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How To Decide Which UC Prompts To Answer

Insight counseling students are working hard on their University of California Applications, which always brings up a common question that we get asked – “Which UC Prompt is the right prompt to answer?” 

Well, the first and most important thing to say here is that there is NO “right” prompt to pick. The UC’s have made it very clear that all prompts are considered equally and there are no better or worse prompts in their eyes. There’s only prompts that are better for you and your life experiences, and at the same time, prompts that may not be the right fit for your life experiences. 


(Ps – More of a visual learner? Check out our video on this topic by clicking HERE


My advice to students is to pick a set of prompts that allows you to talk about a range of experiences, talents, values, interests and so on. If you’ve already talked about your creativity in music through the creativity prompt, then you should probably avoid talking about music again in the prompt that asks you to talk about your greatest talent. 


Another key thing that we always tell our students is don’t get too creative because you are worried that all of your activities are cliché… So you’re an athlete who plays an instrument and wants to be a pediatrician because you like helping people… and so are most of your friends. That’s ok! Don’t avoid talking about sports and music and your passion for biology just because you’re worried it won’t be unique. Those are in fact OBVIOUS topics for you to write about. The things that are most important in your life and the things you spend the most time doing. The goal needs to be to focus on how each of these experiences shaped you as a person and helped you build resilience, creativity, concern for others, and other character traits.


If you are applying to an extremely competitive major like any engineering major or computer science, it is wise to choose one essay in which you discuss the experiences that led to your choice. In fact, generally speaking you should be able to see a connection somewhere in your essays between what you want to study and what major you are applying for. It’s also totally ok if you are undecided about your major, but I bet if you are undecided it is because you are curious about a lot of different things and just haven’t quite figured out which subject you want to commit to for the next four years of your life. You can still write about an academic subject that inspires you! 


In the end, think of the four UC prompts that you choose as puzzle pieces that fit together to complete a picture of the whole you. 


All the best, and happy writing! 

Team Insight 

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