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UC Berkeley Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

When it comes to applying to the top schools in the country, your application is vitally important. In order to give yourself the best chance of gaining admission, you need to make sure all aspects of your application are top-notch. In this post, we’re going to do a deep dive into how to write UC Berkeley supplemental essays for 2022-2023 and everything you need to keep in mind as you write.

Applying to UC Berkeley is part of the process to apply to any of the ten UC campuses. The UC system has its own application, and its own list of essay prompts. This essay prompts are for all applicants regardless of which campuses they choose to apply to.

UC Berkeley does not use the common app, so this means that you will be asked to answer essay questions provided by the UC system. The UC Berkeley supplemental essays 2022-2023 allow applicants a certain amount of freedom when choosing their supplemental essay topic, but we’re going to look at each essay prompt and discuss the best way to respond to each topic.

So, let’s start by looking at each supplemental essay prompt, and then we will discuss how to approach each one individually.

As we’ve said these essay prompts are for all students applying to all campuses within the UC system. When writing essays, there are some things to keep in mind. The UC system provides applicants with eight essay prompts and you must answer four of them. The essays are not weighted in any way, and you are encouraged to choose the essay topics that are most relevant to you.

How to write UC Berkeley supplemental essays?

Applicants are asked to answer four of the eight essay prompts, and the UC Berkeley supplemental essay word limit is 350 words per response.

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.

This prompt asks you to reflect on times when you took a leadership role, but leadership can take many forms. Not everyone will be student body president or captain of the football team, but there’s a good chance that you’ve been involved in some sort of activity where you either chose to take the lead, or you had leadership thrust upon you. This might have come in the form of taking charge of a group project or rallying your peers for a cause. It may have even been a leadership role within your family. The goal is to be specific about the circumstances and the impact you were able to have.

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

Many students worry that if they don’t participate in the arts, it means they don’t have a creative side, but this isn’t true. Creativity is essential for nearly any important project. Creativity can take the form of problem-solving, and this can relate to the type of career you want to have. The key is to look at creativity very broadly and zero in on the ways that you are creative.

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

If you are a concert pianist or a master glass blower, this is the place to talk about it. But a talent or skill doesn’t always manifest artistically. Sometimes a talent or skill is something much simpler, but the point here isn’t how impressive your talent is, but rather the process you went through to acquire the skill. Talk about your journey, and how it has affected your life.

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

No matter how successful you are as a student, nearly everyone has something they have overcome in their academic career. At the same time, you’ve likely also become involved in some sort of educational activity that has had a unique impact on you and your path. This might be a high-level course in high school or a college-level course. It could also be a program you attended over the summer or after schools like an internship or apprenticeship.

The key to answering this prompt is to concentrate on how you took advantage of the opportunity, and what this will mean for your future. Or how you were able to overcome adversity. What did you need to do to remove that obstacle? And what lessons have you learned from the experience?

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?

This prompt is similar to the one above, but it’s a bit broader. This could be a personal or family challenge, a challenge that faced your community, or it could be an academic challenge. The key to responding to this prompt is what you have learned from the challenge. It’s not a contest to see who has faced the biggest challenge, but rather an opportunity for you to discuss the personal integrity that was required to overcome the challenge.

If you are still working through your challenge, write about what you’ve learned so far, and what action you plan to take in the future.

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

Most students have an area of study that is more interesting than anything else. This prompt allows you to discuss what makes you excited about learning, and it gives you a chance to showcase your intellectual curiosity. Write about what made you so excited about this subject, and why you want to continue pursuing it.

The second part of this prompt asks you to discuss how you transitioned your interest in this subject to other aspects of your life. Did you become active in clubs or community service organizations? Did you devote your summers to programs that allowed you to further your passion? The UC system wants students who are excited about learning, and this is where you can demonstrate your personal passion.

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

Again, when considering this prompt, think of the concept of community as broadly as possible. This could be your school community, your town, your team, or even your group of friends. The key is to focus on a tangible experience in which you took made the effort to effect positive change.

When responding to this prompt, think about why you chose to act, and the obstacles you may have faced when you acted. Reflect on your process, and why you chose the actions you took. And finally, write about the outcome of your action. Did it result in lasting change or did you have to take further action? The goal of this prompt is to demonstrate that you are the kind of person who is proactive and dedicated.

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

As you’ve worked through the UC application and the UC Berkeley supplemental essays 2022-2023, consider if there is something significant about your life or your education that the UC needs to know. Do you have skills that have not been reflected so far on your application? Have you experienced challenges that are relevant to admissions officers? You can also discuss why the UC system is the right choice for you because of a specific reason.

At AdmissionSight, our goal is to help you with every step of the college admissions process. The UC Berkeley supplemental essays 2022 can seem daunting at first, but our experience and expertise will help you navigate the entire process with confidence. Hopefully, this guide to the UC Berkeley supplemental essays 2022-2023 has been helpful, but if you want more information about how AdmissionSight can help you realize your dreams, set up your free consultation today.

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Essays help us learn about who you are as a person and how you will add to our community. We seek candidates from a broad range of industries, backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences.

Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles - Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. We encourage you to reflect on your experiences, values, and passions so that you may craft thoughtful and authentic responses that demonstrate your alignment with our principles. 

Below are the required essays, supplemental essays, and optional essays for the Fall 2022-2023 application cycle. 

Required Essay #1

What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)

Required Essay #2

What kind of leader do you aspire to be, and why? (300 words max)

Optional Essays

The admissions team takes a holistic approach to application review and seeks to understand all aspects of a candidate’s character, qualifications, and experiences. We will consider achievements in the context of the opportunities available to a candidate. Some applicants may have faced hardships or unusual life circumstances, and we will consider the maturity, perseverance, and thoughtfulness with which they have responded to and/or overcome them.

Optional Information #1

We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.

Optional Information #2 

Supplemental Information

  • If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain. If not applicable, enter N/A.
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  • Nature of organization or activity
  • Size of organization
  • Dates of involvement
  • Offices held
  • Average number of hours spent per month
  • List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
  • If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended, or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)

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How to Write the UC Berkeley Supplemental Essays

All eight UC undergraduate colleges use their own application rather than the Common, Universal, or Coalition application. Consequently they provide a unique set of prompts for students applying to the UC system.

  • 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. You should select questions that are most relevant to your experience, that best reflect your individual circumstances and highlight your personal strengths.

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?

As stated in “Things to consider,” this prompt is asking about what you’ve learned through your leadership roles. How did you make a positive impact through your actions, and what was the lasting change you created? The impact does not have to be on a macro level; in fact, it could be a positive interaction you’ve had with your team or with the members of the community that changed you or the people around you for the better. Here are some great examples to reflect on – caring for a family member(s), resolving a conflict, or stepping up in an organization you’re already a part of!

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?

For this prompt, try to think outside the box and reflect on unique and memorable ways in which you’ve approached thinking differently. As stated in the prompt, your response is not limited to creative or artistic endeavors. You can think back to an experience where you took a nontraditional approach to address an issue that came up in a club or an organization you’re a part of. Tell us a story. Walk us through the experience, your thought process and how you implemented a creative approach to resolving the conflict or problem.

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’s 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?

This is the space where you can write about how you’ve developed skills and talents that are unique to you. Here are a few other questions to reflect on: what is your first memory of you exploring this talent or skill? How have you developed it over time, and how does it bring you joy? Do you see yourself continuing to hone your skill or talent in college, and if so, how?

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?

This prompt is open-ended and deliberately vague in describing educational opportunities and barriers. That means you are free to call upon memorable experiences that you have had, and how your participation inspired or encouraged you to learn and grow. You may also choose to write about a time when you faced an obstacle and how you overcame it to continue your education, a passion, or an experience. What did you learn by overcoming the obstacle(s) and how did that change your approach to learning, people, or life in general? Did it inspire you to make a change within your community? Do you see yourself in a role that will knock those barriers down for others?

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?”

Life is an adventure, and challenges play a huge role in shaping our values and skills! Of all the different barriers you’ve surmounted throughout your life, selecting the most moving and impactful anecdote will be key to answering this question. Your essay should demonstrate maturity, resilience, and have a clear narrative arc explaining why you wouldn’t be the same person without undergoing your challenge.

To tackle this question, you really want to focus on three key aspects: recency, uniqueness and impact. Firstly, rather than address an obstacle you overcame when you were young, zero in on a recent challenge that you can write about with fresh and vivid detail. Additionally chronicling a roadblock that colleges may have heard a million times, such as persisting through quarantine boredom or conquering a difficult research paper, may not help you stand out as much as detailing that time you coached your Bharatanatyam troupe through a stellar performance. If Covid-19 irrevocably shifted your family life or worldview, definitely don’t shy away from discussing it, but missed friends and TikTok rabbit holes may not speak to your personal development in the most distinctive way. It’s crucial to prioritize two words from the prompt here: “personal” and “overcome.” Focus your writing on how the difficulty affected your personal life and the specific ways in which you transformed it into a learning experience.

Colleges want to know how well you can thrive and endure when things don’t go your way, since college itself will be full of hurdles that you’ll have to face with a good head on your shoulders. For this reason, try to show, rather than tell, your growth mindset. You could potentially juxtapose two situations: one in which you failed, and a later one in which you implemented what you learned the first time around in order to succeed.Whatever topic you choose, make sure it’s one that you’ve fully grappled with and are ready to discuss! You don’t want a bitter or unsure undertone to ruin a potentially great story, so select your topic with discretion.

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?

Ah, the classic “Why this major?” question… you’ve seen it many times before, so you should feel a bit more comfortable approaching this prompt! Unlike at many other top colleges, students applying to the UC system choose a major before they start school. While you don’t have to stick to this major forever, you should definitely do some soul searching before you apply to determine what major would be the best choice for you. What sparks your curiosity the most? What do you dream of doing 10 years from now? Although you don’t have to choose an esoteric topic to prove your cerebral might, you shouldn’t be afraid of showing your academic, passionate or nerdy side here! Be yourself, and explain both what your most authentic intellectual interests are and how UC is the perfect place for you to pursue them.

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?

This essay is a great opportunity to show your admissions officer your values and culture, as to help them imagine how you would function within their college community. Focusing on a single, measurable community impact will be a far greater use of this essay’s real estate than several vague and disjointed examples, so describe your experience with leadership in mind. How would your community have been different without you? Why was your impact a contribution only you could make?

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?

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.

This is the prompt equivalent of Bingo’s “free space:” it’s a chance for you to write about a new part of your interests, values and background. If you choose to answer this prompt, your essay should help paint a more complete picture of you as a UC applicant, student, and person. This essay should not be a list of all of the accomplishments you couldn’t fit elsewhere in your application. You can, however, dive into a passion project you completed that didn’t exactly fit with any of the other prompts, a competition you won that has a great story behind it, or a talent you are developing that you think really sets you apart.

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University of California 2022-23 Essay Prompt Guide

University of california  2022-2023 application essay question explanations.

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 more times! The instructions counsel you to “select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances,” and frankly, we couldn’t agree more. A strategic applicant will choose a constellation of prompts that highlight vastly different aspects of their lives and personalities, leaving an admissions officer with a deep and complete picture of who they are. Don’t get hung up on trying to divine the questions admissions wants you to answer. In the end, they just want to get to know the real you, plus the application swears that “there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.” So follow your heart (!) and don’t let the fatigue get to you. Avoid robotically starting every answer by restating the question and be as anecdotal as possible. With each essay, your goal isn’t just to answer the question, but to tell a very short story about yourself!

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.

When answering this question, avoid the siren song of your resume. This question isn’t asking you for a list! Remember: it’s your job, as an applicant, to use every essay as an opportunity to reveal something new about yourself. Think of a moment when you were in a position where you worked really hard to help a group of people. Maybe you are always the one helping your younger siblings with their homework, and you struggled to find ways to engage your dyslexic younger brother with math. Maybe, as a camp counselor or church volunteer, you were in charge of choreographing and instructing a number for a group of seven-year-old hip hop dancers to perform. Perhaps, on a Habitat for Humanity school trip, you became the head cook, whipping up everything from pancakes to chicken fajitas while galvanizing a team of sous chefs to pitch in.  

The point is, try to isolate a single leadership moment, and bring it to life with vivid details. Describe where you were, what was happening around you, and what you were feeling. Discuss what challenges you faced, and what you ultimately learned from the experience. Don’t shy away from challenges or even failures, since these are exactly the sorts of character-building experiences that can demonstrate resilience and quick thinking.

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.

You may think that this question was geared towards the artistically inclined, but take a closer look. The wording offers many potential definitions that veer away from traditional conceptions of creativity (and actually, it asks you for your personal definition!). Creativity lies in your outlook: seeing the opportunity to use one of your skills in a novel situation; looking at a problem from a new angle to find the solution that no one else could see. This question is, in reality, ideal for the more scientifically oriented to create a more well-rounded profile. Creative types, on the other hand, might want to proceed with caution since, really, every question is an opportunity to show off your talents and describe your artistic endeavors.

No matter who you are, though, remember this classic writing advice: show don’t tell. So, you claim that gardening, or Calculus, or painting is how you show your creative side. Okay. So, then immerse the reader in this activity with you . If you enjoy gardening, describe the plants, their qualities, and how you make your horticultural choices; are you drawn to the aesthetics or are you botanically inquisitive? Similarly, if your subject is Calculus, show the reader how you sat in your dad’s office for six hours straight trying to calculate Pi on a three dozen sheets of paper using red crayon.  If you love to paint, show the reader where you paint, what you paint, and why you paint, describing the colors, textures, materials—the essential process behind your art. Write descriptively so that the reader can feel as if he or she were experiencing your creative passion with you.

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’s 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.

If question 3 reminds you of question 2, you’re not alone. Often, when we talk about a talent or skill that we have honed over the course of a lifetime, we’re inclined to describe it as an art — a creative extension of who we are. So if you choose to respond to both of these questions, make sure to highlight distinct skills in each. 

The good news is: finding your subject should be easy! You just need to answer this question: what makes you proud? Think about the stories that your friends and family like to share about you. Think about moments when your hard work paid off. When you can zero in on an experience that makes your heart swell, you’ll be able to pinpoint your essential subject. If the memory of your first swim meet victory still makes you smile, draw us into your rigorous training schedule; describe the aspects of the sport that motivate you to wake up early and push yourself. What were your challenges? What has this experience taught you? This narrative should have a clear timeline that traces your growth from the past to the present and into the future. How do you plan to further develop your talent in college and/or after college? Show not only that you have grown, but that you will continue to grow as you take your first steps into adulthood.

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 are you today.

This question is tricky because it has two parts. So first break the question down: You can write about either A.) How you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity OR B.) How you have worked to overcome an educational barrier. The “or” is key. You are not being asked to write about both parts of this question. Just write about one.

If you have participated in an afterschool program, internship, honors program, or a special class that was meaningful or inspiring to you, you will want to think about choosing option A.  Maybe it was an afterschool program for young, aspiring lawyers, or an advanced history class that you took at your local community college. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your ambition and highlight the kinds of challenges that engage and excite you. Beyond underscoring an academic interest, reflect on the personal qualities required for you to succeed. And remember to show, not tell! It will save you from accidentally humble-bragging your way through this assignment. 

Now, for option B. If you have worked to overcome a disability, struggled in school because you have a different background than your peers, suffered financial hardship, or something along those lines, you can choose to write about option B. To nail this tricky task, you will need to highlight not only the ways you struggled, but also the qualities that helped you succeed. How would you define yourself? Resilient? Hardworking? Brave? Zero in on a quality that resonates with you, and write targeted descriptions that bring it to life. (No one is going to believe you if you just write, “I am resilient,” and leave it at that.) Lastly, reflect on how this barrier shaped who you are today, and what skills you gained through facing this educational barrier.

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”.

If you skipped question 4 or chose to write about option A, this question is a gift: a second chance to showcase your resilience in the face of obstacles. On the other hand, if you chose to write about option B in question 4, this might feel redundant. You are free to write about both, but again, proceed with caution and be sure to select a totally different challenge.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: questions that ask you to describe a struggle or failure are really probing for stories about success. What pro-active steps did you take to address the problem at hand? Even if your solution didn’t work out perfectly, what did you learn? In facing this challenge, did you discover a courageous, creative, or hard-working side of yourself? Did you learn something valuable about yourself or others? Highlight the upside. How did this challenge shape who you are today? And how will the skills that you gained dealing with this challenge will help you in college and beyond?

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.

If you’ve ever referred to yourself as a “nerd” or “geek”, this question is probably for you. To nail down a topic for this bad boy, you can work in two directions: (1) think about how your favorite academic subject has impacted your extracurricular pursuits, or (2) trace one of your favorite hobbies back to its origins in the classroom. Maybe your love of languages led you to take a job at a coffee shop frequented by multilingual tourists. Or perhaps your now-extensive coin collection was resurrected when you did a research project on ancient Roman currency. Whichever way you go about it, building a bridge between the scholarly and the personal lies at the heart of answering this prompt.

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.

Some backwards advice: When writing about community service, you should always start with yourself. Community service essays are cliché minefields. To avoid drifting into platitudes, you need to ground your writing in the specificity of your life. Don’t start with the action and end with what you learned. Instead, dig into your motivations. If you spent weeks petitioning your school community to raise the hourly wage for custodial staff, what prompted you to act? What assumptions did you have about income inequality and what did you learn about your community in the process? Or, maybe you weren’t too enthused about your community service. Maybe you participated in a soccer-team-mandated day of coaching a pee-wee team. What caused your skepticism? How did you turn the experience around?

Also, don’t just choose a topic that sounds impressive. “This year I acted as the co-chair of the Honors Society, presiding over twenty different cases.” If you didn’t, in fact, really enjoy Honors Society, write about a topic that means something to you instead. Think of a moment where you felt like you made a change in your local community. It can be something small; it does not have to be monumental, but it should mean a great deal to you. Describe the moment, using detail to bring it to life, and then reflect on what that experience taught you, and how you hope to continue these activities in the future.

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?

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 change. 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..

This question is really just what it says it is—an open-ended, choose-your-own-adventure question.  Is there something that you really, really want to tell the UC admissions team that you feel makes you a strong and unique candidate that is not showcased in the other three personal insight questions? As with the other questions, whatever topic you choose, please use detail and description to bring this topic to life for the reader, and include thoughtful reflection on why this topic matters to you. Also, be sure to explain why your chosen topic makes you stand out as a strong candidate for the UC schools, since the question specifically asks you to do that!

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Freshman Supplemental Essay Due

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UC Supplemental Applications

See below for a complete list of UC campuses and majors that require a supplemental application for admission (freshman and transfer applicants).

I also included majors that have a required or optional audition, interview, and/or portfolio that you need to submit AS PART OF THE APPLICATION PROCESS (majors that require audition or portfolio AFTER you have been admitted are NOT included). The list is based on information provided in the Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions .

Remember, if a supplemental application is required for the major you selected, you must submit one by the deadline to be considered for admission to the major . Depending on the UC campus, not submitting a required supplemental application can mean an automatic rejection from that campus. If you did not or do not plan to submit a supplemental application before the deadline for a major that requires it, contact the UC campus to find out if you can change your major .

Business Administration (transfer applicants only): Username and Temporary PIN should arrive via email by early December; supplemental application should be accessible through [email protected] by early January and the deadline is usually January 31. NOT submitting a supplemental application will result in an automatic rejection . Learn more about supplemental application and selection criteria here (scroll down to “Transfer”).

Global Management Program (freshman applicants only): Username and Temporary PIN should arrive via email a week after application submission for you to access the supplemental application through [email protected] (deadline is usually early January). Students not admitted to the GMP program will be considered for admission to Undeclared in the College of Letters and Science. Learn more about supplemental application and selection criteria here .

Management, Entrepreneurship, & Management (freshman applicants only): Username and Temporary PIN should arrive via email a week after application submission for you to access the supplemental application through [email protected] (deadlines vary). Students not admitted to the MET program will be considered for admission to the corresponding engineering major in the College of Engineering. Learn more about supplemental application and selection criteria here .

Art (freshman & transfer applicants): expect to receive instructions on how to submit a portfolio after UC Application submission (deadline is usually early January). Learn more about the portfolio requirements here .

Dance (freshman & transfer applicants): schedule required audition through the Claire Trevor School of the Arts here (registration deadline is usually early January).

Music (freshman & transfer applicants): submit the required audition video through the Claire Trevor School of the Arts here (deadline is usually mid-December) if you have selected Music as your first choice OR alternate major.

If you selected one of the following as your FIRST CHOICE MAJOR for freshman or transfer admission, you are required to submit a supplemental application. NOT submitting a supplemental application will result in an automatic rejection .

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Find information about the supplemental applications and deadlines for these programs here .

SJV PRIME+ (freshman applicants only): Learn more about the supplemental application requirements here (deadline is usually mid-December).

Art (transfer applicants only): Learn more about the portfolio requirements here (deadline is usually late February).

Music (freshman & transfer applicants): Learn more about the OPTIONAL portfolio here (deadline is usually early December).

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Visual Arts (freshman & transfer applicants): Learn more about the OPTIONAL portfolio here (deadline is usually early December).

Santa Barbara

If you applied to any major in the College of Creative Studies for freshman or transfer admission, you are required to submit a supplemental application. Even if you do NOT submit the supplemental application, you will still be considered for admission to the campus PROVIDED that you selected one of your majors from the College of Letters & Science. Learn more about the supplemental application here (deadline is usually late December).

Dance (freshman & transfer applicants): schedule the required in-person audition or submit a video audition through the Department of Theater and Dance here ; video audition submission deadline is usually early January.

Music (BM for freshman & transfer applicants): schedule the required in-person audition or submit a prerecorded audition through the Department of Music here (deadline is usually early January).

Art (transfer applicants only): Learn more about the portfolio requirements here (deadline is usually early April).

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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

UC Berkeley doesn’t require an art supplement for freshman majors in fine arts? Also, what about UC Davis?

Having gone to Berkeley, I think the campus genuinely believes anyone can learn anything (I had very little artistic talent but somehow graduated from the Landscape Architecture program just fine – can’t say my professors loved my work though) so demonstration of talent isn’t necessary (although the same can’t be said about engineering).

Davis also does not require any portfolio submission (although formal acceptance of transfer students into the Landscape Architecture program does require a portfolio, but that happens after the transfer students enroll at Davis).

Just to confirm… Supplemental applications(Business) are required only for UC Berkeley?

Supplemental application is required for UC Berkeley if you are applying to Business Administration as a transfer applicant OR MET or GMP as a freshman applicant.

If a student applies as a dance major to UCSD/UCSB/UCI and doesn’t demonstrate the level the program is looking for, will they still be considered and be possible accepted as a regular student?

This year UCSD and UCSB mentioned they are still considering alternate major; however, UCI stated that it no longer guarantees review for alternate major (I should clarify that, based on what I heard in previous years, UCs are not as inclined to admit students who do not have an alternate major selected on the application, since that would be somewhat indicative that the student isn’t necessarily interested in the campus if not admitted to the first choice major, so I always advise students to select an alternate major).

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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’s 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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Ready to get started?

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