UC introduces new application process

The University of California system recently unveiled their eight new “personal insight questions,” a replacement for their previous two-essay system.

Instead of requiring two essays with 1,000 words allotted between them, incoming college freshmen will have to choose four short-answer style questions from the eight provided options, each response being 350 words or less.

Some juniors believe the new system will be beneficial in the application process, giving students with different writing strengths a chance to showcase their skills.

“I know for some people it’s really hard to write quick essays, but others like to get their point across,” said junior Marie Jimenez. “ It depends on their writing skills.”

On the other hand, many seniors see the change as unfortunate for underclassmen and incoming applicants. The word limit is a key issue for some.

“It’s practically nothing,” said senior Juliana Casparian. “Three hundred fifty words is going to be hard to work with.”

Another challenging aspect of the new process is the four-prompt set up.

“That’s a lot of writing, no matter how long it is, and more prompts to plan for,” senior Akul Goyal stated.

The new questions speak to several different aspects of the “comprehensive review” checklist the UC admissions office outlined in June 2013.

The released PDF shows particular criteria officers take into consideration, among them being GPA, location, courses taken outside of the A-G requirements, and senior year studies.

Although two of the eight offered prompts are similar to those given for the personal statement, the remaining six options show a different approach in reviewing applications.

The personal insight questions cater to each applicant’s strengths, with topics covering qualities such as leadership capabilities, creative traits, and unique talents.

“I like the new prompts, especially the ‘unique’ one because I feel like I can really explain myself,” said junior Ethan Herbert. “I can choose what I want to write about and focus on.”

Several colleges employ a short-answer essay system that requires thoughtful, concise responses through multiple prompts, but UC has been known for using a common paper students can easily use across schools.

By changing the requirements, the ability to recycle these essays becomes more restricted.

“It reduces the chances that students will take a generic essay that they’ve created for other colleges or class assignments and simply transpose it to the application,” UC wrote on the official website, admission.universityofcalifornia.edu.

For incoming college freshmen, senior Christopher Larking noted the application process was simplified by using UC essays for many other schools.

“Other colleges had relatively the same general questions,” said Larking. “It would be more difficult to make the transition from one college to another college.”

Transfer students are also affected by this change. For those applying to the UC system from another college, there is one mandatory 350-word essay closely resembling that of the earlier system.

The traditional  question asks transfer students to describe how they’ve prepared for the transition. They also have seven options for the remaining three essays under the same 350-word limit.

Senior Logan Madrid plans to transfer into a UC school and finds the new process to be beneficial and something she looks forward to completing.

“You can really express yourself more with four prompts,” said Madrid. “Even if we do have to write about more topics, I think 350 is a little easier to work with.”