As the end of the academic year inches closer, seniors eagerly await acceptance letters to colleges, many of which are from the University of California (UC) system. Just this year, the UC system traded an important component of its application, the personal statement, for eight more specific personal insight questions. With admission statuses finally released, seniors are now able to assess whether or not the change to the application was more helpful or harmful to their admission chances.
Each personal insight question response is limited to 350 words, and applicants are required to respond to four of the eight offered prompts. Some seniors believe having to answer four separate questions took an overall greater effort than the old personal statement did.
Many UC campuses also received record numbers of applicants for the 2017-2018 school year. UC Los Angeles received over 102,000 applications, while UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine all received over 85,000. Solid responses to the insight questions are typically an important part of allowing applicants to stand out.
“It took more work, but the new application shows more opportunities. It’s harder to actually complete, but it shows way more of what you do,” said senior Nathan Roura.
Although it was a more time-consuming process, Roura believes it did a better job at showcasing applicants’ experiences and character. The extent to which he believes this change aided prospective students in their actual admissions does not entirely reflect the added benefits, however.
“I just disagree with the way they are admitting people. I feel like a lot of people that should have, didn’t get in,” said Roura.
With record numbers of applicants, the UC system is constantly becoming more competitive. The personal insight questions are just a single factor in whether or not a student is the right fit for one of the schools.
“I liked the format for a couple of reasons. The multiple questions helped give me a variety of experiences to share instead of staying limited to choosing the best thing to say about myself. I also was glad to see that the character limit was very low,” said senior Victoria Quijano, who was accepted to UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC San Diego.
Another benefit of the removal of the UC personal statement is the clarity that comes along with a briefer word count. While applicants found this to be a relief, they also appreciated the variety and opportunity to showcase themselves through the personal insight questions.
“This made the whole process seem much less overwhelming, because I could sit down for 15 minutes and just write down everything I wanted to say and end up with a rough draft well above the required word count,” said Quijano.
Despite the increase in amount of effort required by the new UC application some applicants saw with the replacement of the personal statement, many seniors believe this helped display their best qualities, without the overwhelmingly high word count of an essay. Although some think the overall difficulty in responding to the given prompts has increased, it seems as though the UC system has succeeded in giving applicants clearer guidance and more opportunity to express themselves.