Monday, October 3, 2011

UC Personal Statement

Here are some helpful points to remember as you begin working on your UC personal statement:

1. The purpose of the personal statement is to complete the application; therefore it is important that you completely fill out your application before you begin writing your personal statement. The personal statement helps put the rest of your application in context.
2. The maximum limit is 1000 words. You may write as many words as you want in each prompt, but UC recommends that you write at least 250 words in the shorter response. Going over the limit by a few words, e.g. 1000+12, is fine.
3. Only UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Merced use the personal statement in making admissions decisions; however, all UC campuses may use the personal statement in determining qualifications for scholarships.
4. No admission decision will be based on the personal statement alone. There are many factors to consider, e.g. GPA, preparation for the major, employment history, extra-curricular activities, etc.
5. Even if you apply for different majors at more than one campus, you can submit only one personal statement; therefore, your response to Prompt #1 must be carefully worded to indicate your true academic goal (i.e. don’t make your response pertain to only one major or campus).
6. For Prompt #2, be specific; choose ONE quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution, OR experience to discuss.
7. Remember who your readers are: UC faculty and admissions professionals. Also remember that the personal statement is a college-level piece of writing, so put a lot of thought and attention into it.
8. Remember that your readers might have only a few minutes (3-5) to read your statement. Quality, not quantity, counts.
9. It is fine to get feedback from others on your statement, but ultimately it must be written by you alone! Don’t get too many people to give you feedback; if you do, your statement will become their words, not yours.
10. There are no secret tricks or strategies in writing the personal statement. The admissions committees want to get to know who you are as a person. It’s like an interview, only on paper rather than in person. They are not looking for anything in particular except YOU.
11. Compose your personal statement in a word processing program, then copy and paste into the appropriate fields in the online application.
12. Use the Additional Comments section to explain things that aren’t explained in other parts of your application, e.g. why you have a lot of W’s on your transcript, gaps in your education, etc. But do NOT use Additional Comments as an extension of your personal statement. It is NOT “Prompt #3.”

Web address for the UC online application:

Web address for the UC personal statement: