Do’s & Don’ts of Answering UC Personal Insight Question #7

Serving others, suppressing our innate self-centered human tendency, can be a valuable lesson in generosity, the equanimity of humanity, and even in reverse, a confidence in oneself as a valuable member of society. 

In the race for the most elite college admissions, often many students have added (or been compelled by assignment and the chase for grades) volunteer work to their resumes. Distinguishing between those individuals seeking to live a life of service, and those who are more confused in their motivation can be a monumental task. 

Thus, in answering the University of California Personal Insight Question (PIQ) #7, as listed below, students should pause and seriously consider why they served others and what risks they may have taken in order to act less-selfishly. Or even, following the Greek root of Philanthropy, a student has rebelled, as Prometheus did against Zeus, compelled by a love of humanity. 

As a final word of advice, I’d recommend ignoring the “Things to Consider”. One, UC admissions officers advised me that they are interested in knowing a student’s view of their experience, not assessing their ability to fanatically follow a prompt exactly. And, two, students often will limit their “brainstorming” to the questions or tips listed in the prompt, overlooking the chunky nuggets of truth which can be discovered in a more organic, thorough brainstorming. 

And, its in the chunky nuggets of truth, which students can discover and gain confidence in their true selves, an enduring guide, if you will, which will serve an emerging adult long after the notes of Pomp & Circumstance at their college graduation have faded from memory. And, in the intermediate term, students can make prudent choices during college, accepting mentors and recognizing opportunities, to benefit both themselves and others.

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place — like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students craft insightful essays, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please contact us.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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