How to Write for the UC Essay Prompts: Tips and Tricks for the University of California Essays

hey guys are you getting ready to apply for the University of California and have you maybe procrastinated and are you trying to figure out how to write the most awesome essay ever or me do not procrastinate you know and maybe you’re applying like in a year or three ten you were just wondering some tips for what goes into an awesome application of the University of California either way in this video I am going to give you the down-low on University of California essays Brooke I have been tutoring and teaching for over a decade and a half I help students not only with SAT and a CT prep but also with the college essay process on California based so I work with lots of students who go to UC schools who applied to UC schools so I see a lot of these essays coming across my desk I’m gonna share with you guys some of my insights from that work if you are still trying to get in one last take of the SAT or ECT or if you’re in this for the long haul we do have a sale going on for Black Friday if you’re watching this right as it comes out if it’s not right when it comes out you’re not gonna have that Black Friday sale anymore but go check out our website super tutor TV calm if so in regardless you can go check out the best SAT prep course ever and the best azt prep course ever they are video based prep courses for the AC T and the SAT each includes over a hundred hours of video content so go check out our site if you are looking for test prep awesomeness and subscribe to our mailing list super tutor slash subscribe to be in the know of one you have anything awesome going on it’s super to your TV any special deals any special giveaways cool advice interesting facts you should know it will be in our free newsletter so sign up there Twitter Facebook Instagram check us out follow us stay in the loop okay cool so let’s talk to you see essays if you want some of this stuff right now some of my tips right now or a downloadable guide where I give you like all of the awesomeness of advice head to our website super tutor to the blog we’re gonna put the exact blog link in the description of the video or I usually do like a pin to comment to you so if you go down to the comment in search of little ways you can find it okay cool I’m gonna do two things in this video the first thing I’m gonna do is go over a couple of general tips but I’m not gonna go over a lot of general tips because most of the general tips I’ve already covered in a bunch of other videos which you can watch and we’ll put up some thumbnails here I’m just gonna go over really quickly review a couple of tips that are particular to you see essays that I find are some of the biggest mistakes that students make the number one is doing not repeat you’ve got four essays they’re 350 words each a lot of you think oh that’s a lot of ideas to come up with I’ll just take my common tap and split it into two and then have two essays that are basically about the same thing don’t do that if you want to talk about your awesome soccer team that’s great but please don’t talk about your soccer team in all four essays if you can help it and if you’re going to talk about your soccer team in more than one then those essays should feel really different or they should be about totally different themes or they should have completely different vibes in some way right you want to differentiate yourself you want to diversify what you’re submitting so that you don’t sound like this redundant person second tip make sure that you take the time to tell stories another mistake that students make on UC application essays is they’re 350 words and you guys think oh gosh it’s not very many words I don’t have time to tell a story I’ll just straight-up answer the question I know this is ironic but your job is not to answer the question on your college application essays if all you do is answer the question you will not necessarily have the best results or outcome so this is not just about answering the question it’s about showing who you are it’s about helping the admissions committee understand how awesome how wonderful how inspiring and how lovely you are and you’ve got to share all that awesomeness on the page and that’s your job okay it is not to answer the question remember the other thing too is you can always reach long and cut down so write 500 cut it down to 350 it’s gonna be a better as they trust me okay cool now let’s talk questions I’m gonna go quickly through each of the essay prompts and just talk about some tips for each of them some common mistakes some common ways that you can write an essay that works for each of these number what describe an example of your leadership experience remember leadership experience doesn’t have to be literal one of the biggest things that I have people do with this essay is that leadership has to be literal and then they just talk about whatever club they’re the captain or the leader of which sometimes works but sometimes it’s kind of boring and sometimes you actually show more leadership in contexts where it’s not actually official leadership you know maybe you’re a great example for your little brother and that’s a way that you show leadership and you show him how to be a better person think of the experience that we’ve had you’ve stepped up where you’ve like shown your maturity where you’ve shown like hey like I’m doing the right thing hey I’m gonna like reach out to people hey like I have an influence over people and I’m going to show you a story where that happened and how that happened the other thing that I’ll say is you always want to make sure that you go deeper one of the issues that I find in a lot of UCS days because you aren’t that’s sort of 350 word limit is that a lot of you guys like only right to 250 words and then add a little fluff and basically you just describe like here’s what I did but you don’t necessarily take the time to reflect and it’s important that you guys do actually reflect so I want you guys to ask yourselves more questions after you ask yourself the initial question like describe your leadership experience okay that’s great but I want you to think about how did your experience teach you a lesson about yourself what did you learn right how did your perspective change from the experience that you had how did it make you stronger what were the unexpected challenges that you faced and how did you overcome those in any case I want you to think about what actions you take and what decisions you make again those are always defining qualities of you and that’s what makes her essay interesting decisions you make and actions you take it rents it school number two every person has a creative side this is our creative essay again one of the mistakes people make is they just describe their creative activities as if it’s a bloated resume what I actually want you to do is take me with you and like take me on this creative journey in fact you can use like a creative means of even writing this or do you want answer more questions than just the prompt why does creativity matter how does creativity manifest itself in your life I’ve read a lot of good creativity essays where students write about that like awe inspiring you know sort of flow that they get into they’re good essays they’ve seen on creativity in what ways does creativity offer of a treatment escape a new vision for your life in what ways has creativity helped you better understand yourself right I did drama in high school that like totally opened up a whole new window into understanding how my emotions work and I wrote an essay about that for my graduate school application if you have an aha moment that creativity gave you a moment that you unlocked don’t be afraid to just tell stories and have creativity be a theme within that story that’s totally cool you don’t just have to have a description of I like to paint pictures I like painting cats and dogs it is fun like boring dull I don’t want that I want to know you know take me to the magical place if creativity is a magic place for you take me there with you and if you’re like Brooke but I’m not actually creative well maybe you’re a problem solver and you can write about the love of problem solving I also people who write about that and that works fine okay cool greatest yell if your biggest achievement is obvious like an extracurricular activity obviously write about that right if you you know are a champion fencer and you’re the best fencer in the state of California that is obviously your greatest killer talent you’re gonna write about that here this is a good place to write about it the one thing that I would have waited talking about is how your greatest talent or skill is being hard-working the reason I say that is because it’s just the kind of thing that’s a little bit cliche and I know I’ve covered this in other videos but just telling me you’re hard-working I just want to look at your GPA like do your grades reflect hard-working or not they either are or they aren’t the other thing that you can do too with this essay is you can be more non-literal about it right I’ve had people write about their empathy is their greatest skill or their ability to listen as their greatest skill or their intuition whatever it is right it could be a personal quality as well and then story story story people use stories to reveal that personality trait of yourself so this is also a place we’re gonna reveal a trait of your personality using a story which is cool you can do that too just know that a lot of people do that so make sure your essay definitely has some personality and specificity and as you and it shows what makes you you and it shows what you value and all that good stuff next describe how you’ve taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced so if you have horrible grades somewhere on your transcripts this is the place to Duke it out and figure it out and talk about it okay if you had an issue at some point in your learning because something happened in your life you know maybe you had a really close relative passed away or something and it was really hard for you to adjust maybe you got like some crazy illness maybe you got meningitis sophomore year of high school and you had to miss three months of school and your teachers wouldn’t let you make up your AIDS there something crazy like that that would be an educational barrier you faced okay this is also a great place to talk about your environment if you happen to have a really terrible you know level of resources educationally if you go to a craptastic high school and it’s really tough and you want to describe that world that you come from and it is like not very awesome and this is something that you’ve had to overcome please PLEASE talk about that here you see love stories of people who survived and who really thrive in their context they love accepting students who you know what you may have really unimpressive a CT or SAT scores but you have an awesome GPA and your graduating at the top of your class and gosh darn it you’re going to college even though like 80% of your high school isn’t and you don’t care and you’re looking forward and you’re getting out of whatever situation you’re in if that is you you see loves you guys you see loves kids who go to public schools they do not care how good your high school is they care how good you are and so if you have overcome educational barriers if you are fighting a good fight and that is your story this is the essay for you people please write here on the other end of the spectrum the other thing you can write about here is if you are more on the privileged end of the world is if you have the opportunity to learn something really cool or enrich yourself in some way and you really loved it this is a place that you can write about that you know maybe you went to a community college class and took like Community College genomics or something this summer and it was super cool and awesome and you want to write about that that could be a significant educational opportunity be careful with the educational experiences or significant educational opportunities if it’s like a week-long is that really significant you know just going to camp for a week maybe it was maybe you had a real Epiphany maybe it wasn’t but don’t force it if you don’t actually feel like it was significant please don’t force it to fit here and find something else remember educational can also be taken in a non literal way and the same that I way that I’ve talked about these other essays you don’t have to take it literally it doesn’t have to be actual school it can be I lived with my grandmother in Appalachia for this summer and you like had your eyes opened because those people live in a way that is so different from your urban you know lifestyle in San Diego the last thing that I’m going to say about this one and educational barriers is remember my college assistants suck if you guys have watched that I talked about the avoid the I got an A essay and just a quick little reminder here do not give me and I got an A essay for this one cool if you don’t know what you’re talking about go watch art colleges is this suck video okay number fact just grab them a significant challenge you have faced steps we’ve taken to overcome this challenge house this challenge affected your academic achievement so this one it for can overlap so just make sure you don’t write about the same thing but this one’s a little bit broader in terms of what kind of challenges you can have if you have a disability of some sort if you have something that’s life to finding that you feel like your application is not complete without it this is the place to write about it you know if you are you know legally blind if you’ve got like other crazy things going on and it’s a big part of who you are and what you’ve overcome this is where you’re gonna talk about it this can also be a normal kind of challenge but be careful mistake that a lot of students make when they write about challenges that they write about things that are actually not that big of a deal and they act as if they are a big deal so make sure you don’t get too melodramatic in this essay in the sense that you know the most significant challenge you have face like please do not tell me your most significant challenge was the algebra test you had last week that’s the most significant thing you’ve ever dealt with in your life so just make sure you don’t pick something that’s like two traits it doesn’t mean you can’t pick something that’s normal in every day but if you do try to pick something that really spurred growth in you as a human being right try to pick something that’s representative of something bigger makes sense so maybe your most significant challenge you faced was confronting yourself or confronting a part of yourself right remember there was gonna be a lot of people writing here that have like total grit stories and if you have that grit story remember my Ralph actor video the last element of the wow factor video the grit the grit story the like sob story if you want to call it that if that’s you you can put that here look if you have a super challenging life and you’ve had like really rough times boom this is the place and then whatever it is at the end of the day the other danger in number five is don’t be too negative remember you need to overcome the challenge not write about a challenge you still haven’t overcome now that doesn’t mean you have to totally have overcome the challenge because some challenges like stay with us for our whole lives and that’s okay but you have to at least if overcoming emotionally right you have to be on the optimism side of life you have to be seeing the sunlight you have to be seeing the glass half full it doesn’t mean that you don’t still have the challenge but you have to have overcome it in terms of like you being like bigger than the challenge okay you’ve got to come out on top you’ve got to win never six academic subject that inspires you oftentimes this essay turns into a fluffy resume essay I talked about this also in college essays that suck so if you want my whole rundown on why your essay shouldn’t sound like a bloated resume and paragraph form you can go and check that out it’s very true here they change the wording of this question in the last few years and they now include the word inspires you and I think that is totally on purpose because what they found is the essays that are most powerful in this position are ones that capture a sense of awe and excitement if something inspires you show me how it inspires you share with me the inspiration so that when I read about it I’m inspired and I’m like wow I want to do that too okay that’s gonna make this more powerful number seven what have you done to make your school or community a better place arguably this is the hardest essay out of all eight that you have to choose from when you talk about yourself and you’re like I did this and I made my community a better place it’s really easy for you to come off as a self aggrandizing sort of white Savior or whatever you are helping the children of Mike unity or whatever it is that you’re doing this often comes down to being a community service SI and again those are like the hardest essays to write it does not mean you can’t write them and it doesn’t mean that if you have something that’s really important to you that’s community service oriented you shouldn’t talk about it you should if you are a total leader in community services community service is totally your jam if giving that others is like your a number one modus operandi whatever this is the essay you should be writing but it can be really hard to rate and I will say a lot of students choose this because they go oh I did community service I’m gonna write about how I tutored kids and how I read books of them at the library once week that essay is usually really boring and it goes something like this I was part of the after school with kids learning program at the after school with kids learning program we once a week would go to the local library and read to kids it was so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces when they heard our stories I found that by giving a little bit of my time I could make a difference in my community that essay doesn’t work as well because it just feels generic and I feel like 700 students are gonna write that essay I don’t recommend that you’re one of it at the same time you can write a good story here if you’ve got a good story and it’s original it doesn’t sound as cheesy and cliche is what I just said just because you have community service does not mean you need to write this essay I encourage you to try to write anything else if you can but if you know that this is your story if you have a real passion for something about making the world a better place or about environmental issues or whatever it is and you fought for it because it like tears your heart apart and you could cry if you can make me almost cry too you can write this essay okay you’re allowed to write this then but do not give me that cliche community service I’m sharing and caring essay last night number eight okay this is the grab bag anything you want essay this is a great essay I love this essay topic on the he sees because what it allows you to do is take whatever your best essay is that you already turned in on your comment after your early decision or whatever else you’ve filled out and recycle it and cut it down here and it could be an awesome essay the other thing I like to say is make a list of all the things that colleges should know about you and all the lovable qualities that you have and then make sure you’ve checked off all those boxes and if there’s any box has not been checked off boom put it here my best advice here too is don’t just write free forum try to have a prompt of some sort that you’re responding to and I think that will give your essay a little more shape and make sure you get the reflection that’s all I have for today good luck with your UC application procrastinators power to you or non procrastinators who might be viewing this at a different time good for you for planning ahead and hopefully you will find some good tips in this video if you guys have any thoughts or questions go ahead and post them below this video in the comment section we’d love to hear from you and we will see you guys next time with super tutor TV ciao for now