UC Personal Insight Qs: How To Get Started

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    November is quickly approaching, and for high school seniors, this next month marks the official filing period for Fall 2018 University of California (UC) applications. One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of college applications is the writing process. Specifically for UC admissions, freshman applicants are required to answer 4 out of 8 personal insight questions, each question requiring a response of 350 words maximum.

    How do I choose which questions to answer? How should I start my response? Where do I even begin? Start surfing the internet for college application writing advice, and you’ll find yourself drowning in a sea of tips.

    So Southlands seniors, to save you some time and energy, here are 5 practical do’s and don’ts from your very own counselors to help you get started on your UC personal insight questions:

    1. DO start now

    It is during high school where many students seem to master the art of procrastination. If Mrs. Maria Garcia, Southlands’ assistant principal of counseling, could give you one piece of advice, it would be, “Don’t procrastinate. Start now.” Start now doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start the actual writing now. Start now means to start brainstorming. Decide which questions will allow you to show different sides of your character and personality.

    1. DO brainstorm outloud.

    Brainstorm with someone else and bounce your ideas off each other. “You can start with your peers, but you should definitely share your ideas with an adult and be prepared to hear feedback,” Mrs. Lauren Choi, Southlands’ assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, said. If you can talk about it clearly and passionately, you will be able to write about it the same way.

    1. DON’T be too personal.

    Though you are answering personal insight questions and writing personal statements, your responses should not be too personal. “Sometimes students divulge too much and it becomes this vomiting of their emotions on paper, and that’s not appropriate,” Choi said. “It’s okay to share, but remember you’re not talking to your friend,” Garcia added. “It’s good to share about challenges, but stay focused and share how you have overcome that challenge,” Garcia said.

    1. DON’T get obsessed with the prompt.

    Students often get caught up with answering the questions perfectly. Students try to think of a situation or a story that exactly matches the prompts. The prompts and questions, however, should not be your focus. Your focus should be you. Garcia advised, “You want the admissions counselor to remember who you are, not just a good story. The prompts are a starting point, but the focus is you. Don’t be afraid to focus on yourself.”

    1. DO rewrite and revise.

    Writing is not easy, and it’s not supposed to be. Most likely, your first draft is not going to be your last, and it should not be. Give yourself time to practice the art of revision. “You can even write three or four different versions of one response to see which one you like,” Choi said. “Sometimes, you just need to write out all your response and not look at them for awhile. Then look at it again and have other people look at it for feedback,” Choi added.

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