these questions in mind to keep your response focused and continually engaged with the prompt.

UC PIQ #6: Academic Interests

Next on our list of UC essay prompts is the academic interests essay. Among the UC prompts, this is one of the most straightforward:

UC Personal Insight Question #6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom..

Some of the UC essay prompts give a lot of room for interpretation and exploration. However, academic interest UC PIQs are rather simple. These UC essays should discuss the writer’s academic passion and their track record engaging with it. As with other UC essay prompts, look closely at the wording. Your focus may be “inside and/or outside of the classroom.” Let’s say you’ve researched astronomy on your own but your school doesn’t offer an astronomy class. If it inspires you, that’s still a great topic for this essay prompt!

Your topic can be any academic subject that you’ve pursued in a tangible way. Of course, if you’ve undertaken research or other work in that field, that experience is an excellent start. However, you could also write about personal research projects, or maybe school organizations and events you’ve been a part of. Like the other UC essay prompts, this PIQ asks not just what you like, but how you pursue your interests.

UC prompts invite you to showcase what makes you unique, from your academic passions to your creative drive. Consider these tips when writing your own responses to the UC essay prompts:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #6

1. ground your essay in an anecdote..

Think about when you first engaged in this topic – what inspired you? How did you get involved? If it is directly aligned with your intended college major, when did you decide you wanted to continue your studies? Or make a career out of it? Grounding your essay in a specific moment can demonstrate your passion while bringing life to the person behind that passion.

2. Showcase your drive.

A strong UC PIQ essay for this prompt will be unambiguous in describing your interest and how you pursue it. But great UC essays will describe these in a way that leaves little doubt about your force of will. Learning, particularly at a college level, does not end in a classroom. A curious and driven student will take any chance to learn. Will a UC San Diego essay reader see you as a passionate, driven, inspired person? Strong responses to the UC prompts should leave the reader with no doubt that you will excel at a UC.

3. Tell a story.

Make sure there is movement in your essay. That means telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end, propelled forward through change and action. Is there a way your UC PIQ can demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for your topic through your actions? The best responses for UC essay prompts exhibit out-of-the-box thinking and a willingness to pursue—or make—opportunities.

When writing responses to the UC essay questions, reading UC essay examples may inspire you. If you’re unclear on ideal approaches for UC prompts, UC PIQ examples can steer you in the right direction. Since the UC PIQ prompts often overlap through UC application cycles, you may find guidance in past UC PIQs.

UC PIQ #6 Reflection Questions

Use these reflection questions to keep you on track during the writing process:

  • Do you clearly identify your academic passion and ways you’ve pursued it?
  • Do you highlight positive traits about yourself (persistence, creativity, curiosity, etc.) through your actions?
  • Does your essay portray you as a flexible learner who goes beyond textbooks in pursuit of understanding?

This academic PIQ is one of the best opportunities you have to characterize yourself as a student and a learner.

UC Essay Prompt #7: Community

The next of the UC prompts asks a question common to college essays. Other UC essay prompts ask about you—your background and qualities, your leadership potential. In contrast to those UC Personal Insight Questions, this one asks about your contributions to a community. Here is the prompt:

UC Personal Insight Question #7

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place.

Like with the other UC Personal Insight Questions, the wording here matters. UC PIQ examples for community UC prompts, past and present, discuss a variety of communities, including school. Your community may be a religious or cultural community, or one centered on a particular identity. Your UC Davis essay or UC San Diego essay may even center around a hobby community, like a knitting circle.

In a similar vein, “a better place” is a key point here. Poorly thought-out UC PIQs may simply rehash a scenario where the writer exhibited leadership or initiated something. However, remember that responses to the UC prompts should address the prompt directly. Therefore, effective UC Personal Insight Questions will emphasize the positive impact the writers had on their community. Consider how your leadership or initiative improved the community and the experiences of its members and beyond.

Strong UC PIQ examples build on the personal narrative constructed elsewhere in the UC application. UC Personal Insight Questions should show the writer demonstrating core traits that they want UC admissions to know. Here are some tips to help you be clear about your contribution(s) to the community and your impact:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #7

1. identify your community..

When responding to UC essay prompts about community, the obvious first step is to identify the community and its significance. Touch on how you got involved and what this community means to you.

2. Measure your impact.

Answering these UC essay prompts can feel somewhat similar to completing your Common App extracurriculars section. That is to say, strong UC essays often use concrete figures and details when discussing impact. Would the UC Irvine essay review team have a clear picture of your impact from your essay? Can a UC Berkeley essay reader understand exactly what you’ve accomplished from your UC essays?

3. Be honest and realistic.

Be honest about your efforts and the difference you’ve made, however large or small. The connection between action and effect should be logical. A shared calendar for your gardening club may not save lives, but organizing mutual aid through a community organization might. Don’t oversell the impact your actions have had. Of course, your UC application (and college applications in general) should portray you as an ideal candidate—but not through exaggeration. 

Finally, take pride in your contribution. Certainly, leadership tends to make for strong UC PIQs. However, you can improve your community even without being in an official leadership role. Think deeply about your community participation and how you can best highlight your impact in your UC Personal Insight Questions.

UC PIQ #7 Reflection Questions

Use these questions during the editing process to ensure you submit as strong an essay as possible to UC Admissions:

  • Do you clearly identify your community and your contribution—with statistics where applicable?
  • Does your UC PIQ showcase positive personal traits in the way you improved your community?
  • Do you portray yourself as a helpful member of your community?

Next, we’ll review the final UC PIQ prompt.

UC PIQ #8: Beyond Your Application

The last of the UC essay prompts gives applicants carte blanche to cover anything not mentioned in other UC PIQs. Let’s look at the final item on the list of UC prompts:

UC Personal Insight Question #8

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the university of california.

This is distinct from other UC essay prompts in that it is very open-ended. While it may seem easy to write this essay, it can be much more challenging than the other UC PIQs. Whatever topic you choose, your essay should ultimately strengthen your case for admission. Particularly if this is a UC Berkeley essay or UCLA essay, this UC PIQ should be highly individualized and impressive.

Think carefully about your topic and whether it could be used for other UC essay prompts. A chronic health condition may be better suited for the challenge essay. Efforts in activism might be a better answer to the leadership, creativity, or community UC Personal Insight Questions. Of the UC prompts, this may lend itself best to preparation through reading UC PIQ examples. Successful UC essay examples can help you figure out what kinds of experiences you may have that fit this prompt.

So you’ve chosen your topic and decided it doesn’t fit any other UC essay prompts as well as this one. How can you approach this essay? Here are some tips to help you get started:

Tips for approaching UC PIQ #8

1. focus on character..

Like with other UC prompts, there’s a question that you need to answer: why are you an outstanding candidate? Strong candidates are curious, self-driven students whose values align with those of the institution to which they are applying. Consider the qualities that make you prepared to take on challenging coursework and enrich the campus community. 

2. Fill in the gaps.

Consider how your personality and character show in your other three UC essay prompts answers. Is there another trait that a UC Davis essay reviewer would miss if they read your UC Personal Insight Questions? Maybe you mentioned a non-academic interest that you could expand on to add depth to your UC Irvine or UCLA application. Either way, this UC PIQ should add additional, essential context that wouldn’t suit the other UC prompts.

3. Save it for last.

It may be best to finish the other UC Personal Insight Questions before this one. In doing so, you can review your responses to other UC prompts to see what’s missing from your application. And, you can be sure your response connects back and complements your other essays.

If, while writing, you find that your topic fits the other UC essay prompts better, roll with it! Unlike UC prompts 1 through 7, not everyone will have something to say for this prompt. Since you can choose four of the eight UC Personal Insight Questions, you’ll have ample opportunity to reflect elsewhere.

UC PIQ #8 Reflection Questions

Keep these questions in mind throughout the writing process, from choosing a topic to revising your drafts:

  • Is your essay topic best suited to this topic out of the eight UC essay prompts?
  • Does your essay introduce new information or context that bolsters the strength of your application?
  • Does your essay build on the narrative you’ve built in your other UC Personal Insight Questions?

Now, we’ve covered all eight of the UC essay prompts. Next, let’s discuss how to choose the right UC prompts for you.

Choosing the Right UC PIQs for You

Of the eight UC essay prompts, you can only write four UC essays. So which ones should you pick? The first step to choosing your UC prompts is to read them thoroughly and see which ones stand out. Trust your gut and start brainstorming —you may even end up making ideas for all eight UC essay prompts. There are tons of writing exercises you can use when searching for essay topics, and you may need to try several.

Once you’ve thought of essay topics, figure out which ones are most viable. Which ideas could spark great UC PIQ examples, written with genuine enthusiasm and clarity? If you can’t avoid a somewhat cliche topic, can you write about it in a compelling way? What insights can you find in your experiences that nobody else would—and how do you show them? Choose the UC prompts that excite you and enable you to showcase the traits that make you a strong candidate. 

Every strong UC San Diego essay or UC Davis essay will be personally inspiring and aspirational. It may take a few brainstorming sessions for you to figure out which UC essay prompts inspire your best writing. Be flexible when planning your essays: ideas for one of the UC PIQ prompts may end up fitting other UC prompts. In those cases, be willing to change your chosen UC essay prompts to get the best fit for your ideas.

How to Make Your UC Essays Stand Out

Once you’ve chosen your UC essay prompts and drafted your UC essays, there’s still work to be done. Between writing a first draft and submitting an Irvine or UCLA application, you must revise your essays. Above, we gave you reflection questions for each of the UC prompts. Now, here are a few questions you should ask yourself about your responses to UC essay prompts as a whole.

Do your UC PIQs paint a vivid picture of who you are and what you’ll bring to the campus community?

At heart, the UC essay prompts ask you to explain who you are and how you navigate the world. Remember, every aspect of your application is evaluated holistically, whether it’s a UCLA application or a UC Davis application. And, since UC Apply doesn’t use standardized test scores for admission decisions, your essays must help make your case. Your UC Personal Insight Questions should explore key parts of your experience in an interesting, authentic fashion. After reviewing your PIQs, a reader should have no doubt that you’re a great fit for your UCs of choice.

Have you gotten feedback from a trusted peer or mentor about how well your essays describe you?

Getting a fresh pair of eyes on a UC PIQ is an often-underrated style of editing. After you’ve reviewed them on your own, ask someone you trust to review your responses to the UC essay prompts. They may have suggestions on ways to help your voice shine through. Or even notes on if you’ve misrepresented yourself in your writing. Before putting anything in UC Apply, try to have another person read your UC PIQs.

Are there any technical errors in your UC PIQs?

This is pretty obvious, but the last thing you want in your essays is a spelling or grammar mistake. This is another reason a second opinion can be helpful! Ensuring your essays are error-free is an easy way to help polish your UC Personal Insight Questions.

UC Application Deadlines

After all that effort you’ve put into your UC Personal Insight Questions, don’t let a missed deadline ruin your chances. Since all UC schools from UCLA to UC Davis use the UC Apply portal , they have the same deadline: November 30 . Note that UC Apply does not have early decision or early action application options .

Contrary to the Common Application, which can be submitted as early as September, UC Apply opens its filing period in October. Of course, just because you can’t submit your UC application before October 1 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start early. Your UCSD or UCLA essay writing should start well before the deadline. That way, you can ensure you have time to plan, draft, revise, and make your application stand out . Especially in light of the competitiveness of top schools like Berkeley and UCLA , you don’t want to rush the process.

Another benefit of starting early is that you get plenty of time to research the UC Personal Insight Questions. You’ll have time to read the UC prompts, find UC PIQ examples, and learn what UC admissions officers look for. If you browse UC sites, you may even find additional tips for writing your UC Personal Insight Questions.

More Essay UC Resources from CollegeAdvisor

CollegeAdvisor has a lot of experience helping students through the UC admissions process. To help more students, we’ve put our wisdom into free resources. Our online resources are open to all, providing helpful advice from current and former students, as well as admissions officers.

We have an array of broad-scope “how to get into” guides for the UCs and beyond. Our UCLA guide covers everything from the ideal GPA to UCLA essay strategies. Other UC schools we’ve covered include UC Irvine , UC Berkeley , and UC Santa Barbara . If you’re interested in other UCs, search our website for other schools on your list!

Maybe you’re still focused on the UC essay prompts. In that case, we have other UC essay guides that may be helpful to your writing process. Since the UC prompts haven’t changed significantly in the past few years, a winning UC Irvine essay approach from 2020 still holds up. We have 2021-2022 UC essay examples to inspire you as you write your own. Another excellent resource is our article on common college essay questions , which covers challenge essays and unique essays.

As some of the best schools in California, the UC schools can be challenging to get into without excellent essays. But, with in-depth, free resources from CollegeAdvisor.com, you’ll be better equipped to craft knockout UC PIQs.

UC Essay Prompts 2023-2024 – Final Thoughts

With schools from UC Berkeley to UC Santa Barbara , the UC system serves thousands of students from across the world. Applying to the best UC schools can seem daunting, especially given the eight different UC essay prompts. Even if you have impressive extracurriculars, a high GPA, and California residency, UC essays can tip your admissions odds.

In this article, we took a deep dive into the UC essay prompts, also called the UC Personal Insight Questions. We discussed each of the UC PIQ prompts and what sorts of topics may be best suited for each. Then, we went into more detail about approaching each essay, from exploring ideas to putting them together. Additionally, we provided some advice on reflecting on your experiences and choosing your four UC essay prompts. Finally, we left you with a hearty helping of UC essay examples and guides.

Your UC Essay matter

Whether you’re applying to UC Santa Cruz or ticking off boxes from UCLA to UCSD, you need strong UC essays. We hope this article has given you a steady foundation from which to start your essay writing journey. With the tips and tricks we provided, you’re better prepared to write essays to wow UC Admissions.

Still looking for more support? CollegeAdvisor.com specializes in personalized, one-on-one college advising, even before senior year. If you’re looking for individual guidance for your UC essays, reach out for a consultation with our admissions experts.

This essay guide was written by Gina Goosby and senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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uc supplemental essays 2024

UC Essay Examples – Personal Insight Questions 1-8

December 29, 2023

When applying to any of the University of California schools , you’ll face a series of supplemental essays in which you are asked to quickly and, with sufficient detail, provide personal insight into who you are as a person. These essays can be confusing to students, who might be used to writing the Common App essay , which asks for a well-written story in 650 words. The UC essays (see UC essay examples below), by contrast, ask you to provide as much concrete detail as possible while showcasing your positive traits. This means your writing will need to be as efficient as possible. To be clear, that means cutting down on flowery descriptions and pulling out the clear details about your achievements while leaving enough space for mature reflection and forward thinking. 

(For help with writing efficiency, check out our tips in our Why This College Essay blog post . For tips on how to get started, check out our Overcoming Challenges Essay blog post .)

In the following examples, we’ll show you some example responses to the first four UC prompts while talking you through what works and what doesn’t. 

UC Essay Prompt #1: 

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

UC Example Essay: 

It was the third night in a row that we couldn’t get it together. My school’s mock trial team was finally going to the state championship after years of working together, but we couldn’t agree on how to build our prosecution. The “case” was that several people had died during a rock concert when the crowd became violent. We needed to decide if we should “sue” the event space or the artist, and the group was split around two natural leaders. 

Mark, our lead attorney for the last two years, wanted to build a logical argument that the event space intentionally oversold the show, creating danger. Emma, our star witness, said that we needed to build the case around sympathy for the families and sue the artist, who had inspired the violence.

UC Essay Examples (Continued)

I had watched Mark and Emma disagree over the last two years. They were two very different people who loved arguing, and the rest of us often had to wait through it. I typically hang back and observe, but we were down to the wire, and I realized someone needed to speak up. I came up with an idea and pulled aside some of my friends to explain my thoughts. They agreed, and encouraged me to step up. 

I surprised myself when, in a moment of silence, I opened my mouth. I calmly explained that we didn’t have to abandon either strategy and that we could, in fact, combine them to greater effect. Because I had taken time to convince the rest of the team before speaking, they rallied around me, and Mark and Emma had no choice but to agree. I realized at that moment that groups need people who are willing to listen, strategize, and then put a plan into motion, and that I have a strength for this style of leadership. Since then, I’ve started speaking up more, specifically in my robotics club, where I recently led us to second place at the 24-Hour Code-athon. I look forward to bringing those skills to my classes and volunteer work at UC. 

Analysis: 

The first thing we should note about UC’s essays is that they are asking about important parts of your life, but they want brief responses. Because UC is sorting through so many applications, we want to be sure that you are providing as much concrete detail as possible and showcasing as many positive traits about yourself as possible in these quick responses.

What I’ve written here attempts to combine a single story with positive traits that a more introverted student might possess. So, it’s a story about the development of someone’s leadership style in a single moment in time. But, there’s another way to write this essay. 

Another Option for UC1: 

A more extroverted student who has been prone to leadership activities all throughout their high school experience could write an incredibly successful essay that simply focused, paragraph by paragraph on quick snippets that showcased their leadership throughout time. For example: 

  • Paragraph 1: I learned I was a natural leader the first time I successfully rallied my rhythm gymnastics team after our star tumbler got injured during a competition.
  • Paragraph 2: I then became our team captain, working to institute a new bonding retreat at the start of each year to bring the team together.
  • Paragraph 3: I took that same sense of leadership to my volunteer work at the local food bank, where I have worked with my colleagues to create a conversation hour. Every Wednesday, we invite volunteers and clients to a collective meal where we share stories, tough spots, and triumphs.
  • Paragraph 4: While I won’t be dancing competitively in college, I plan to continue my volunteer work with the Meals on Wheels chapter at UC, bringing food and friendly conversation to people in the community, rooted in my practice and experience with community building and bonding in high school. 

No matter what your experience is, you really want to focus on direct, deliverable moments in time that showcase what you’ve done. If you have a ton of leadership experience, try to showcase as much as you can while meeting the word count. If you have less experience but a really compelling story, focus on quickly laying out the basics of the story and then building power in the essay by reflecting on your leadership style.

In the end, make sure you comment on how you will bring your leadership style to campus, being as specific as possible. 

If I edited the above essay even more, I would further condense the story and elaborate more on how I’ve applied what I’ve learned. I mention the robotics club and winning second place at the 24-Hour Code-athon, but I could have saved some space above and expanded on it to show that I have the capacity to build my skill set over time. I could have also talked about the deliverables from the mock trial experience. Did we win our case? How does the story end? If I gave this essay another pass, I would focus a bit less on the story and balance things out more with what happened as a result of my leadership revelation.  

UC Essay Prompt #2: 

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

When I was just two-years-old, my mom enrolled me in ballet classes—and I hated them. Because I was young and she wanted me to do it, I danced for another nine years, until I finally gave up ballet for the soccer field. What I hadn’t realized was that everything I learned in ballet would quickly translate to make me a star player on the field. I knew how to turn on a dime, I could jump over a slide tackle faster than anyone else, and I never took it that seriously when we lost (the show must go on, after all). This led me to being named captain of my varsity team, where my team has nicknamed me The Swann—a combination of the football player who used ballet to train, Lynn Swann, and the famous ballet, Swan Lake. 

UC Personal Insight Questions Examples (Continued)

I realized quickly that my creativity could have this extracurricular quality no matter where I went. In my high school’s annual Physics-in-the-Raw Competition, I used famous chase scenes from my favorite black and white movies (I’m a big fan of Vertigo and Chinatown ) and pulled all the data I could from the movies themselves to crunch the numbers and show whether or not the actual chase would have played out like that in real life. I even filmed shot-for-shot remakes on my phone using Matchbox cars—in black and white, of course. My AP Physics teacher never stopped laughing, even as they noted that my calculations were correct. I was the first 11th grader to win the competition in the school’s history, and I have my creativity to thank for it. 

I’ve expressed interest in both English and Physics as a double major, but I’m excited to talk to my future advisers about what might be possible for me in Interdisciplinary Studies. When I let myself think creatively, I wonder about the possibility of bringing ballet back into my life—and what it might look like to combine my love of physics with the beauty of dance and literature, all on the UC campus.  

Here’s a cheeky example from a dream student whose only obstacle in life is that they didn’t really like ballet. I wrote this essay as a way to show you how you can quickly combine story with concrete elements. Look at how we jump into the essay. The first sentence I actually typed was “Creativity is one of my favorite things about me,” and then deleted it after I wrote the rest of the paragraph. I realized quickly that it was a placeholder for what I was attempting to show throughout the rest of the essay. If you find yourself writing bland or empty sentences like that in your UC essays, you should delete them, too. 

Then, look at what happens along the way. I try to list vivid-yet-concrete examples of my creativity ( I knew how to turn on a dime, I could jump over a slide tackle faster than anyone else, and I never took it that seriously when we lost ), and then I take what I learned about myself (that I have an “extracurricular sense” of creativity) and show the achievement that best showcases that sensibility on display: I was the first 11th grader to win the school physics competition because I’m so creative. I don’t need to over-explain the connection: it’s there for my readers and they can easily see how the experience in the first paragraph leads to the second experience. 

Finally, I take the chance to project myself onto the UC Campus by talking earnestly about an interest I have in the Interdisciplinary B.A. This moment is effective because I’m not promising anything or using overextended language to build a fake version of myself on campus, but because it makes sense that this type of student would be interested in this type of major. I demonstrate that I’ve done some research and that I’m thinking critically about how I would fit in on campus. 

If I edited this essay into another version, and I had another set of accomplishments to showcase, I would skip talking about the Interdisciplinary major and talk instead about that third accomplishment.  

UC Essay Prompt #3: 

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

I stepped onto the pad and looked over at my coach. She gave me the sign: breathe in, breathe out, pull. One kick to the right to loosen my tight hip, and I lowered my hands to the bar. In the 2022 USA Powerlifting High School Nationals, I set a personal deadlift record of 242.5 pounds, putting me in fifth place. When the rankings shook out, my coach screamed and hugged me: she knew what it had taken me to get here. 

Something about powerlifting always compelled me. I was tiny at the start of my journey in ninth grade, but I decided to just keep with it. My coach laid out a progressive plan for me, and I followed it to a T. I was making steady progress all through fall of sophomore year, and I even won a regional title.  I broke my right leg in a skiing accident that winter and was devastated. But I remembered all the progress I had made and didn’t want to stop. I watched practice with my cast on, doing seated, upper-body lifts when my coach said it was safe. 

In the meantime, I focused on my academics. I turned around my AP Chemistry grade by showing up to afterschool tutoring and finally making flashcards the way my teacher had recommended, dedicating an extra 30 minutes to chem every day.  I realized I could apply my same sense of persistence and tenacity to the classroom, too, and it paid off: I got a 5 on the AP Chemistry exam. 

My coach wasn’t surprised when she saw me back at the barbell a week after my cast was off. Over the next year, I dedicated myself to rebuilding the muscle I had lost by following an increased- calorie diet and working accessory lifts to challenge myself. I realized I could see precisely what my ability to perform sustained, focused effort got me: a comeback fifth place ranking at a national competition in the sport that I love. I can’t wait to apply my focus to my major at UC. 

Many students think about “skill” or “talent” as a discrete thing. For example, this student could have simply written about being really good at powerlifting. However, if we take one step back, we can see that the student’s true talent (and the more interesting thing to say) is that they are really good at persistence, tenacity, and sustained, focused attention on a goal. This is a tremendous thing to talk about when it comes to applying to college, because going to university is a project in your sustained focus over the course of four years. 

That meant that it was important to also bring in an academic component to the essay to showcase how this student was skilled in persistence in another realm. In this context, obviously, the academic realm is incredibly important. Drawing the parallel with the AP Chem course shows the reader that the student also understands how their skillset works in an abstract way. 

I’ll repeat the same editing principle here that I’ve said above: if the student had other stellar examples of exhibiting persistence and focus, I would cut down on the storytelling elements, and I would include those pieces, instead. If you’re working on an essay for which you have a lot of solid examples, you can think of your response to the prompt like a vividly conceptualized list. You can showcase your personality through your language choices, and you can tell the story of your achievements, but again, worry less about setting the scene and more about highlighting your successes. 

UC Essay Prompt #4: 

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

As a gifted student, I was shocked when my favorite teacher asked me if I had ever considered getting examined for ADHD. My grades had been slipping that semester, but it was just because I wasn’t working hard enough to stay organized, right? My teacher indicated that he knew I was working really hard already, and that maybe, I would benefit from a little help. 

When my diagnosis came back as primarily inattentive ADHD, I felt both surprise and grief. My psychologist talked to me about how my hyperfocus had been likely sparked when I was a little kid in elementary school, but that, as time went on, it was easier and easier for me to become bored in school. Even if the classes were more challenging, the repetition of the structure wasn’t. I had enough coping mechanisms to do “well enough,” but if I wasn’t being challenged, my inattention could be taking over and making me lose out on reaching my goals. 

Working closely with my parents, my psychologist, and my teachers, I was able to build a plan for myself to get back on track. I chose for myself that I wanted to start treatment without medication, so I did counseling to put my time in high school in perspective, and I started practicing mindfulness meditation, which has been a revelation. When I focus on the fact that every day is a new opportunity to learn something new, I can really savor those opportunities. The semester that I received my diagnosis, I stabilized my grades and my 4.0 GPA before anything started to slip, thanks to my careful teacher. 

When I come to UC, I know I may be faced with challenges to my inattentive ADHD as time goes on, however, I now know what warning signs and how to rely on my support networks. I look forward to volunteering as a peer mentor to share my tips, tricks, and to help other students identify when they need help, as well. 

Writing about mental health and learning disabilities can be tricky. In every case, you need to be sure that you’re demonstrating a clear arc of overcoming something. There is no shame in actively dealing with a mental health problem or diagnosis, but when it comes to writing your college admissions essays, you want to be sure that you have a demonstrable positive outcome that you can discuss if you choose to go down this path. 

So, I wanted to show an example of someone who had that clarity of overcoming their diagnosis with a demonstrable stabilization of their GPA. Pay attention to the way in which the essay departs from the identification of the problem, the diagnosis, and then focuses mainly on the solutions that the student finds. Leaving the essay in a place of generosity where the student wants to extend what they’ve learned to others around them solidifies their success and showcases that they truly have overcome this educational barrier. 

Of course, there are other significant educational barriers that someone could talk about. They could include structural barriers within a school system or unfortunate events, like surviving a wildfire or a flood, that can demonstrate a student’s perseverance. To write this essay in the opposite direction, about a significant educational opportunity, might entail writing about an invitation to speak at an important event, an opportunity to travel to a foreign country, or the chance to participate in an extracurricular activity that led to a particular success. Were you asked to help start your school’s award-winning field hockey team? That would be an excellent thing to write about. 

To view all of the full list of prompts and other helpful tips, check out our other UC Essay blog post, here . And when you need help crafting and editing your UC essays, reach out to College Transitions for a free consultation and to get started. 

Now let’s dive into the next series of supplemental prompts, UC Personal Insight Questions 5 through 8. 

UC Essay Prompt #5: 

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

When I was five years old, my mother decided to separate from my father because of his addiction. I have learned to understand the details based on what my mother does not say. My mother tried to help him overcome his illness. She had hoped that doctors, rehab, and twelve-step programs would have stopped him from becoming violent. She was wrong. I grew up without him. 

Last year, out of the blue, my father started showing up outside of my high school, telling me he wanted to see my mom again. It became severe enough that the police issued a restraining order. I haven’t seen him since. 

But I suffered. The idea that he could appear outside of my school at any moment made me paranoid. I was scared for my mother, and I wanted to believe that the restraining order would be sufficient, but then I stopped trusting myself. What if something happened and no one believed me? I had never experienced anxiety before, but all of the sudden, I was having tunnel vision and couldn’t be alone. 

My physics teacher, Mr. Bevelacqua, noticed first. He saw that my grade had slid from an A to a C- in five weeks, and he rightly assumed that, if it was happening in his class, it was happening in others. I loved his class and sense of humor, so I felt comfortable enough confiding in my teacher about my fears. He helped me talk with the school psychologist, who suggested a course in mindfulness and a series of conversations with the police. I created healthy boundaries for myself and developed a mindfulness routine with my mother that has benefited both of us.

Now, my grades are back up, and I’m helping Mr. Bevelacqua tutor other students for the AP Physics exam. I’ve even started attending Alateen meetings, where I’ve made close friends who have experienced similar things. Sharing our experiences has almost helped them dissolve. I’ve learned that, even though I’ve thought I should be ashamed of my father, I can talk openly about my experiences—and maybe even help myself and others.  

This essay is a completely fictional one in which I’m imagining a rather difficult experience that triggers a mental health episode in a student. You’ll see that I spend the first three, quick paragraphs detailing the challenge and the final paragraph outlining the steps the student has taken to overcome the problem. The student shows self-awareness by confiding in a favorite teacher about what’s happening, then the student doesn’t hesitate to take the teacher’s advice, then the advice pays off and we see the positive effects of the student’s willingness to address their fears and work with the people they trust around them.  

I want to point out that both sections are fairly concrete. I take some creative liberties in the first paragraph in order to artfully describe a situation of domestic violence, but for the most part, I’m stating directly what happened. This doesn’t mean excluding difficult details, like the anxiety attacks and fear, but it does mean that I’ve avoided overly flowery language. 

Writing about heavy things doesn’t mean that your prose has to be particularly heavy. In fact, writing about particularly difficult things in plain, straightforward ways —without the use of too many colorful adjectives—can help communicate the painfulness even more. You don’t want to smother your reader in emotion; you want to lead them to their own emotional reaction through the things that happened. Restraint in prose can help to achieve this goal. Let the painful things be painful. They will do the work for you. 

That is all to say: when you’re tackling this essay, you don’t want to bleed on the page. Oftentimes, students who have suffered traumatic, difficult things believe that they need to convey the full weight of their distress to admissions officers. To be clear, your trauma and your suffering matters, but admissions officers are reading the full breadth of painful experiences from across the spectrum of human existence. Adversity and suffering visit us all, and the unfortunate pain of these events is highly relative.

Admissions officers are interested in seeing what you do with your pain. You want to focus on the tangible, provable things that you have done to overcome your challenges. Those things could be big or small. It would have been enough for this student, for example, to have simply found a productive mindfulness meditation routine that they practiced with their mother, and then described their newfound perspectives that came from that practice. You don’t have to do twenty things to prove that you’re emotionally mature enough to attend college; but you do want to prove that you’re doing well despite adversity. 

UC Essay Prompt #6: 

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Standing in front of the seven-foot-tall, room-length canvas for the first time, I was overwhelmed. Then, slowly, I realized what Warhol was doing. Here was Elvis, the iconic American figure of rock ‘n’ roll, stamped out eleven times, his pistol pointed at us, his larger-than-life body repeating like a film strip left on the cutting room floor and then splayed out before us, so that we could see each instance of his fame, however fleeting, now indelible. 

Going to the Andy Warhol Museum in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania opened my eyes to the world of Art History, and as soon as I realized I could study it, I ran full speed ahead. To compete in National History Day, I underwent a six-month research process in the Warhol Museum archives, reading Warhol’s journals, correspondences, and making analytical reviews of drafts of his earlier, un-exhibited works. I made a thirty-minute documentary about Warhol’s work, including interviews I conducted with experts, museum curators, and with the only living family member who knew Warhol when he was still alive. With my documentary, I progressed to the national competition and placed as an honorable mention in the individual documentary category. 

Growing out of that experience, I worked with my AP History teacher to establish a connection with Duquesne University Art History Professor Laney McGunnigan, with whom I completed a semester-long independent study project on the development of pop art in the twentieth century. This fall, I will be assisting Professor McGunnigan in cataloging the body of Diego Rivera’s work held at Fallingwater, in order to assist with a larger place-based analysis on the intersection of diverse artistic movements hidden across the greater Pittsburgh area. 

I am thrilled by the possibility of studying under UCLA Department Chair Saloni Mathur. The Fallingwater project has opened my eyes to the influence of colonialism and post-colonialism in Art History, and I am deeply interested in the possibility of an interdisciplinary approach that involves anthropological practices like those I engaged during my Warhol documentary production process. 

For this essay, you want to choose that interest toward which you’ve put the most effort during your time in high school. It’s kind of like a “Why This College?” essay, but it’s about a subject, instead. In this fictional example essay, I’m drawing on a personal experience with creating a Warhol documentary in high school (true story!) and how an incredibly diligent and well-resourced student might have expanded that experience into further study (that part is fiction). No matter the level of involvement, you want to pull out all of the details about what you’ve done as a high school student as you’ve pursued a particular interest. 

You can see that I’m naming names throughout the essay, and also that I’m talking about how I’ve used my academic network to further my interest. For example, I say that I worked with my AP History teacher to make a valuable connection with a professor—don’t leave those things out. Seemingly small conversations and connections that lead to bigger things are worth including in this essay because they demonstrate your pursuit. Show the reader the steps you took along the way to get to where you are; every step counts—and you can always pare down the word count later.  

The opening lines are deceptively normal. Yes, they paint a quick scene for the reader. However, they’re also showing how I got interested in art history to begin with. The reader can see the first moment of inspiration outside of the classroom, and how I pull that inspiration into my academic life. 

Finally, I closed the essay by doing some quick research into the Art History department at UCLA. I might not know a ton about anthropology as a high school student, but I do know that I did interviews for my documentary. A good essay coach (like someone from College Transitions) could help you make the elegant connection between the work you’ve already done and the academic interests of the faculty in the department where you’d like to study. 

UC Essay Prompt #7: 

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

I can’t begin to tell you how the opioid epidemic has ravaged my community. In the last three years, three graduating seniors and eight recent graduates have died from heroin-related overdoses. The most recent death was my best friend Evan’s older brother; he had been a star soccer player and he went on to study communications at Regional State University. When Evan called to tell me what happened, I did the math silently as I listened to my friend cry: his brother overdosed at the age of 23. 

In the weeks following the funeral, I felt a heaviness I had never felt before. I’m pretty introverted; to say that I’ve never had anyone offer me drugs is an understatement. It’s the same with Evan. Even though his brother had gotten into drugs, we never saw them, which made the whole thing all the more painful, scary, and confusing. We felt hopeless. I watched Evan start to plummet. 

It was then that I heard a news story about a Harm Reduction group out of Chicago. It was the first time I’d ever heard of harm reduction, but Evan and I took the idea and ran. In just four months, we contacted the National Harm Reduction Coalition and set up a voluntary Narcan Network through our school. We built a program where kids and their parents can get trained on how to use free Narcan kits that we receive through donations we organized with NHRC.

We got trained, and we have trained more than two hundred people in our monthly sessions. The community support has been overwhelming. Parents who have had kids die or go to rehab have become integral parts of our project, and we’ve helped them start a monthly support group. If someone takes a kit, they don’t have to report using it to us, but through voluntary reporting, we know that our kits have been used at least twenty times so far. Twenty lives, twenty families, twenty more reasons to keep doing what we do. We like to think that Evan’s brother would be proud. 

In this essay, you can see that I dedicate a fair amount of time to the problem. The first two paragraphs set up what happened to the student and their best friend’s family. If I were editing this essay—and the student had a substantial amount more to say about the Narcan group—I might shorten those two paragraphs and leave space at the end for more reflection and balance, especially if the student had more achievement-oriented information to include. 

Writing about the positive things you brought to the situation is the crucial part here. The admissions officers want to know about the context for the solution, yes, but the more important thing here is your character that has allowed you to improve your community. You need to provide significant, concrete details that demonstrate your contribution to your school or community. In this case, the student is able to provide a time frame, the name of outside organizations with which they organized, the number of people trained, and an approximate number of lives saved . This is a Herculean effort that I invented for the sake of this prompt, however, I’m using it to show you the kinds of information you should provide. 

Maybe you didn’t create a live-saving program at your school, but perhaps you organized a fundraiser that brought in hundreds of dollars for cancer research or even your marching band’s annual competition trip. Tell us that. And tell us how you did it. Maybe you organized the calendars of thirty different students to do tabling during different periods of the school day. Maybe you held a week’s worth of car washes in the parking lot of your local library, and you had to coordinate the efforts between the library staff and fifteen volunteers. Or perhaps you were in charge of keeping the cash box, opening a bank account, and ensuring the safe transfer of funds to the organization.

Those are the kinds of concrete details this essay wants to see. Be sure to gas yourself up and don’t be afraid to sound like you’re “bragging:” UC wants to see your personal achievements.  

Essay Prompt #8: 

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? 

Well, why don’t you take a crack at it? 

For this essay, I’ll reiterate those best practices for all of your UC Personal Insight Essays . You want to quickly describe, in concrete language, a situation that distinguishes you from others. Then, you want to use numbers, names, responses, and your personal process to show very clearly how you overcame a situation, created something beneficial, committed yourself to a positive outcome, helped your family, helped your friends, helped your community, and on and on. Don’t take this opportunity to flex your creative writing muscles. Do stick to demonstrative outcomes. Don’t worry about winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

Again, UC essays are different from the storytelling you’re expected to do in the Common App essay . Do concern yourself with communicating the clear, discrete benefits of your work on a project, course, or group of people. Don’t worry about “bragging.” Your 350 words will go by fast! Gas yourself up while you can. 

  • College Essay

Brittany Borghi

After earning a BA in Journalism and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, Brittany spent five years as a full-time lecturer in the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. Additionally, she’s held previous roles as a researcher, full-time daily journalist, and book editor. Brittany’s work has been featured in The Iowa Review, The Hopkins Review, and the Pittsburgh City Paper, among others, and she was also a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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September 12, 2023

2023-2024 University of California Essay Prompts: Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD

A tower is featured, standing above a red-roofed building at the University of California, Berkeley.

The University of California schools have released their 2023-2024 essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2024. Unlike most highly selective universities, the UC schools are not members of The Common Application — the school has its own application .

Just like in previous years, applicants to the University of California, Berkeley , the University of California, Los Angeles , the University of California, San Diego , and the seven other UC institutions must answer four essay prompts out of a batch of eight options. So, what are this year’s essay prompts? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 UC Essay Topics and Questions: Personal Insights

Below are the UC essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028, along with the guidance issued by the UC admissions committee. These essays apply to all UC schools — including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, San Diego, the University of California, Santa Barbara , the University of California, Davis , the University of California, Santa Cruz , the University of California, Irvine , the University of California, Merced , and the the University of California, Riverside .

Applicants have up to 350 words to respond to  four  of the  eight  prompts. And, yes, applicants should go to the maximum word count to make their case!

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

Things to consider:  A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

Applicants should share one small story here to demonstrate their leadership. Rather than tell the UC admissions committee about what great leaders they are, they can show it through one specific example. And it doesn’t even need to be a successful example of leadership. Instead, students can highlight what they learned from the scenario to be even better leaders.

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Things to consider:  What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

Even in an essay that could lend itself to silliness, applicants must showcase intellectual curiosity. So, suppose a student expresses their creative side by tie-dying t-shirts and their singular hook in their activities section that they’ll be contributing to schools like UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD is math. In that case, they can write about the mathematics behind the patterns they love to create on clothing.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Things to consider:  If there is a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

Too many students choose to write about awards and honors they’ve received in this prompt. Some sneak it into the essay, thinking it’s a subtle way of reinforcing their success. What a mistake! Doing so will only render them unlikable, which should be the precise opposite of their objective.

Ideally, an applicant will share a skill related to their singular hook. If their hook is poetry, let’s hear all about how they became passionate about performing spoken word at open mic nights at a local establishment.

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider:  An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you; just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who you are today?

If students have yet to face a genuine academic barrier, such as the ones many students in low-income communities face, it would behoove them to focus on the significant educational  opportunity  they’ve encountered. Was it the chance to perform research on Russian literature with a local professor? Was it a chance to do an archaeological dig in a student’s hometown? The opportunity will ideally fit with the student’s singular hook.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider:  A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?

Unless a student comes from an underprivileged background, we at Ivy Coach would encourage them to avoid choosing this essay prompt since there  are  going to be students who have faced significant obstacles and writing about how a school ran out of math courses while another student writes about the evictions their family has endured isn’t going to sit well with UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, and other UC admissions officers.

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Things to consider:  Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can’t get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

Ideally, a student will choose an academic subject that aligns perfectly with their hook. If their activities reflect a passion for physics, they should share the origin story of their interest in the discipline — as a high schooler rather than a child. What made them fall in love with matter and energy? What made them want to better understand our universe?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Things to consider:  Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

An applicant’s answer should align with their hook as articulated in their activities section. Suppose a student’s hook is political science. In that case, they should write an essay that shares one small story about how their political activism created the change they wished to see — or failed to create the change they hoped to see, only further motivating them to agitate for further change.

Maybe they wanted to stop developers from razing affordable housing communities. Perhaps they tried to fix un-level sidewalks. Whatever it is, applicants should share an anecdote here about their activism — whether successful or not.

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Things to consider:  If there’s anything you want us to know about you but didn’t find a question or place in the application to tell us, now’s your chance. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?

From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little.

Since the University of California has a unique application and is not a member of The Common Application, this essay prompt presents a perfect opportunity for applicants to include an abbreviated version of their 650-word Personal Statements from their Common Applications.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with the University of California Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your chances of admission to UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, and other UC institutions by submitting the most compelling essays possible, fill out Ivy Coach ’s free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to delineate our college counseling services for applicants to the Class of 2028.

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Supplemental Essay Guide 2023-24

What do the 2023-24 supplemental essay prompts really mean, and how should you approach them? CEA's experts are here to break them all down.

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Agnes Scott College 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

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Alvernia University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide  

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Supplemental Essay Prompts

Freshman admissions.

The Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program seeks inquisitive, self-motivated students with a passion for finding and solving big problems.

The following essay question is designed to provoke honest, thoughtful responses to help us get to know you. It gives you the opportunity to provide unique information about yourself, your interests, and your reasons for applying to the program. In addition to content, essays are evaluated for writing and critical thinking ability, skill in organizing and presenting thoughts, and the relevance of your answer to the question posed. Your response is limited to 350 words.

Required Essay: (350 words maximum)

Your supplemental essays must be submitted by 11:59 pm PST on December 15, 2023 .

Describe how the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program in Engineering and Business at UC Berkeley will help you to achieve your goals. Share with us the world you come from (for example, your family, school, community, city, or town). What unique experiences from your world motivated you to apply to our program?

Video Essay Invitation

Some applicants may receive a request to record a video essay. Video essay requests are by invitation only and will be requested starting in November. Videos must be submitted by 11:59 pm PST on January 12, 2024 . Check your email for an invitation and if requested, be sure to submit your video essay by the deadline.

The questions are:

  • How have you contributed to and bolstered the communities you are a part of? (Communities can = school, extracurriculars, family, etc.)
  • How will your admittance into the program catapult your educational journey or complement your career plans?
  • What has been your biggest failure and how did you respond?

Continuing Student Admissions

The following essay questions were created to provoke honest, thoughtful responses to help us get to know you. They’re framed within the context of The Haas School of Business’s four Defining Leadership Principles and the College of Engineering’s mission and vision, and give you the opportunity to provide unique information about yourself and your interests. These essays are the principal means we have of gaining insight about you and your reasons for applying to the Berkeley M.E.T. Program. In addition to content, essays are evaluated for critical thinking and writing ability, skill in organizing and presenting thoughts, and the relevance of your answers to the questions posed.

All applicants are required to answer question A and to choose either topic B or C. The Admission Committee does not have a preference for either question B or C. They’re given equal weight in the review process. Essay D is optional.

Required Essay A: (500 words maximum) Describe your post-undergraduate goals. Why is the Berkeley M.E.T. Program essential in helping you achieve these goals?

Tip: We understand that both Haas and the College of Engineering (COE) have world-renowned reputations and faculty, strong alumni networks, and that majors have priority access to business and COE courses. Aside from these factors, why do you feel that studying both COE and Business is a necessary step in pursuit of your immediate post-undergraduate goals? You’re not required to include a detailed post-undergraduate plan, but you should address how the program will help you achieve your goals broadly.

Choose either Essay B or C: (500 words maximum)

Essay B: Describe a time when something important to you did not work out as planned. How did you respond, and what did you learn from the situation?

Tip : If you applied to M.E.T. as a freshman, this is an opportunity for you to share with us what has been enhanced since then.

Essay C: If admitted to Berkeley M.E.T., how would you help develop a sense of belonging for classmates from diverse communities? What challenges do you anticipate, and how will you respond to them?

Optional Essay D: (250 words maximum) Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application?

Tip: Use this essay to explain academic issues, grade disputes or personal/family/medical circumstances you want the admission committee to be aware of. Currently, there are unique circumstances impacting applicants to Berkeley M.E.T. You may also use this essay to discuss how you’ve been impacted by matters such as the pandemic, social unrest, and/or natural disasters.

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uc supplemental essays 2024

How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

The University of Southern California has a few supplemental essays and creative short answers that students must complete. Your essays are one of the only opportunities you’ll have to show an admissions officer who you are beyond the numbers, and with USC’s many different prompts, it’s clear this school wants you to seize that opportunity.

Here are our tips for responding to the USC essays in a way that will help your application stand out!

Read these USC essay examples written by real students to inspire your own writing. 

USC Supplemental Essay Prompts

All applicants.

Prompt 1: Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections (250 words).

Prompt 2 (optional): Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break (250 words).

Short Answer Prompts: Respond to all the prompts below (100 characters unless otherwise specified)

  • Describe yourself in three words (25 characters each)
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Best movie of all time
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
  • What TV show will you binge watch next?
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?
  • Favorite Book
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

Viterbi School of Engineering Applicants

Prompt: The student body at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. Describe how your contributions to the USC Viterbi student body may be distinct from others. Please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. (250 words)

Engineering and Computer Science Applicants

Prompt: The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. Engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges at http://engineeringchallenges.org and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why. (250 words)

Dornsife Applicants

Prompt: Many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about — a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. If you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about? (250 words)

All Applicants, Prompt 1

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at usc specifically. please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections (250 words)..

The tricky bit about this prompt is that it essentially combines the “ Why This Major ” and “ Why This College ” essay archetypes into one essay with a strict cap of 250 words. That’s a lot of information in not a whole lot of space, which might feel overwhelming. The first thing you should do is figure out the content of your essay.

Step One: Think about your academic interests (i.e. your majors). 

  • How did your interests develop? 
  • Why are you passionate about your interests? 
  • What are your goals within your interests?
  • How will pursuing your major help you achieve your goals in life? 

Step Two: Think about the answers to those questions in relation to USC. 

  • How will USC help you to further develop your interests? 
  • What resources does the university have that will help you achieve your goals? 

While your essay should explore resources that will aid in your academic pursuits, you should also keep it as specific to USC as possible—this essay should not be able to be copied and pasted for any other university! Here’s an example of how to achieve the specificity you need:

Bad: USC is a great school, located in the beautiful city of Los Angeles, with unparalleled academics and renowned instructors.

Why is this bad? This sentence could just as easily apply to UCLA. Without the bit about Los Angeles, the reasoning could even apply to any decent school in existence.

Good: At USC, I plan to participate in the Joint Educational Project (JEP) to find a community of students who, like me, are passionate about the intersections of teaching and social justice. Through JEP, I will be able to actively use the teaching principles I learn in my classes about the Dynamics of Early Childhood.

Why is this good? It references a unique resource at USC and relates to the student’s academic interests.

The Final Step: Write a cohesive essay that tells admissions officers why you are pursuing your field and why USC is the right place for you to pursue it. Some examples could include:

  • An Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering student who was obsessed with the launching of the Antares rocket, movies like Gattaca and The Martian , and their physics summer camp as a middle schooler. They could describe their goal of working for NASA, then discussing their interest in the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL).
  • An English student who ultimately wants to write romance novels discussing the Creative Writing Hour series that is hosted by English faculty. They might want to reference some of the big-name professors at USC—like Maggie Nelson, Aimee Bender, Dana Johnson, and T.C. Boyle—who have inspired their love of writing.
  • A Fine Arts applicant mentioning the Fisher Museum of Art that is on USC’s campus. It was after a school field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) that they first tried working with graphite and learned of their life goals. They know the power of art museums for inspiration and are excited to have a constant source of inspiration just minutes away.

If you are worried about the word count, one way to maximize the little space you have is to find a way to relate your first- and second-choice majors. This way, your explanations of each wouldn’t read like separate essays; rather, they would be telling different parts of the same story. A student with a first-choice major in Physics and a second-choice major in English might want to write about their ultimate goal of writing Science Fiction novels. A student with a first-choice major in History and a second-choice major in East Asian Languages and Culture might write about their goal of curating Asian American history museums.

Make sure you focus on your academic interests/goals and tell admissions officers the ways that USC will help your academic dreams come true, and you will be set!

All Applicants, Prompt 2 (optional)

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. you do not need to address a summer break (250 words). .

USC’s second prompt is optional and won’t apply to most students. However, if you do have a gap in your educational history, then be sure to use this space to address it. Give a brief explanation of the reasoning for the gap—be it illness, a move, etc.—as well as an overview of how you spent this time outside of school. 

For example, let’s say your family moved across the country and you took a term off during the transfer. You can describe your role in the move (perhaps you were in charge of organizing a yard sale), why the circumstances warranted an educational gap (maybe the new school doesn’t allow mid-term transfers), and any other projects or commitments to which you dedicated your time. 

Ideally, you want to demonstrate how you made the most of this time off and why the time off was necessary.

All Applicants, Short Answer Prompts

Respond to all the prompts below (100 characters unless otherwise specified), 1. describe yourself in three words (25 characters each), 2. what is your favorite snack, 3. best movie of all time, 4. dream job, 5. if your life had a theme song, what would it be, 6. dream trip, 7. what tv show will you binge watch next, 8. which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate, 9. favorite book, 10. if you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be.

In this section, USC lets you have a little fun. The questions ask for short, rapid-fire responses that give you the opportunity to let your individuality shine.

The most important thing to keep in mind with the short answer supplements is that USC is asking you to provide new information that sheds light on different aspects of your personality. 

Don’t repeat tidbits you’ve already mentioned, although you can and should develop new angles of themes you’ve already established. Most importantly, have fun in this section! If you’re having fun writing it, chances are your admissions officer will have fun reading it.

You can leave descriptions or notes in your responses, though remember that you have 100 characters max. If your choices are more offbeat, we recommend giving a brief description, as your admissions officer certainly won’t have the time to look things up. If your choices are pretty well-known, you can still leave a note about why you chose them (as in the sample response to #8). It’s another opportunity to share your personality, which is valuable!

  • Describe yourself in three words (25 characters max each).

Example: Cinephile. Cynophile. Logophile. 

Tip: Be creative!

Example: My Gram’s Lebuchken, tiny gingerbread-esque German cakes that my family devours each holiday season.

Tip: This is an opportunity to show your roots or quirky favorites. Make your response more interactive by including descriptive words that appeal to the senses, especially taste and smell. Also, if you’re using another language or describing a less common food, feel free to provide a short description or explanation so that someone who’s never heard of it before can still imagine it. 

Example: October Sky; Homer’s rockets remind me of my own homemade science creations, like my DIY lava lamp.

Tip: A lot of applicants will write Harry Potter . Be genuine in your response, but take this opportunity to stand out rather than providing a generic answer. 

Example: A math professor; sharing my love of topology to positively shape students’ view of the subject. 

Example: Crossword Puzzle Writer; my mornings aren’t complete without a cup of OJ and my daily brain teaser.

Tip: If you go with a serious answer, make a clear connection to your major to show that you’re focused on your academic path. Don’t give a generic answer like “doctor” or “lawyer;” talk about what specialty or subfield interests you most. That said, you could also go for a more lighthearted answer, like a crossword puzzle writer, to use the space to show personality.

Example: The [TV show] Intro; I’d like to think of myself as a [character], but I have to admit I’m more of an [character]. 

Example: Happy Birthday by AJR – a catchy tune with funny/sarcastic lyrics about the reality of modern life.

Tip: Just as with the best movie prompt, you may want to avoid mainstream selections and instead put forward a title that says something about you. What song would you want the admissions officer to play while reading your application? Make sure the song you choose is appropriate. 

Example: Road trip around Iceland’s perimeter; stops include Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir Springs.

Tip: Be more specific than simply “Hawaii” or “Europe.” Also, just as with all the prompts, you want to convey something about yourself in your response, so avoid mainstream or overly luxurious answers.

Example: Aggretsuko (anime about a red panda who relieves job stress by singing death metal at karaoke bars)

Tip: Follow similar guidelines to the theme song prompt—mainstream selections are fine and are potentially relatable to the reader, but that quirkier show you have your eye on might make for a more fun response. If your selection is lesser-known, consider adding a brief description.

Example: Rory Gilmore – there definitely won’t be a shortage of coffee or good conversation.

Tip: It’s okay to go with a more well-known character here, since that will allow the reader to relate. It’s just important to use that extra space to elaborate on why you’d want to live with this person.

  • Favorite book

Example: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – I read the entire book in my favorite pair of Air Max 97s.

Tip: Follow the same advice for best movie of all time.

Example: SETI: Using the Drake Equation to Find E.T., complete with a field trip to outer space!

Tip: You can have some fun with this prompt; try thinking outside the box of the generic “Intro to Calculus.” You can also have the class relate back to your intended major, though that’s not absolutely necessary.

The student body at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. Describe how your contributions to the USC Viterbi student body may be distinct from others. Please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. (250 words)

USC’s engineering school is extremely competitive to get into, forcing admissions officers to choose between many qualified applicants who look relatively similar on paper. This essay wants to get down to the heart of why they should pick you over others. 

The most important word in this prompt that should job out to you is “contributions”. In this essay, you need to convey what you will bring to the engineering community that is unique. You might be saying to yourself “what can I contribute to an established university?”, but there’s actually a lot to work with here. The prompt gives suggestions of sources that could contribute to your uniqueness so let’s look at some examples of traits and how they relate to contribution to USC.

Trait: You’re from a coastal town in Florida that is experiencing flooding.

Contribution: You plan to join the Structures and Material Lab in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to discover which materials are erosion-resistant.

Trait: You’re the only daughter among four brothers.

Contribution: Since you’re no stranger to asserting your voice as a woman in a male-dominated setting, you want to become a mentor through the Women in Science and Engineering’s Young Researchers Program and encourage female high schoolers to pursue STEM.

Trait: You have OCD.

Contribution: Rather than being a hindrance, you channel your obsessive tendencies into meticulously completing complex calculations which you are excited to do as an Aerospace Engineering major.

Trait: You started an iPhone repair business out of your garage in high school.

Contribution: Your experience working with technology has given you insight into specific aspects of hardware design that could be improved that you plan to experiment with under the supervision of X professor.

As you can see from these examples, there are many ways to approach what you can contribute to the Viterbi community. When it comes to actually writing this in your essay, you should start by highlighting the unique aspect of yourself that you are choosing to focus on with a short anecdote. For example, the student writing about being from a coastal town might open with a vivid description of the damage caused by erosion from the most recent flood.

Once you’ve caught the reader’s attention and communicated what your unique background is, explain how that has positioned you to bring something special to the USC community. It’s important to be as detailed as possible by including specific programs or institutes, professors, classes, or research projects you are interested in. You can also mention more than one way that you will contribute—just ensure that each one is fully fleshed out.

Finally, end your essay with a concise conclusion. This might look like returning back to your anecdote from the beginning, talking about your future plans and how USC will get you there, or something else entirely. 

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. Engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges at http://engineeringchallenges.org and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why. (250 words)

Before you can start answering this prompt, you need to do a little research! Once you go to the website linked above, click on the Challenges button at the top of the page and it will take you to the 14 Grand Challenges that engineers across the globe are committed to addressing. These challenges are broken up into four categorical themes (Sustainability, Health, Security, and Joy of Living) and they range from providing access to clean water to improving urban infrastructure to engineering better medicines to preventing nuclear terror attacks.

Your job is to pick one of these challenges that speaks the most to you. Keep in mind, we didn’t say pick the challenge you think is the “trendiest” or the admissions officers would be most impressed by; in order to write a successful and engaging essay your genuine passion and fascination with the issue has to come through. 

Once you have a challenge in mind, now you have to connect it to you. This is where you will bring in your previous experiences, your academic interests, and personal anecdotes to demonstrate why that particular issue resonates with you. For example, maybe you picked Manage the Nitrogen Cycle because your favorite memories from when you were little were gardening with your grandma which started your fascination with how plants sustain themselves and interact with the environment.

It’s important to connect to the challenge with both past experiences and future goals. So, continuing the nitrogen cycle example, maybe your dream one day is to own your own farm that is pesticide-free, so you are passionate about engineering nitrogen-free fertilizers. They don’t all have to be this personal—it’s just as valid to say you are committed to providing clean water because you dream of a world where no one is denied basic human rights like water—but you should have some explanation of the impact overcoming one of these challenges would have on you and the broader community. This helps demonstrate to the admissions officers that you appreciate the weight of these issues.

One thing to remember that trips up some students: you aren’t asked to solve the challenge in this essay. Although you can definitely contribute ideas you have, especially if you have previous experiences that relate to addressing the issue, it’s not required. The major point of this essay is to learn more about global issues you care about and why you are choosing to address them through an engineering perspective.

Many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about — a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. If you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about? (250 words)

This prompt requires less deep thought than the former. The “education” prompt asks students to think deeply about a question they have probably never thought about before, while this prompt asks you “what are you thinking about all the time?”  

If an idea comes to mind when you first read this prompt, that’s probably where you should start. USC is not looking for wild answers where students turn the holes in swiss cheese into a complex metaphor—they really just want to hear what you care about. That being said, what you care about can totally be weird or nuanced, as long as your interest in the subject tells admissions officers something about you.

Some examples of how you could work this prompt:

  • Writing about a social justice issue. Introducing a specific anecdote (that you would introduce during your hypothetical talk). Providing insightful and unique commentary on the issue—whether that be how we got here or where we should go from here.
  • Writing about a school of thought in science or philosophy. Explaining the importance of certain types of questions. Giving specific examples (historical, fictional, and anecdotal) that show that you have thought through the importance of rationalism, taoism, sensationalism, or any other school.
  • Writing about a lecture on a specific book. Discussing how White Teeth, Giovanni’s Room, or Moby Dick tells multiple important life lessons in one pretty package. Drawing connections between the fictional world and the real world.
  • Writing about the valuable lessons that can be learned from another culture. Introducing stories from your past that show the value of Japanese respect, Persian hospitality, or Indian selflessness. Recognizing negative aspects of cultures, but recognizing the lessons that can be learned when you take the time to learn them.

While these are just some examples, this prompt leaves the door open for you to explore whatever you care about. Because this essay is the simpler option, make sure that your writing is impeccable if you choose this second prompt. Engage with anecdotes and a unique personal voice to keep your essay engaging. Don’t give the reader the option to stop reading!

Where to Get Your USC Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your USC essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

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The University of Southern California , also known as USC, UC, or SoCal, currently educates almost 50,000 students, 21,000 of whom are undergraduates. Located in Los Angeles, CA, USC is known for its 22 schools, each of which has a unique specialization. With an impressive list of alums, from George Lucas and Shonda Rhimes to Neil Armstrong and Grant Imahara , USC launches careers in entertainment, engineering, English, and more every year. If you’re looking to maximize your chances of acceptance, continue reading as we break down USC’s supplemental essays.

University of Southern California campus

Note that the specific program within USC to which you apply may have additional supplemental materials. These include short essays, short videos, and portfolios of creative work. Check out the programs here and the additional application requirements for USC here .

USC’s 2023-2024 Prompts

Long answer questions, required: describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at usc specifically. please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words or fewer).

  • Optional: Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break.  (250 words or fewer)

Short Answer Questions

Describe yourself in three words. (3 words), what is your favorite snack (100 characters or fewer), best movie of all time (100 characters or fewer), dream job (100 characters or fewer), if your life had a theme song, what would it be (100 characters or fewer).

  • Dream trip (100 characters or fewer)

What TV show will you binge watch next? (100 characters or fewer)

Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate (100 characters or fewer), favorite book (100 characters or fewer), if you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be (100 characters or fewer).

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The USC application requires one longer essay (250 words or fewer) and ten shorter responses limited to 100 characters. (But don’t compose a 100-character answer for the questions requiring a single word!). There is also an optional longer essay question only applicable to students with some gap in their educational history other than a summer break.

This standard essay question is deceptively difficult. Most students have enough of a sense of their academic interests to list them and describe why they’re interested in them. However, this question is actually more of a research question than a personal essay question. The USC admissions officers reading your response to this question are less interested in what your academic interests are and more in how you will pursue them while a student at USC.

As a result, it’s recommended that you do some research before answering this question. Read through a list of USC’s majors and minors . Scroll around in the course catalog . Find some programs, professors, clubs, and activities at USC that relate to your academic interests. Mention these opportunities by name and describe how and why you will take advantage of them. Displaying this kind of research will demonstrate your seriousness in applying to USC and your maturity in visualizing your future.

Optional: Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (250 words or fewer)

If your educational background has some kind of gap, then you should answer this question. If not, then leave this question aside.

In your 250 words, you’ll need to summarize the following pieces of information:

  • why you were not enrolled for a period of time during your high school/secondary school years;
  • what you did during your period of non-enrollment;
  • how this experience impacted your educational experience thereafter;
  • and optionally, how this experience impacted your life in general thereafter.

USC’s admissions officers review applications holistically. They don’t want to assume that any gap in educational history is a bad thing. If your period of non-enrollment did have a negative impact on your life, this essay question gives you the opportunity to provide nuance to this experience and describe how you grew from it.

These short answer questions provide space for you to express your unique personality. Feel free to inject humor into your responses or adopt a light-hearted tone. Still, authenticity is key. Admissions officers ask questions like these because they want to see who you are inside and outside of the classroom.

You might be thinking it’s a little redundant to mention that describing yourself in three words should take three words to answer, no more and no less. But you’d be surprised to learn how many students don’t take that piece of information to heart! If you have a legitimately clever idea for getting around the word restriction and providing a longer answer, then go for it. Still, bear in mind that if you answer with three unassuming words, you’re more likely to have a neutral response than a negative response. Meanwhile, if you get a little too clever with this answer, you increase the likelihood of your reader taking your response the wrong way.

If you’re having difficulty coming up with your three words, consider asking friends or family to help you out. Ask them to describe you in a word or two, ideally a noun (for example, “artist,” “dreamer,” or “nerd”) or adjective (for example, “creative,” “logical,” or “caring”). It can be hard to describe ourselves. It’s even harder to describe ourselves succinctly. Sometimes, the people who know us best can describe us better than we can ourselves.

If you already know some or all of your words without help, you may still want to run your choices by someone else. Some words have both positive and negative connotations, and ideally, your word choices are primarily positive. For example, “stubborn” can be both a positive and a negative descriptor of a person. Thus, you may want to think carefully about whether your stubbornness is portrayed elsewhere in your application in a positive light that will offset its possible negative connotations.

As always, unless you have a uniquely clever and interesting answer that goes beyond the literal meaning of the prompt, keep this answer simple. This answer shouldn’t require you to think too much; if you find yourself over-thinking, just bring it back to basics! When you get home from school and feel a bit peckish, what do most often you gravitate toward? There: that’s your answer, and another USC essay done!

This is a subjective question, but don’t feel pressured to defend your point-of-view. Just share what you think is the best movie of all time. And if you don’t have a favorite, just pick one of your favorites after rolling a die or flipping a coin. 

Note that the context of a college application is, if not formal, not so casual either. Don’t list a movie considered highly inappropriate. If you wouldn’t hypothetically be willing to defend this movie choice to a teacher, a parent, or a college admissions officer, then it’s probably not a good choice to put on a college application. You don’t have to limit yourself to G-rated movies (although if a G-rated movie is your favorite, then put it down), but you should probably avoid anything X-rated and some R-rated movies.

This short answer question, like the previous ones, does not require (and probably shouldn’t) have too much accompanying elaboration, if any. As a result, choose a job description or title which is clear to the reader. Jobs like “writer” or “teacher” are relatively general and you could boost them with concrete and specific details. Consider alternatives like “fantasy novel writer” and “middle school English teacher.”

With this question, because of the word “dream,” you don’t necessarily need to choose a “dream job” that relates to your intended course of study. You might be a pre-med applicant who dreams of being a life-saving surgeon. Or maybe you’re a marketing major who can’t sing but still dreams of becoming a rockstar. Whatever your dreams are, don’t feel embarrassed, just share them!

Like the question about what movie you think is the best of all time, this question asks you to provide the reader with some insight into the media you consume. Although it may feel natural to put your favorite song to listen to as the answer to this question, consider how/whether the song describes your life. Are the themes of the song—for instance: love, loss, ambition, fear—themes of your life? Is the tone of the song—for instance: joyful, energetic, nostalgic, chill—descriptive of the way you often feel?

Consider that the admissions officers may look up your song of choice and read the lyrics, in the case of songs which have lyrics. As a result, the song should not deal with themes which are too mature for the context of a college application. If you wouldn’t hypothetically feel comfortable writing an essay about this song for your application, an essay which quotes the song and delves into the meaning of its lyrics, then perhaps you should select a different song for your choice here.

Authenticity is still important. Some students who may struggle with their mental health feel uncertain about listing a particularly deep, raw, or emotional song as their “theme song.” If that sounds like you, consider whether the rest of your application somehow demonstrates that you are self-aware regarding your mental health struggles and/or that you have matured over the years in how you meet your struggles. Doing so will help your reader understand that you are a nuanced person, even if your song choice presents a single dimension of yourself.

Dream trip (100 characters or fewer)

In this essay question, you can dream big—consider the limits of where you could go and what you could do there. There’s no right answer to this question, but do consider how someone from the place you would like to visit might view your dream trip plan (if you provide detail about your plan, which you don’t have to). Make sure that your references to other places are respectful of those places and the people who live there, and consider researching your dream trip locale of interest before responding to this question.

Like the earlier questions about movies and songs, this question requires you to think broadly about the media you consume. Yet there’s a difference with this question: it focuses on the future. Meanwhile, the earlier questions asked about media you have already consumed.

The admissions officers ask this kind of question are curious about your personality and about your curiosities. Do you seek out procedural dramas, intrigued by the way family relationships might play out in a courtroom? Are you a sci-fi buff dreaming of new technologies and far-away galaxies? Or are you invested in the psyches of reality TV contestants seeking love? 

Like most of these questions, there’s no right answer. Admissions officers aren’t seeking to fulfill specific quotas of history documentary fans and sitcom devotees. However, like previous questions about media, consider your audience and whether your answer suits the context of a college application. Is your answer “safe for work”? 

Lastly, you can feel free to add a brief “because… ” or equivalent statement after your choice, especially if it seems to warrant explanation. Also, note that some show titles are very generic, so without further (minimal) context the reader may not know what you’re referring to. Adding a year, language, director, or something similar might provide the necessary clues so that your answer isn’t confusing.

This is a multilayered question. It requires you to not only consider a person or character whom you know and are (presumably) a fan of but also how your lifestyles would align. As a result, your answer will not just indicate what kind of media, news, or other content you consume. It will (should) also hint at how you currently live and what your ideal way of living might be.

Feel free to get creative with this answer. Maybe you want to live with the Flash because he could do the dishes really quickly, or with Bob the Builder because you could co-design your ideal DIY home. On the flipside, you could also take this question more literally and look up a famous figure known for their impressive productivity strategies and excellent sleep schedule.

This is yet another media-related question that aims to provide dimension to your personality through a window into how you spend your free time. This question, like all of these questions, is best served by an honest answer. What book do you pick up again and again? What book do you think about as you fall asleep? What book are you constantly recommending to friends?

Some students feel pressured to answer this question with a book they read in English class or some impressive-sounding academic treatise. However, admissions officers are skilled professionals who will see right through that kind of answer. If your favorite book truly is The Grapes of Wrath and you first encountered it in 10th grade Honors English, that’s an entirely legitimate answer, and don’t feel self-conscious about it. But if your favorite book is an obscure mystery novel no one’s ever heard of, or written by a highly popular author like James Patterson or Rick Riordan, that’s also totally legitimate. Not every accepted applicant to USC is going to be an English major. Nevertheless, admissions officers do expect to see students who engage with books. So if you can’t think of any books to answer this question with, get reading while you still have time!

This is a common college essay question that you may have seen on other applications. For example, Yale asks an almost identical question , with 200 characters permitted for a response, because you’re expected to explain why you would teach this class. USC doesn’t require you to explain why. The limit to a 100-character answer further drives home how brief your answer is expected to be.

Of course, if the topic you choose is extremely obscure and requires context to understand, a brief explanation could be helpful. Otherwise, just think broadly and put the course title or topic. Your answer can be anything from academic to athletic, creative to craft-based. It also doesn’t need to be a topic you know much about (yet), but instead something you’re interested in learning more about. Good luck!

If you need help polishing up your USC supplemental essays, check out our College Essay Review service. You can receive detailed feedback from Ivy League consultants in as little as 24 hours.

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Ukraine Aid Bill Clears Critical Hurdle in the House as Democrats Supply the Votes

Democrats stepped in to support bringing the aid package to the floor, in a remarkable breach of custom on a key vote that paved the way for its passage.

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The dome of the U.S. Capitol, reflected in the windows of a nearby office building.

By Annie Karni

Reporting from the Capitol

The House took a critical step on Friday toward approving a long-stalled package of aid to Ukraine, Israel and other American allies, as Democrats supplied the crucial votes to push the legislation past Republican opposition so that it could be considered on the floor.

The 316-to-94 vote cleared the way for the House to bring up the aid package, teeing up separate votes on Saturday on each of its parts. But passage of those measures, each attracting bipartisan support from different coalitions, was not in doubt, making Friday’s action the key indicator that the legislation is all but certain to prevail.

Should that happen in votes set for Saturday afternoon, the Senate was expected to quickly pass the measure, and President Biden has said he would sign it into law.

On Friday, the rule for considering the bill — historically a straight party-line vote — passed with more Democratic than Republican support, but it also won a majority of G.O.P. votes, making it clear that despite a pocket of deep resistance from the far right, there is broad bipartisan backing for the $95.3 billion package.

The vote was an enormous victory in the long effort to fund Ukraine as it battles Russian aggression, a major priority of President Biden. It was a triumph against the forces of isolationism within the G.O.P. and a major moment of consensus in a Congress that for the past year has been mostly defined by its dysfunction.

But it came only after Speaker Mike Johnson put his job on the line by turning to Democrats in a significant breach of custom in the House, further imperiling his position even as he paved the way for the legislation to be voted on and approved.

On the House floor, Democrats held back their votes until it was clear there was not enough Republican support for the measure to pass without their backing, and then their “yes” votes began pouring in. Ultimately, 165 Democrats voted for the measure, more than the 151 Republicans who supported it.

“Democrats, once again, will be the adults in the room, and I’m so glad Republicans finally realize the gravity of the situation and the urgency with which we must act,” said Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee. “But you don’t get an award around here for doing your damn job.”

Mr. McGovern blamed a “MAGA minority that doesn’t want to compromise” for the long delay on approving aid to Ukraine. But he said that Democrats were providing the votes because “so much more is at stake here than petty partisanship.”

It was the second time during this Congress that Republicans have had to rely on Democratic votes in the House to even bring to the floor legislation to address a critical issue. They did so last year to allow for a vote to suspend the debt ceiling bill and avoid a catastrophic federal default. On that vote, 29 Republicans voted to oppose the rule. On Friday, 55 Republicans voted against their own speaker’s agenda.

After the vote, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona became the third Republican to say he would support a bid to oust Mr. Johnson from his post. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, has already filed a resolution calling for Mr. Johnson’s removal but has not yet sought a vote on it.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Mr. Johnson had not directly asked him for Democratic votes to pass the rule on Friday, but it was obvious that the measure was going to require substantial backing from his ranks to pass. He added that a majority of Democrats would also support the elements of the aid package on Saturday.

Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the rule on Friday, including many progressives who oppose unfettered aid to Israel because of how it has conducted its offensive against Hamas in Gaza, where health officials say more than 33,000 people have been killed and the population is facing a hunger crisis .

The top Democrat repeatedly refused to signal whether members of his party would vote to save Mr. Johnson’s job should Republicans attempt to remove him, something Mr. Jeffries had previously said was a distinct possibility, saying that conversation would happen “at the appropriate time.”

“I think what the American people care about right now is meeting their needs in a very dangerous world of standing by our democratic allies,” Mr. Jeffries said. “That will be the ultimate test by which Speaker Johnson, myself and all of our colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle will be judged.”

Many Republicans spoke in favor of the legislation to send aid to Ukraine and Israel. Representative Michael Burgess, Republican of Texas and the chairman of the rules panel, said he wanted the Biden administration to provide more information about how previous foreign aid funding was used and what its long-term goals were for ending the conflict in Ukraine.

He said Republicans would continue to push for accountability, but conceded that, “today we are at an inflection point.”

“Lack of aid now could cost us much more dearly later,” he said, “and I don’t want that to become a reality.”

But the far-right flank of the Republican conference, which has wielded outsized power in a tiny majority, spoke out to oppose the bill.

“I’m concerned that the speaker’s cut a deal with the Democrats to fund foreign wars rather than secure our border,” said Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, one of the most vocal opponents of the legislation who has threatened to vote to oust Mr. Johnson because of it.

In order to steer around opposition from members of his own party, Mr. Johnson broke down the package into three pieces, adding a fourth bill to sweeten the deal for conservatives.

The rule was critical to Mr. Johnson’s strategy, because it allows separate votes on aid to Israel and aid to Ukraine, which are supported by different coalitions, but then folds them together without requiring lawmakers to cast an up-or-down vote on the entire bill.

That made the rule the only all-or-nothing vote that lawmakers would face on the foreign aid package, in many ways making it more important than any of the votes on the individual pieces of the plan. The measure also includes a package of sweeteners including a bill to require the sale of TikTok by its Chinese owner or ban the app in the United States.

“This was all precooked,” Representative Chip Roy, a hard-right Republican from Texas, fumed as he rose to oppose the rule. “It’s why President Biden and Chuck Schumer are praising it.”

Friday’s vote came after Republicans on the House Rules Committee were also forced late Thursday night to rely on Democratic votes to move the legislation out of the committee and onto the House floor. The far-right lawmakers who tried to block the rule in the committee — Mr. Massie, Mr. Roy and Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina — opposed it because it would not allow a vote on severe border security provisions they have said should be prioritized over aiding Ukraine.

Under the rule approved on Friday, Republicans will have two chances to zero out or limit the funding for Ukraine. Those efforts are expected to fail.

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

Annie Karni is a congressional correspondent for The Times. She writes features and profiles, with a recent focus on House Republican leadership. More about Annie Karni

Our Coverage of the War in Ukraine

News and Analysis

The authorities in Poland and Germany have arrested at least five of their citizens  and accused them of spying for Russia or of offering to help Moscow commit violence on European soil, including a “possible attack” on the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The drone combat in Ukraine that is transforming modern warfare has begun taking a deadly toll on one of the most powerful symbols  of American military might — the tank — and threatening to rewrite how it will be used in future conflicts.

At least 17 people were killed and scores more injured when three Russian missiles struck a busy downtown district of Chernihiv , north of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said.

World Military Spending: The world spent more on military costs and weapons in 2023  than it had in 35 years, driven in part by the war in Ukraine and the threat of an expanded Russian invasion, according to an independent analysis.

New American Technology: Project Maven was meant to revolutionize modern warfare. But the conflict in Ukraine has underscored  how difficult it is to get 21st-century data into 19th-century trenches.

Resuming U.S. Military Aid: Much-needed munitions like artillery shells could start arriving relatively quickly , but experts say it could take weeks before U.S. assistance has a direct impact on the war . What would $60 billion buy ?

How We Verify Our Reporting

Our team of visual journalists analyzes satellite images, photographs , videos and radio transmissions  to independently confirm troop movements and other details.

We monitor and authenticate reports on social media, corroborating these with eyewitness accounts and interviews. Read more about our reporting efforts .

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40 facts about elektrostal.

Lanette Mayes

Written by Lanette Mayes

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

40-facts-about-elektrostal

Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to captivate you.

This article will provide you with 40 fascinating facts about Elektrostal, giving you a better understanding of why this city is worth exploring. From its origins as an industrial hub to its modern-day charm, we will delve into the various aspects that make Elektrostal a unique and must-visit destination.

So, join us as we uncover the hidden treasures of Elektrostal and discover what makes this city a true gem in the heart of Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elektrostal, known as the “Motor City of Russia,” is a vibrant and growing city with a rich industrial history, offering diverse cultural experiences and a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • With its convenient location near Moscow, Elektrostal provides a picturesque landscape, vibrant nightlife, and a range of recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for residents and visitors alike.

Known as the “Motor City of Russia.”

Elektrostal, a city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia, earned the nickname “Motor City” due to its significant involvement in the automotive industry.

Home to the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Elektrostal is renowned for its metallurgical plant, which has been producing high-quality steel and alloys since its establishment in 1916.

Boasts a rich industrial heritage.

Elektrostal has a long history of industrial development, contributing to the growth and progress of the region.

Founded in 1916.

The city of Elektrostal was founded in 1916 as a result of the construction of the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Located approximately 50 kilometers east of Moscow.

Elektrostal is situated in close proximity to the Russian capital, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors.

Known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Elektrostal is home to several cultural institutions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.

A popular destination for nature lovers.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and forests, Elektrostal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and birdwatching.

Hosts the annual Elektrostal City Day celebrations.

Every year, Elektrostal organizes festive events and activities to celebrate its founding, bringing together residents and visitors in a spirit of unity and joy.

Has a population of approximately 160,000 people.

Elektrostal is home to a diverse and vibrant community of around 160,000 residents, contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Boasts excellent education facilities.

The city is known for its well-established educational institutions, providing quality education to students of all ages.

A center for scientific research and innovation.

Elektrostal serves as an important hub for scientific research, particularly in the fields of metallurgy, materials science, and engineering.

Surrounded by picturesque lakes.

The city is blessed with numerous beautiful lakes, offering scenic views and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Well-connected transportation system.

Elektrostal benefits from an efficient transportation network, including highways, railways, and public transportation options, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond the city.

Famous for its traditional Russian cuisine.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in authentic Russian dishes at numerous restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Elektrostal.

Home to notable architectural landmarks.

Elektrostal boasts impressive architecture, including the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Elektrostal Palace of Culture.

Offers a wide range of recreational facilities.

Residents and visitors can enjoy various recreational activities, such as sports complexes, swimming pools, and fitness centers, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Provides a high standard of healthcare.

Elektrostal is equipped with modern medical facilities, ensuring residents have access to quality healthcare services.

Home to the Elektrostal History Museum.

The Elektrostal History Museum showcases the city’s fascinating past through exhibitions and displays.

A hub for sports enthusiasts.

Elektrostal is passionate about sports, with numerous stadiums, arenas, and sports clubs offering opportunities for athletes and spectators.

Celebrates diverse cultural festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal hosts a variety of cultural festivals, celebrating different ethnicities, traditions, and art forms.

Electric power played a significant role in its early development.

Elektrostal owes its name and initial growth to the establishment of electric power stations and the utilization of electricity in the industrial sector.

Boasts a thriving economy.

The city’s strong industrial base, coupled with its strategic location near Moscow, has contributed to Elektrostal’s prosperous economic status.

Houses the Elektrostal Drama Theater.

The Elektrostal Drama Theater is a cultural centerpiece, attracting theater enthusiasts from far and wide.

Popular destination for winter sports.

Elektrostal’s proximity to ski resorts and winter sport facilities makes it a favorite destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Promotes environmental sustainability.

Elektrostal prioritizes environmental protection and sustainability, implementing initiatives to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources.

Home to renowned educational institutions.

Elektrostal is known for its prestigious schools and universities, offering a wide range of academic programs to students.

Committed to cultural preservation.

The city values its cultural heritage and takes active steps to preserve and promote traditional customs, crafts, and arts.

Hosts an annual International Film Festival.

The Elektrostal International Film Festival attracts filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of films.

Encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elektrostal supports aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters a culture of innovation, providing opportunities for startups and business development.

Offers a range of housing options.

Elektrostal provides diverse housing options, including apartments, houses, and residential complexes, catering to different lifestyles and budgets.

Home to notable sports teams.

Elektrostal is proud of its sports legacy, with several successful sports teams competing at regional and national levels.

Boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a lively nightlife in Elektrostal, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

Promotes cultural exchange and international relations.

Elektrostal actively engages in international partnerships, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic collaborations to foster global connections.

Surrounded by beautiful nature reserves.

Nearby nature reserves, such as the Barybino Forest and Luchinskoye Lake, offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Commemorates historical events.

The city pays tribute to significant historical events through memorials, monuments, and exhibitions, ensuring the preservation of collective memory.

Promotes sports and youth development.

Elektrostal invests in sports infrastructure and programs to encourage youth participation, health, and physical fitness.

Hosts annual cultural and artistic festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal celebrates its cultural diversity through festivals dedicated to music, dance, art, and theater.

Provides a picturesque landscape for photography enthusiasts.

The city’s scenic beauty, architectural landmarks, and natural surroundings make it a paradise for photographers.

Connects to Moscow via a direct train line.

The convenient train connection between Elektrostal and Moscow makes commuting between the two cities effortless.

A city with a bright future.

Elektrostal continues to grow and develop, aiming to become a model city in terms of infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life for its residents.

In conclusion, Elektrostal is a fascinating city with a rich history and a vibrant present. From its origins as a center of steel production to its modern-day status as a hub for education and industry, Elektrostal has plenty to offer both residents and visitors. With its beautiful parks, cultural attractions, and proximity to Moscow, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this dynamic city. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Elektrostal has something for everyone. So, next time you find yourself in the Moscow region, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of Elektrostal.

Q: What is the population of Elektrostal?

A: As of the latest data, the population of Elektrostal is approximately XXXX.

Q: How far is Elektrostal from Moscow?

A: Elektrostal is located approximately XX kilometers away from Moscow.

Q: Are there any famous landmarks in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to several notable landmarks, including XXXX and XXXX.

Q: What industries are prominent in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal is known for its steel production industry and is also a center for engineering and manufacturing.

Q: Are there any universities or educational institutions in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to XXXX University and several other educational institutions.

Q: What are some popular outdoor activities in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal offers several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking in its beautiful parks.

Q: Is Elektrostal well-connected in terms of transportation?

A: Yes, Elektrostal has good transportation links, including trains and buses, making it easily accessible from nearby cities.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including XXXX and XXXX.

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UChicago Supplemental Essay Questions

The University of Chicago has long been renowned for our provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.

Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.

As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.

2023-24 UChicago Supplement

Question 1 (required).

How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)

Essay option 1.

Exponents and square roots, pencils and erasers, beta decay and electron capture. Name two things that undo each other and explain why both are necessary. – Inspired by Emmett Cho, Class of 2027

Essay Option 2

“Where have all the flowers gone?” – Pete Seeger. Pick a question from a song title or lyric and give it your best answer. – Inspired by Ryan Murphy, AB’21

Essay Option 3

“Vlog,” “Labradoodle,” and “Fauxmage.” Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match). – Inspired by Garrett Chalfin, Class of 2027

Essay Option 4

A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept. – Inspired by Sonia Chang, Class of 2025, and Mirabella Blair, Class of 2027

Essay Option 5

Despite their origins in the Gupta Empire of India or Ancient Egypt, games like chess or bowling remain widely enjoyed today. What modern game do you believe will withstand the test of time, and why? – Inspired by Adam Heiba, Class of 2027

Essay Option 6

There are unwritten rules that everyone follows or has heard at least once in their life. But of course, some rules should be broken or updated. What is an unwritten rule that you wish didn’t exist? (Our custom is to have five new prompts each year, but this year we decided to break with tradition. Enjoy!) – Inspired by Maryam Abdella, Class of 2026

Essay Option 7

And, as always… the classic choose your own adventure option! In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun!

Some classic questions from previous years…

Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here . —Inspired by Josh Kaufman, AB'18

You are on an expedition to found a colony on Mars, when from a nearby crater, a group of Martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they're the impatient kind and demand you represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea. What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time? —Inspired by Alexander Hastings, Class of 2023, and Olivia Okun-Dubitsky, Class of 2026

Who does Sally sell her seashells to? How much wood can a woodchuck really chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Pick a favorite tongue twister (either originally in English or translated from another language) and consider a resolution to its conundrum using the method of your choice. Math, philosophy, linguistics... it's all up to you (or your woodchuck). —Inspired by Blessing Nnate, Class of 2024

What can actually be divided by zero? —Inspired by Mai Vu, Class of 2024

The seven liberal arts in antiquity consisted of the Quadrivium — astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music — and the Trivium — rhetoric, grammar, and logic. Describe your own take on the Quadrivium or the Trivium. What do you think is essential for everyone to know? —Inspired by Peter Wang, Class of 2022

Subway maps, evolutionary trees, Lewis diagrams. Each of these schematics tells the relationships and stories of their component parts. Reimagine a map, diagram, or chart. If your work is largely or exclusively visual, please include a cartographer's key of at least 300 words to help us best understand your creation. —Inspired by Maximilian Site, Class of 2020

"Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" - Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so. —Inspired by Chris Davey, AB’13

Engineer George de Mestral got frustrated with burrs stuck to his dog’s fur and applied the same mechanic to create Velcro. Scientist Percy Lebaron Spencer found a melted chocolate bar in his magnetron lab and discovered microwave cooking. Dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly found his tablecloth clean after a kerosene lamp was knocked over on it, consequently shaping the future of dry cleaning. Describe a creative or interesting solution, and then find the problem that it solves. —Inspired by Steve Berkowitz, AB’19, and Neeharika Venuturupalli, Class of 2024

Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story. —Inspired by Drew Donaldson, AB’16

Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Milo drives through the tollbooth. Dorothy is swept up in the tornado. Neo takes the red pill. Don’t tell us about another world you’ve imagined, heard about, or created. Rather, tell us about its portal. Sure, some people think of the University of Chicago as a portal to their future, but please choose another portal to write about. —Inspired by Raphael Hallerman, Class of 2020

What’s so odd about odd numbers? —Inspired by Mario Rosasco, AB’09

Vestigiality refers to genetically determined structures or attributes that have apparently lost most or all of their ancestral function, but have been retained during the process of evolution. In humans, for instance, the appendix is thought to be a vestigial structure. Describe something vestigial (real or imagined) and provide an explanation for its existence. —Inspired by Tiffany Kim, Class of 2020

In French, there is no difference between “conscience” and “consciousness.” In Japanese, there is a word that specifically refers to the splittable wooden chopsticks you get at restaurants. The German word “fremdschämen” encapsulates the feeling you get when you’re embarrassed on behalf of someone else. All of these require explanation in order to properly communicate their meaning, and are, to varying degrees, untranslatable. Choose a word, tell us what it means, and then explain why it cannot (or should not) be translated from its original language. —Inspired by Emily Driscoll, Class of 2018

Little pigs, French hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together. —Inspired by Zilin Cui, Class of 2018

The mantis shrimp can perceive both polarized light and multispectral images; they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human eyes have color receptors for three colors (red, green, and blue); the mantis shrimp has receptors for sixteen types of color, enabling them to see a spectrum far beyond the capacity of the human brain. Seriously, how cool is the mantis shrimp: mantisshrimp.uchicago.edu What might they be able to see that we cannot? What are we missing? —Inspired by Tess Moran, AB’16

How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy. —Inspired by Florence Chan, AB’15

The ball is in your court—a penny for your thoughts, but say it, don’t spray it. So long as you don’t bite off more than you can chew, beat around the bush, or cut corners, writing this essay should be a piece of cake. Create your own idiom, and tell us its origin—you know, the whole nine yards. PS: A picture is worth a thousand words. —Inspired by April Bell, AB'17, and Maya Shaked, Class of 2018 (It takes two to tango.)

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” –Oscar Wilde. Othello and Iago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. Autobots and Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined). —Inspired by Martin Krzywy, AB’16

Heisenberg claims that you cannot know both the position and momentum of an electron with total certainty. Choose two other concepts that cannot be known simultaneously and discuss the implications. (Do not consider yourself limited to the field of physics). —Inspired by Doran Bennett, AB’07

Susan Sontag, AB’51, wrote that “[s]ilence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.” Write about an issue or a situation when you remained silent, and explain how silence may speak in ways that you did or did not intend. The Aesthetics of Silence, 1967. —Anonymous Suggestion

“…I [was] eager to escape backward again, to be off to invent a past for the present.” —The Rose Rabbi by Daniel Stern Present: pres·ent 1. Something that is offered, presented, or given as a gift. Let’s stick with this definition. Unusual presents, accidental presents, metaphorical presents, re-gifted presents, etc.—pick any present you have ever received and invent a past for it. —Inspired by Jennifer Qin, AB’16

So where is Waldo, really? —Inspired by Robin Ye, AB’16

Find x. —Inspired by Benjamin Nuzzo, an admitted student from Eton College, UK

Dog and Cat. Coffee and Tea. Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone knows there are two types of people in the world. What are they? —Inspired by an anonymous alumna, AB'06

How did you get caught? (Or not caught, as the case may be.) —Inspired by Kelly Kennedy, AB’10

Chicago author Nelson Algren said, “A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street.” Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical. —Anonymous Suggestion

UChicago professor W. J. T. Mitchell entitled his 2005 book What Do Pictures Want? Describe a picture, and explore what it wants. —Inspired by Anna Andel

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.“—Miles Davis (1926–91) —Inspired by Jack Reeves

University of Chicago alumna and renowned author/critic Susan Sontag said, “The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.” We all have heard serious questions, absurd questions, and seriously absurd questions, some of which cannot be answered without obliterating the very question. Destroy a question with your answer. —Inspired by Aleksandra Ciric

“Mind that does not stick.” —Zen Master Shoitsu (1202–80)

Superstring theory has revolutionized speculation about the physical world by suggesting that strings play a pivotal role in the universe. Strings, however, always have explained or enriched our lives, from Theseus’s escape route from the Labyrinth, to kittens playing with balls of yarn, to the single hair that held the sword above Damocles, to the Old Norse tradition that one’s life is a thread woven into a tapestry of fate, to the beautiful sounds of the finely tuned string of a violin, to the children’s game of cat’s cradle, to the concept of stringing someone along. Use the power of string to explain the biggest or the smallest phenomenon. —Inspired by Adam Sobolweski

Have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought it, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard. —Inspired by Katherine Gold

People often think of language as a connector, something that brings people together by helping them share experiences, feelings, ideas, etc. We, however, are interested in how language sets people apart. Start with the peculiarities of your own personal language—the voice you use when speaking most intimately to yourself, the vocabulary that spills out when you’re startled, or special phrases and gestures that no one else seems to use or even understand—and tell us how your language makes you unique. You may want to think about subtle riffs or idiosyncrasies based on cadence, rhythm, rhyme, or (mis)pronunciation. —Inspired by Kimberly Traube

In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a "tree-mail" service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you’d send to your favorite. -Inspired by Hannah Lu, Class of 2020 

You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth? -Inspired by Chandani Latey, AB'93 

The word floccinaucinihilipilification is the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant or of having no value. It originated in the mid-18th century from the Latin words "floccus," "naucum," "nihilum," and "pilus"—all words meaning “of little use.” Coin your own word using parts from any language you choose, tell us its meaning, and describe the plausible (if only to you) scenarios in which it would be most appropriately used.  -Inspired by Ben Zhang, Class of 2022 

Lost your keys? Alohomora. Noisy roommate? Quietus. Feel the need to shatter windows for some reason? Finestra. Create your own spell, charm, jinx, or other means for magical mayhem. How is it enacted? Is there an incantation? Does it involve a potion or other magical object? If so, what's in it or what is it? What does it do?  -Inspired by Emma Sorkin, Class of 2021 

Imagine you’ve struck a deal with the Dean of Admissions himself, Dean Nondorf. It goes as follows: you’re guaranteed admission to the University of Chicago regardless of any circumstances that arise. This bond is grounded on the condition that you’ll obtain a blank, 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and draw, write, sketch, shade, stencil, paint etc., anything and everything you want on it; your only limitations will be the boundaries of both sides on the single page. Now the catch… your submission, for the rest of your life, will always be the first thing anyone you meet for the first time will see. Whether it’s at a job interview, a blind date, arrival at your first Humanities class, before you even say, “hey,” they’ll already have seen your page, and formulated that first impression. Show us your page. What’s on it, and why? If your piece is largely or exclusively visual, please make sure to share a creator's accompanying statement of at least 300 words, which we will happily allow to be on its own, separate page. PS: This is a creative thought experiment, and selecting this essay prompt does not guarantee your admission to UChicago. -Inspired by Amandeep Singh Ahluwalia, Class of 2022

Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has three lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why? -Inspired by Kendrick Shin, Class of 2019

If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden (along with other restaurants and their concepts of food infinity) offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless.  -Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023 

A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______? -Inspired by Arya Muralidharan, Class of 2021 (and dozens of others who, this year and in past years, have submitted the question “Is a hot dog a sandwich,” to which we reply, “maybe”)

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West -Inspired by Elizabeth Mansfield, Class of 2020

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A Classical & Christ-Centered Education

Classical Christian Education

Classical Christian Education

Christ-centered.

In all its levels, programs, and teaching, Logos School seeks to: Teach all subjects as parts of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center (II Timothy 3:16-17); Provide a clear model of the biblical Christian life through our staff and board (Matthew 22:37-40); Encourage every student to begin and develop his relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 19:13-15).

In all its levels, programs, and teaching, Logos School seeks to: Emphasize grammar, logic, and rhetoric in all subjects (see definitions below); Encourage every student to develop a love for learning and live up to his academic potential; Provide an orderly atmosphere conducive to the attainment of the above goals.

Grammar : The fundamental rules of each subject. Logic : The ordered relationship of particulars in each subject. Rhetoric : How the grammar and logic of each subject may be clearly expressed.

What Do We Mean by Classical?

In the 1940’s the British author, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay titled The Lost Tools of Learning . In it she not only calls for a return to the application of the seven liberal arts of ancient education, the first three being the “Trivium” – grammar, logic, rhetoric, she also combines three stages of children’s development to the Trivium. Specifically, she matches what she calls the “Poll-parrot” stage with grammar, “Pert” with logic, and “Poetic” with rhetoric (see The Lost Tools Chart ). At Logos, the founding board members were intrigued with this idea of applying a classical education in a Christian context. Doug Wilson, a founding board member explained the classical method further in his book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. Logos School has been committed to implementing this form of education since the school’s inception.

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  2. How to Write the University of California Essays 2023-2024

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  3. How to Write the UC Application Essays

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  4. Guide into UC Supplemental Essays

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  5. Common App Essays Prompts 2023-2024

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  1. Personal insight questions

    Remember, the personal insight questions are just that—personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who you are, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC. 1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have ...

  2. How to Write the University of California Essays 2023-2024

    3. Outline the structure of your essay, and plan out content for an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 4. Before you start writing your essay, write one or two sentences that summarize how you would like the admissions officers to perceive you based on this essay.

  3. 2023-24 University of California (UC) Essay Prompt Guide

    The Requirements: 4 out of 8 essays, 350 words each. Supplemental Essay Type (s): Oddball, Community, Activity. The UC application sounds like a riddle. Every student must write four essays, but choose from eight prompts. The rules may be unfamiliar, but the game is the same: tell admissions something they don't know - and then do it three ...

  4. 20 UC Essay Examples

    Prompt 3: Greatest Talent or Skill. UC Example Essay #8: "The Art Girl". Prompt 4: Significant Opportunity or Barrier. UC Example Essay #9. UC Example Essay #10. UC Example Essay #11: "Two Truths, One Lie". UC Example Essay #12: Prompt 5: Overcoming a Challenge. UC Essay Example #13: "Breaking Up With Mom".

  5. How to Write the UC Essay Prompts 2023/2024 (+ Examples)

    Quick tips for each of the UC PIQ prompts. 6 tips for assessing if these are the "right" topics for you. A mini-step-by-step guide to writing each response. How to write each PIQ (with examples) Prompt #1: Leadership. Prompt #2: Creative. Prompt #3: Greatest Talent or Skill. Prompt #4: Significant Educational Opportunity/Barrier.

  6. How to Write Great UC Essays (Examples of All Personal Insight

    The Common App gives you the chance to make one single, bold, loud statement—a 650-word personal statement—and to embellish that essay with more information in the Activities section and, in some cases, in supplemental essays. The UC application, by contrast, gives you four chances to make shorter, more focused statements.

  7. UC Essay Prompts 2023-24

    UC Essay Prompt # 1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. Leadership is an admirable quality, but it can manifest in many different forms. This essay is not only for those who captained a varsity team to a state title ...

  8. How to Write the University of California Supplement 2023-2024

    1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. When a school asks you to describe an example, that means they want to hear a story. Whatever you choose to write this one about, tell it as a story.

  9. UC Essay Prompts

    UC Essay Prompts 2023-2024. Students applying to UC schools must be prepared to answer the UC prompts as part of the application process. ... Unlike the school-specific nature of some supplemental essays, your UC essays should not mention a specific school. They are, instead, solely focused on your personal experiences. ...

  10. Guide into UC Supplemental Essays

    The Ultimate Guide to Writing the UC Supplemental Essays. The University of California is one of the most esteemed universities in California and is ranked by many major publications as the top 10 institutions of higher learning in the entire country. These accolades are a clear indication of UC's popularity and explain why thousands of high school graduates apply for a chance of joining the ...

  11. How to Write the UC Essays 2023-2024

    Our writers and consultants come from the nation's top schools, such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. Having gone through a rigorous vetting process, our team is ready to support college-bound students with personalized essay feedback and admissions advice. We've broken down the eight UC essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

  12. UC Essay Examples

    When applying to any of the University of California schools, you'll face a series of supplemental essays in which you are asked to quickly and, with sufficient detail, provide personal insight into who you are as a person.These essays can be confusing to students, who might be used to writing the Common App essay, which asks for a well-written story in 650 words.

  13. UC Essay Prompts: Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD

    The University of California schools have released their 2023-2024 essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2024. Unlike most highly selective universities, the UC schools are not members of The Common Application — the school has its own application. Just like in previous years, applicants to the University of California, Berkeley, the ...

  14. Supplemental Essay Guide 2023-24

    Yale University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide. What do the 2023-24 supplemental essay prompts really mean, and how should you approach them? CEA's experts are here to break them all down.

  15. Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Your supplemental essays must be submitted by 11:59 pm PST on December 15, 2023. Describe how the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program in Engineering and Business at UC Berkeley will help you to achieve your goals. Share with us the world you come from (for example, your family, school, community, city, or town).

  16. How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    All Applicants Prompt 1: Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections (250 words). Prompt 2 (optional): Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term ...

  17. How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    Our writers and consultants come from the nation's top schools, such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. Having gone through a rigorous vetting process, our team is ready to support college-bound students with personalized essay feedback and admissions advice. We've broken down the USC supplemental essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

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    Essay Option 3. "Vlog," "Labradoodle," and "Fauxmage.". Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a "patch" (perfect match). - Inspired by Garrett Chalfin, Class of 2027. Essay Option 4. A jellyfish is not a fish.

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  23. Classical Christian Education

    CHRIST-CENTERED. In all its levels, programs, and teaching, Logos School seeks to: Teach all subjects as parts of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center (II Timothy 3:16-17); Provide a clear model of the biblical Christian life through our staff and board (Matthew 22:37-40); Encourage every student to begin and develop his relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ ...

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    Ж Read reader responses to this essay at bit.ly/1e6qiss Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the University of Sydney. He was inaugural deputy editor, then editor of Tobacco Control for 17 years and is now emeritus editor. In 2003 he was awarded the American Cancer Society's Luther Terry Medal for outstanding individual leadership in