University of California

Ten Tips for Writing a 1337* UC Essay 

B. if writing on an extracurricular activity, first Make a bullet point list of your content How? TIP #5: Jot down answers to these three questions: 1. What have you done? Literally, what were your actual tasks? How did you/have you spent your time? 2. What…

Personal Statement, Student Resources

What to Do If You’re Lost 

Don’t panic. If you’ve tried all these things and still haven’t decided what to write about in your essay, don’t worry. There’s a great story inside you waiting to be told. Consider these questions: What’s the toughest lesson you’ve ever had to learn? What’s the hardest…

College Admissions

What is Holistic Review? 

Holistic review is a process, recently adopted by the University of California school system, in which student applications are reviewed in the context of particular challenges a student has had to endure. (To put it bluntly, under holistic review, a minority student growing up in South Central…


Brainstorm: 21 Details 

Make a list of 21 details from your life, interesting facts that describe some small, random part of who you are. Here are 11 of my 21 details: We moved 20 times while I was growing up and I attended 13 schools. My biggest pet…


Brainstorm: 5 Contradictions 

Humans are complex, contradictory, creatures. Contradictions can add texture and complexity to your essay. Here are five contradictory things about me: I love beating my younger brother in chess, but afterwards I always feel guilty. In college I had no problem giving my girlfriend a…

Common App

Which Common App Prompt is Best? 

Prompt 2: Tell us how you failed and what you learned The second prompt is can work fine, but chances are if this incident was important enough to be your college essay topic, then it’s a story that’s “central to [your] identity,” which brings us back…