The Purpose of the UC Personal Statement
  1. It is ONE PART of the entire application review process.
  2. It is an opportunity for you to provide information that supports what you have already provided in your application.
  3. It helps the reader get to know and understand you better beyond just want you fill out on your application.

What the Personal Statement is NOT
  1. It is NOT solely a sample of writing skills, although appropriate grammar, level of usage and spelling are expected.
  2. It is NOT an exhaustive listing of activities, honors, awards but rather a judicious selection of important indicators.
  3. It is NOT an exaggeration of problems but an acceptance of responsibility for choices and behaviors.
  4. Last, and most important, your admissions decision will NEVER be based on the content of a personal statement alone. In other words, your personal statement will NEVER hurt your chances for admissions. It can only help you.

  • There are two prompts that you must address.
    • There is a maximum of 1,000 words total.
    • You should stay within the word limit as closely as you can. A little over is fine, for example 1,012 words.
  • You can choose the length of each response.
    • If you choose to respond to one prompt at greater length, make sure that the shorter answer is no less than 250 words.

Additional Comments section
  • After you complete the two prompts, you will be directed to a third section of the personal statement; the Additional Comments section.
  • This is an OPTIONAL section. This is NOT part of your Personal Statement. You are NOT required to complete this section.
  • This section CAN be used to provide additional clarification or expansion on important details of your application, such as:
    • Additional names
    • Visa issues
    • Additional IB exams
  • This section should be used to describe anything else that you HAVE NOT had the opportunity to include else where in your application.

Steps to Writing an Effective Personal Statement
1. Gather Information

Before you start writing your personal statement it is important for you to GATHER INFORMATION and COMPLETE your UC Application. Since your Personal Statement should supplement the information that you are presenting in your application, it will help provide you with a more complete picture of topics you can focus on in your writing.

2. Read Critically

You will need to review your application critically. Try to determine what the information you are providing the admissions officer will say about you. Put yourself in the place of the reader and honestly ask yourself, "what does this application tell me about the student?" This will help you figure out what types of information you will want to include in your personal statement. Remember, the person reviewing your application and personal statement will not know anything about you expect the information you provide him/her in your application.

3. Develop a Topic

Once you determine what you want to write about in your personal statement, you will need to develop a SINGLE topic in your writing. Your personal statement writing should be direct and focused. It should NOT address multiple topics. A good test of whether or not you have a focused topic in your writing is to ask yourself, "what am I trying to say with my personal statement?" You should be able to answer this question easily. If you cannot, it could be an indication that your topic is not clearly defined, or you are address multiple topics in your writing.

4. Draft, Get Feedback, Revise

DO NOT try and complete your personal statement in one sitting. If you only completed one draft of your personal statement, chances are it not as good as it can be. You should be, will be, and need to be revising your personal statement multiple times. It's best to get feedback between every draft.

When getting feedback, try and get it from someone who does not know you too well. This way you can get a better sense of how your writing will be viewed by an admissions reader. Good reviewers are other UB classmates, UB tutors, or a trusted teacher.

The Personal Statement Prompts
Prompt 1: Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
There are two parts to this prompt has:

Part 1: Describe the world you come from...

Part 2: Tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Many times students make the mistake and address only the first part of the prompt while completely ignoring the second part of the prompt. The first part of the prompt is the set up. The examples that are listed in the prompt, "family, community or school" are only examples. DO NOT try and attempt to describe all three. You can choose to anything you define as your world; this can be your room, your church, or your club. The important thing here is to choose ONE that is important to you and describe it to the reader. You are setting up the background to help the reader understand the second part of the prompt.

The second part of the prompt is arguably the more important of the two. This is the part where the reader will get more information on who you are. Remember, the reader is more interested in who you are than where you come from. You must be able to relate what you wrote in the first part of the prompt to how it has affected you as a person in the second part. You will also want to review your UC application and see how you can tie in your response to the information that you are presenting in your writing.

For example, if you want to focus on the fact that you will be first in your family to got to college, you will want to make sure that this information is reflected in the Family History section of your UC application. Then you can describe what it is like growing up in a family where no one has had the experience of going to college. How has this affected you? Has this inspired you? In what way? If it has, can you show evidence of this in the classes you took in high school and the grades your received? Or maybe it has also inspired you to seek additional help and support outside of what you receive from school, such as Upward Bound, AVID, Puente, and/or EAOP.

Prompt 2: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
This prompt also has two parts:

Part 1: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you.

Part 2: What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

The set up for this prompt is very similar to the first prompt. First they want you to set up the background to what you are going to share in your writing that will help them know you better as a person. The second part is where you actually tell them who you are. And just like Prompt 1, you will use your application as evidence to support what you going to write about.

The most challenging part of this prompt for students is figuring out a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience. Many times the focus is placed on the talent, accomplishment, and contribution. However, if you read the entire prompt you will see that you have a wide degree of freedom to focus on just about anything. Don't forget you can also focus on a personal quality or even an experience. Since a person's life is made up nothing but experiences, you have a wide variety of materials to draw from. For the purpose of the personal statement, it is advised that you choose an experience related to your educational goals.

For example, one experience every UB student can write about is their participation in the UB program, or even more specifically, the summer program. Was this an experience that you are proud of for having completed? Did the experience effect who you are as a person and your goals?

Remember, the important part of this prompt, is to be able to write about something that is personally significant to you. This will help the reader to better understand who you are as a reader so that they can take this understanding and apply it when reviewing the rest of your application.

Final Tips When Writing Your Personal Statement
  • Keep in mind who your readers are. The readers will know nothing about you except what they will get from your application and your personal statement.
  • It is critical that you read, and reread, your own writing. You should not ask someone to proof read your personal statement until you have reviewed your own writing at least twice. A lot of times you will catch many obvious mistakes that you missed during the writing process. This is a normal part of the writing process in general.
  • DO NOT attempt to write a story intended to make the reader feel bad for you. Your goal should not be to try and gain admissions through pity. Mainly because it will not work. Your goal is to give the application reviewer concrete reasons for why they should accept you into their university.
  • COMPLETE YOUR UC APPLICATION BEFORE WRITING YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT. Remember, the personal statement is one part of your application. It will be used by the application reviewer as a way to supplement the information you provided in your application.
  • Last, don't stress out trying to write the ultimate personal statement. There is no single right way to write a personal statement that will guarantee your acceptance into a university. There is only the best personal statement you can write for yourself. As long as your personal statement gives a clear and accurate representation of who you are as a person, then you've accomplished your task. That is the best personal statement you can write.

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