Skip to main content

If you are applying to US colleges this coming application season, then you are probably aware of how different your application cycle is compared to that of past applicant pools. Many schools, such as the UC schools and Cornell University, have made the decision to waive their SAT/ACT requirements. The first half of your senior year is most likely going to be through Zoom or another video calling platform. And physical college campus visits are now out of the question. Since the UC schools do not accept recommendations, your personal insight essays are more important than ever to tell your story and stand out.

While such changes to the US college application process may seem confusing and overwhelming, don’t fret! Here at Prep Zone, we will offer you some of our insights into the first of eight prompts given by the UC schools!

UC Application – Prompt 1

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

Since you are given a 350-word limit for each prompt, you will have to make sure that the writing you present is concise and sticks to answering the prompt. Before you start writing, take some time to brainstorm some topics. Have a pencil and paper ready to jot down ideas – no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Did you resolve an argument between two friends on whether Xbox or Playstation is better? Write it down! The UC schools use this prompt to gain insights into who you are as a person so think of some examples that showcase your personality and interests. So without further ado, let’s move on to the structure of the prompt!

Your Anecdote

When you start your essay, your goal should be to engage the reader. Are you more likely to continue watching a TV show if the first episode has you on the edge of your seat or falling asleep from boredom? I don’t know about you but most people would be more engaged by the former option. Likewise, your essay should grip the reader from the start. And what is the best way to do this? By starting with an anecdote!

However, to immerse your reader, you need to “show” and not “tell”. To do this, you need to insert specific details whenever possible. Let’s say you felt angry at one point in your anecdote. But what do you think when you are angry? Do a bunch of curse words (which I will not list here) come to mind? Or do you immediately tell yourself to calm down? Let your reader know how you think through problems.

What You Learned

In your English classes, you probably had to write essays on books and analyze different themes and characters. The same applies to your UC essays. What was the outcome of your leadership experience? Could you have been less controlling? Maybe less biased? In life, you are going to make mistakes. Being able to see what you could have done better and improving on such areas is a critical skill that will not only help you in the classroom – but also in life.

Why a UC School?

Finally, you will want to tie your experience and analysis back into your reasons for wanting to apply to a UC school. After all, you are writing these essays to potentially attend one!

A question admissions officers ask themselves is: Can I see this student on our campus? Based on your leadership experience, what kind of person will you be when you step on a UC campus in the fall? Will you be the person who will resolve conflicts with your roommates? Are you going to become a freshman representative of your club sports team? Use the information in your essay to tell your reader why a UC school is a good fit for you.

What’s Next?

You might think, “Well, I’ve written my essay. What else is there to do?” While you may think that your essay is in top shape, it does not hurt to have a second pair of eyes to review it. This is where Prep Zone comes in. With years of college consulting experience and degrees from the world’s most prestigious universities, we have the knowledge and insights to ensure that your college application process goes as smoothly as possible. Schedule a free consultation at or +65 6812 9999.

Free College Consultation

To register for a consultation session, provide us with your details below and we will get in touch to schedule a suitable time slot. For any additional inquiries, contact our hotline at +65 6812 9999


By submitting this form, I agree to Prep Zone Academy’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Author Jeremy

More posts by Jeremy