3 Great University of California Essay Examples

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The University of California includes nine undergraduate universities, and is one of the most prestigious public school systems in the U.S. 

 

The UC schools have their own application system, and students must respond to four of eight personal insight questions in 350 words each. All the essays go to each UC school you apply to, so it’s important that these responses accurately represent your personality and writing abilities. 

 

In this post, we’ll go over Prompt 6 of the UC essays, and what admissions officers are looking for. Then, we’ll share an essay from a real applicant, analyzing what they did well, and what they could’ve improved. You’ll also have the opportunity to download more UC sample essays.

 

University of California Essay Prompt 6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. (350 words)

As with any prompt, before choosing a subject or writing, you want to consider what the admissions officers hope to gain from your answer to this question. Colleges are looking to attract students who have a natural love of learning and are motivated to pursue higher education out of genuine passion. This is key in ensuring that students won’t experience severe burnout and will make the most of their time at the university. 

 

Furthermore, some colleges have selective majors and are often looking for students who demonstrate experience in, or heightened interest in, these subjects. Therefore, this particular prompt offers an opportunity to strategically illustrate your interest in an academic subject. As just discussed, you can underscore your love of your prospective major or display your interest in it by exploring one of its niches. Alternately, if you have pursued an uncommon subject or interest outside of the classroom, this can be a good place to showcase that and underscore your genuine love of learning.

 

Note that the prompt specifically asks what you did to further your interest; this is because colleges want to enroll students who take initiative and seek out resources to achieve their goals. If there’s a subject that you went above and beyond to dive into, this would be a great place to mention it.

 

University of Califonia Essay Example

 

Let’s take a look at an example response to this prompt:

I distinctly remember the smile on Perela’s face when she found out her mother would be nursed back to health. I first met Perela and her mother at the Lestonnac Free Clinic in San Bernardino where I volunteered as a Spanish translator. I was in awe of the deep understanding of biology that the medical team employed to discover solutions. Despite having no medical qualifications of my own, I realized that by exercising my abilities to communicate and empathize, I could serve as a source of comfort and encouragement for Perela and her mother. The opportunity to combine my scientific curiosity and passion for caring for people cultivated my interest in a career as a physician.  

 

To further explore this interest, I attended a summer medical program at Georgetown University. I participated in lectures on circulation through the heart, practiced stitches on a chicken leg, and assisted in giving CPR to a dummy in the patient simulation laboratory. Every fact about the human body I learned brought with it ten new questions for me to research. I consistently stayed after each lecture to gain insight about how cells, tissues, and organs all work together to carry out immensely complicated functions. The next year, in my AP Biology class, I was further amazed with the interconnected biological systems as I learned about the relationships between the human body and ecosystems. I discussed with my teacher how environmental changes will impact human health and how we must broaden our perspectives to use medicine to tackle these issues.

 

By integrating environmental and medical science, we can develop effective solutions to reduce the adverse effects of environmental degradation that Perela’s mother may have faced unintentionally. I want to go into the medical field so I can employ a long-term approach to combat biology’s hidden anomalies with a holistic viewpoint. I look forward to utilizing my undergraduate classes and extracurriculars to prepare for medical school so I can fight for both health care and environmental protection.

Breaking Down This University of California Essay Eample

 

This essay is strong because the author does a good job of conveying their passion and hopes for the future while also communicating their current experience through anecdotal evidence. 

 

The essay starts with an anecdote about Perela, someone the author was able to help while volunteering. 

 

I distinctly remember the smile on Perela’s face when she found out her mother would be nursed back to health. I first met Perela and her mother at the Lestonnac Free Clinic in San Bernardino where I volunteered as a Spanish translator. I was in awe of the deep understanding of biology that the medical team employed to discover solutions. Despite having no medical qualifications of my own, I realized that by exercising my abilities to communicate and empathize, I could serve as a source of comfort and encouragement for Perela and her mother.”

 

It is important to note that mentioning volunteering in a general sense is much less powerful than drawing out a specific instance or moment that resonated with you. Here, the author mentions a specific case which is good; however, their essay could start more in medias res, or in the middle of the action. They could have taken a more active approach, and written this in a way that emphasized their personal role as well as the specifics of the “deep understanding of biology” that they came to learn. Elaborating on specific biological mechanisms will show admissions officers the author’s interest rather than telling them. 

 

For instance, the author could have said something like the following:

 

“The hospital can be an intimidating place, with its myriad machines and stark, all-white color scheme. But the beeps of the heart monitor and the antiseptic smell of the hospital faded to the background as I told Perela her mother would make a rapid recovery from drinking contaminated water. I distinctly remember the smile on her face as I translated Doctor Dodd’s prognosis and walked through a dietary plan that would alleviate her mother’s digestive issues without requiring costly ingredients. At the Lestonnac Free Clinic in San Bernardino, my work as a Spanish translator allowed me to volunteer in my community while witnessing a professional medical team operate firsthand. Whether I was explaining how a stent would help an elderly patient’s heart problems or teaching kids how to lower their sodium intake, I was able to mesh colloquial language with the thorough biological jargon in my textbook to help take care of others.”

 

This alternate introduction starts off with sensory imagery that generates an immersive quality, drawing readers in and establishing context. The next lines describe a specific interaction the student had with a patient that really resonated with them. Unlike the original response, this introduction describes the encounter with Perala in a more active manner, showing how the applicant helped rather than telling, which gives admissions a better idea of their role at the clinic. Furthermore, in this version, the applicant details the other tasks they performed at the clinic through specific patient interactions. While the previous version mentions the “deep understanding of biology that the medical team employed,” the current one shows the applicant’s own relation to the subject through their use of specific terminology. This shift from passive to active allows for a more applicant-centered essay that organically teaches admissions officers more about their passion for the subject.

 

In the next paragraph, the author details how they pursued their passion outside of the classroom through a specific program. 

 

To further explore this interest, I attended a summer medical program at Georgetown University. I participated in lectures on circulation through the heart, practiced stitches on a chicken leg, and assisted in giving CPR to a dummy in the patient simulation laboratory. Every fact about the human body I learned brought with it ten new questions for me to research. I consistently stayed after each lecture to gain insight about how cells, tissues, and organs all work together to carry out immensely complicated functions.”

 

In this section, the applicant mentions specific tasks they completed and write about the subject in a way that conveys their interest. Rather than writing that they attended a lecture or performed mock medical tasks, they delve into specific examples of what that entailed. Listing specific activities, rather than generalizing the program, is a great way to showcase their interest in the subject without giving too much word count to describing the program itself. Similarly, the detail that they stayed after each lecture demonstrates their interest; it’s much more powerful than stating “I was fascinated by the topic.”

 

 

Next, the author conveys how their interests intersect at environmental justice and medical practice. 

 

The next year, in my AP Biology class, I was further amazed with the interconnected biological systems as I learned about the relationships between the human body and ecosystems. I discussed with my teacher how environmental changes will impact human health and how we must broaden our perspectives to use medicine to tackle these issues.

 

By integrating environmental and medical science, we can develop effective solutions to reduce the adverse effects of environmental degradation that Perela’s mother may have faced unintentionally.”

 

The connection between the anecdote with Perela and environmental justice seems to come about a bit inorganically here. It is unclear what Perela’s mother’s condition was, and so it is unclear as to how the applicant connected her situation to environmental justice. When writing your essay, make these connections absolutely explicit for better flow. 

 

For example, the applicant could have given more insight as to Perala’s mother’s condition in the beginning of their essay. Perhaps she had digestive issues from contaminated water or a lung disease caused by air pollutants. Without going into excessive detail, this point could have been mentioned earlier to support the author’s later claim about environmental justice. Specific inclusions are necessary to accurately capture the moments you are trying to convey; adding sparse but important context will help you elaborate on your viewpoints later in the essay. 

 

The essay concludes with the following:

 

I look forward to utilizing my undergraduate classes and extracurriculars to prepare for medical school so I can fight for both health care and environmental protection.

 

Overall, the author does a good job of summarizing their interest in the subject while also providing a future-facing subject. Although their final sentence is a bit general, it wraps up their essay nicely and leaves admissions officers with a glimpse of their potential future at the university.

 

If you’re still stuck on how to answer the UC Essay prompts, check out this breakdown of how to write to each one

 

More UC Essay Examples

 

If you’re looking for more UC essay examples from real students, you can view two more essays by entering your email and graduation year below. Then, the links to the PDFs will appear on the right side of the box.

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