University of California Essay Prompts 3+4: Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

Welcome back for another edition of UC app essays. Today, we go through essay prompts 3&4. Let’s get to it! 

Prompt 3

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

Although it would be easy to list all the awards you have won in the activity you are best in, this prompt is looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It is perfectly fine to describe an activity you are dedicated to, but also think about the character and personality traits that tie into the activity, such as tenacity, honesty, and compassion. The key is to elucidate why this activity is worth putting all your time into, and how your personality strengths are exhibited through this activity. Describe the beauty and the meaning of the activity, convincing the admissions officers that this activity rightly takes precedence over everything else.

Do not be put off by this prompt if you have not won any big awards. All the prompt asks for is what you think is your greatest talent or skill.

Make sure to also address how you have developed and demonstrated this talent. Do you put in small amounts of practice every day, or strenuous hours for a couple short periods each year? Why do you allocate your time this way? How have you shown off your talent or skill to other people? Have you won competitions, done performances, gotten into showcases, or shined artistically? Here are a few examples:

• As a guitarist who has not yet won any big competitions, you visited the local non profit school to entertain students each week without fail. There, you found great meaning in your guitar playing — sharing your love of music with others.

• A star on your school’s basketball team, you have been playing ever since you were seven. As the captain, you have settled numerous feuds between players, as well as spiked team morale toward the end of the seasons. In this case, you could discuss the valuable leadership and teamwork experience you have gained through playing on the team.

Prompt 4 

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for life. For example, participation in an honors enrichment program or enrollment in an academy geared toward a profession, or even a particularly enlightening conversation with an adult — just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you have faced, what personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How has the process shaped you as a person? An added plus would be talking about passing it forward and helping those in your purview obtain the knowledge you did from your experiences.

We hope this helps! UC deadlines are November 30th. Come chat with us if you have more questions!