Good Example Of Uc Essay Prompt 1

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017
(Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 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.

UC Essay Prompt 1 is the first of eight essay prompts for the University of California application that you can choose to answer if you are an incoming freshman.

Of the eight Personal Insight Questions, you only need to answer four.

If you consider leadership one of your defining qualities, or have had an interesting experience as a leader in some capacity, you might want to consider this essay.

Overall, leadership is a terrific quality to showcase to the UC.

And you don’t need to have held a specific “leadership” role, such as Student Body President or scoutmaster, to write about this skill.

Just make sure you share “an example” of a time you used your leadership skills in a way that is specific, interesting and unique to you.

 

Brainstorm First to Learn What the UC Wants to See About Leadership

 

The UC admissions department has provided helpful brainstorming questions both with this prompt and in a worksheet guide they offer on their web site.

You should definitely check out both before you start—since there’s no better way to learn exactly what they want to hear from you.

It can be a lot to take in. (Don’t sweat these short essays! Just read up on them and then crank them out!)

The upshot of their suggestions, in my opinion, is that they want to make sure that you don’t write a generic answer about how you are a skilled leader unless you support your point with specific examples.

To write an effective UC Prompt 1 essay, especially since it’s relatively short (no more than 350 words), it’s critical to have a sharp focus.

That means you narrow down what you want to say about your leadership abilities.

Instead of listing all the places and experiences you have been a leader, it’s more effective to think of ONE TIME you had that role.

 

 

Another way to focus your UC Essay Prompt 1 would be to narrow down what type of leader you are, and try to define your leadership style.

Do you lead by example and use your sense of humor?

Do you lead because you are confident, disciplined and have an air of authority?

Do you lead by building a consensus and getting everyone on board with your group goals?

Once you decide what specific type of leader you are, try to think of A TIME that illustrated that style.

It doesn’t have to be an impressive time; just a moment or experience where you demonstrated your leadership ability.

You don’t have to have been an Eagle Scout, president of the chemistry club or band major to be a leader. It’s more about finding “a time” you played the role of leader, and why that mattered.

If “something happened” during that time, all the better. That will make your essay more interesting.

(Hint: To find something that happened, think about “a time” you were in a group and faced some type of problem.)

If you include a problem (obstacle/challenge/mistake/accident/mix-up/set-back…), it will be easy to go on to explain how you dealt with it—using your leadership qualities or abilities.

Here’s a Short Sample Outline
for UC Essay Prompt 1

 

  1. Start by describing “a time” you faced some type of problem in a group
  2. Explain how you handled it (the steps you took and your inspiration) and felt
  3. Share why you think you were effective and why
  4. Reflect on what you learned about yourself
  5. Conclude with why your leadership style or ability will help you in future goals (personal and academic.)

(Write a couple sentences about each number and you will have a rough draft!)

 

 

Here is the complete Personal Insight Question (UC essay Prompt 1)
(Notice how it’s trying to get you to find “a time” and be specific, too.)

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 a taking lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about your accomplishments 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?

From the brainstorm Worksheet provided by UC admissions
to further help with UC Essay Prompt 1:

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.

How do you define “leader”? List three words that you think describe what a leader is:

1.

2.

3.

Do any of these words apply to you? How? Is there a time in your life when you displayed any of these traits?

* * * * *

Back to my advice:

So remember these main points regarding UC Essay Prompt 1:

  • Leadership is a role, and can apply to any group (no title needed!)
  • It’s best to start with a specific example or “time” you were a leader
  • Describe of what specific type of leader you are (What qualities you used)
  • Include how you think about leading and what you learned

If you decide to write about UC Essay Prompt 1 as one of your four required for the UC application, write it up and see if you like it.

If not, consider one of the other prompts.

You might want to learn How to Answer UC Essay Prompt 8 as well and write about what sets you apart from other students.

RELATED: Check out my 21 Tips for UC Personal Insight Questions to get more ideas on how to select what four prompts to write about, and avoid common pitfalls.

If you need more help with these, I offer tutoring and editing services. Learn more on my SERVICES page.

Good luck!

Check Out These Related Posts!

There have been many aspects of my life that have influenced me to study Government and Political Science, but perhaps the most important of them has been my family.

I grew up with a mother and father who were very involved in public service. They volunteered at local shelters, organized benefits, and helped the less fortunate. They did all this while each working full-time jobs. Eventually, my mother quit her job and decided to run as a Congressional Representative for our district in California. She didn’t win but watching my mother decide that public service was the most important thing she could do with her life inspired me to take up the calling myself.

When I was in high school, I joined a public service club that volunteered at local homeless shelters. I quickly became the President of the club and was responsible for recruiting new members. I found it exciting and invigorating to talk about how good it felt to help people, and to discuss important issues with other students my age who had never really considered them before.

As I continue my academic career in university, I believe I can draw on my experience through my family and my time in public service. Going forward, I think that my dreams have become more centered as I have become more driven, and my motivations have become clearer. Public service has allowed me to become a more productive part of my community and has given me the teamwork skills I’ll need when I major in Government and Politics.

My parents have also helped me to understand how elections and the government operate, thanks to my mother’s candidacy when I was younger. I believe this will prove to be invaluable information for me in my classes.

In closing, my dreams have been shaped both by family and by the community in which I live. My experience with academics and fellow students in high school has led me to aspire to a greater role in public service.

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The author of prompt #1 is interested in Politics and Government, and he clearly has a lot of experience and influence in his life that has led him to choose that major. He goes into excellent detail about his parents’ influence, as well as his experience in high school and how discussing important issues with others affected him. This is all very good. However, the structure of the personal statement seems thrown together. The author should have written a clearer outline to guide his writing, as it would make his personal statement flow better and be more concise.

The only stumble in the personal statement is the use of the verb “to shadow” when the author discusses following her parents around to see what they do at work. “Shadow” as a verb has a relatively negative connotation – for example, a detective may “shadow” a suspect. It would be better to say that the author “rode along” or “accompanied” her parents as they went about their day.

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Melissa, UC Personal Statement
Writer and Coach

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