How to Write the “Make Community a Better Place” UC Essay
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
The University of California system requires you to answer four out of eight essay prompts. The seventh University of California prompt asks, “What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?” For a lot of people, a key to unlocking this essay is to think about defining “community” effectively.
Communities Come in All Sizes
Many people reading this prompt might think they should talk about something they did to make a positive impact in their town or their school. But your community does not need to be defined as something as large as your whole school or whole neighborhood. It can be as small as a club or a class, or even a friend group, all of which are communities to some extent.
Consider Virtual Communities
Don’t be afraid to even talk about a virtual community in answering this essay prompt. For so many of us these days, the communities we find and belong to are virtual, whether it’s a Reddit forum or Twitch chat, the comments section of a YouTuber you really like, a Discord server, or something along those lines. Not enough students write about virtual communities relative to how much time we all spend in them, so if you’ve done something to make a virtual environment a better place, that is absolutely valuable material for this essay prompt.
Be sure to highlight your personal connection to the community you write about and your motivations for the actions you took to improve it.
Demonstrating Your Values
Another important consideration in writing this essay is demonstrating your values and how you upheld them through your actions. You’ll also want to mention the positive impact your actions had, but be careful not to spend too much time in this area. Describing the positive impact you had is important, but you don’t want to take up too much of the word count with this.
As an example, say you’re writing about social justice, perhaps a change you drove in your school to promote inclusivity. An essay that focuses too strongly on the impact of your actions isn’t going to be as powerful as an essay that mentions the impacts, but focuses more on your personal motivations. Instead of emphasizing how your actions improved your community, emphasize why you felt motivated to make those improvements.
This is important because, with this essay, you’re not just answering the prompt. You’re also answering the underlying questions of how you define your community, how you relate to it, and how capable you are of having an impact on those around you.
Colleges want to figure out whether an applicant will be a positive contributor to their community. This essay prompt is much more about your personal character than it is about the outcomes of your efforts. In answering this prompt, you’ll be demonstrating how you’ll fit in with and improve the community at your school of choice.
For more information on how to write responses for the other UC essays, consider reading this article on CollegeVine!