Your personal statement should be exactly that — personal. This is your opportunity to tell us about yourself — your hopes, ambitions, life experiences, inspirations. We encourage you to take your time on this assignment. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it honestly.
As you respond to the essay prompts, think about the admissions and scholarship officers who will read your statement and what you want them to understand about you. While your personal statement is only one of many factors we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.
All applicants must respond to two essay prompts — the general prompt and either the freshman or transfer prompt, depending on your status.
- Responses to your two prompts must be a maximum of 1,000 words total.
- Allocate the word count as you wish. If you choose to respond to one prompt at greater length, we suggest your shorter answer be no less than 250 words.
The essay prompts
Freshman applicant prompt
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.
Transfer applicant prompt
What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.
Prompt for all applicants
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?
Tips and techniques
Allow time for reflection, thoughtful preparation and revision.
Choose a topic for both essays.
Look critically at the information in your application: your grades, awards, activities and work experience, family and income. Anticipate questions an admissions evaluator will have after reading your application. The personal statement is your opportunity to answer those questions.
Compose your personal statement in a word-processing program.
Don't type it directly into the application. This way, you will have the opportunity to print copies for review.
Present your information and ideas in a focused, deliberate and meaningful manner. Provide specific, concrete examples to support your point. A personal statement that is simply a list of qualities or accomplishments usually is not persuasive.
In addition to checking your spelling, be sure your grammar is correct and your essays flow smoothly.
Your personal statement should reflect your own ideas and be written by you alone, but others — family, teachers and friends — can offer valuable suggestions. Ask advice of whomever you like, but do not plagiarize from sources in print or online and do not use anyone's published words but your own.
Copy and paste.
Once you are satisfied with your essays, save them in plain text (ASCII) and paste them into the space provided in the application. Proofread once more to make sure no odd characters or line breaks have appeared.
This is one of many pieces of information we consider in reviewing your application. An admission decision will not be based on your personal statement alone.
Additional instructions for active-duty or veterans of the U.S. Military
Because UC is interested in knowing about your or a family member's military service, you may wish to use the personal statement to communicate the following:
- Describe how your military service has been instrumental in developing your educational plans.
- Indicate if you are entitled to educational benefits as a result of your own military service or the service-connected death or disability of a parent or spouse.
- Indicate if you are affiliated with the military, such as the spouse or dependent of someone who is on active duty or a current participant in an ROTC-type program.
Coursework offered by a branch of the U.S. military should be reported in the "Additional Comments" box underneath – not in the "Colleges and Courses" section.
Regular college and university coursework taken during military service should be reported in the "Academic History" section of the application. Do not submit any transcripts at this time.
If you are admitted and accept an offer of admission, you can then submit official military transcripts (e.g., ACE, SMAART) to the UC campus.
UC may award transfer credit for some of your military courses if the content is equivalent to a course taught by the University of California.
Tips on the personal statement
Hear what UC students have to say about writing the essays.