Understanding the Personal Statement
Tips for UC Bound Students
So you are considering transferring to the University of California? Good for you!
As part of the application process, you will be required to submit a personal
statement. This statement will be used by some campuses for admission
selection purposes, and by all campuses for scholarship selection purposes.
Each year, specific UC campuses receive more applications from students than
they can admit. An overwhelming majority of students meet the minimum
requirements for admission, and the academic records of these qualified
students are usually very similar, often showing only minor differences. To
discover and evaluate the distinctions among applicants, the University looks
closely at an individual’s entire application. The personal statement helps
provide insight into a student’s level of achievement and character. It is used to
learn more about you as an individual – your talents, experiences, challenges,
achievements and point of view. It is your opportunity to let the admission
officers and faculty learn more about you beyond the information you provided in
the other sections of the application – to fill in gaps, explain unusual
circumstances, and provide a more complete picture of yourself. You may start
to feel frustrated, afraid, and overwhelmed at some point during this
process. This is normal. Don’t let these feelings stop you from completing
this task. The Transfer Center as well as college counselors are available
to guide and support you through the process of developing your personal
statement. Please let us know if you would like our assistance.
Transfer applicants should respond to ALL THREE short answer questions
listed below using a total of 1,000 words. Two of your answers must be
limited to approximately 200 words each. A third question should be given an
extended answer of 600 words. You may choose which question to answer at
1. What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the field 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.
Rationale: This question seeks to understand a student’s motivation
dedication to learning.
2. Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution or personal quality you will bring
to the University of California.
Rationale: UC welcomes the contributions each student brings to the campus
learning community. This question seeks to determine an applicant’s academic or
creative interests and potential to contribute to the vitality of the University.
3. Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record
that you have not had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application?
Rationale: This question seeks to give students the opportunity to share
important aspects of their schooling or their lives – such as their personal
circumstances, family experiences and opportunities that were or were not
available at their school or college – that may not have been sufficiently
addressed elsewhere in the application.
As you develop your personal statement, make sure to…
Read the instructions
Allow enough time for your first draft Common Statement
to sit for a while, be read out loud to a Pitfalls
friend, be critiqued by individuals you
trust - such as a friend, parent, teacher,
Not reading the instructions
and/or counselor - and be refined,
in the application.
polished, and finished.
Not writing about recent
Develop your own ideas and write it Listing accomplishments.
Using gimmicky writing
Present your information and ideas in Writing more about an
a focused, in-depth, thoughtful, and inspirational person than
meaningful manner. yourself.
Support your ideas with specific Being overly self-deprecating
examples. or glorifying.
Reiterating information filled
Include information about your out in the application.
personal qualities such as; leadership
abilities, self-discipline, tenacity,
maturation, commitment to others.
Show meaningful participation – not just a list– in activities that have enriched your
Think about and illustrate how you have demonstrated a sensitivity to and respect for
difference (sustained community service).
Describe your experiences as a leader, the type of person who makes things happen, a
catalyst who motivates others, who initiates something that meets a perceived need.
Write in your own voice, show what is special about you, and speak honestly – the
personal statement is not solely a sample of writing skills although appropriate
grammar, level of usage and spelling are expected.
When appropriate, show your ability to take responsibility for your choices and
behavior – what you have or have not done – and what you have learned from your
Avoid comprising an exhaustive list of activities, honors, awards, qualities or
accomplishments – explain their relevance to your life.
Stay away from exaggerating problems, manufacturing hardship, whining, and
Remember that no single perfect personal statement exists – there is only the one that
is right for you.
When all is said and done…check to make sure your statement answers the basic
question for the reader, “What have I learned about you as an individual?”
Avoid writing it specifically for one UC campus – don’t limit your options. The
personal statement on your application will go to all the UC campuses that you chose
to apply to.
For the online application, we recommend creating the personal statement in a word
processing program, then pasting it into the application. Use the Word Count feature to
be sure that you are writing to the appropriate lengths. If filling out the paper application,
use no more than two sheets of 8.5”x11” white paper. Type or write in black ink on only
one side of each sheet. In the top right corner of each page, print your name, Social
Security Number and the words “Personal Statement.”
Stay within the 1,000 word count guideline using 8½” X11” white paper, double
spaced, and 12 point type in a common font. (1,000 words will not exceed two
Instructions Read the instructions in the application packet carefully. The most common
mistake applicants make is to skim the written instructions or to rely on information
received from others.
Indicate clearly which question you are answering, either by numbering your
responses to match the question or by repeating the question above your response.
(The question will not be counted toward your work total.)
For more information call us or come by the
TRANSFER CENTER today! We are located next to
the bookstore in the campus center east quad.
Chaffey College Transfer Center: (909) 466-2813