College Admissions Essays

 

How to Answer Prompt #1 for the College Application Essay 

for the University of California:

“Describe the World You Come From”

Only read this if you are applying to a UC (University of California school, such as UCLA, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Irvine, Santa Cruz, etc.). There are two college essay prompts for their required personal statements for incoming freshmen. Here is some advice regarding the first one:

Prompt #1 (freshman applicants)

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Read this closely. Note that it asks you to describe one thing and then tell about another–so there are two points you need to address in your essay. When you describe the world you come from, think of this in a figurative sense. Do not just write about your hometown. Instead of the word “world,” try substituting it for the word “community” or “background.”

Anything can be your world (a mini-community of shared activities, people, passions or places), from your yoga class to your bedroom to your job washing dishes to your grandmother’s kitchen making tortilla soup to your two moms. It’s wide open. Just pick a topic. Also, the examples they give, “family, community or school” are just that, examples. Do not write a little about each of these.

And do not just write about “my family” or “my school.” Way too broad. Write about your uncle’s magic shop in an underprivileged neighborhood, or the Scrabble club you started at your school even though you are the world’s worst speller, or the old movie theater in your town where you first fell in love with cinema and the power of a visual story. (Check out the link at bottom of this post to my Tumbler blog with images and quotes to spark ideas for what makes your world.)

Quickie World-Finder: What do you like/love to do? Where do you do it? Who do you do it with? Bingo! You have just landed on one of your worlds!

Another way to think about your world would be to show how it has been challenging on some level–and how that has shaped and defined who you are. In a way, your world is your life with its unique set of issues, obstacles or challenges. Think of they saying: “Welcome to my world.” If you have one piece of your life that shapes your “world” in a major way—something from your personal, cultural, educational, etc. background—and that colleges would understand you better if they knew what that was like, consider writing about it.

Examples: The world of living with two gay dads. The world of living with an autistic sister. The world of living with a bi-polar mom. The world of living with immigrant grandparents. The world of living on food stamps. The world of living with perfectionists/slobs/religious nuts/alcoholics/seven siblings/foster home/military parents/home-schooling/white parents and you are asian/constant moving/famous mom, etc.

To write this type of “world” essay, pick a real-life example of a “time” in your life/world when that issue affected you, start your essay describing that specific incident or moment, then go into how dealing with that reality has affected you. You might be surprised what comes out of you–and how it makes you feel. I have had students who have written about almost all of these “life” issues. Their essays have been intense and often soul-searching, but also memorable and meaningful.

Although I think the bulk of your college application essay should focus on this world, and how it has affected you, also address the second part about your dreams and aspirations. This has the potential to be general and boring, so make sure to talk specifically about how you will apply the lessons (values, skills, ideas, insights, etc.) you have learned in your world to your future.

(Hint: It wouldn’t hurt if you can show how these dreams and aspirations link to your specific college goals. For example, if your “world” is hanging out in your parent’s garage fixing an old truck, mention how the problem-solving skills you learned there will help your aspirations to be some type of engineer one day.)

If you are one of those A-type overachievers (hey, it’s OK, these UCs are insanely competitive!) who still feels insecure about understanding the UC prompts, check out this 50-minute video of a counselor guru spelling it all out at a convention for college admissions folks. Just don’t let her freak you out too much. Definitely good info here, but I say overkill. It’s also from 2007, though prompts are the same. Your choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zo6NI4wHf4&feature=related

 

Want to see if your idea for a world is spot on?
Consider attending my upcoming live, interactive Webinar on Sunday, October 19:
How To Describe the World You Come From. Cost: $29 (include my two ebook guides!)

 

Here are some more helpful posts for answering UC Prompt #1:

See if this video from the UC Admissions Department helps. I think it might give you an idea of what they want from the two personal statements, but not a lot on how to deliver it. That part is left up to you, as far as I can tell.

(Tips from video: “Be thoughtful, clear, succinct and provide depth.” “Just be honest.” “Focus on a strength.” “Write about what makes you different.” “I wrote from my heart.” All great stuff—the only thing missing is any direction, instruction or support for students on how to do all this in 500 words.)

 

*Also, if you are still looking for a “world” to write about, there are lots of ideas in the comments.  Definitely worth scrolling through to see what others are thinking of writing about. Thanks for sharing all your ideas!

 

I believe you can write these UC essays on your own. But if you feel like you would like my personal help with them or other college application essays, find details on my Services page.

 

Best of luck! Janine Robinson

Help with College Admissions Essays at EssayHell.com

308 Responses to Describe the World You Come From…

  1. Erica Han says:

    Hi, for the “world I come from” prompt, how specific can I get? I was thinking about writing about my hobby of drawing faces and how that connects to me. But I’m not sure if this is even answering the question.

    • j9robinson says:

      Your topic idea of writing about your hobby drawing faces is an excellent one, but not necessarily for this prompt. It would be a better choice for a prompt that asks you to describe a hobby, a passion, an accomplishment, that type of thing (more of a personal statement or Prompt #2 for UC app.).

      For this prompt, you are looking for a larger “world” or community that influenced you. If you loved drawing faces in a special place, such as an art room at school or a sun porch in your house, you could describe that as your world, and then go on to talking about how this “world” has shaped your love of art, etc. (Other words to think about instead of your “world” could be “community,” “environment,” “space,” or “habitat”–I believe it needs to somehow be a place, either literally or figuratively.) Hope this helps!

  2. Aditya P. says:

    For the “world I come from” prompt, I just don’t understand exactly what it wants me to answer. I come from an Indian Family who doesn’t go to temple much but is deeply connected with my roots. I am very social and active in school, however I feel at peace with all the craziness that goes on in my life when I play Carrom (Indian Board Game) which I learned from my grand father. Could that be a good topic for this prompt?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Aditya,
      Yes, your playing Carrom to find peace and connect with your roots would make a perfect topic for this prompt. What you want is to focus in on a piece of your “world”–such as this game–and then describe what it means to you and your development. I would start by recreating a moment of yourself playing the game: “It was my turn. I slid the round, red game piece over to the next square. Then I looked at my grandfather, who was pondering his next move….”, and then mention how it makes you feel, why it makes you feel that way, what it has taught you, not just about that game, but about life! In this prompt, you must remember not only to show the world you come from (which you will do by sharing this game and tradition), but the second part–describe how it has “shaped your dreams and aspirations.” If you talk about what you learned from this tradition, you also must include how you intend to use the values or lessons from this tradition in your future, that is, what you hope to do and accomplish. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers–go ahead and say that if you want–but at least touch on the idea of how you hope to apply them in your future endeavors as best you can. Congratulations! You have a wonderful topic here!! Now you just need to pound out a rough draft!! Best of luck! Janine

  3. Courtney says:

    For the first prompt, I was thinking of writing about my volunteering at Girl Scouts and at a tennis program. Is that okay for this prompt?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Courtney, You can write about volunteering at Girl Scouts (that’s definitely a “world”) but the trick is to focus on something specific that happened, and then describe what you learned from that small experience. Make sure to also talk about how you would use the lessons you learned in your future endeavors. (Remember, this prompt has two parts, and the second asked how your world “shaped your dreams and aspirations.”) Good luck!

  4. Angie says:

    Im struggling !!!
    I want to write about how as a young my dad introduced me to community service . As well as how important it was for him and the role he played in the group. The problem is I don’t know how to fit it in with the prompt??!! Help!!!

    • Angie says:

      Generally I want to talk about how my entire family had a great impact on me and how they shaped me

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Angie, writing about your family certainly is a “world,” however, you must focus on something specific about your family and how they shaped you, otherwise your essay will be too general and dull. Can you think of an example of “a time” something happened to you and your family? Remember, this essay needs to be about you, mainly. Start with something that challenged your family, and then share how it affected you, what you learned, how it shaped your values. Then make sure to include how you will use those qualities in the future. Good luck!

  5. Shreya kaur says:

    Hi janine,
    i kind of have an idea about what to say for the ” world i come form ” essay, but im not a 100% sure how to say it.from a very young age, i have watched my grandmother make these indian sweets called “gulab jamuns”. the entire process of watching her make them, to eating them is something that is very personal to me and i feel resembles the life i wish to lead in the future.i am a big foodie, buT i think this is one memory i would like to focus on- do you think i should go through with it?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Shreya,
      You totally get it!! Yes, focus on that one memory, and then expand upon what it meant to you, and highlight some values that have shaped you to this day. You could start with a simple anecdote (see my post on How to Write an Anecdote) that would “show” us “a time” your grandmother made these sweets with you. Include what they look like, smell like, feel like, taste like, and how they make you feel–so much wonderful fodder for descriptive writing. (The challenge is condensing that moment into about a paragraph or two at the most. One tip: Start in the middle of the action.) But after the anecdote, then you must explain to us what this interaction meant to you, what you learned from it, and how those lessons “shaped your dreams and aspirations” for the future. Best of luck!!

  6. Amit says:

    Hi, I’d like to ask you your opinion on a couple of the topics I brainstormed. I’m not sure if they fit the categories described under this prompt. My first idea was to write about a social phobia I had and how it was an obstacle in my life and how I overcame it. The problem with it is that I’m not sure if it is categorized under my world. My second idea is about a volunteering experience I had at a food bank I volunteer at. Would this fit the prompt better?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Amit,
      I believe a social phobia can definitely be a “world,” in that it can deeply affect your life. I think this could be a powerful topic. My advice would be to think of “a time” when you were dealing with this phobia and describe that first, then go on to explain the phobia and how you have handled it–and most importantly what you learned from dealing with it. Finally, don’t forget at the end to include how it “shaped your dreams and aspirations” for the future. The other topic–volunteering to help the needy–as wonderful as that it, typically leads to a more cliche essay. If nothing else, it’s over-done. Of course, if something life-affecting for you happened during this experience, it could be a great topic.

  7. Nakul says:

    Hi. I’m really stuck on this prompt and the only thing that i can think of is talking about when my dad bought and uses the computer, he is so dumbstruck my it, that i want to work to better the task of using a computer. Do you think this could for the prompt?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Nakul,
      Yes, this could be a wonderful topic. Is the “world” you are describing that of technology? If you started with an anecdote or descripton of “a time” your dad struggled with his computer and how you tried to help him, that could illustrate your main point about the generation gap in your world. Then go on to talk about how you help or deal with your dad, how you feel about the tensions there, and what you learned in dealing with them. And don’t forget to discuss how you will apply those lessons in your future “dreams and aspirations.” Boom. Great essay!

  8. Sochie says:

    Sooo im suppost to write my personal essay and im struggling i neeed help ASAP
    i come from a ghetto world and a confusing world, where like my family dosent believe that i can achieve and go to college because they never made it their ? can someone help me ???

  9. j9robinson says:

    Hi Sochie, Why don’t you send me an email (Janine@essayhell.com) and tell me what schools you are applying to, a little about your background (where you live, your family, what you want to do, etc.) what prompt or question you need to answer in your essay, if there is a word limit, and any ideas you have so far about what you could write about. Then I can see if I can help you come up with some good ideas.

    • Sochie says:

      Well im working on this prompt “Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.” and im kind of stuck when it says how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations?

      • j9robinson says:

        Hi Sochie,
        You are wise to notice that part of the prompt (question). After you describe a “world”–which can be anything from your yoga class, chess club, grandmother’s kitchen, a darkroom, a hospital room, your bedroom, inside of a car, ceramics studio–you must also explain how this “world” or “mini-community”–has “shaped your dreams and aspirations.” I believe you just need to explain how you will use what you have learned from this “world”–what personal qualities, skills, ideas, etc. that you developed there–and how these have affected what you would like to do in the future, and how you are planning to make that happen. I would say you should devote at least a fourth of your essay, most likely toward the end, to addressing this part of the question. Of course, that is just a generalization, and it depends upon what you have to say and how you say it.
        Great question! Best of luck. JR

  10. Hussam says:

    Hey Janine. I’m finding this essay really difficult to answer. During my brainstorm sessions for a topic I came up with two idea: 1) Dinosaurs and 2) Automobiles. I have a passion for both, and the latter one made me decide to major in Mechanical engineering (not in the automotive specialization anymore though), however, I’m unable to define a particular ‘world’ that made me come to become a dinosaur/car fan.
    I’ve always loved dinosaurs since I was a kid because of movies like Jurassic Park and The Land Before Time, and well, I would always buy dinosaur toys and half of my book collection is on paleontology and prehistoric animals. How would I be able to define ‘world’ in this context? I know for sure that one of my dreams is to visit as many museums with dinosaur exhibits as possible.
    As for cars, I became fond of them when I moved to the UAE when I was 10, and it was essentially automotive haven. It was around that time that I also got into racing games and whatnot too, but again the trouble comes in defining ‘world’.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Hussam,

      I think you could write a great essay about your passion for dinosaurs. But first, I think you need to explore what it is about dinosaurs that intrigues you. The essay needs to be mainly about you. What core quality do dinosaurs bring out about you, or do they represent to you? Your interest in them could totally be a world! When you learn about them, aren’t you travelling back to another world, time, place? Pick “a time” or example of when you learned something about dinosaurs, whether at a museum or even a t.v. show and describe that moment (be specific, include descriptive details), and then background your interest in dinosaurs and what you have learned about your life and life in general from hanging out with them. What is it about the ancient world of dinosaurs that you love so much? Once you hit on that, share an example of a time you were in that world, and go from there. Good luck! It’s a great topic–you just need to use specific examples to illustrate the main point you make about dinosaurs and your passion for them. JR

    • j9robinson says:

      One more thing, Hussam. Another way to focus this essay about dinosaurs is to pick one dinosaur that particularly interests you, and again, explore why that is and what it says about you. Then expand the essay to all dinosaurs, etc. It’s important to focus essays, otherwise they get too general and boring. JR

  11. Annie says:

    Hi I want to write about how I come from a world of books but I don’t know how to keep it specific. I want to write about hOw books makes me open minded about trying new stuff and meeting new people.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Annie, I would suggest picking one specific book, and finding a specific example of “a time” it helped open your thinking to something new or a different type of person. (The world of books is a great topic–but you need to frame it and make it about you, and not too general.) Then show what you did after that, show how it changed you a little, how it affected what you care about, etc. But focus on a book, or one character, and then get even more specific about that book or character–something that happened that made an impression upon you. And then describe how that affected you and why. The best way to make a point about yourself is to use examples. Way more interesting than you just telling us your point. It would help to pick a book or character that most people would not think would affect you (to get that “unexpected” quality–see this related post in my blog about writing about the unexpected–or finding the “twist.”)

  12. Nariu says:

    Im struggling to write this essay too! I was thinking about writing about my nanny(who became like a grandmother to me)-she left her family back home to come raise me since I was two weeks old and has been with me up till last year, when she finally retired. But she’s still holds a big part of my heart. Could that be a topic? Would I have to make it a specific event related to her?(the second UC question im answering is already about a specific talent/experience.)

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Nariu, Yes, I would say that a nanny like that certainly helped shape your world! I would think about what ways, specifically, did your nanny shape your world. What qualities did she bring into your world? I would focus on an example of something she did that could show us that quality (It can be as simple and mundane as the song she would sing when driving you around in the car), and then go into how she affected how you feel, think and act today. Even though you must show us abou nanny, the trick is to make this essay about you–and she helped you change and mature in any way. Best of luck! JR

  13. noelle says:

    Hi! i’m really stuck on the “world i come from” prompt. I want to talk about my large family of 7 but, we haven’t faced a challenge that i can write about. Maybe about how activities/opinions overlap?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Noelle,
      Wow, I bet you have tons of great topics with that giant family! If you never faced any challenges, how about some traditions? What is your role in this large family–the leader, black sheep, joker, baby? That might be something interesting to explore in an essay. If you can find something “unexpected” about you and your family, something no one would assume happens in such a large family, all the better. One of my former students wrote about how her entire family, siblings and both parents were slobs and chronically late, and how her role was to keep them all in line. She started her essay with an example of the chaos, and then went on to describe her role and how she handled it, and what she learned in the process, and the good and bad of her role as it applied her life. Learn about how the “unexpected” can turn a good essay into a great one in THIS POST. Best of luck! JR

  14. Chloe VG says:

    Hi Janine,
    I have a few ideas about what i want to write about for this essay, but i am not sure which idea is best to choose, and how to go about it. I am very interested in science and i want to write about my passion for science (Biology in particular), and how my world (family, school or community) has inspired my interest.
    first idea: (family) my dad is an AP Biology teacher, so her inspired me to love science ever since elementary school. I always loved to do experiments and what not, and i have memories of helping him put together class work, labs, and looking through his biology books as a child.
    second idea: (school)I feel like my science world really opened up to me when i took AP Biology, and i realized it was my true interest and my talent. My teacher was a very inspirational to me and it seemed as if he, and the class were a gateway to the real science world i am hoping to pursue a career in. I also became involved in the Science Team which was also very inspirational to me, and built my confidence because i was chosen to be an official competitor for the competition.
    third idea: (community) this deals with one specific idea; Professor Slowinska (from CSULB, the college right down my street)discovered a possible alternative for cancer treatment, and I attended her meeting where she explained her whole process. There, I was inspired and fascinated because i understood everything she was talking about even though it was of a “higher level” and it inspired me to be like her, or her students whom she performed the lab with.
    so i have a lot of ideas, but i dont know which one is best, and how to write the essay/focus on one specific idea. It would be great if you could help me out a little. Thank you!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Chloe,
      All these could make great essays. The key is to focus them. What is the main point you want to make in your essay? Remember, it should be about you! Pick a quality (problem solver, curious, risk-taker, meticulous, logical, etc.) you developed related to your interest in science, and then start by describing “a time” or an example of a time when you got hooked (and demonstrated this quality). Maybe just start with your first idea and describe one of the experiments you did with your dad, and then expand upon what you learned in the process. HINT: If the example you start with, say of an experiment, involved some type of “problem,” you will have a more compelling anecdote for your introduction. Learn better how that works in THIS POST about how to jumpstart your essay by finding a “problem.” Remember to “show” us an example of your point by using details and real-life examples, rather than just describe it to us in generalities. Hope this helps! JR

  15. Gary says:

    Hi! So I am really stuck on the first prompt. I want to talk about how my family had many accidents involving injuries and a lot of my relatives got sick. Due to these, it made me want to be a nurse or pharmacist. I’m wondering if this is a good idea and I was thinking about putting some specific examples in the essay. Thank you!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Gary,
      I think your instinct is right on! This could be a great topic! My suggestion would be to start with “a time” or example of one of the many accidents or injuries, and use that incident to show the reader how they made you feel, and how you handled them, and ultimately how they inspired you toward a profession in helping others deal with their adversities. Love it! I would take a look at my Jumpstart Guide for more help on how to structure an essay like this (listed in Topics on the right side of blog.) Good luck!

  16. Emily says:

    Wait, I am so confused. Should I be using an anecdote for this topic? I thought an anecdote would be more appropriate for the second essay prompt on the UC application.

    I’m writing about being a peer educator at Planned Parenthood.

  17. j9robinson says:

    Hi Emily,
    An anecdote is just a short description of something that happened, often called a “mini-story.” They are often used at the beginning of essays like these to give the reader an example of your main point, and engage them by putting them right in the moment. You can use this technique in one or both essays–it’s up to you. I like them because they not only work as strong “hooks” for the reader, but also cast your essay in a narrative (which means story-telling) style and tone. Who doesn’t love a good story? But it’s totally fine to start your essay in another style, if that works better for you. I have posts about how to write anecdotes under the topic listing at the right of this blog, if that helps. As far your topic about being a peer educator at Planned Parenthood, I think an anecdote could work well. You could start by describing a little incident or experience you had while working with a woman there, and use that as the springboard to explain what you learned. But it’s totally your call as to what works best for the points you want to make about yourself in your essay. You could not use any anecdotes in your UC essays, or use an anecdotal introduction in just one, or in both. There are no rules; just what works best for you. Hope this clears up your confusion a bit! JR

  18. Alex says:

    Hi Janine,

    I intend to write about my fond of the show Mad Men or classic British Fashion (suits, brogues, fountain pens … ), yet I am not sure how I can incorporate either one into my essay. Can you please give me some help?

    Thanks,

    Alex

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Alex,
      I like the idea of writing about your interest in British fashion. First, you need to explore what it is that drives this interest, what it says about you, and what, if anything, you have learned from it. So you like British fashion, but what about it? What lengths do you go to to learn about it, follow the trends, or wear it. It this difficult as a teenage boy living in America? If so, how do you deal with that. The essay needs to show something about you–a core quality. What core quality does your passion for this type of fashion say about you? Are you flamboyant? Are you fastidious? Are you expressive? Are you nostalgic? I would try to focus on one of those qualities, and use your passion to show us about it, but then you need explain what it means, both to you and others, and why it matters on some level. Hope this helps! Check out my Jumpstart Guide for more guidance along these lines.
      Janine Robinson

  19. Casey W. says:

    Hi Janine,

    I want to write about my table tennis team for the “Describe the world you come from … essay”, how should I approach it? Also, I plan to start with the incident of forgetting to bring a pay check to my coach and go onto how I developed responsibility from this “world”. Does this make sense to you? Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Casey, I think your table tennis team could make a great essay. I would first think what quality it has helped your develop or challenged in you from playing ping pong. Then show how that quality applies to your “dreams and aspirations” for the future. You will need to help us understand what makes table tennis a “world,” by sharing some of the things about the game that we might not know. Best of luck! JR

  20. Leonardo says:

    Hi there,

    I am a bit stuck. I think the most significant moment in my life was when I found my step-dad after he had committed suicide. He was really supportive and always there for me. However, I’m not sure how to link this to my dreams and aspirations. Can you help me, please?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Leonardo,

      I think the experience of suicide definitely can create a “world,” and one that is hugely affecting. Some college admissions counselors and essay coaches often advise students to steer clear of such intense, personal topics (death/divorce/etc). I, however, think that when a student experiences something as profound as this, that sometimes she or he almost needs to write about it–because it shaped so much of who they are and what they care about. When you write about a powerful, almost sensational topic, it helps to describe what happened, but to quickly move onto how it affected you, how you handled it and what you learned. Since it was so traumatic and intense, you don’t have to go into a lot about what happened, but instead focus on the impact. That way your reader isn’t overwhelmed by what happened, and can learn more about how it affects you and your life. As far as your step-dad, I would totally focus on how you have sorted out the positive things you learned from him from the tragedy of his death–not an easy task. I’m sure you have learned so much. How the experience affects your dreams and aspirations, well, I would just reflect upon how you will use what you learned from your step-dad and the experience in whatever you plan to do in the future, even if you aren’t sure what that will be. (Just say that directly; you aren’t expected to know what exactly you will be doing a year or more from now.) Good luck! JR

  21. Kunal Pramod Phaltane says:

    Hi! I am stuck on this topic for many many days. My world is literally my high school friends and my customized computer. I am not sure if that would be a great topic. A little help would be appreciated.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Kunal,
      Those are good things and could be “worlds,” but I think you need to brainstorm some more and come up with a more specific topic. Can you show us exactly how “customized” your computer is, and then how that affects the quality of your life, and how effective you are in the world? That could work. Otherwise, I would try fishing around for other topics. I just put together a Tumblr blog to help spark “world” ideas for this UC Prompt #1. Check it out: http://bit.ly/SPPTYQ. If you find it helpful, please share!! Thanks and good luck! JR

      • Kunal Pramod Phaltane says:

        Okay so I must describe my own “customization” and then what about that has affected me or shaped my dreams. Tough. One more thing, should my essay be based around just one topic or can I squeeze in another topic like ‘how my friends have defined the outlook on life’?

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Kunal, my advice would be to keep your essay focused. I would stick to the computer and only expand along the lines of the greater point you want to show about yourself. Save your friends for another essay. JR

  22. Radhika says:

    Hey, can I write about a person whose thoughts have inspired me like Narayan Murthy ( he is the founder of Infosys)? But will it come under “my world” section

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Radhika,
      I think if that person represented a type of “world” for you, you can write an essay about him. The challenge is to make the essay mainly about you, and not just him. I would focus on how Murthy became a world to you, and the talk about how that shaped you and what you believe–and eventually might want to do. Hope this helped. JR

  23. Cynthia Rawn says:

    Hi Janine,
    One of my passions is hair dying. I have an unusual haircolor that really stands out, and i have had several different colors. Could I write an essay on this and how it has helped me to embrace my uniqueness/creativity? Or does this make me seem superficial? My other idea was to write about my culture, with my parents both being from europe, but i dont know how to make that a specific “world”.

    Please let me know what you think. Thanks

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Cynthia,

      I think your passion with dying hair could make a colorful essay. Haha! Seriously, it would mainly depend on what you had to say about hair dying and how it was a “world” for you. I believe there could be many life metaphors to hair dying, and that you could expound upon those. YOu need to decide what exactly you want this essay to say about you. I think the idea of personal expression and how you found the courage to explore that and step out as your unique, bold self could be a great essay. Maybe start be describing one of the first times you went for a crazy color, how you felt at first, the results, how you felt about them, and the reaction from friends/family—and then analyze that experience, and what you learned. Make sure include how your new sense of self will affect your future dreams/aspiration–or life goals. Good luck! JR

  24. John says:

    Hi! I’m struggling with this essay. I’m thinking of working some sort of angle where I was bullied based on my race in middle school, which skewed my naive opinions on a select few races, went on to high school (a very diverse place) and discovered how much I love diversity and realized I had fallen into some sort of cycle etc etc. My major problem is that I have no clue what my dreams/aspirations are. I was thinking about talking about wanting to be a good role model or something related to racism/bullying, but I’ve done no work/service to reflect this and it’s completely unrelated to my major (which I still haven’t even decided). Should I use this topic, and should I use a general abstract concept as my aspiration? Thank you.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi John, Sounds like you have done some good thinking about your topic and world. The bullying should be very interesting, and obviously shaped your world. To then go on to describe or explain how the lessons you learned from that challenging world of bullying, you don’t have to have specific dreams/aspirations necessarily. All you need to do is talk about how you hope or imagine how the qualities you developed during this experience(s) will help you in your future endeavors. You can even just say straight out, “Although I’m not sure exactly how these lessons on diversity will apply to my future goals, I know that simply being willing and eager to embrace all different kinds of people will make me more effective no matter what I do.” Something along those lines. My point is that you don’t need to say you will use your appreciation of diversity to become an airline pilot or computer software guy, but you need to show how you will apply what you learned into the future. Good luck! JR

  25. Kyla Green says:

    On the “describe the world you come from” essay, could i write about a time when my parents were having complications in their marriage & i can link it to my aspiration of becoming a relationship counselor?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Kyla,
      I think this could be a really good essay. The key is to help the reader understand the complications, but spend most of essay on how they affected you. My suggestions would be to use an anecdote (see my posts on how to write anecdotes!) to show the reader one of these typical “complications,” such as an argument or whatever is an example of these “complications” you mention. Let us understand how those made you feel at the time, and quickly background the history (when they started, how they got worse with time, etc.), but then go into how they affected you–how they made you feel, if they affected your school work/social life/etc–and then describe how you dealt with them–and ultimately, what you learned from them–and how they shaped you (your interest in counseling is perfect!). So this could be a very dramatic essay, which is good and memorable, but make sure not to spend too much time on the sensational part and quickly turn the focus on the world it created for you. Go for it! JR

  26. Angela says:

    For this essay, I wanted to talk about a girl I met on a mission trip I went on in Guatemala and the things I learned from the experience. I don’t necessarily know how to connect that to my “dreams and aspirations” though. I’d like to be a journalist or something of the like, but I haven’t really narrowed it down yet. Is it okay if I just talk of how she taught me not to be so quick to judge, how to be more open to new experiences? Is this even a correct response to the prompt? I suppose this one girl is not necessarily a community, or a family really, so maybe its not even applicable? So confused! Thanks for your help.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Angela,
      As amazing as mission trips are and how much you learn on them, they often do not make great topics for these essays. The main reason is they are written about a lot, and college admissions folks have reported that they tire of them–which isn’t good for you. I believe, however, that if you have something different to say about your trip–other than you learned a new culture and loved helping people, etc–that you can still write about them. As far as the Guatemalan girl who made an impression upon you, you could use her as an example of the type of world you entered on this trip. But you need to know what specifically about this girl, and her world, affected you. (Otherwise, you essay is at high risk of deteriorating into boring generalities.) Then you will have a good essay. The fact that you met her while on a mission trip will just be background in the essay. The essay will not be about the mission trip, but about your experience with this girl and her world. You would need to start by showing us some interaction or specific moment where she made an impression upon you, and how that represented her world, and then explain how this affected you. (See my post on “topics to avoid”) You might want to see if there is a different “world” you could write about if this one is sounding too difficult to describe. Hope that helped! JR

      • Angela says:

        Thanks for the response! What I’m specifically talking about is an orphan girl I met on the mission trip, Gisella. She was abandoned, and whats unique about her is that she never talks. In fact, I’ve never even heard her make a noise. In my essay I described how at first I avoided interaction with her, but after befriending her realized how talented she was as an artist, a cook, etc. and how wrong I was to judge her prematurely. Do you think this forms the basis for a good essay or should I come up with something else? Is there any way I could have you review it for me? Thanks so much for your help!

  27. Sandrine. says:

    Hello!
    I find this article to be very helpful; after reading my response to the question, I realized that I was being way too general, so I tried to focus on specific experiences, but couldn’t really find any. I am a reader and a writer, so would talking about a particular world that a book takes place in (for example, the world in S.E. Hinton’s books The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now) and how that has affected me in real life be appropriate for this prompt? Because the books have really impacted me, and even helped me with my depression. Thank you!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sandrine,

      YES, I believe books can create a world, absolutely! I think you are wise to focus in one one book, or one author, or even one place in a book, that has felt as though it transformed you into a different world. I would think about how specifically books have created a world for you, and what quality of yours they have helped your develop (“shaped”). Then I would think of an example from a book you read that you could recreate with your introduction to put us in your place when you are being transformed to that other world (creative writing opp!! see my posts on how to write anecdotes!! Let us see how even a small piece of a book can change how you think, feel, etc.) Then you can talk about how that book and then work in how other books have created a world, and then go into how they have shaped you–and end with how you will continue to use that quality in your future. The key is to get specific, and use those specific examples to support the point you are making about your world and what it means to you. (Yes, explaining how these books have helped you cope with the “real” world could make a nice twist! Good luck! (Thank God for books, right!!) JR

  28. annie says:

    Hi,
    my friend told me before that my world is made up of imagination and new things and a world of possibilities; how can I focus this?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Annie,

      This could be a challenging world to describe, but worth a try! I would think of an example of “a time” when you used your imagination and how that created a world. Then describe what that world of imagination is like in general, but go onto to give other specific, real-life examples of how your imagination creates a world for you, and then explain how that has shaped who you are–what you care about, what you do, how you feel, etc. Of course, don’t forget to touch on how this world applies to what you think you might want to do in your future! Maybe it’s just that it opened up the “world” of possibilities. Have fun with it, but anchor your point with specific examples of your imagination. Would love to see how it turns out! JR

  29. Aaron says:

    Hi,
    Could I write about how I collect cans with my mother so we can recycle them for money? She’s recently unemployed and I could relate to collecting cans as an example of her resilience. Then I could say how I aspire to someday match her hopefulness in the face of adversity? Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Aaron says:

      also, is it taboo to use the phrase “my world” in the paper somewhere? I wouldn’t use it in the beginning.

      • j9robinson says:

        Hi Aaron,

        I don’t think it’s taboo or a bad on idea to include the phrase “my world” in your essay. It shows you are trying to respond to the prompt. However, I think if you describe and discuss a world that there is no reason to name it specifically as “my world.” But if it flows naturally with what you are saying, go for it. I’m sure the college admissions folks reading your essay will know you are talking about your world–since they are reading zillions of these essays. So I would certainly not force the phrase “my world” into your essay if you don’t need to.

        Hope this helps. JR

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Aaron,

      YES! I have to congratulate you on grasping a lot of what I have said in my blog about writing these essays. Zoom in on a specific example of the larger point you want to make. I would start by describing “a time” you and your mom went out and collected cans. Be very descriptive–let us see where you were, what types of cans of food, and how you felt. Then you can go into what you learned from this humbling and inspiring experience–and how it has shaped your own goals for the future. Nice!! JR

  30. yahaira says:

    HELP! I have no idea what to write about for the first UC prompt. My life is absolutely boring…i have favorite places but they are not relevent to my dreams and aspirations. I was going to write about a bookstore, but my dream is to become an engineer and to travel the world, etc. I honestly have no idea.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Yahaira,

      I suspect that your life is not boring, but that you just need to look deeper. Your “world” does not have to be impressive, just a mini-community that affected you on some level. If you have a favorite bookstore where you have spent a lot of time, that would totally be a “world”. I don’t think it should be too much of a push to show how that has related to your dream to be an engineer and travel the world–didn’t you read books in that bookstore about different countries or people who loved to invent and fix problems, etc? The key is to figure out a specific quality that you developed while hanging out in that bookstore–did the stories and information and photographs in all those books open your thinking? I believe you have more of an idea than you think! Good luck! JR

      • yahaira says:

        Just want to say thank you! Your advise helped me out of my writers block. My couselor read it and told me that in all her years, she has never read an essay that good from a high school student!Can’t thank you enough!

      • yahaira says:

        Just want to say thank you! Your advise helped me out of my writers block. My couselor read it and told me that in all her years, she has never read an essay that good from a high school student!Can’t thank you enough!

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Yahaira,

          Wow! That is so cool! I bet you wrote a killer essay. What an amazing compliment from your counselor. Way to go! I would love to read it some day. I can’t tell you how great that makes me feel! Thank you! Janine

  31. Sarah says:

    I’m thinking of talking in my essay about my love of stories. I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was little, and I used to write little short stories. I never liked math and science until one day in science class my science teacher described molecules with personalities and motives, and then I realized that there’s a story everywhere. I’m trying to relate this to my science major. Do you think this is too generic?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I love this idea. The world of stories, and how you learned their value in shaping your passion for science. I think you could simply describe “the time” your science teacher used a story to teach you a a specific science lesson (such as what you mentioned in your comment), and then go from their to explain your world of stories, how they have affected you and helped engage you in the life of learning, and how you plan to apply that lesson to your future. Great topic! JR

  32. Luis says:

    all my life i have loved technology whether it be computers,video games, basically anything that has electricity running through it and i was planning on writing about the day that i dismantled my playstation in a attempt to repair it at a young age, and how that influenced what my goals were, is this a good start?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Luis,

      Great topic! You get it! Pick an example, such as the time you dismantled your Playstation, and then use that as a springboard to show how the “world” of technology shaped you and your aspirations. Bravo!! JR

  33. Naila says:

    Hi,
    When I first brainstormed about this prompt, I thought of writing about my parents’ background and fights in order to assure themselves and to their children the comfortable life we actually live. Their stories kind of lead me to the determination I have into my goals. Then when I read the ideas you proposed, I felt lost and didn’t know if all I thought of was appropriate or not for this essay. Is writing about my parents’ past stories wrong because I don’t really take part of it? That’s the way I understood the phrase “world I come from”. I would be so thankful if you could help me.
    Cordially,
    Naila

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Nalia,

      I believe that you can literally describe “the world you come from,” and talk about your family and past. But I also think you can find other more figurative “worlds” that have shaped and affected you–and that you might be more likely to write an engaging essay that sets you apart from the crowd. I definitely would not focus this essay on the past of your parents; that just puts too much emphasis on them instead of you. I think it’s fine to talk about your family life, but focus on your own past and how those experiences shaped you. The challenge with this topic is that it can be too broad and potentially not say a lot. If you can pull out one specific quality that you developed from your family experiences, and show us how it has shaped you, that could work well. When you say your parents’ “fights,” I’m assuming you mean their struggles to provide you with a good education and upbringing? You could describe one of the stories of their struggles that you heard all your life, and how and why you reacted to it and how they have it shapped you. The trick is to use very specific examples to bring the essay to life–and really develop how you have been affected. Hope this gives you a little more clarity. Good luck, JR

      • Naila says:

        Thank you so much ! It’s way more clear in my mind right now and I think I’m gonna completly change my topic. I actually love singing and it’s sort of a refuge for me, a way to escape from stress and emotional blows. I believe I could write about this world in which I isolate myself but that still gave me selfconfidence and determination through challenges. I just hope this subject won’t seem too easy or expected..
        Thanks again,
        Naila

  34. Helen says:

    Hi, could you help me pick a topic for this essay? The things I can think of about myself: my passion for art, being racially bullied as a child/resulting self esteem issues, growing up in a Chinese American household (I’m guessing that’s way overdone), my struggle to find a meaning in life, volunteering at the hospital, my parents’ divorce and marital conflicts, yeah that’s basically all the interesting things that happened to me. Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Helen,

      Any of these could be a topic, but you first need to drill down deeper and decide what specifically affected you in any of these “worlds.” If it helps you narrow it down at all, I would steer you away from topics that tend to be overdone–parent’s marital issues/divorce, and volunteering, etc. But if you can find something specific within these areas, you still could have a great essay. I think you could write a strong essay on being bullied, if that really shaped your world. I would describe an example of the bullying, but quickly turn your focus on what you learned from that experience and how you will use those lessons in your future endeavors. Keep it as positive as possible! Good luck! JR

  35. sarah says:

    Hi! I had a few ideas about what i wanted to write about.. i just don’t know if they are right for this prompt.. I wanted to write about the group of friends i hang out with, we are a group of 4 girls with drastically different personalities and views. The other idea was to write about my diverse cultural background and how it made me see things in different cultural perspectives.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I definitely think your group of 4 girls who have varied views and personalities could definitely be “your world”. Just show us how they are all so different, and then explain the main thing (quality or lesson) that you learned from them–and then describe how that has affected your life goals. The key to this essay is really helping us see the characters and personalities of your little group of friends. Could be a great essay! Remember, your “world” does not need to be or sound “impressive,” but it mainly needs to be a mini community that affected you in some way that has greater value to you and world. This topic is an excellent example of that. Thanks for sharing it! JR

  36. Vanessa says:

    Hello,

    For the “how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations” part of the prompt, how specific does the answer have to be? (I am unsure of my major)Would it be too vague to say that I feel that I can make a difference in the world and/or do anything I want to if I work hard?

    Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Vanessa,
      You are right–those topics would be way too broad and vague. There’s good stuff there, but you need to dig deeper and find a “world” that inspired you to want to make a difference. I have 3 quickie questions that should help you find a world: What do you like/love the most? Where do you do it? And who do you do it with? See if your answer to these questions turns up a “world” or mini-community of people or places or ideas, and then write about that. I’m sure you will think of something! JR

  37. Vanessa says:

    Also, is it okay to use 2 “times/events” if they are closely related? Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Vanessa,
      Sure it’s okay to include 2 events, but best to pick one (the most interesting, strongest example) to start with, and then relay the other one later in the essay. JR

  38. tjh says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for the helpful description. I come from a pretty mixed race family; I was born to British and Japanese parents, and grew up most of the time in the US. I speak both English and Japanese at home. However, 4 years ago, I moved first to London and am now living in Tokyo. Is this something I could write about? How living in these various countries, which are all part of my heritage in some way , have shaped who I am? You said that I shouldn’t be too broad, and that I should be more specific about what I write about, but this is really the best thing I can come up with.
    Thank you, tjh

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi, I think this can be a great topic, but you are right, you need to frame it so it isn’t too broad. I would try to figure out how all this living abroad affected you the most–the main thing you learned or the core qualities you developed–and focus the essay along those lines. You can discuss all the different places and experiences, but choosing one main point to convey about how these shaped you will give it focus, and depth. You lived in all these places–but what about it?? That is what you need to decide first, and then convey that in your essay. Good luck! JR

  39. Karan says:

    *Sorry, I made a few mistakes.
    Hi j9robinson!
    I was thinking of writing about ‘Eagle’s Nest’. It was a small group of students and a physicist. We met everyday and did a lot of wacky ‘experiments’. We also discussed a lot about books and music. I think my love for classical rock, my choice of books and my desire to be a physicist myself all stems from that group, and that guy(the physicist) especially. Would it make a good topic?
    Should I write about all the things we did and how they influenced me or should I pick a few specific activities?
    Thanks,
    Karan

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Karan,

      Love the idea of your world as “Eagle’s Nest.”! I would start by describing one of the many “wacky” experiences you had, and then you can touch on some of the others later in your essay. To give it focus, I would try to find one quality that you learned in this world. Of course, you can talk about the inspiring physicist guy but just make sure to keep most of your points focused on yourself. I love the idea that even “wacky” experiences can teach us so much and inspire us in way we only realize later. Nice topic!! JR

  40. zayed says:

    hi, i’m struggling with the ‘world you come from essay’ i can’t figure out how to connect my world with my dreams and aspirations. i had a few ideas- i want to write about the time when i struggled to give a speech in front of my school,which was strange because it never happens to me. i am student body president and captain of the football team, and i’m very social but for some reason on that day while giving the speech i stuttered and i was uncharacteristically nervous, so i wanted to write about that experience and how i felt, but how do i connect this to my “dreams and aspirations?”
    please help! thank you

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Zayed,
      First, what is the “world” you are trying to describe with this speech? That of your involvement in high-profile school politics? That could be a world. If that’s the case, then what is it that you want to show that you learned from this world. Secondly, if you use the time you flubbed up as an example of this worl, what are you trying to show with this anecdote? Once you have that figured out, you could write a very effective and memorable essay. Then you just need to explain how you intend to apply whatever lessons you learned from that world to what you want/hope to do in the future.
      JR

  41. Rohan says:

    Hey, I’ve been struggling with this prompt especially for some reason. At first I wanted to talk about my love of studying languages and how I pride myself on being fluent in five languages, but now I think I want to save that particular topic for the second UC prompt instead. Without that idea, I feel kind of lost on what to write about. I wrote a very generic essay about my community but I don’t think I like it after reading your advice. An idea I have is to use music (my other major passion), and my love of instruments as my “world”, but I have two worries with this.
    1) Is is too generic and common? Will too many people write about this and make my essay less unique?
    2) How should I apply this to my aspirations and dreams? I don’t want to be a professional musician in the future, but rather perhaps something in the business field.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hello Rohan,
      I think your idea of writing about your “world” of languages would work perfectly for this prompt. Maybe start with “a time” or exchange where you used one of your many languages and it got you out of some type of situation, or led you to something better–and then expound upon all the languages you speak, why you learned them, and how they have enhanced your world–and of course, how you will use them in your future. My advice would be for you to pick a different topic for the other UC prompt. That second prompt actually has a lot more options. JR

      • Rohan says:

        Thanks a lot! By instead focusing on languages as my world, however, I came across another problem. How do I tie this to my dreams and aspirations? I can’t seem to really “end” the essay :(

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Rohan,
          It’s not that hard. Just take the lessons you learned from learning all these languages, and describe as best you can how you plan or hope to apply these in your future endeavors or to your life goals. Gosh, if nothing else I’m sure they will prepare you for any type of travel adventures or working in anything international. Good luck! JR

  42. dane says:

    hi!
    for the “describe the world you come from” prompt, im not sure what to write. i already wrote an essay about how i was born and raised in the philippines and how my great grandfather made me realize what i want to be (which is a doctor) but seeing all the struggles people go through and the poverty in general in the philippines makes me aspire to be much more than becoming a doctor in a way that i aspire to be able to make a difference in the world and help out as much as i can but i dont know if it’s good enough.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Dane,

      You have a very rich “world” to describe since you were raised in another country. The challenge is to not make your essay too broad, though. So honing in on one piece of that experience is a good idea. It could be your grandfather, but I think you might need to focus in even further. Can you remember a specific experience with your grandfather that could illustrate the struggles and poverty you saw in the Philippines? And then you can talk about how those experiences have inspired you. Good luck! JR

  43. Pam says:

    so on this personal statement : Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

    I AM VERY CONFUSED ON HOW I SHOULD START OFF AND ADRESS THE PROMPT HELP PLEASE(:

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Pam,
      First you need to identify your “world” or one of them. Have you read the post I wrote about how to answer this prompt? It’s listed in the topics to the right under “UC Prompts”. Please read that. I think you will find it helpful. I have 3 questions that you can ask yourself that should reveal a world for you: What do you like/love to do the most? Where do you do it? And with whom do you do it with? Remember, don’t panic! You do have a “world” to write about. You just need to think about it more. Hope this helps. JR

  44. Sarah says:

    Hi j9robinson,
    I was thinking of writing about arranged marriages (I’m from India, but now living in the US) and how my grandmother delayed hers to become a doctor because she never wanted have the “that could have been me” attitude (ex.she always saw suffering in the streets of India and always wanted to help in some way) but I am not sure of how to relate this to my dreams and aspirations (I want to study/help the world through science). Hope I can get some feedback.
    Thanks, Sarah

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Excellent topic! If you can describe how your grandmother’s world of regret at not being able to help others affected you, that could be an effective essay. Start with an example of an exchange you had with her, maybe when you saw someone in need and how she responded. You can use a snippet of dialog to bring your anecdote to life (see my post on How to Write an Anecdote or Google Anecdotes to see that type of writing for an essay intro.) Then go on to describe how you were affected, and what you hope to do with yourself. Remember, you do need to keep the focus of this essay on you, even if you talk about your grandmother’s world impacting you.

      Good luck! JR

  45. Ashish J says:

    In high school, we have to do are required to do a few hours of community service, things that would make our personal statement look good. So like the others I volunteered to help out at a school for children with special needs. I started it only because I had to and not because I wanted to, but when I went there I saw a different me. I would normally shun interactions with these kids and pity them from a distance. But after playing with them and helping them I realised how wrong I was.. could i write about this and the way it changed my thinking of them and made me a better person? or would that be the subject for a topic about how some event changed me?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Ashish,

      I like the idea of admitting that you entered the “world” of giving back with reluctance and perhaps the wrong reasons, but how you ended up learning and growing from the experience. That adds a nice “twist” of the unexpected to your essay. The key is to describe one of the first times you went to volunteer and share your initial negative impressions and feelings, but quickly go into how that all changed for you, what you learned, and how you will use those lessons in your future. A little tricky to write, but I think it’s worth the effort. Good luck! JR

      • Ashish J says:

        Hi JR,

        Thank you for the reply. I did find it tricky to write as I did not have a lot of material. My ‘world’ in the new essay topic was my bedroom window and how different views from my different windows over time morphed my way of thinking and how its made me into the person I am today. I know now I am veering off the topic of this blog but could you help me with the second prompt. Photography is a very serious hobby of mine, could I talk about how it has become a part of me?
        This is for the 2nd prompt.

      • Ashish J says:

        OR could I write about that experience as a volunteer at the school for the 2nd prompt, as in an experience that changed me and that I am proud of?

  46. Sydney says:

    Hi,
    I am retyping my comment because you probably didn’t answer because I replied to my question. No biggie though. Do you think writing about my choral experience setting up on the biggest concert of the school year as an officer is a good idea? In short, this concert takes place in our cafeteria which is transformed in 3 hectic hours to look like the Medieval times.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sydney,

      I think the idea of singing together is totally a “world.” I love the idea of starting by describing how you created a mini-world in your cafeteria to look like Medieval times, and then expand upon what you learned from that communal experience. Great idea! JR

  47. Leslie says:

    Hi, I was wondering if it would be okay to write about my Youth Ministry Core Team as a world or my nephew’s birth? Which do you think is better?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Leslie,
      It really depends what you have to say about either of these “worlds.” Which has shaped you more? What involves a more compelling story to tell about yourself? Without knowing more, I would guess the birth of your nephew. To focus this topic, I would decide what specific quality this experience has helped you develop. JR

  48. Sam says:

    Hi,

    I found this article and the comments very helpful. I was just wondering if you could help me further develop my idea. I was born in Korea and moved to Bolivia for about 6 years, where I spend most of my high school years, and now I am living in US. Thus, I want to focus on the experiences from different cultures. Also, I want to focus on an event that changed me in Bolivia. When I was walking down to “cancha,” the biggest market place in Cochabamba, Bolivia, I saw a very old lady who seemed be around 70-80 years old. She was drinking Coca-Cola from the bottle, despite the fact that she seemded very sick. My first impression was very negative in a way that I looked down the lady thinking how uneducated this lady/country was, and how this country is not getting better because of these kinds of people. I genuinely regret perceiving this lady and country in very degrading manner. Now that I look back, it seems to me that I have developed my desire for service from this event. Thus, I am working my way up to ultimately go back to Bolivia and help people in Bolivia. 
    So, my concern is how I could write this anecdote and how I could write this elaborately. Should I add the fact that I experienced many cultures and I want to use this experience to contribute to society(ultimately for bolivia)? is this a good start? Should I add something more?

    Also…

    Because I attended International School in Bolivia, I want to incorporate the fact that I had hard time adjusting to Bolivian/American culture (culture sturggle?). When I first got to Bolivia, I could not deal with the stereotypes and racism in Bolivia. Everytime I walked to a market place, people always said “look at that chinese,” because before the WWII or bit later, before china had economic boom, chinese went to bolivia to work in the mines. Also, I am not chinese. At the end I got over with it, because I realized that how unducated these peoeple were and that they needed help, not anger. Moreover, I initially looked at Bolivian people in very degrading manner because they were dirty, but later I realze that I was just fortunate to not suffer as much as they do. Thus, I need to serve them not hate them due to their shortcomings. Also, I had to get used a special way to say hi to girls. I had to do “beso,” a type of “kiss” that you hug them and touch chick to chick and make a kissing sound. It took me long time to get used to it. 
    I was wondering if I should add this anecdote or information to my essay. 

    Thank you for your help.

    -Sam-

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sam,
      You definitely have the makings of an excellent essay. I think you could show how you learned to deal with your own stereotypes as well as those that others tried to impose upon you. I would start with an example of one of these experiences that show the judgement and how it made you feel and then how you learned to handle it, and ultimately grew from. If you’ve read any of the other comments, it’s all about focusing. First, focus on the main quality (tolerance? acceptance? open-mindedness?) you want to illustrate in your essay that you learned or developed from your “world,” then hone in on a specific examples that “shows” the reader how this worked. Good luck! JR

  49. sasha says:

    firstly thank you so much for replying to all the comments. as i scrolled through them , i learned a lot from everyone else’s questions. :)

    can i write about food? i mean i definitely do not “come from” food but how do i twist it and create a “world” out of food?
    should i pick a dish and a drink and talk about how it made me feel/memories related to it/who i usually eat with? how else can i expand this “world”?

    and would it be ok/harder to write if the dish+drink is totally something very simple for example chips and Coke instead of some culturally-unique cuisine?

    thank you for your time!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sasha,

      I have to congratulate you on “getting” the idea of how to impose “the unexpected” or a twist into your essay. By focusing on a significant dish from your “world” of food that is everyday as opposed to impressive, you actually create a bit of a surprise for the reader. Way to go!! The idea of starting with something so basic as chips and Coke as part of your food culture, you deliver an unexpected example. The trick is then to expand upon that “mundane” topic and go deeper and reflect/analyze/explain what it means to you, what you learned from it (like learning why other food perhaps has greater value in the long run for a variety of reasons), and how it shaped what you hope to do in the future. I have written some posts about this approach: Just use the search box and put in “twist” or “mundane” or “the unexpected.”

      Bravo!! JR

  50. janette says:

    Hi j9robinson,
    I’m really stuck and I was wondering if my world could be my kitchen. I want to talk about how much i love food but still know how to keep healthy because since my mom is a pharmacist, health is important in my family. If my dreams and aspirations is to be a nutritionist, how will i tie everything together?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Janette,

      What a fabulous world–the kitchen. I would decide what specifically about the kitchen creates your world–the appliances, the ambiance, the space, the countertop, etc. Then you can go on to describe how your experiences there shaped you, and your goals. Is your world about trying to balance what is delicious with what is healthy? If that’s the case, start with a little example of that inherent tension. Is there one appliance, or aspect of your kitchen that represents this issue to you? (Just a way to try to focus the topic.) And then go onto to talk about how you feel about that, how you have thought about it, and what you ultimately hope to do with it. Hope this makes sense. JR

      • Janette says:

        Thank you for your feedback!&Sorry to bother again! But can i use the example of how my mom told me about one her patients who was suffering from chronic pain and etc because of liposuction.(side effects) and i was shocked and found out that liposuction was one of the most popular surgeries in 2011. My eyes were then opened to how common obesity is in america , so my love for food inspired me to help others balance their diet as a nutritionist. How can i tie this example into my world in the kitchen?

  51. Angela says:

    Thanks for the response! What I’m specifically talking about is an orphan girl I met on the mission trip, Gisella. She was abandoned, and whats unique about her is that she never talks. In fact, I’ve never even heard her make a noise. In my essay I described how at first I avoided interaction with her, but after befriending her realized how talented she was as an artist, a cook, etc. and how wrong I was to judge her prematurely. Do you think this forms the basis for a good essay or should I come up with something else?

  52. Carol says:

    Hi!
    In regards to the last part, where it says “and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations”… I saw several people’s essays stating something along the lines of “becuase of —- my dreams and aspirations are to —”. However, I feel as if in my essay, I don’t explicitly come out and say verbatim “my dreams and aspirations are”. Is that okay?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Carol,

      Yes, I think it’s totally okay not to include the exact language from the prompt. As long as it’s clear that you have answered it, you don’t need to re-state it. In fact, I believe the essay is more sophisticated when it doesn’t parrot back the prompt language, but instead answers it. If you do include some of the language, though, no harm at all!! Thanks! JR

  53. Hailey says:

    My parents were told I was going to be born with down syndrome but the diagnosis was wrong. I help with Best Buddies and other organizations that help mentally challenged people because of this. Would writing about that be appropriate for this prompt?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Hailey,

      I think this could be a great essay. I feel like I keep repeating myself, but the key is to find an example of what you experienced while volunteering, and then develop your essay around what you learned–and of course, how you apply those lessons in your future. Go for it! JR

  54. Palak says:

    hi
    so i live in India and i’m a Shia Nizari Muslim. We follow HRH Aga Khan. I am tremendously inspired by him and i am very emotionally attached to our community . I have also volunteered in his NGOs (Aga Khan Development Network) and i was wondering if this would make a good topic. Or should i make the essay less emotional?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Palak,

      This could be a strong topic and “world” to write about. Keep in mind most Americans have no idea what it means to be a Shia Nizari Muslim (so you need to explain that somewhere, briefly, in your essay), and we don’t know the NGO you worked with, so explain that as well (what they do, why, etc.). But if you can relate a poignant experience while working in this NGO, and then what you learned, it could be awesome!! Best of luck! JR

  55. Saagar says:

    Could you tell me if my topic is suitable for the prompt.
    I have written my statement already. I talked about how my parents struggle (narrowed down from a period to a specific event) to provide for the family has inspired me to pursue and secure my chance at success. So that i will be able to lift my parents out of the whole they had fallen into.
    I know it is late but could you please reply.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Saagar,

      I can’t say I totally understand what you are writing about, but if you narrowed down your point, that will definitely help! If you start with a specific example that illustrates a larger point you want to make about your world, it’s hard to go wrong! Good luck! JR

  56. Spencer says:

    Hey J9robinson,

    Just wanted to start with saying thanks for all the great advice and tips you’ve provided here. I’m an avid reader and easily read a few hours a day. Growing up, the prevalent stereotype of homosexuals (that I was exposed to) was that they were dirty, promiscuous, sinful, and feminine individuals. Finding myself unable to relate to any of those descriptions, I turned to stories about kids like me who deviated from that stereotype. Through a gay-teenage character in an online story I’ve been reading for a few years now (the author posts a new chapter every week), I’ve been able to understand myself better and learn more about who I am. Bottom line: I want to write my essay about my love of books and how they’ve helped me define who I am and where I’m going, but I don’t think I can do so without briefly touching down on the topic of my sexuality. Do you think it’s a bad idea to include that in my essay?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Spencer,

      I have to admit I had to think about this one for a while. While on one hand I totally believe that being gay must be its own “world,” I don’t want to advise you to write about a topic that would in any way hurt your chances for admission. (The sad reality is that there are still a lot of very biased, homophobic people out there. A lot of college counselors generally advise students to steer clear of potentially loaded essay topics, ie, divorce, tragedies, religion, politics, etc. I would think that homosexuality would be up there, too.) That said, I like to believe that the college admissions folks reading these essays for the University of California would be among the more progressive and open-minded among us, and wouldn’t flinch at unconventional topics. Here’s what I think: If something has played such a fundamental role in defining who you are, I can’t imagine not writing about it–no matter how controversial or sensitive. In my opinion, I think it all comes down to how you write about it–that is, what you chose to develop and focus upon. My advice to anyone writing about a “hot” topic is to describe the “heat,” but quickly focus and spend most of essay on what’s cooking. (How’s that for a metaphor?) My point is that you should help us understand what your world was like, no matter how much it might hurt the reader to see from your eyes, but to quickly shift the emphasis and majority of your essay to how it affected you and what you learned from it. With your idea, definitely let us understand how difficult it was growing up as a gay teenager (tread lightly–I think it wouldn’t take much for the reader to get your sexuality.), but quickly shift to how books and stories and role models helped you see that you were not alone, and how they helped you develop into your true self–and how that affected what you will do in the future. I’m a big believer in truth, especially in writing and sharing our most formative stories. Yes, it’s a bit risky, but I think that students who try to share themselves in an honest and direct manner cannot fail to make an impact. Best of luck, Spencer! Hope this helped a bit. JR

      • Spencer says:

        I can’t thank you enough for your timely and informative response. It really helped me figure out where I want to go with this essay. Thanks again!

        - Spencer

  57. osman says:

    hi i really need help with this essay. i answered What do you like/love to do? Where do you do it? Who do you do it with? and my world turned out to be reading books (i am an avid reader) but how do i connect this “world” to my aspirations, which is becoming an engineer? please help.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Osman,

      YOu can write about your love of reading, but the challenge is that topic or world is so broad. I would try to sharpen the focus by narrowing exactly what you want to say about this world. What type of books do you enjoy the most? Where do you read? What are your reading habits? That said, I would encourage you to troll around some more to find a world that involves other people as well. “Who do you do it with?” You should be able to answer all three questions for the answers to add up to a true world, or mini-community. Could it be the library? Or a favorite spot under a tree? To connect your reading to you engineering goals, I would find something that reading has taught you or a quality you have developed through reading that would make you a more effective engineer in the future. If nothing else, being well-read will make you a more well-rounded individual–something that many engineers can work on! My husband is an engineer, so I can say that! ; )

      Best of luck! JR

  58. Ashish J says:

    This is with regard the to 2ND PROMPT.
    In high school, we have to do are required to do a few hours of community service, things that would make our personal statement look good. So like the others I volunteered to help out at a school for children with special needs. I started it only because I had to and not because I wanted to, but when I went there I saw a different me. I would normally shun interactions with these kids and pity them from a distance. But after playing with them and helping them I realised how wrong I was.. could i write about this and the way it changed my thinking of them and made me a better person? could this be an experience i have been through for the second prompt

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Ashish,

      I’m super busy now editing essays for students (deadlines looming, as you know too well!). But I have a goal to write up a post devoted just to how to answer Prompt 2 for the UC essays. Stay tuned! And thanks for the nudge. In the meantime, I think my most helpful posts on my blog for writing that essay would be my Jumpstart Guide (link under Topics Index on the right side of blog.) Also, search “Mundane” topics for my posts on finding a surefire topic! JR

      • j9robinson says:

        Hi Ashish,

        I just wrote a post on how to answer Prompt #2 for the University of California essays: “Tell about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment…” I would love your feedback on if you find it helpful, and any questions. Thanks! Click HERE to read it. JR

  59. Angela says:

    Hey JR, I decided to change my essay topic to talk about the Sunday school class that I teach. In it, I talk about how the kids have affected me, and taught me to be a better leader. I’m having a little bit of trouble connecting this to my “dreams and aspirations” though.. Does the fact that I learned patience, communication, leadership skills, etc. count towards affecting my aspirations? Not really sure how to connect that part. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  60. Josh says:

    In the personal statement, should I refrain from using the 2nd person point of view? Like saying “If YOU walked into a room full of my family, there would be no mistaking it…”?
    Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Josh,

      Great question. I believe you should try to stick to the first person (“I”), and use the past tense (walked, not walk) as much as possible, in relaying your narratives. Try to be as consistent as possible–the worst is shifting frequently from first person to third person. Avoid the second person use of “you” as much as possible. I’m sure there are exceptions, but sticking with first person past tense usually creates the best voice and tone. JR

  61. Ammie says:

    Hi! Well, I’m not sure if you’ll get to my comment, but this website has been very helpful in writing this essay. Yet, I’m not sure if I’m on the right track. I have a rough draft but I don’t know if my “world” is a world. I talk about how I moved from CA to a different state and how at the end of it I learned about sacrifice and how it is somehow all worth it in the end. I talk about how amazing my new state turned out to be and how I learned about sacrifice and the benefits it can ultimately bring. Finally, I end it up talking about how this lesson taught me to go for my dreams and not to be afraid of any sacrifices that may come with them. Does that sound okay?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Ammie,

      This sounds like a great topic–a change of worlds! I would show your first world, and then describe the challenges of adjusting to your next world, and what you learned from that experience. Right on! JR

      • Ammie says:

        Thanks JR ! So basically, I show contrast between the two but still talk about how the sacrifices changed me and shaped how I go about my aspirations. Am I understanding you correctly ?

  62. Dennis says:

    Hey,
    I’m stuck on this topic, because I’m not sure what I should write that is original, yet still enough to captivate the reader. I want to write about my interest in government and politics, and how growing up in tough situations has driven me to work hard so that I can bring change to my community, and others as well. I’m not sure how I should approach this topic. Please anything will help.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Dennis,

      You are interested in government and politics. Well, can you think of an example or experience that taught you something in this field? Are you interested in politics so that you could have the opportunity someday to invoke some changes that would help correct some of your past “tough situations?” If this is the case, why not start by describing a personal “tough situation” that you faced in your life, and how it affected you, and why that motivated you to get involved in the larger world of politics and government to make systemic changes. I think you know what you want to write–just get a plan and do it! Read my other blog posts on finding topics. The Jumpstart Guide (on right under topic index) is the best place to start! Good luck! JR

      • Dennis says:

        Thank you for the reply, I never really had just a specific event that drove me to be interested in govt/politics. I just always seemed to have an interest in history, politics and government. My dream has been to bring change to Capitol Hill, or at least get the opportunity to work there. I also have high interest in working for government agencies, CIA, for example.

  63. David Chi says:

    hey, i am writing how chess ties in with being an entrepreneur. how chess has taught me to be patient and keep an open mind. I wrote how i believe they relate to each other and what had chess taught me and that i want to become an entrepreneur, but does this answer the prompt? The prompt ask how the WORLD has shaped my dreams and aspiration? i mainly want to become a entrepreneur because of my father is one.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi David,

      If you can describe the “world” of chess–maybe describe who you play with and that little community, and then go into the entrepreneurial qualities you developed playing the game. Even better, really zero in on one specific quality you learned playing chess that will make you an effective entrepreneur, and develop that idea, rather than just list many qualities. When you focus your essay you also add depth. Read my post on Focusing YOur Essay to understand how that works. Good luck, Janine

  64. stephanie says:

    Hi for the first prompt is it ok if I wrote about how visiting my mom’s work for the first time has shaped me to pursue in nursing like her? I’m interested in nursing or medical field.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      That sounds like a great topic. One approach would be to describe “a time” you visited (a time when something happened, would be best, even if it was a simple incident or conversation) the hospital. How did you feel, what did you learn, etc., and then go into your interest in nursing or medical field. I would try to pin down what qualities you have or developed from that experience that would make you effective in that field–compassion, empathy, etc.) Good luck! Janine

  65. Van Nguyen says:

    Hi! For the “World you come from” prompt would i be able to, should i, and if yes how would i go about talking about how i was bullied throughout middle school and even beat up by 5 girls and my freshman year was miserable due to girls who set out to bring me down over rumors that another person who was bored and didn’t prefer me started? I read that you said there should be a twist, my twist is that no one who meets me now would have ever thought that I was ever bullied or anything because I always have a smile on my face every day and am always defending the underdog or whoever I see getting bullied, also I’m seen as very confident, I’m very influential in student council and even directed/choreographed our winning homecoming skit, starter on the volleyball team, and have friends from a lot of different groups. I’ve also always forgiven everyone who has wronged me in the past so I have no reasons to be the sad person i was back then. For the dreams and aspirations part, i want to go into the sociology major or maybe business, so i don’t know how i should tie that in or what specific topic to talk about. Or should I use this topic for the other prompt? Any help, input, ideas would be greatly appreciated :)

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Van,

      The world of being bullied can be very real. I think you totally get the idea already: describe an incident of the bullying, background the history of the bullying to help us understand it as a “world” you lived in, then how it affected you, and finally how you turned it around through forgiveness and changed yourself. Lastly, show how your new confidence has lead you toward certain majors that will help you understand the dynamics of society and your future role in them (something along those lines.) You are clearly on the right track! Janine (If you found my blog helpful and have a minute to spare, please share it with any friends who are still in Essay Hell. Thanks!)

    • Van Nguyen says:

      Or should I write about how I did gymnastics, cheer, dance, drama-school plays, and volleyball but i’m one of the most clumsy people you will ever meet. What can i say, i trip on flat ground haha.

      • j9robinson says:

        Hi Van,

        You could write your other essay on this quality–you just need to find the upside to being clumsy! Check out my post on how to write an essay for Prompt #2 for UC: Click Here. Or you could flip them around, and make clumsy your world for Prompt #1 and the bullying the experience for Prompt #2. Your choice. Good luck! Janine

  66. Kyle says:

    This might be a totally weird topic for this essay, but I find night-time in my home city to be a particularly emotional and intriguing setting. I have memories of walking at night to martial arts classes, moving silently past the houses of people I knew, etc. It makes me feel resolved and accepting of the world. Do you think this could work as a topic? Thanks!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Kyle,

      I LOVE that idea! What an intriguing world–nighttime! The key would be to start with details that show the reader your typical nighttime experience. Use sensory details: what you see, hear, smell, feel, touch, etc. Maybe just start by describing a time when you walked through the night, and what you experienced. Be specific. Then you need to tell us how and why this has affected you. Very cool idea. Again, give us a specific moment of “nighttime,” and then explain a bit more about this world, how it impacts you, and of course, shaped you and your future goals. Very creative idea. You cannot go wrong with it–as long as you describe the world, and then reflect/analyze/explain it’s significance to you on a personal level. Would love to see how it turns out! Best of luck, Janine

  67. Alli says:

    I am writing about coming from a world of cowboys as role models (father and grandfathers) and about how I cannot ride but learned life lessons from them- hard work, honesty, integrity. I write about stories they told me and the impact it had on my values. I write about the skills I have and the goals to lead a “cowboy way of life” . Having difficulty with connecting the “world ” of cowboy father figures to aspirations – especially aspirations that are related to careers. Not sure if it has enough narrative and tells the reader who I am. Need suggestions please!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Alli,
      You have a rich topic for your world. I love the unexpected quality of it, since your world is from cowboys, but you don’t ride. Nice twist! I would start with some example of a time something happened involving your dad or grandfather and their horses or ranch or you trying to learn to ride (ever get bucked?), but then develop idea that even though you are not a typical cowboy since you don’t ride horses, you have learned certain qualities from them. Pick one main quality–are they tough? are they patience? whatever you admire and have embraced yourself, and then talk about why you value that quality and how you apply it in your life–off the horse. Love it!! The best way to connect your stories of your world to your “dreams and aspirations” is through the link of a quality you learned from your world, and how you will use it in your future. Best, Janine

  68. Mary says:

    I was wondering if writing about my passion for traveling to my parent’s home country and spending time with my grandpa would be appropriate because he’s the one that helped me realize my dreams to be in the medical field or should I narrow it down?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Mary,

      Your are right. It’s a good idea, but sounds too broad. What about your parent’s home country and spending time with your grandfather made it a “world” for you (how was it different? how did it affect you?)–and then what specifically about your grandfather and that world lead to your dreams of working in the medical field. If you find you have many things or reasons, you will just have to hone in on one that seems the most important (even if there are others.). To write powerful essays, you might want to say it all, but to say something meaningful, you need to pick one main thing to say at a time. Save the other amazing points you want to say for another essay. Focus on the main point you want to make about yourself, and expand from there–as opposed to starting with a bunch of point and going all over the place. Best of luck! Janine

  69. Charmaine says:

    Hi! I wanted to talk specifically about my family’s pizza business, but I do not know how to start and incorporate it to the 1st prompt.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Charmaine,

      Wow, the world of pizza. Lucky you! Not everyone has such a colorful (and tasty) world to write about for their essay. You need to think about what makes this a “world” for you, how it makes you feel, what you have learned there. I’m sure it has its unique challenges, dramas, etc. The trick is to zero in on one specific aspect of the pizza world (ie your family, right?) and describe that, and then expand upon how it has affect you. I would imagine there’s a lot of pressure all the time. (You could contrast how everyone thinks it would be dreamy to be part of the pizza biz, but I bet the reality is that it’s really challenging.) Can you start by describing one of those pressure-cooker moments, include details that put us into the pizza place (what does it sound like? smell like? look like?) and then go into the good and bad of that world (give us an insider’s peek), how you handle it, and onto how that has shaped you? I believe a lot of students would envy you such a rich world to write about for your topic! As far as affecting your “dreams and aspiration,” you can even say you don’t necessarily want to spend your life making pizza, but that the qualities you learned can be used in so many other endeavors, etc. Good luck! Janine

  70. Sonny says:

    Hey,
    For prompt 1, I was thinking about writing about my exploits on my school’s soccer team, some experiences & what I have took from it. I was unsure if this really fits the prompt, any help would be amazing.

    Thanks,
    Sonny

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sonny,

      In general, I try to steer students away from writing about their sports teams. But they certainly can create a very real world. If you want to write about soccer, then I would try to find a piece of it to write about, and not just everything about the team. What about the time you ride with your team together on the bus–could that be a world? You could talk about the bonding that takes place, and then what you learned from those experiences, and then describe how you hope/plan to use those qualities in pursing your future goals. Or maybe your team lost a lot–you could write about the world of being on a losing team. Just some ideas on how to carve out a piece of your soccer experience into a more manageable world to write about. Hope this helps! Deadline’s coming up quickly here so you better get cranking! : ) Good luck! Janine

      • Sonny says:

        Thank You for the quick reply.
        I have one more quick question. I wrote an essay talking about my experience moving to another country during high school. I wrote about my experiences, how I coped & what I learned. I initially wrote it for prompt 2 but I am now contemplating whether it fits prompt 1 better.
        Would you let me know what you think about it?
        Thank You,
        Sonny

  71. linda says:

    Hello,
    I was thinking for this prompt I wanted to talk about how food has been my “world” and the Food Network channel my sanctuary. With leftover in my fridge, I try to recreate these professional recipes with my own twist to it. I am not sure how this could be described as a world and connect it to a larger theme. I would sincerely appreciate you help!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Linda,
      I think your love of food and preparing it can be a world. I like the idea of starting by describing the time you created something yummy from some basic leftovers, and then developing the idea of how you like to find ways to turn something ordinary into something special (in life!), and how and why you do it. Go for it! Janine

  72. Hazel says:

    Hi j9robinson!

    I’m answering the “Describe the world you come from…” prompt in an application essay for a summer program.

    I was thinking about writing about how my family (but mostly my dad) are cheap; stingy. I wanted to start out with a humorous anecdote about a time when my dad refused to go to a restaurant because we didn’t have a coupon for it. Afterwards, my mom ranted to me about how cheap he was.

    As for the “dreams and aspirations” part, I wanted to talk about how my dad’s stinginess makes me want to be different from him. Like when I grow up, I want to be carefree and generous with my money, unlike my dad.

    Do you think that would work? Because I’ve been very iffy about this prompt in general..

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Hazel,

      I think this is a great topic. You start with an entertaining anecdote or example of your dad’s stinginess (don’t forget to include how this makes you feel), but then you can use that to take a deeper examination of what you value and/or the nature of generosity, especially in terms of money and consumption and things like that. Perfect!! Janine

  73. Maria says:

    Honestly I’m not sure about this topic. You wrote not to write about family, yet that’s the community that’s influenced me most. I have a brother and a sister, both with severe autism, so I guess it’s not the typical family life, and it has shaped me a lot, both in character and goal-wise (I want to go into neurology or immunology). What do you think?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Maria,
      A lot of the “rules” on writing these essay are meant to be broken. They are general guidelines to help students push themselves to finding original ideas and not write about cliche topics. Almost anyone could make the case that their family is their world, but that wouldn’t necessarily make an engaging essay. However, if your family has something unique or unusual that has affected you and shaped you over the years, it could be a perfect topic. And with your two siblings with autism, you clearly fall into that group. I would try to focus your essay by exploring what specific core quality you developed by growing up in your family. Then zero in on one “time” or example of the challenge of living with siblings with autism, so you can “show” your reader what it’s like (as opposed to listing all the issues and challenges.) You could use that as an anecdote (mini-story) to start off your essay, and I’m pretty confident it would “grab” the reader right into your essay. Then go onto to explain how you handled yourself and what you learned. Thanks for your question! Best of luck! Janine Robinson

  74. Maddie says:

    Hi JR,
    Thanks for the resources! I’ve been pondering this question for a while, and I’ve brainstormed a couple ideas that might work… can you help me narrow it down?

    1. Music Community as my “world”: I’m in a music group that travels internationally, playing 70-80 shows per year, and I play violin. The twist is that it’s a bunch of high schoolers playing bluegrass and alternative styles. My “anecdote” is the frenzied backstage show followed by a the sigh of relief and contentment that comes with the start of a song. My lesson of how this community influenced me would be through the teamwork necessary for the show to go on, as well as the discipline needed to perform at a high level.

    2. Bus Riding as my “world”: I ride the bus to and from school everyday, despite nearly all of my classmates driving their own cars. From riding the bus, I have become very observant and I notice small details that others wouldn’t. I feel like a researcher or an undercover investigator, and I think I could connect it to my future goal of majoring in chemistry – observation skills are essential for the science oriented careers I’m interested in.

    Thank you so much!
    -Maddie

  75. Amanda says:

    I am stuck on what to write about “my world”. I had some great experiences and learned a lot from my teachers in middle school, so could I possibly talk about how they helped “shape my dreams and aspirations” or should I write something about my family life and how I’m an only child?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Amanada,

      I think the world of an only child could be a good topic, although it might be done a lot. Just make sure to focus your point, and see if you can give it a twist. Is there something about being an only child that we would never expect? The key, as with all these essays, is to focus your point.

      Hope that helped! JR

      • Amanda says:

        What if I write something about my family. Could I use my grandma’s house as “my world”? I used to go there everyday after school since my parents worked. We go over there every holiday and we hav traditions such as the while gathering together there every Tuesday to have dinner. I have a lot of support from my family so I feel like I could write more about it.

        • Amanda says:

          *the whole family gathering

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Amanda,
          I think your grandmother’s house could be a world, especially since you had many meaningful experience there. I would try to focus on one specific tradition or experience, and tell about that, and what you learned. Or is there some specific feature in her house, or something she always does there, that you could focus on? Her famous gravy. A special velvet couch. Or a stained glass window. This would just help focus your essay, and then you can expand upon what they mean to you in the larger sense. Best of luck! Janine Robinson

  76. Sarthak says:

    You helped get through my common app very smoothly. (prompt 4) so I know I should read your analysis as many times as I can. In the common app, the topic I chose was very sear to me. The environment for me in that scenario was the stage. It fit with what you had to say ( a place where few expected me to excel and a place I was uncomfortable first ie stage fright and how I fought back and etc )so my question to this particular prompt is whether I should repeat a similar stand on this. My world does comprise heavily of my band and where we jam. I could talk about my family but I thought that would be too mainstream. What do you think?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Sarthak,

      So you wrote your Common App essay in response to Prompt 4, about a place where you feel perfectly content? One thing to consider would be using that essay for your UC essay, since both describe a type of “world.” You might have to change it a little bit to make sure you address the two questions in Prompt 1 for the UC essays–not only describe your “world,” but also explain how it has shaped your “dreams and aspirations.” There is a lot of potential overlap between the new Common App Prompt 4 and the UC Prompt 1–something for others to consider as well. There’s also a lot of potential overlap between the new Common App Prompt 1 and the UC Prompt 2–both are essentially looking for personal statements. Hope this helps! Janine Robinson

      • Sarthak says:

        Yes I’ve made sure both my essays haven’t overlapped. In the common app, I’ve specifically written and shared stories about my time on The stage. Whereas, in the uc prompt I’ve written about the band, our old abandoned factory basement jam pad, and the emotion attachment I have to it. As for the aspirations and dreams aspect, I haven’t given that much…shall we say… “depth” . I read in one of your posts that the bulk of the essay should be my description of the place. Although I have mentioned ” virtues” I have picked from my environment ( trust, creativity, judgement etc) what do you think I should do now? Is the dreams and aspirations point need more elaboration? Thank you so much.

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Sarthak,
          I meant that it’s okay if your essays overlap for various prompts. (See my latest post on “Recycling” your essays!)As far as dreams and aspirations, I would take the main quality you developed in yourself by spending time in this jam world, and talk about how you hope to use that in whatever you plan to do next–in college, or in your life. Or what you hope and dream to do. This prompt is trying to get you do not just describe the world, but analyze it a bit–reflect on what it means to you, how it has shaped who you are, and impacted your goals. Hope that helps. (Btw, did you get my email to your hotmail account?) JR

  77. NaomiRivers says:

    So for the world I come from I was thinking of having my world be the world of imagination and creativity. I watched Alice in Wonderland as a child and it completely changed my outcome of how I view things would that work

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Naomi,
      I think that could be a great essay. Lots of room for metaphors (going down the rabbit hole and all that.) Just make sure it’s about you, and not just an analysis of the book. Was there one special character or event in the book that meant a lot to you? If so, start with that and go onto talk about how that world of imagination affected you. Best of luck! Janine Robinson

  78. Ank says:

    What if I talked about the technological aspect of my life as “my world”? As in, the participation in online forums, the creating of videos, the search for some electronics, the editing of some photos (with photoshop), and my interest in news about technological advancements, etc. I consider this because I wish to go into Computer Science—I’m trying to give some sort of relation.

    • j9robinson says:

      HI Ank,
      The world of technology is certainly a world. But you need to find something more specific about that world to make an interesting essay. I always advise students to look for a “problem,” such as a time when this world either became a problem for you or included some type of problem. Then you can write about how you handled that problem, and what you learned from it (how it shaped you.) It’s just one way to try to give focus and interest to what you have to say about your world. Problems come in many shapes and sizes: a challenge, obstacle, a mistake, a failure, a set-back, a change, etc. Hope this helps! Janine Robinson

      • Ank says:

        Problems…
        Online I’ve done all these activities (surveys, use of sites and such) to get free things because parents wouldn’t have gotten such things for me (usually electronics). I see that I did something to solve a problem here, could I use that for an essay?

        • j9robinson says:

          Hi Ank,

          I LOVE that idea! A great way to focus your essay, and everyone loves free stuff (even reading about it, right?). I would explore the idea of “free,” what does it mean on several levels–getting things you want for nothing or something you need…or are there strings attached? Take a look at what motivates you, and share that, and it’s a great jumping off point for some interesting introspection about yourself and others and the world. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” is the saying. Is that true or false? Or both? I would start with a little “time” when you pursued something for free–one specific example–the step you took to get it, how much you wanted it, what it meant to you and why. Then expand upon the reason you pursue free stuff (problem=you long for things you can’t have because parents can’t afford or won’t buy or whatever reason) and then expound on what you have learned from that unusual skill set (tech skills and working the system, but also a deeper lesson on what is valuable?). There are many direction you can take this, but framing it with a problem, and how dealt with it and what you learned, should send you in the right direction. Most important, it sounds interesting to read!!
          Nice job finding something more specific within technology! Bravo! Janine Robinson

          • Ank says:

            Thanks! I feel much better writing an essay about such.

            However, after writing about it I feel as if I didn’t really answer the question. It’s as if I didn’t discuss a “world.”

  79. Abhi says:

    Hi JR,
    For the first prompt, i was thinking about writing about my family discussions that happen over lunch/dinner everyday on the dining table. My mother is a pre school teacher and my father is an engineer, so they have different view points, and im stuck somewhere in between because of their differences. Do you think it would be a good idea to write about this?
    Thanks :)

  80. cimmerianmonk says:

    For the world I come from prompt I want to write about my world of biking. I have been biking everyone I go since 6th grade and I’ve pretty much used the same bike for that length of time. Thus it has broken down repetitively (I want to parallel this to the fact that I’ve faced challenges). I then go about fixing my bike whether it be getting a new tire or fixing the gears or adjusting the brakes. I pretty much taught myself how to do this so it would be like the problem-solving skills I learned and it would help me aspire to become an economist (which is my dream job) I also want to discuss that my city is full of gravel trails so whenever I bike I feel the ups and downs (just like in my own life) and several times I have fallen over, but I pick my self up and continue to move on to my destination (or in other words my dream. continuing to move on shows my perseverance). My problem-solving skills and my perseverance shaped my dreams because I have learned to think analytically (very important skill for an economist). Is this a good idea for this prompt, j9robinson, or do you think this is this going off-topic?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi,

      I love your idea. I would focus on this bike you have had forever, and what you have learned from taking care of it–and what it has done for you, the places it has taken you, the thing you have learned from fixing it. You have many different (and good!) ideas here. Make sure to focus on one main point you want to illustrate with your essay. I think you are on a great track! JR

      • cimmerianmonk says:

        When you say focus on one main point what exactly do you mean? Should I talk solely about me fixing the bike and the problem solving skills I learned and NOT mention the gravel path, up and downs, my destination, or my perseverance. I’m confused as to how specific I should be without making this ~500 word paper sound boring

  81. Andrew says:

    I want to major in Animal Science and eventually become a veterinarian, so I know what my dreams and aspirations are; however, I don’t know what my “world” would be in this situation. I used to have a dog and I would always tend to him and spend time with him, but would that be substantial for the essay? Another time I worked with animals was when I went on a farm tour with my boy scout troop and we did farm work for half the week. I loved watching, working with, and collecting research on the animals, but what would be the safest and best way to connect this to my dream of becoming a veterinarian? I feel like my experiences with animals is too lacking

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Just look for one simple incident, experience or moment that somehow influenced your love of animals. What about it is that you love the most–and think of an example from your past. There’s your story. It doesn’t have to be the ONE huge moment that you realized you wanted to work with animals, just some interaction you can share that gives us an idea of what you love about working with them. I think a “world” could be you working with them, and look for an example within that time. Hope this helps! Janine Robinson

  82. Joyce says:

    Hello! I’ve been doing quite of research on what to NOT write about in essays. Anyway, most of who I am largely has to do with my parents’ upbringings and how they’ve proved to me their determination and courage through their journeys. For my “anecdote,” I started with a small snippet of how my father adores telling me his tale of immigration, lacing it with sympathetic words and the works, and how I didn’t necessarily appreciate how he worked his way up from humble beginnings until I visited his former childhood home. And then after two short paragraphs of that, I go in-depth and start describing what I saw in Shanghai (all the good and bad) and the small apartment quarters. And then I go into the sacrifices and changes they’ve made and the qualities and lessons that they’ve passed onto me. My question is if this is too broad or general or too iffy to be even considered “my world.” I was also hoping to include a bit of my oblivion towards culture and how my trip there changed my opinions regarding that. Is that too much for one single essay? What should I focus more on because I think the relationship I have between my culture and family has shifted from ignorance to appreciation. Thank you so much!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Joyce,

      I think you have some great ideas. But I bet you know what I will say: You need to make sure this essay is mostly about YOU, and not your parents. You can use their background, but you need to make sure most of your insights are about you. I think you can do that. I like the contrast of a lifetime hearing your parent’s immigration stories, and almost getting tired of them, eye-rolling? you heard them so often, and then contrast with the moment you stepped into one of their small apartments. And then go on to explain the impact that had on you, how it changed your thinking and values, etc.
      Maybe start with a typical story you dad would tell—quote him in the anecdote, and show your bored response. Do this all in a paragraph or two. Then switch to moment you stepped into part of his reality, and how you suddenly understood those stories and his need to tell them to you. Say something like, “Those immigrant stories I heard all my life suddenly appeared in front of my eyes in living color. The dirt floor with the straw mats. The smoking stove with pots of boiling noodles. Four sleeping mats all in the same room. In one moment, it was as though I understood….”
      Does this help? It just a matter of setting it all up. First, present the boring stories and how you felt about them, then quickly shift to image of the reality–and then what you learned.
      Hope this is helpful! I bet it will turn out great. Details will make all the difference!!
      Janine Robinson

      • Joyce says:

        Hello again! Thank you so much! Yes, I predicted that you would say something along the lines of having the essay be about me! One thing that I’m struggling with is my verbosity! I tend to excessively flower my language with descriptions and I feel like my sentences sound very heavy, if that makes sense. Also, is my topic too cliche to write about? Is it enough to distinguish from other topics? Thanks so much! Your advice has been super helpful!

  83. Jasmine says:

    I was thinking of writing about being a leader at my church youth group and how it made me the person I am today. On the other hand, since I want to major in business, I was thinking about writing about a business related game and how I learned business from it. For the business game, I was thinking of using either Monopoly or an iphone game called Millionaire Tycoon. Which one do you think would make a stronger/more unique essay? Thanks!

  84. Cecile says:

    Hi, first of all, I just wanted to let you know I appreciated how you took out the time of your day to help struggling high school students like me begin with the most important application process of our lives!
    Anyways, I am stuck on whether or not I should write about my family being immigrants because I do feel like that is a little trite so I came up with another idea. My grandparents came for an essentially short visit but ended up staying for 4 years before leaving again so they did become a big part of my world. They used to take me on excursions to D.C. to visit Chinatown and I remember those being the most fun weekends I ever had. We would walk around and explore the stores and soak up the atmosphere of our culture. Also, we would buy baked goods from the stores and then my grandpa would chuckle and say he could bake them at home too and then we would go home and we would bake them together. They were also wonderful storytellers and could go on and on for days about their difficult lives in China and I never lost interest. This all seems promising to me but I am just worried that it will be cliche so I’m wondering how I could make my essay stand out more to the readers and really show them how much I appreciate the effect my grandparents have had on my life.

    • Cecile says:

      Also, I don’t know exactly how this has helped me shape my interest of the sciences, specifically neuroscience and biology.

  85. Akwasan says:

    Hi Janine,
    I was thinking about writing about this abandoned playground my dog and I treat as a get away destination. How can I link this upto my dreams and aspirations?
    Also, is this is a valid ‘world’?

    • j9robinson says:

      Love that abandoned playground as a world! I would try to think what you learned by going there, being there? Why did you go there? Did anything every happen there? What did you think about there? Then link whatever lesson you learned to what you hope to do in the future. Great topic!! JR

  86. Bani says:

    Hi! Thank you for all your help that you provide to students like me! Your website is by far, the most helpful one for me and trust me, I’ve been researching quite a lot! Haha!

    Well, I’m stuck on prompt 1, describing my world and how it has shaped my dreams and aspirations. I’m thinking of writing about my parents and their constant arguments as well as my turbulent first two years in high school and how it led me to realize the importance of life. I now aspire to become a gynecologist and help God welcome newborn babies into the world and complete families and their happiness. Does this seem like a good idea? Would it work?

    I also don’t know how to start! This is what I have so far: “I come from a world surrounded by brawls and harsh words between two conflicting parents in a tense home environment. I come from a world surrounded by the need to loose weight and images of eating disorders lost in the piles of thinspiration photographs. I come from a world surrounded with the slightly distant, painful memory of being lost in a dark mind for the first two years of high school as an insecure underclassman.

    After overcoming my insecurity and realizing the true importance of life and of accepting its rollercoaster ride, ” Obviously, I’m pretty confused haha

  87. Unknown says:

    Can you read mine please and see if it’s okay and if there is anything that I need to change?

    Although my world is defined by so many people, places, and events of them could best describe what I have become through the years than my time at church. Ever since I was born I have been attending church with my parents and as I have gotten older I have had more opportunities to serve along side of others though my church. I have been able to help out at vacation bible schools and go on three mission trips while I have been in high school as well. On our mission trips we served in New York, San Diego, and Seattle. Each trip was a great experience, but in New York we kept very busy and I learned a lot. I would have to say the New York mission trip and vacation bible school have been my favorites so far.
    In New York we worked in a soup kitchen, sorted items at the world vision store house, went on a prayer walk, folded laundry for homeless shelters, prepared a meal at a homeless shelter then got to sit down and have dinner with the men there, and helped distribute food at a food pantry. Overall, I had a great time in New York. God really opened my eyes and taught me how to look at people through His eyes. I also learned that the homeless are no different than us, they should be treated the same and we should not ignore them. They all have a story and sometimes just need someone to listen to them. My highlight from that trip was not only serving the less fortunate, but being able to hear their stories, allowing them to forget about their problems for a bit and feel an escape from the tough world that they are living in.
    That trip sparked my desire to travel around the world and help the less fortunate. Whether it be by teaching them, doctoring them, or just caring for them in general. It is my dream to be able to go to Africa and help the kids out who live there, especially the ones who live in the orphanages. Sometimes all they need is more love, food, or just an ear to listen to them. Working at Vacation Bible School also has contributed to my dream because at VBS, kids come from all over to gather together. Those kids are still at a pivotal point in their life and need to be shown the right direction to go in life and need someone to listen to them. After spending just a week with the kids, they look up to you, so if I ever get to go to Africa I want to work with the kids because although they are younder and might get more attention, it might be harder for them to get through life. If I ever get to study abroad or go on another mission trip outside of the United States, I would be very happy.

  88. Leah says:

    I am planning on writing about my sister being diagnosed with arthritis which lead to my desire to pursue a career in the medical field. However, when I was younger I didn’t want to pursue a career in the medical field because I didn’t want to live in my relatives shadow as it is a common career in my family. The specific experience I am going to write about is when we visited The Children’s hospital in L.A. I would always accompany my sister there whenever she had a doctors appointment for her arthritis. While my sister was in the doctors office, I would be waiting in the waiting room where all the other patients waited to see the doctor. Seeing other patients there and all the help they were getting made me realize that I wanted to become a medical professional despite the pressure my family had on me. There are times where the patients would share their stories with me and often it would express the strength they acquire each day with their personal struggle. These stories would always influence my decision to be a medical professional. It impacted the way I felt about the medical career because it generated a warm feeling that I would be benefiting other people if I pursue that career. After experiencing all the things that the doctors and nurses helped with my sister’s arthritis, I wanted to somehow return the favor by helping other patients who needed help. I realized that I loved helping others and talking to people and the career in the medical field is a very rewarding career and fits what I want to do in life. Is that too cliche? the part about wanting to help others? it’s the only thing that can relate to my dreams and aspirations that i can think of.

  89. Tina Sanchez says:

    Hi Janine,
    I am having trouble on describing the world I come from; I have some topics in mind, but I am not too sure of them. My mother is a Preschool teacher and mainly works with children who come from a low income family. I had volunteered at her job one day and noticed the children struggling and I can honestly say that it inspired me to want to help children and possibly work with them in the future and major in child development. Also, I grew up in the wold of being afraid. I had a “broken home” growing up and I was afraid of standing up for myself, speaking up, being independent, and caring for my future. I was basically traped in my own world, if that makes sense? I’m not sure how I can use that for prompt #1. I’m just really really stuck and could use a little bit of help. Thank you!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Tina,

      You just said it yourself. You were always afraid. Start your essay describing a situation from your family experience that scared you. Then state in second graph how you grew up always afraid. Start the essay with a paragraph describing how you listened from your bedroom as your parents argued, one of them throwing something. (Just an example) Then go into how you dealt with that. Talk about how working with others who had similar or worse backgrounds helped you put your own background into perspective and rally the courage to move forward. You have a story to tell. Let us feel your fear. Then show us how you handled it, and what you learned about yourself and life in general in the process.
      I would love to read your essay once you are done if you want to send it to me: Janine@essayhell.com.
      Read my post about “Show Your Grit”!
      Good luck! JR

  90. Star says:

    t Comic Con International?? I am a huge nerd/geek and I definitely think, nerdy things are what make up my “world”. I felt at home when at Comic Con…….do you think this could work for this topic?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Stary,
      Do it! BUT, you must focus your essay. Focus on a favorite new comic, or something that happened there. Otherwise, the broader topic of Comic Con is great. Good luck! JR

  91. Brian says:

    For the first prompt, I want to talk about teamwork in my life and the value of teamwork. Not sure if it would fit in. For the second prompt, I want to discuss the role I play in an organization.

  92. Michelle says:

    Hi, I’m having a little trouble with starting my essay. I wanted to write about my love of making films and how it has inspired me to pursue studying film in college. I have made many films, so I have material for an anecdote, however I don’t quite know where to start. Any help would be appreciated, thank you.

  93. Michelle says:

    Hi, I’m having a little trouble with starting my essay. I wanted to write about my love of making films and how it has inspired me to pursue studying film in college. I was planning on saying how being behind the camera or behind the computer screen editing is my “world”. I have made many films, so I have material for an anecdote, however I don’t quite know where to start and how my essay can stand out among others with a similar topic. Any help would be appreciated, thank you.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi MIchelle,
      I can’t tell you what to write about, but maybe pick one example of one of your films, which shows some point you were trying to get across, and then explain how you came up with the idea and that it means to you. Have you ever had something go wrong when trying to make a film, or a particular challenge when trying to make a film? Start by describing that moment, and then tell how you handled it and what you learned in the process. Good luck. JR

  94. vivian says:

    Iam having trouble with prompt 1. I have two ideas that I can talk about? say my parents divorce… or how my step dad has had a big impact on me.. or ever since I was a little girl I was so closed to myself that I got an insight on how people had kept their problems with themselves because theyre afraid of how others will react, and in need of help?? But I don’t know how to put it in words.. :(

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Vivian, One idea would be to start with an example of “a time” you were little and how you kept a problem to yourself, and how that affected you–good or bad–and what you learned in the process. Start on one small moment or incident, and then reflect on it and how that affected you. Hope this helps. JR

  95. adry says:

    Hey, I am not quite sure what to write for the prompt. An idea is relating when I dislocated my shoulder at the beginning of my soccer game but continued to play since im stubborn and passionate and persevarant. I dont know if that fits more for prompt #2. Also my parent is manager of a mexican restaurant across my highschool and he is proud to say he works in something he enjoys. Also my mom has tendonitis in her arm because she started laboring young. I kind of want to convey how I want education to not have laboring jobs like my parents to take care of them when they are elderly since they won’t get retirement benefits since they are not U.S. citizens. Another idea is I have aleays been chronically ill but has strived to mantain a nornal life. Hopefully you may help me get a sense of direction.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Adrianna,

      You have a few options here. I don’t know all the details, but it seems if you have been chronically ill your whole life, that would certainly be your “world”. Try to show the reader what that’s been like, and then go into what you have learned from that experience–about yourself, about others and about the world in general. Could be a great essay. JR

  96. t.w. says:

    Hi, I’m struggling with the 1st part of the personal statement. I want focus on my dad and how his occupation as an electrical engineer, as well as my interest in computers and mathematics, influenced me since I was a child to pursue computer science engineering. But I’m not sure how to articulate that into a specific “world”. I’m afriad that my lack of experience in this field will discourage colleges from admitting me. Thank you for your help in advance!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi, if you are writing about how your dad influenced you, then start with an example from your past, “a time” that he taught you something (it could be as simple as a time he fixed a hair dryer) or inspired you in this area. Don’t be afraid to focus on one small moment, share that, and then expand you essay on all that your dad taught you by sharing his world. Hope this helps. JR

  97. Alex says:

    Hi Janine!
    So I was a little stuck on this prompt because I don’t want it to blend that much with my answer to prompt #2 so I tried to figure out a new idea. I was thinking about writing about going to Red Robin with my basketball team every singe Friday after our games win or lose. This team bonding really brings us together and is something I have been doing for such a long time now and probably the highlight of my week. Then I was thinking of talking about my dreams and aspirations as having a really tight-knit group of friends in my life that I can depend on just like the ones I have found in my life today. Would this topic work? and if it did how specific should i get with “my world”?
    Thanks!!

  98. Anna Seo says:

    First of all, I want to thank you for helping students’ essays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This website is awesome!

    I’m writing on different topic and hope you can help me with this.

    Describe how a particular event has impacted your world view.

    If I say, moving to America from China was the event that impacted my world view and I want to focus on the diversity of America, experiencing various culture, getting opportunity as same as men. Also I want to point out how unaware I was when I came to racial, religious issues when I lived in China. But after coming to America, the whole different world opened up right front of me……….. IS THIS TOO BROAD???? DO YOU THINK????????????

  99. Monique says:

    Hi. I’m having the hardest time trying to figure out a topic for both prompt 1 and 2.

    For prompt 1:

    One of my ideas was to write about my religious faith in Catholicism and how I lost faith. A reason for this is because of my family and how their faith in the Lord has caused me to lose faith because they do not practice what they preach, but I have no clue how to tie this into my dreams and aspirations. My intended major is criminology or sociology so I’m not sure how to tie that in.

    Another idea for this prompt was to talk about a time when I was with my grandma before her passing. She was making a quilt that took a long time because she had to stitch tiny pieces of cloth together and how that taught me patience but this still does not tie in to my dreams or aspirations in anyway.

    For Prompt 2:

    I am not list most typical Asians – my grades aren’t perfect, my test scores aren’t phenomenal, my parents aren’t as strict, and I do not have any special talent or accomplishments nor do I find anything about myself to be special in any way. I’m struggling with this one the most because I don’t know. Would I be able to put my experience with my grandma and her quilt under this topic and how it relates to how patient I have become?

  100. Nohemi Ramirez says:

    I’ve been struggling to come up with an idea topic for prompt #1, I was thinking about writing on my church and how that community shaped me and taught me how to care for others, how to put others in front etc and how it ultimately led me to know the profession i want to major in. At the same time I’m very iffy because I think maybe it will relate too much with my prompt #2, I mean the topics are completely different but overall what I learned from my experience in prompt #2 was responsibility, selflessness, and sacrifice….help?

  101. Royer Gramajo says:

    Hello! Okay so I have an idea for the first prompt. My idea and im not sure if its okay but I want to write about how I enjoy playing my guitar how much I love playing it and most important I love playing it at my church. So I was wondering if it would be a good idea to talk about my church (my religion) and how much I love playing my guitar. Can ”my world” be my guitar or my church? One more thing I don’t know how to start. Thanks for your help i really appreciate it!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Royer,

      I think you can write about playing guitar at your church as a world, definitely! I would try to think about what you have learned from playing there–and use that in your essay to explain how that world shaped you. I would start with a scene of you playing there, and how people respond to it.

      Good luck! JR

  102. Jessica says:

    Hi Janine, I am having a lot of trouble coming up with topics for this prompt. I had brainstormed a few ideas, but I’m not sure whether they are unique enough or interesting enough or good enough. I thought about writing about my life as the oldest child in my family/the first born in America (everyone in my family was sit either born in India or Dubai ). I was also thinking of considering my bedroom as my world but had trouble with the dreams and aspirations parts of the prompt. Another idea is that I used to help with the garden in my backyard. We have fairly large fruit trees and whenever the fruit collected in piles all over the yard from falling off the heavy branches or from the pesky squirrels that always nibble at them and knock them over. I really would like some help with this please! Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      Sorry I went off talking about the fruit that I forgot to .mention that I would help my mom and dad by trying to clean the yard and attempting to pick up all of the fruit as fast as I could. My brother and I would compete with each other to see who could do it the fastest/who could clear the most.

  103. Kevin says:

    Hello, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for prompt one of the UC personal statement. First of all, I am currently interested in pursing a career as a physical therapist. I have two topics and i’d like you to help me choose which one would be the most effective. First is how I have volunteered at the Veteran memorial hospital for about two summers. I was able to visually witness physical therapy towards the physically disabled, i was exposed to physical therapy, and i believe that i have acquired the trait of compassion and now possess strong communication skills. But at the same time, the problem with writing about the VA hospital is that it is not necessarily my “world”. Is it still okay to write about it? Anyway, I came up with another viable topic that fits into my “world” more comfortably. Recently, my grandpa got into a major accident and was not able to move for a couple months. I was exposed to physical therapy during this incident as well and i was able to realize the importance of physical recovery. Also, I was able to nurse my grandpa at times and I watched his slow recovery back to full health (10 months. He lives with me by the way) and now he’s able to do what he loves like work in the backyard/kitchen/etc. once again. I dont know if this is a good topic because it might focus too much on my grandpa rather than me so i’m not sure which to choose. Any thoughts/suggestions? Thanks.

  104. Randy He says:

    Hello! For the most part my life is really boring… the only thing I can think about is how I had a language barrier between my parents and me since they are immigrants and how I overcame this and formed strong bonds with them by taking the Mandarin clas in high school to be able to break the language barrier… I want to relate this to how I aspire to major in computer science and how this experience of breaking away from communication barriers will make me perfect in learning and understanding the languages of the computer. Any advice/tips? Is this a good topic? I’m really stressed right now. :[ Please respond ASAP so i can get my essay started, and thanks for helping!

  105. Nick says:

    Hello! So I’ve been struggling on this prompt for a solid two months. I’ve written, rewrote, and revised multiple essays about my love of community college, however, the essay keeps turning out very “bla.” Now I’m thinking of throwing in the towel on that essay and writing instead about being a commuting actor to Los Angeles. I would write about being in the community of struggling actors and how my experience being one has led to my discovering of the realities of the business (i.e. bad material, rejection, false representation of teenagers). I would end the essay with my aspiration to be a content creator who helps contribute to changing the LA paradigm and making it more truthful to life. Do you think this would fit the prompt? It’s not technically my “hometown community” but it’s a community of people I belong to if that makes sense? Thank you!

  106. Veena says:

    Hi! I want to write about the power of technology to bring people together, and that being why I want to be an engineer. I thought I would talk about Skype, and how it connected me to my family in other countries, as well as a dog a found and returned to his owner through the tracking chip. I’m not sure how to word it so that it becomes “my world.” Also, is it weird to use two examples or should i just use one? Thank you so much; your website is so helpful!

  107. Peter H says:

    Hello. I am wondering if I can use my passion for basketball as my “world.” I want to go into the field of business or computer science and I was about to write about how working on my skills for basketball developed the communication and leadership qualities needed for either one of the jobs. Should i go deeper in than just a passion for basketball?

  108. Annie says:

    Hi Janine,
    I’ve sent you an email asking you for a little bit help, please check it out as soon as you get the chance! Thank you!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Annie,

      I try to respond to student’s emails, but this time of year I’m so swamped with my tutoring. I don’t even have time to respond to emails, unless it’s from someone who wants to hire me for my editing services. I’m sure you are on the right track if you’ve been reading my blog. I know everyone can’t afford my services; that’s why I write this blog and wrote my book. Best of luck! Janine Robison

  109. Alex says:

    Hi Janine,
    I’m an immigrant from China, but would it be cliche if i write about how I value the creative education in US? or should I write about a fond memory of my favorite and most inspiring teacher who has a very unorthodox method of teaching??

  110. Ashlee says:

    Hey I wanted to write my essay on being vegan, but have no idea on what specific example to show this world! Any ideas? Thanks!

  111. Tiffany says:

    Hi there!
    I’m a bit stuck on the first prompt. I want to write about my hobby sewing little animal/cakes out of felt and how it has lead me to dream to open my own online shop. But I’m not sure how to write it. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much in advance!

  112. Maggie88 says:

    Hi Janine,
    I am completely puzzled as to what to write for the first UC prompt. I love reading but those novels are mostly teenage girl book. I like science and math and am considering a career in those areas but no great specific stories behind why. I took an Outward Bound mountaineering course 2 summers ago which I absolutely loved but I think it is cliche. But I have a question. I am not personally affected by sex trafficking nor have I done much to do with it except reading reports on it but the subject has by constantly on my brain since 6th grade. Is that a too controversial subject?

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Maggie,

      I actually like the idea of writing about a world that’s mainly been an obsession in your head. I don’t think sex trafficking is too controversial–it’s just what you have to say about it that matters. I would describe the “world,” give examples of when you first learned about it, your reaction, and how you feel and think about it all the time. Then talk about how it affects you and shaped your dreams and aspirations–maybe learn some skills or something related so you can either learn more or go out and help combat it? Go for it! JR

  113. Tayler says:

    I had a couple of ideas for the ‘i come from a world…” essay prompt. I feel like some of them may be too far of a stretch. My ideas are: I come from a world of books, i come from a world of singing, i come from a world of smiling, I come from a world of shopping, and I come from a world of horror. The last idea is my favorite but by horror i mean like scary movies. i absolutely enjoy scary movies and find myself watching them on my free time. I’m just quit perplexed to try to figure how i would answer the second part of the prompt. It’s the second question of the prompt that stumps me the most. with the other ideas that i had, i was wondering if you could tell me which one would be best.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Tayler,

      It’s your decision, but I love the idea of the world of horror! Really stands out as a topic. As far as second part of prompt, maybe explore the idea of fear and how it has shaped or affected how you handle it in your life (not just in movies.) Give it a try! JR

  114. Daniel says:

    I had one idea that as the topic of my essay, but was not sure if it was too broad. I wanted to write about how being multicultural as affected my outlook. Basically describing the different traits of each culture and how it has created my goals and aspirations. Is that too cliche and broad?

  115. RajB says:

    Hi. I really don’t know how to approach this essay. The first idea I have is how growing up and taking tech classes over the summer, I was the only girl in the class and I felt really lonely. But thanks to my mom’s support I gained confidence. Now, I’ve been working at the same camp for a couple years, teaching kids about robotics/technology, because I like encouraging them to do what they love. The problem I have here is that I don’t know what my “world” is…specifically, and I’m not sure how to format it. And then, my aspirations are to be a chemical engineer/break gender barrier, and I don’t really know how the world and the aspirations connect, especially the chemistry bit. Help, please?! The Berkeley application asks us to address our major interest in our personal statement.

    • RajB says:

      Hi JR! I don’t think you’ve had the chance to see my last comment, but I decided to change my topic anyway, having finally realized that it’s not what defines me. What really makes me tick is how much I love to build/ see my imagination come to reality. Could I talk about my robotics team? I want to make the essay unique; I’m not sure if robotics is too common, and I’m drawing a blank on how to start the essay. thanks for all your posts, by the way, they are really helpful.

  116. Emily says:

    I’m thinking about writing about either coming from a large family or my experience being short (and therefore seeing a different perspective on things). But I’m not sure these would work because my family isn’t that different and I am not incredibly short. Any suggestions?

  117. Michael says:

    Hi JR,
    Thank you so much for creating this website! I’ve found a ton of useful information here. I’d love your thoughts on my UC topics.
    Taekwondo is my world. I spend most of my time training, competing and teaching. I know sports is an overused topic so I thought of describing a teaching class I ran and showing how I developed the qualities of patience, leadership, and communication. I’m not sure how to tie it into my dreams and aspirations. Would it be a stretch to say how teaching has led to my desire to teach through film or that I entertain my students to make my class fun and I want to combine that with my love of film to create films that entertain?
    For my 2nd topic I want to talk about the time I made the US team and competed in a 3rd world country. I thought I’d describe the amazing surroundings and then say that what I got most out of my time there was not just competitive experience but also bonding with my teammates, getting to know kids from all over the world and experiencing a country very different than mine. What do you think of this idea? Is it ok to write both essays on the same sport? Thanks!

  118. Myint says:

    Hi!
    I am having writer block. I don’t know which world I should write about. I am a Burmese Chinese that is born in Myanmar and I went to Singapore to study since 11. I wanted to talk about how the experience in both Burma and Singapore education has made me realise the power of quality of education… And how i plan to impart my knowledge as a chemical engineer to aspiring engineers in myanmar in the future. But I thought that this topic is too broad.
    My interest for engineering started during an exchange to a college in Taiwan. The professor talked about this nanotechnology that allows materials to be waterproof, dirt proof… I was amazed by this technology and this is when I found out about the power of engineering.
    Another idea is about how I used to experience blackouts in Myanmar. And my sister and I would light the candles to study. But I have no idea how to illustrate how it has shaped my dream of becoming an engineer.
    The last one is about door knob. I don’t know how to phrase it as my “world”. When I was young, the doorknob would sometimes get stuck in the lock position and no matter what u do, it will not unlock. I managed to solve the problem of the sticky door knob. I was really excited whenever I visited my relatives and saw their sticky door knob because I was so eager to share my discovery.
    I am so confused! :(

  119. Emmaline says:

    Hi Janine!
    Your site has helped me so much with brainstorming! But I’ve just had terrible writer’s block for the first UC prompt. I have two ideas though:
    -my love of old movies (in my spare time I watch silent movies/all types of black and white films). Not sure how I could relate this to my dreams though/:
    Or
    -my experiences of attending nursing school sometimes with my mom when I was 6-7 (she had to take me with her because nobody could watch me) and how that shaped my interest in the medical field

    Do you think any of these would be okay to talk about?
    Thank you!!!

  120. katie15 says:

    Hi!
    so i posted on here a couple days ago but i never got a response i dont think,i cant seem to find my post on here either, but anyways . i wanted your opinion on wether or not i should write about my experience on getting my first job. for example , talking about how it has impacted my life much more than i had ever expected. I got hired there (ALDO SHOES) for the holidays last year when i was about a month away from turning 17, then after about 4 month working with them ,my managers and boss said they saw a lot potential in sales,leadership skills and responsibility from me . I was the youngest holiday hire and the only hire that did not get fired /laidoff after seasonal ended.(everyone else was 18+) and they offered me a promotion to management team as a sales lead (i was selling over $1k a day wether i worked 5hr shifts or 8hr shifts.) i accepted their conditions consisted that i had to wait until i turned 18 which will be this december!:) the reason i wanted to write about my job as my world, was because before i had my job i had thought that maybe medicine was the field for me , i knew i wasn’t all that passionate about that field and honestly i just wanted to have my mind set to a goal i could possibly enjoy, but working in retail and having the oppourtunity to run an entire staff as part of my training at such a young age ,really made me realize how much i liked the business world ,wether it was the financial aspects of it , management aspects or the fact that i am constantly moving and interacting with people intrigued me .it really helped me decide what my aspirations were for the future. what are your suggestions , what should i add/avoid? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR THE HELP!:)

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Katie,

      I think that first job in the shoe biz would make a great essay about your world. Share something that happened then, what you learned and how it affected you and what you want to do later. Best of luck! JR

  121. Amy says:

    Hi!
    For “the world I come from” prompt, I’m planning to write about the time I spend each week in an art studio, the atmosphere, the feeling and the smell. I’m going to talk about how this always reminds me of the time I spend in my dad’s architect studio when I was a kid(the same feeling,atmosphere) and how this influence me and shaped my dreams of becoming an architect. Is this a good way to approach this prompt? I want to start with a simple anecdote, but I’m really stuck. Any ideas? Thank you.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Amy,

      Yes, the art studio is a world. To find an anecdote, try to remember something that happened there. It doesn’t have to be super dramatic, but maybe it helped you think about something differently or taught you something. Then go from there on describing the studio world and how that shaped/affected you and what you want to do. Good luck! JR

  122. Ranul says:

    Hi, with regards to prompt #1, im thinking about describing my role as a production manager in my school drama and how it has influenced me to pursue a career in business. I just wanted to know whether my idea could qualify as a “world” and what i should do to keep it coherent to the question

  123. Meghna says:

    Hey,
    I went for a trekking trip two years back even though my doctors and parents advised me not to. it really changed me. I’ve become more stronger and independent. But, will this make a good essay topic? Can it be considered my world? But the biggest problem is i don’t really know how it’s shaped my dreams.

  124. Meghna says:

    Hey again,
    Could i write about my love for reading and how books take me to another world altogether? but then again i don’t know how it has shaped my dreams.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Meghna,

      Many students write about how books shape their world. You need to give it more focus. What book, author, character, even specific line, turned into a world (mini-community) for you? Just writing about all books is too broad. Good luck! JR

  125. Joy says:

    HI,
    I am struggling with the first UC prompt. I am not sure exactly what world I should describe. I am originally from Philadelphia but My family moved to Hilo Hawaii when I was 5.
    I don’t know if this is relevant but I thought it would be interesting to write about how I am much taller then everyone in Hilo. I am 5’10 and the average female here is 5’2 and the average male is 5’5-5’8. I have always found this interesting because part of my world has resolved around my height.
    Also I could write about my world when I run or the Hawaii life style.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Joy,

      I really like your idea of focusing on the height difference to give focus to your piece, and then develop ideas of your new world and how it shaped you. Perfect! JR

  126. Kelly W says:

    For my world, I’m thinking about writing how I’ve been surrounded by animals my whole life and that taking care of them, making sure they’re healthy, etc. is very important to me. Does that sound cliche? I have two ideas for an anecdote though: 1) I saved bees during my summer lifeguarding job and 2) I rescued a baby turtle from a carnival and had to give him shots for his respiratory infection (scary). I don’t know how to go about writing about either topic, although they do relate to my career aspirations (animal conservation).

  127. Malik Sajwani says:

    Hi j9robinson your blog was too great and beneficial for me. Your doing great job!

    Im struggling with my UC prompt but the most difficult part is starting. I came from Pakistani family. my father in enterpreneur. I have great interest in math and economics. I like to read magazines like The Economist and books like freakonomics. Im a teachers assistant and plus I did community service in water and shoes department for like 3 years (200hrs).
    From this information how should i mold myself to the topic about from what world I came from

  128. Hakeem says:

    For the first UC prompt, which refers to writing about how your world influenced your dreams and aspirations,do we have to refer to more than one dream or aspiration. I only talked about how I was inspired to pursue a degree in economics. Do I need to talk about multiple goals or is it better to focus on one main goal since we have a limited writing space?

  129. Nakash Ali says:

    Hi, I was wondering whether this would be a good topic: When my family moved from Pakistan to Dubai, I was a victim of sheer racism as my culture was always criticized. I think this experience taught me how to appreciate all cultures as I now study in Africa and have learned how to take pluralistic approaches. Would this be a good idea to write about as my aspiration is to use technology to help the world eradicate cultural illiteracy and promote peace? Will this be too cliche?
    Thanks a lot for the help

  130. Dani says:

    Hey! Please help me with the UC prompt 1! I have literally no idea what to write! I have listed down architecture(major) and anthropology(alternate major).
    I thought of maybe writing about how, as i live in pakistan and moved here from holland, there are so many unfortunate people without homes etc, and so later on, would like to do something for them? Like build shelters etc? But then i didnt really know what to do!

  131. geofrey says:

    hi
    am from Kigali Rwanda for sure i don’t which world i came from, i should describe only that i have both parents who likes me and offers me any little support they can afford and they have taught me about how to be strong in public that is public speaking in general.

  132. Arun says:

    Hi there,
    I’m quite unsure about the ‘the world’ I should describe. Although I have some ideas in my mind, but still I’m quite confused whether it is relevant or not. Lately, I did a draft for the first prompt about my living room as ‘my world’. Because most of the time I will be hanging around in the living room-where I have my lunch, dinner, do my homework, play piano and so on. Basically, I am movie lover, so obviously living room, where the television is placed, is my heaven. Although I’m planning to pursue engineering course, becoming a film director is always being my second choice. Besides that, since the piano is in the living room, I thought I can also talk about my passion in music. Furthermore, living room is the last place where I saw my father who has passed away few years back, so I thought of including some sentimental value in my essay as well. What do you think?

  133. Carlie says:

    Hi,
    So for my UC essays I was going to do the more personal statement-like one about dance and an audition I had, and was considering doing this one about “my world” about Spanish. I am part Mexican but never learned Spanish until I learned it in school and am still learning it, but I like to now consider the language as part of my identity and am considering double majoring in Spanish and International Relations in college. I was considering on writing about the influence Spanish has on my life and an incident in which I communicated with someone at the hospital I volunteer at and was able to help them. Do you think this would be appropriate for addressing the prompt?

  134. Carlie says:

    Hi, I’m struggling a little about knowing whether or not my topics are ok. So for my common app and the more identity/achievement UC essay I was going to write about dance and an audition I had. For the one about my “world” I was considering writing about Spanish, and how although I’m part Mexican I never learned Spanish until I learned it in school, (it is my best subject though and I’ve won an award & head a club,)and now I like to consider it part of my identity and want to pursue Spanish further in college, maybe double majoring in Spanish and International Relations. I was going to talk about a story in which I was at the hospital that I volunteer at and helped direct this lady to her friend in Spanish. Do you think this could work as the main focus of the essay?

  135. Tasha says:

    Hi,

    Your article has been highly helpful in providing some general guidelines for how to approach essay prompt #1. Unlike most others, I’m actually stuck on the “dreams and aspirations” part of the essay. I’m still undecided on my major and career option, but I don’t want to sound vague and ambiguous in discussing my future aspirations. What’s the best way to address “dreams and aspirations” without saying something cliché and meaningless like “to be a good person”? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  136. David says:

    Hi,
    I’m not sure if this is a relevant topic for UC prompt 1, can I write something about me playing the piano??
    By playing piano, I learned how to overcome tough things and I learned the value of practicing.
    I did many community service by playing piano at senior communities. Also, I am the main pianist at church.

  137. Dom says:

    Hi, Im struggling with the first UC prompt as well. I dont know what to write about… Ive lived in San Diego all my life and I love music. I learned how to sing and play piano at the age of 6. I continue expressing my love for music by joining choir and band at school. I dont know how music will correlate with my major, though. I want to major in nursing because I couldve lost both of my parents (tumor and car accident)and without the help of nurses and doctors, they wouldnt be here today. Both are my parents work in the medical field as well. I just dont know how to synthesize this all together. Thank you!

  138. Ava says:

    Hi, I was wondering if my world can be that I am a boxer and how boxing has shaped my character along with my dreams of the future. Thank you! -Ava

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Ava,

      Usually we steer student away from sports-themed essay topics. But boxing is kind of unusual, and although gender shouldn’t be important, it seems to me that a girl boxer (assuming Ava is a girl’s name) would be even more unique. Knock their socks off! JR

  139. Sara says:

    Hi, I was wondering if I should write about how “my world” is playing chess and how the risk and unpredictability involved led me to challenge myself and develop problem-solving skills. I was thinking of relating this to my dreams of becoming an anesthesiologist and how having a career that involves risk will keep me motivated. Is this too boring or weak of a topic? I feel like it might be a bit of a stretch…

  140. Tanzeem Salim says:

    Hi, I was wondering if my world could be my home with my family. Because I wouldn’t go outside that often.Can I share some memories with my family that made me learn some important things like honesty, patience and discipline. For prompt 2, can I share the experience how I had to run the house, do grocery shopping, pay bills and go the bank when my father had jaundice and how perseverance, tolerance and determination changed my life.

  141. Emily says:

    Hi, for the “world we come from,” I wanted to write about my culture and family. But since I’m a Chinese American, i thought that would be too cliche. I can’t really think of anything special in my life. I know I want to be a doctor, and my family supports me. However, they actually don’t like the occupation itself, just the money that it brings. I think my personality is different from them too. I’m wondering if any of these topics would be ok. Also, the internet has helped shaped a lot of my beliefs and contributed a lot too my intellectual growth. I thought this is a possible essay topic but i don’t know how to narrow it down. Thank you!

  142. Zhou SS says:

    Hi, I was planning to write my transformation from a pneumonia patient who was not even able to run more than half a mile to a national Thai-boxing athlete, and how this experience has taught me to take challenges more bravely in the future. Does that sound impressive enough? Please shed some light on this, thank you!

  143. Isaac says:

    Hello Janine,

    I apologize for witting to you so close to the UC application deadline. I am struggling to write the just right essay. I have conditions and my OCD and anxiety have caused me to write multiple essays for the 2 prompts and personal essay. I have got rid of many essays, but on to the point. I have decided I want to write my first UC Prompt essay on my experience of seeing miscommunication in the medical field when I broke my nose septum due to a Baseball injury and spent a month in the hospital. I worry that this may answer the second UC prompt better and I’m wondering what your thoughts are. I have decided I want my 2nd UC prompt to discuss my contribution of volunteering at the hospital which saved my life. My Personal essay I have decided to write about my conditions, school, activities, and school. I’m curious on your thoughts. I apologize for asking for your help so close to the deadline.

  144. Karla says:

    Hello!
    For the second prompt “Tell us about a personal quality..”
    I wrote about my talent which is playing guitar. At the beginning I wrote about how I struggled playing it and then later into the essay I wrote about how i overcame my struggles with it. I also incorporated that I play guitar at my church. Is it okay that I wrote about me playing guitar??

  145. Derek says:

    Hard to admit but apparently I’m stuck on essays…
    Regarding to this essay I have a problem.
    My dream is to be a physicist studying quantum physics. (or something similar, I’ll explain immediately)
    Because: when I was a little kid, I’ve been exposed to(I actively read though) books, movies and toys (and so on) that told me some fascinating facts about physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, astronomy, etc. Quantum physics is the most appealing one–things were so oddly interesting and appealing. They also gave me some really intriguing questions about these subjects and I literally have thought about them for years.
    I think these altogether have made me very curious, motivated, truth-seeking and appreciative, and they’ve shaped my ultimate dream which is to understand how this world works on earth.
    But the problem is that I had a really bad memory, the kind that you get in your bedroom from your living room and forget why you’ve got there. I have trouble remembering events precisely–so basically I can just give a generalization, answering the prompt and making some simple descriptions, and explain exactly why I have my dream(all certainly not the kind above), but I really don’t know how to provide some single events like you’ve suggested. Most of them are so blurred/nearly forgotten and none of them itself but all of them together generated my whole dream. How am I supposed to write this?
    =
    Another thing, should I focus on this only or should I also include the issue of my city? It’s very inspiring and unique that has taught and given me a lot, but I’ve read countless advices that strongly prefer only writing about one thing.
    =
    And…If those doesn’t sound very good to write about, can I discuss my love of certain animes/comics? They’re all somewhat important/meaningful to me.

    • Derek says:

      Sorry I’ve made it so long. But just by the way, I’m an international, and my mom is strongly encouraging me to describe exactly what my “world” is. She insists that UC’s are exactly using this prompt to know about your environment and understand the (literal) “world” you come from so as to understand you better…is that the case?

      • Derek says:

        Now my mom is incessantly insisting that I write about my many travels :(
        She believes that though I don’t remember most of them still they must have each added a “chain of thinking” to me and have thus opened my mind…indeed I want to go outside and see the world, so they seem to be relevant, but should I write about something I don’t really remember well and don’t FEEL particularly impactive?

  146. Rachel says:

    hi, I’m having a lot of trouble with what to write about for my personal statement. When I ask people what they think I should write about, they tell me to write about how my parents were strict with me and how I became the person I am today but im not sure how to make that sound interesting.

  147. Lucie Repova says:

    Hi, I am an international student from the Czech Republic. I was thinking of writing about my passion for math. For example if my mother wanted to buy me something, I always counted the price with tax and if it’s expensive or not…
    What do you think about it and how should I start?

  148. Winnie says:

    Just want to say thank you for writing this blog. It makes me confident about what and how I wrote my essay… I think I on the right track haha. Thx appreciate your time^-^

  149. Yarhiel Santa says:

    Janine!
    First of all, I’d like to express my excitement in finding someone so willing to help all us crazy 17/18 year olds freaking out about college applications! Your help is VERY much appreciated!
    Moving on, I am a wrestling manager for my high school wrestling team and I have been since my sophomore year. Over these few years, I’ve become such close friends with all the wrestlers that they all see my as a sister [Which is pretty awesome because I basically have 40 or so bodyguards walking around school with me every day :D ].
    I could easily spend hours talking about wrestling, naming moves, “famous” college wrestlers, etc. I’ve grown to absolutely love every part of the sport. I spend so much time with the team during the week, on the weekends, and even over holiday breaks, that they have become “my world.” This is where my essay question comes in: What should I focus on within my “world” of wrestling and do you have any ideas on how I can relate this to my dream of going to Medical school?

  150. Henry says:

    hi. I am applying for engineering to UCB and UCLA. I have written my Common App essay on Prompt#4. I play the piano and my essay is about my relationship with the piano room where I learn the piano. it is basically about what i earnt there and how playing the piano has shaped my personality. I want to use that essay for this prompt but I don’t know how to answer the second part of this prompt which says “tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.” Any help regarding this would be appreciated.

  151. Arina says:

    Hello!
    I am finding it difficult to find exactly what kind of ‘world’ that should be described

  152. Arina says:

    Hello!
    I am also finding it difficult to comprehend exactly what kind of ‘world’ that should be described in this particular essay. I am a dancer (I have been dancing since I was 5 years old) and I am planning on perhaps minoring in dance as well. Furthermore, I want to connect my extensive dance experience to my ability to persevere and my ambitiousness. So what should my focus be? Should I include specific events (performances, competitions, etc)? Please help!
    Thank you!!!

  153. Mift says:

    Hi! I’m done with my essay but im not sure if ive followed all the pointers you’ve listed above. I’ve given loads of examples and written how they have affected me.I was wondering if i could send you my essay and you could give me your feedback on it? That’d be a GREAT help. Im really really freaking out as it is!

  154. Danica says:

    Janine, you have inspired me a lot!
    I know it is very late to ask this question. I AM STILL STRUGGLING what to write! I hope you could see this message before I submitted my crap… I am from China and I thought it would be great to write about the transition from China to the U.S. However, I don’t know what specific to write! The only topic I could think of is “sound.” I am very picky with sound. For example, if lyrics are not rhyming or don’t fit the atmosphere, I would probably turn off the music immediately. Moreover, I will value a movie partly based on how good its background music and sound effects are. I am thinking write about how I appreciate a song, including pop, classic, and etc in order to show how “carping” I am and therefore I can see small problems when I am organizing events as a Student Council President (I have other titles like Chief Editor of Newspaper, but I don’t know should I show off myself in that way). And I will write about that my mother plays the song on the piano with wrong pauses and pressing wrong keys. However, I can stand with that because I can hear how carefully my mother plays and one hundred percent heart she puts. Therefore, I also have an open mind to accept other people’s and especially my own faults. Then, I will be encouraged to change myself.

    I still think it is too much to write even only about “sound.” And… should I just give up the topic about the “transition from China to U.S.” since I have nothing in my mind?

    Thank you, Janine!

  155. Maggie Marroquin says:

    hello, I am applying to this program to USC and this was the prompy. I was wondering how i could rightabout church being my world

  156. Chandra says:

    I spend hours and hours swimming for a competitive team (practice is 20 hours a week) and then weekends is competing. It IS my world without a doubt and a world I am very proud of. If I was to write anything else I would be short changing myself. However, I worry that admissions officers are just kind of tired of readying about athletes and that ‘one event that they didn’t think they were going to win but did’ story. My counselor told me to only write about swimming if it is something no other athlete/swimmer could write about.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Chandra,
      Your counselor is right–only write about swimming if you have something unique to say about it, and something that will reveal a part of you that is unique as well. Keep the swimming in the background of your essay. (this goes for all “worlds” that could be overdone or cliche–such as mission trips, travel, sports, clubs, etc.) Look for something that happened, a moment or experience that affected you somehow, changed how you thought about things, life, the world. I had a student who wrote an essay about crew, and pulled it off because he pulled something out of his crew experience that was about himself–and it was an amazing essay. (happens to be in my essay collection, heavenly essays.) look for the unexpected. is there something you learned through swimming that no one would expect that you would learn about yourself, or something unexpected that happened. If you are going to write about swimming laps, or the self-discipline it takes, or winning races–BEWARE–could be very boring and really backfire on you. Good luck! Let us know what you decide to do! JR

  157. Amber says:

    In elementary school my dad accidentally ran over my laptop (yes it was extremely unfortunate), and I decided to take it apart. It was so interesting to me, and I’ve actually kept the motherboard and hard drive hung on my wall. I’ve wanted to major in a computer related field ever since.
    I’m planning on majoring in computer science, and since it is a pretty competitive major, I was thinking that my essay should be related to computer science somehow. Is this story of taking apart the laptop a good idea? Is it interesting/unique enough to where I will stand out? Also, I really do not know how to tie it into the prompt.

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Amber,

      You are onto the great topic! Go for it! It seems like a “story” that is central to you (Prompt One) in that it links to your core interest in computer science… JR

  158. Janiffar says:

    Hi, I am trying to write an essay about my musical world. How can I start? What type of questions should I answer? How should I describe it?

  159. Kevyy says:

    Hi. I am kind of confused. can i write how my mom worked so hard just to make us happy and when i realized that it changed me?

  160. Jasz says:

    Hi, Janine.

    So, I was trying to think of something that has become my would that would make me stand out. I love volunteering. I have over 1000 hours. But, something I’ve done since I was about twelve is every Wednesday night I work at Bingo with my family. We run the snack bar, and it is such a great experience to get to know all the seniors of my town. How could I use Bingo in my essay? Please help!

    • j9robinson says:

      Hi Jasz,

      All I can say is BINGO!! Perfect topic for a “world”. Way better to talk about that, at least in your introduction, than write something broader about volunteering. You could start with bingo (describe typical scene), and then expand into your love for volunteering. EXCELLENT topic!! Would love to see it when you are done! JR

  161. Alex says:

    Sorry,I have one more question! When we are to describe the “world” we came from.. Aren’t we suppose to only stay focused to the things that happened or has shaped our aspirations only from our 4 years of high school?

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