One of the University of California (UC) application essays asks students to:
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.
Dreams and aspirations can often be challenging to define for many college applicants. Describing dreams or aspirations requires more reflection, which can take time–not always easy for seventeen year olds with crowded schedules. Also, applicants often assume “dreams and aspirations” is referring to a specific career or future job interest, complaining that s/he “doesn’t know what I want to do.” Fortunately, the dictionary definition of both dream and aspiration is broader than job or career, so applicants will have many gateways to begin considering how “dream” and “aspiration” apply to their personal circumstances. Aspiration can be defined as a “deep heartfelt longing”–an intense, serious thirst or hunger. Because an aspiration is “deep” or further down than the surface, applicants will naturally have to spend time thinking through what s/he values or finds worthy, what s/he envisions or “dreams” her/his future life will become. Further Shelley offers the following image of aspiration, “The desire of the moth for the star.” Pondering any of the aforementioned ideas can help applicants describe their aspirations and dreams for their UC essays. The more specific information provided and clearly explained, the greater understanding a college admissions officer will have of the applicant, thus being able to make a more informed decision about an acceptance or denial. Tthe UC essay above is one of two written statements required, giving applicants have multiple opportunities to present as complete a picture of themselves as possible. But, not without some effort, which can include defining the “longing” felt or discussing responses to Shelley’s quote with trusted advisors and friends–even parents. Taking advantage of any windows of time for these mini-reflections – in between classes, on carpool rides home, during commercial breaks – can work the efforts to write college essays within already busy schedules to create the most competitive written statements possible.