Advice for Completing the University of California Activities & Awards Section

For those of you applying to the University of California (UC), completing the Activities & Awards section can require several hours of brainstorming, drafting and editing, over multiple drafts. 

Thus, many teens will postpone drafting the detailed descriptions or conversely they may focus on drafting the descriptions, postponing their essay writing. 

To balance the work of both drafting the PIQ (Personal Insight Questions) essays and the Activities & Awards descriptions, a few tips to consider: 

  • Students don’t need to write descriptions to the maximum character count, between 250-350 characters including spaces.
  • Students typically need 1-3 hours to complete the “Activities and Awards”
  • Write facts about the experience, not the meaning of the experience or lessons learned.

Additionally, several UC admissions officers offered the following guidance when writing activity descriptions:

  • Define any roles and responsibilities in the club/organization/team
  • Don’t use acronyms for any organization—spell out the full name of the organization
  • Describe the selection process for any award. Be specific.

Waiting until the last days before the November 30th deadlinne to begin drafting, while simultaneously working through the increased complexity in the latter stages of the writing process, can add stress. Students risk submitting a less than quality or incomplete application, or at an extreme, not submitting an application on time.

Helping others apply to college every year for two decades, Jill Yoshikawa is masterful at navigating online college applications. Contact her to find out how she can assist you for the exact moment when you’ll need her most.

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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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