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Hello Class of 2017 Students!

News Flash!  The University of California has dramatically changed its application essay format and questions. Starting with the 2017 application cycle, both freshman and transfer applicants will write four 350 word (maximum) responses. For the first time, applicants can choose what to write: freshman applicants will choose from eight questions, while transfer applicants will answer just one required question and write three additional responses from seven questions.   Along with the questions, the University of California also provides cues and prompts under each one. UC says this format allows for a more holistic review.

Here is the note I received from the University of California:

Special Announcement from the University of California: UC is revamping the personal statement section of the admission application


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 the 14 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:

  • Freshman applicants will now choose four out of eight questions to answer.
  • Transfer applicants will answer one required question in addition to three out of seven additional questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • All questions will have equal value in the admissions selection process.  For applicants, there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • The new questions will be included in the fall 2017 application which will be available Aug. 1, 2016.

Our intent in announcing these changes now is to give you and your students time to familiarize yourselves with the new questions. We’ve posted guidance for students on our systemwide admissions website, as well as FAQs for counselors. We will develop more resources and materials throughout the spring and into the summer — including recorded webinars for counselors and students, and a presentation at the UC Counselor Conferences — and keep you apprised of updates in our Counselors and Advisers Bulletin

Click here for FAQ’s
View the personal insight questions
View the freshman guidance worksheet
View the transfer student guidance worksheet

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