Use our UC personal statement samples to learn how to write a college essay for these prestigious institutions. The UC application system has eight prompts that they refer to as “personal insight questions.” Not unlike other college essays, the UC prompts cover very common college essay topics familiar to all applicants, including background, family, strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and so on. You can go through UC personal statement samples if you are finding it hard to write supplemental college essays of your own. Practicing the writing of supplemental essays will give you the confidence to easily overcome that obstacle when the time comes to submit your application to the university. Read on to learn how to write the best UC essay for your application.

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UC personal statement requirements UC personal statement samples – with prompts Conclusion FAQs

UC personal statement requirements

Before we go ahead and have a look at each prompt and the UC personal statement samples, let us go over the UC personal statement requirements.

According to the UC application requirements, prospective candidates must choose to respond to four out of the eight available questions. Each essay has a word limit of 350 words.

UC also offers a piece of advice by suggesting that while the questions you choose are up to you, you should choose the prompts that are “most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances.” Keep in mind that the prompts are quite open-ended, so you have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to writing your essays. Try to choose prompts where you can showcase the qualities valued by the UC schools, such as leadership, creativity, diversity, academic prowess, and so on.

Learn how to write your college essays:

UC personal statement samples – with prompts

Now, let’s review expertly written UC personal statement samples. Below are essays that were written in response to four out of the eight prompts, as is required by UC. The fifth one is a bonus.

Prompt 1: Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

In my junior year of high school, I set a goal for myself: I would start a jazz club. Although we had several music clubs, including acapella, classical, and rock – there were none for the music I loved: jazz. To me, jazz is a genre that transcends race and nationalities. It is the music of “understanding.” By my junior year, I’d been playing the saxophone for five years, mostly at home, and wanted to continue to play with others. I also wanted to expose my peers to the music that meant so much to me. 

However, I also understood that jazz is the kind of music that attracted a distinct following. One must be exposed to live jazz before one can appreciate the beauty of this genre. I, therefore, knew I had to start by creating a buzz before considering forming a club, or it would be a club of one. And to create this buzz, I had to expose my schoolmates to live jazz and, therefore, create a jazz band.

I started looking for band members among my classmates. Not only did I ask my school to advertise my search in the school newspaper, but I also put up flyers at the entrance of the school to attract musicians. 

Slowly, over three months, I found four musicians to form our jazz quintet. Once we had set up our rehearsal schedules and practiced a few songs, we were confident enough to perform our first gig at the upcoming “Culture Day” hosted by our school.

After enthusiastic ovations for our last song, we took the opportunity to announce our intention to form a school jazz club and welcome everyone to join us in appreciation of this eclectic genre.

Shortly after our performance, we had our club. Over the last year, the club has grown exponentially. I continued to practice with my band and other club members, and we even began to invite local jazz musicians to play with us. Today, the club is growing strong and I hope will remain a part of the X high school for years to come.  (350 words)

Prompt 3: What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

My greatest talent is writing – online writing to be more precise.

I was born and grew up in Ethiopia. I have always loved the English language, even though it is not my mother tongue. I fell in love with the language in elementary school, in the second grade English class. When my classmates were struggling to finish even a page of our daily allocated text, I would get frustrated that I couldn’t go ahead – at least a page or two – and find out what would happen next.

When I moved to the United States in grade 8, I went on to win awards and certificates for English – topping my classmates who grew up speaking the language.

In high school, I started writing fiction and dreamt about being published one day. But then I discovered remote work and online writing. I knew it would be a true testimony to my writing “prowess” if I could earn money from part-time writing jobs in high school.

Through sheer persistence, I landed my first client, a local nature preserve program, who hired me to write a piece on Turkey Vultures of Tehachapi, California. The piece was a success and I started landing regular part-time gigs.

After graduation, I set a goal of making sure I would cut down on my college fees by saving as much money as I could by writing online full time. While my friends were chasing conventional jobs, or simply partying away, I worked my way up the writing pay scale. I knew I had to take a couple of years off before applying to my dream schools, but I would be debt-free.

After working for two years as a freelance writer, I had saved enough money to make sure I won’t be in debt when I leave the Writing at USD program. I will continue to work as a freelancer as I pursue my degree and my lifelong dream to become a writer.

 (324 words)

Prompt 5: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

One summer evening, three years ago, my family and I were returning from a great day spent in the sun, at the beach. It was a day of fun spent running, swimming, and lying in the sand had drained our energy and we were walking back home with that sweet sensation that comes with a fully relaxed and tired body.

My father, mother, sister, and I were all thinking of just getting into the house and crawling into bed. We were even making fun of how we weren’t going to bother about washing the sand off of us.

As we walked along laughing and joking, I can remember seeing the car come careening down the narrow street we were on. I was in front, on the street side with my sister next to me and our parents behind us.

I can still see the huge, silver, and shiny headlight slam into my face. And that was all I would remember.

My body had taken the full brunt of the accident and left me with broken bones, multiple fractures, and a spinal cord that was barely holding its form.

The doctor said I wouldn’t walk again.

But, I knew I would.

The very moment my pain would allow it, I started therapy. At first, all I was able to do was lay there and wish my body to obey my command. Even the slightest movement, when I could, was followed by screams of agony. My body wanted me to stop, but I wouldn’t allow it. I had to fight pain, doubt, self-pity, and depression all at once.

But, I didn’t give up.

It took all my will and the support of my family – who were with me all the way – to take every single step. My psychiatrist helped keep my resolve strong. There was a lot of frustration and many tears were shed.

I was determined to put mind over body.

A year after the accident I was finally able to stand on my own and take steps without crashing to the ground – and today, three years on, I can run!

(350 words)

Prompt7: What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? 

For the past 5 years, I have been volunteering at a homeless shelter. I know what it is like to be homeless. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was left without a home at the age of 18 and had to live on the street for a few weeks. I will never forget the sense of hopelessness.

Thankfully, I was helped by a volunteer family who gave me a place to stay until I could find a job and get on my feet again. I wasn’t asked to pay any rent or utilities for the four months it took me to get a job and save some money to afford rent. The sense of hope I got when I spent that first night under a roof knowing I wouldn’t have to abandon it first thing in the morning was elating.

It was also right then and there that I decided I would pay it forward by helping the homeless in any way that I could. Apart from working at the local homeless shelter, I also run a website that connects volunteer families and charities that pay for accommodation or offer it for free with homeless people and whole families that need it. The site is also used by benefactors who want to help the shelter with supplies or financial donations to help resupply stock. It also offers information on services like job application strategies, medical care, and contact exchange for those that are trying to reach people they had lost contact with.

Since the website was launched about a year ago, I have helped dozens of people find shelter – both short- and long-term – and had people whom I have helped join me with the online project. I am happy that my friends and I can help in every way that we can in seeking to alleviate the homelessness issues in our city. (314 words)

Prompt 8 (Bonus): Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

I come from a broken home. My parents separated when I was about 6 years old. I went to live with my mother who had to work three jobs just so she could pay the mortgage and put food on the table. This meant that I had to grow up alone and I had to grow up fast.

When I was 12, we lost our home because my mother fell ill and couldn’t work anymore. At first, we got by on the charity of neighbors and our church but soon found ourselves on our own. We struggled to keep paying rent in whatever cheap accommodation we could find. But, that too didn’t last long as my mother’s health quickly deteriorated and one day she was gone.

My uncle took me in – even though he was a paycheck away from disaster. I was thankful for the roof over my head and the meager meals we could afford to share.

I loved my uncle for his kindheartedness but when I was 17 – going on 18 – I decided to get myself a job. I wanted to help him as he was getting on in years and needed help instead of having to care for me.

I worked in any job that would hire me – dishwashing, kitchen help, and waiting tables. I would work two shifts and barely be able to keep my eyes open in class.

In my senior year, I kept my story to myself and continued to achieve good grades – as well as 100 percent attendance – regardless of bone-deep exhaustion. Even today, none of my classmates know I worked full-time as I sat next to them in class.

Throughout these difficult years, I had never forgotten the one piece of advice my mother had drilled into me – stay in school, graduate college, and be who you want to be. I graduated with honors and, today, as I apply to UC, I look toward a brighter future. (325 words)


As you can see from the UC personal statement samples and prompts, the UC schools are trying to understand what kinds of experiences you will bring to the college community. Remember, research each UC school to strategically choose experiences and skills to highlight in your essay.

Want to learn more about UC schools?


1. What would happen if I went over the maximum word count for my UC personal statement?

The UC personal statements are submitted using the UC application system, so you will simply be banned from submitting your work.

2. What are some pointers I should take note of when writing my UC personal statement?

Your essays should be stories. Tell the admissions committee who you are and what got you to where you are today.

Don’t forget to spell check and make sure there are no grammatical errors.

3. What are my chances of getting into UC?

UC schools are some of the best universities in the world. This means, the competition for admission each year is cutthroat.

Focus on ways you can increase your chances by creating exceptional personal statements and essays.

4. Can I join UC with a low GPA?

You can only join a UC school if you have a minimum 3.0 GPA as a California resident and a 3.4 GPA if you are a non-resident.

5. What if I am not good at writing personal statements?

Not everyone is good at writing personal statements. But, you can go ahead and work with college essay advisors to get some pointers on how to write a competent personal statement.

6. Do UC personal statement essay prompts change every year?

It really doesn’t matter if the UC prompts change every year or not. The point is that you learn to write the best essays that you can and succeed in getting admitted to the university – regardless of the prompt.

7. How can I make my personal statement stand out?

The first thing you need to remember is that the personal statement is like a story about you. If you look at the prompts for the UC personal statements, you can see that they ask about you and how you affect – or are affected by – your community, your background, your experiences, and so on.

To make your personal statement stand out, you need to tell a compelling story when answering the prompts.

8. Should I use formal or casual tones when writing my personal statements?

Since you’re talking about your life and experiences, you can go with a semi-casual tone. Avoid vulgar terms, stay away from controversial topics, and never write about current hot topics in politics.

Remember: you want to leave a good impression with the admissions committee – so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by inadvertently offending them.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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