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The Personal Statement
Transcript of The Personal Statement
Phase 1: Understanding the Prompt
Understand what is being asked.
Break the question into different parts if possible.
Consider what you really want to share and how it relates to WHO YOU ARE.
Is there a story that needs to be told that isn't addressed elsewhere on your application.
Phase 2: Brainstorm
Understand and respect your writing process while doing the same for the task.
Brainstorming is only meant to help you flush out potential gems.
The purpose of brainstorming is to write out ideas and thoughts without regard for their connection to one another.
The effectiveness of "Questions to Consider" and other tasks will vary...
Phase 3: Filter through your ideas and WRITE
Consider the following questions to narrow your list of possible topics:
Provides additional evidence of your intellectual and creative acheivements
Is likely the only opportunity the reader will have to get to know you as a person.
Helps the reader understand a student's interests, acheivements, opportunities, and challenges.
Although it can be a frustrating experience it is also one of the most rewarding
Because you are more than just a set of numbers
The personal statement is not...
Solely a sample of writing skills
An exhaustive listing of activities
An exaggeration of problems
Who are the Readers?
What are readers looking for?
Thoughtful, incisive reflection
Personal qualites including but, not
leadership (formal & informal)
Commitment / Meaningful
Students who have demonstrated
a sensitivity and respect for
Keep in mind:
you may find that some ideas that seemed promising do not translate well onto paper.
do not be discouraged if you have a couple of false starts.
Once you have decided what you want to write about, WRITE!
If your topic or subject is one that many applicants might write about, do you have a unigue approach that will make it stand out from the others?
Does your idea have good supporting examples or anecdotes?
Does the topic allow you to analyze an issue?
Can your idea be expressed within the limits of the essay?
Will your essay be interesting and/or creative?
Can you present the topic in a way that will appeal to a wide audience?
Will the topic show the REAL you?
Can the topic/essay be recycled?
Characteristic of a Good Essay
Answers the question & conforms to the guidelines
Is thoughtful and honest
Follows the conventions of good writing but reads as a narrative
Strives for depth and not breadth
Contains an introduction that engages the reader
Gets to the point and does not repeat information
Transforms blemishes into positives
Exudes a quiet confidence
Don't try to
Share something that's
DON'T cross the
line between creativity
Don't try to
use humor if you're
Edit and Polish Your Essay
Do not take feedback personally
Consider each suggestion
Find 3 to 5 people
Hand your paper to someone
who knows you well and
someone you trust but may not
know you as well
As your paper nears its final
draft you should only have 1 or
2 people editing your paper
Answer 4/8 Personal Insight Questions:
Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolved disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in different ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side
What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected you academic achievement.
Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.
What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their
application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons
did you learn?
Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you
make the same decision again?
Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience
there, and why is it meaningful to you?
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from
childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Who are trying to find reasons to accept you.
Looking for factors that suggest you would not only be a successful student, but will also contribute to the community.
Admissions readers spend 8-12 min reviewing your application. They will spend anywhere between 4-6 min on your essay(s)