The University of California just announced dramatic changes to the essay prompts for students applying for fall of 2017. Instead of two personal statements totaling no more than 1,000 words, students will now be required to answer four of eight shorter “personal insight” essay questions that are limited to a maximum of 350 words. Below is the official announcement that was published in the UC's Counselors and Advisors Bulletin:
“After almost 10 years, UC is changing the personal statement section of its undergraduate admissions application, replacing the current two personal statement prompts with short-answer questions that students can choose from. The new questions, now called personal insight questions, aim to give applicants a greater say in the kind of information they share with the University. Students can express who they are and what matters to them not only in how they respond to the questions, but also through the questions they choose to answer.
The new questions also provide students with better direction and focus on topics that are important to campuses. Each new question aligns to one or more of the14 comprehensive review criteria (nine criteria for transfer students) that campuses consider in their admissions decisions. “We hope this new format will not only provide us with additional insight into applicants, but also allow students to better choose the questions that speak to them most directly,” stated a UC admissions director.
Here are some important points about the personal insight questions:
The UCs appear to be following suit with many of the Common App colleges that require additional shorter supplemental essays. In the past, students applying to the UCs could often recycle some, if not all, of one of their UC prompts for their 650-word limit Common App essay. Starting next year, this most likely will no longer be possible with these shorter questions. Also, because of the brevity involved with the 350-word limit, students will need to be meticulous about word choice to truly convey who they are.
Have a Child in Middle or High School and a Trip Planned this Spring Break or Summer?
4 Reasons You Should Work in College Visits on those Trips:
1. Your child will see a greater variety of universities by getting an early start!
Ideally, students should not apply to a college they have not visited. Visiting colleges takes time especially when students are open to applying to colleges across the country. If students wait until their junior year, they will most likely be applying to colleges based on what they think a college is like rather than basing that impression on firsthand experience. Starting as early as middle school, I recommend working in college visits while on vacation. It’s an affordable, organic way to get a jumpstart on what can be a time-consuming process. Try to schedule a school tour and admissions session if possible, and ignore the naysayers who question why such a young student is visiting. Many of the current seniors I am working with wish they delved into this process earlier. None of them were able to visit all the schools they applied to and now are scrambling to see the campuses they’ve been accepted to before the May 1 deadline.
2. Visiting an assortment of schools can help your child determine the size/type of college that best suits him or her.
There are so many factors that go into choosing a college such as size (large, medium, small) or type (research or liberal arts). When working colleges into an existing trip, try to pick a range of sizes from a large research college to a smaller liberal arts college and everything in between. Exposure to different size campuses will help your child determine what best suits him or her.
3. Seeing colleges in different locales will help your child know where he or she would feel comfortable living.
While some students go away to college and the transition is seamless, for many, attending college away from home can be a huge adjustment. Students may be living in an unfamiliar location far from a city and with a dramatic change in weather. Ideally, you should try to work in colleges that cover a variety of locales and conditions, and starting this process early can help you cover more territory so your child can get a feel for areas of the country he or she likes or doesn’t like.
4. Just stepping foot on college campuses can motivate younger students!
Many college campuses have that WOW factor, and experiencing being on one can make your child even more determined to do well in school. Also, hearing the admissions requirements and how selective some colleges are can be an additional motivating factor.
Visiting is crucial because chemistry is hard to predict. It’s similar to a blind date; someone thinks you are going to love it, but you won’t know until you see it for yourself.
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While students have spent years working tirelessly to earn good grades and the last few months agonizing over their college applications, once those applications are finally submitted, one might argue that an equally difficult part of the process emerges . . . waiting for those admissions decisions!
Although there is little students can do while playing this waiting game, the University of California has suggested several steps students can and should take once they’ve submitted their applications.
(This advice is taken directly from the University of California’s Admissions website, which you can view here )
“1. Print a copy of your application.
You'll want to keep a record of your application ID and a summary of your application for reference.
2. Order test score reports.
If you're a freshman or sophomore applicant, be sure to have your ACT and SAT scores reported by the testing agency. If you have your official score report sent to one campus, it will be available to all campuses to which you applied.
3. Update your application.
You can log in to your application to review and, if necessary, change your telephone number, e-mail, mailing address or SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or International Exam Scores. You can also apply to additional campuses if they're still open.
If you're a transfer student, about five weeks after the filing period has ended, you are required to update your grades and course records.
If there are changes to your academic record...
Freshmen: If you change schools, add or drop a course, or fail to earn a C or better in a course after you submit your application, you must notify the UC Application Center by email or postal mail. Your correspondence must include your name, UC Application ID number and your signature (if you mail a letter), and will be available to all the campuses to which you applied.
UC Application Center
P.O. Box 1432
Bakersfield, CA 93302
Transfers: If you add or drop a course, fail to earn a C or better in a course or enroll in a new college after you submit your application, log back in and update your information online.
If there are changes to other sections of your application...
Minor changes to your activities, awards, volunteer work, employment or personal statement are unlikely to have an impact on your admission decision. However, if you have significant updates in any of these areas, you may notify the UC Application Center (see contact information above).
4. Await the decision.
Each UC campus will notify you of its admission decision, generally by March 31 if you're a fall freshman applicant or in April if you're a transfer student.
5. Submit transcripts, if admitted.
If you are admitted to UC, you must have final transcripts sent to your campus admissions office."
Taken directly from the University of California Counselors and Advisor Bulletin, which you can view here.
"The application cycle is fully underway and students can submit their applications through Monday, Nov. 30 at 11:59 p.m. PST. There is no advantage or disadvantage to the timing of a submission, as long as students submit their application on time. After the application is submitted, applicants can only make changes to contact information, update self-reported test scores, and complete application fee payments.
1. Transcripts: Official transcripts should not be submitted unless a UC campus directly contacts a student to request it.
2. Test Scores: Official SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests and TOEFL scores need to be sent to only ONE campus - UC will share scores with all campuses to which a student applies. IELTS scores, however, must be sent to each UC campus.
3. Test Dates in November/December: Applicants may report planned test dates in November/December 2015 on the application, then log back into their UC application to self-report scores after they are received. Order official scores from the testing agencies by the end of December.
4. AP/IB Scores: Official AP and/or IB exam scores are not required at the time of application review. Students will only submit an official score report if they accept an offer of admission to one UC campus. The official score report must be received by July 15.
5. Letters of recommendation: UC does not require letters of recommendation. However, a campus may specifically request a letter or two directly from some applicants.
6. Fee Waivers: Fees for up to four campuses can be waived for qualified students. UC's fee waiver program is for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and applicants eligible for AB540 benefits. Waivers cannot be combined or used for more than four campuses."