University of California 2016-2017 Essay Prompts

UC Essays, 2016 University of California Admission Essays, 2017 Essay Prompts for UC Schools

Did you know that former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is the president of the University of California? If not, now you do!

The time is ripe to start your University of California 2016-2017 admissions essays. If you’re waiting until around August 1st for many highly selective universities to release their supplemental essay prompts, you might consider getting started on the University of California essays. Of course, that’s if you’re intending to apply to schools like the University of California, Los Angeles or University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Diego, or any of the other less selective UC schools (sorry University of California, Santa Barbara but it’s indeed the case and we have a habit of telling it like it is!). Heck, look at the quote from “The Dartmouth” on the top of our college admissions blog.

Anyhow, the reason you might consider getting started on your University of California application is because there was a major overhaul this year to the UC application. There are now four 350 word essays. That’s quite a lot of essays — a whole lot more than in previous years. Unlike for so many other highly selective colleges, the University of California schools don’t use the Common Application. So there’s no Personal Statement — just these four essays. The application offers eight prompts and students are required to complete four of the eight essays. And so what are the University of California essay prompts for 2016-2017, you ask? Well, here you go, from the UC admissions website:

“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.

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about your accomplishments and what you learned from the experience.  What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities.  For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Things to consider:  What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends, or with my family?”

6.  Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

Things to consider: Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or activities — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)?

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?

8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Things to consider: Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Even if you don’t think you’re unique, you are — remember, there’s only one of you in the world. From your point of view, what do you feel makes you belong on one of UC’s campuses? When looking at your life, what does a stranger need to understand in order to know you?

What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge, or opportunity that you think will help us know you better? We’re not necessarily looking for what makes you unique compared to others, but what makes you, YOU.”

Have a question about the University of California 2016-2017 essay prompts? We’re curious to hear from you so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back!

International Students at Wellesley

Internationals at Wellesley, Wellesley College International Applicants, International Students at Wellesley College

Financial aid dollars at Wellesley College go to American students first — and rightly so (photo credit: Jared and Corin).

Are you an international student thinking of applying to Wellesley College? As one of Wellesley College’s most prominent alums shatters a glass ceiling in America by becoming the first female major party nominee for President of the United States, the school is having some difficulty attracting socioeconomically diverse international students. A piece in “The Wellesley News” entitled “Wellesley Struggles to Enroll Socioeconomically Diverse International Students” by Mariajose Rodriguez-Pilego and Maya Nandukuma points out that the school — not unlike many highly selective colleges across America — has limited funds to subsidize the educations of international students. After all, most financial aid dollars are earmarked for students with American citizenship, a policy we at Ivy Coach wholly support. We firmly believe that financial aid funds should be used to help Americans first. It’s indeed a position we’ve held for decades.

Ivy Coach fully supports the right of American colleges to earmark their financial aid dollars from their endowments for American citizens first. When it comes to financial aid, these young people should have priority at American institutions.

As reported by Rodriguez-Pilego and Nandukuma for “The Wellesley News,” “In 2013, 276 international students called Wellesley home. Of this group, 158 students hailed from East and South Asia. Yet, in the same year, the college paid only $1,044,056 in financial aid to undergraduates from these regions, according to Wellesley’s 990 tax report from 2013. In contrast, the 41 European students received $1,129,459. Per person, this amounts to a financial aid package of $6,607 for those from Asia and $27,547 for those from Europe, based on statistics published by Slater International Center. When asked why the number of recipients on the tax forms and number of international students differ, Student Financial Services was unable to clarify this discrepancy. The limited funds available for international financial aid makes it difficult to attract socioeconomic diversity across students from different regions.”

The fact is that international students aren’t entitled to federal assistance. And rightly so. Federal assistance should be reserved for our own citizens, so many of whom graduate in debt…that is if they can even afford to attend a prestigious college in America with loans. And so international applicants who seek financial aid require money from Wellesley’s endowment. And, of course, colleges across America — not just Wellesley — can’t afford to dip too much into their endowments as that would jeopardize the school’s longterm sustainability. While some colleges claim to be need-blind, we have been quite vocal over the years that need-blind admission is a farce and we salute Wellesley College, a school we have saluted before for its commitment to LGBT rights, a commitment championed also by the school’s most prominent alumna, for being open and honest that its financial aid policy is need-aware and not need-blind.

Arts at Tufts

Tufts Arts, Arts at Tufts University, The Arts at Tufts

Tufts has signaled its commitment to the arts with the acquisition of a major museum.

Want to spend a night at the museum? You can now do so…at Tufts University, a school that has signaled in a powerful way its commitment to the arts. A few weeks ago, Tufts announced that it acquired The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The university now owns the museum and has assumed control over its operations. This move became official on July 1, 2016. It’s not so often that universities take over major museums and perhaps it’ll mark the start of a new trend. The school will be renamed the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, or SMFA. It just rolls off the tongue. Or not. Kind of like how presidential candidate Donald Trump said L, G, B, T, Q at the Republican National Convention with long pauses in between each letter? We hope we made you giggle, if only a little.

As announced in a release about the new museum at Tufts by “Tufts Now,” “The acquisition reflects the university’s long-standing commitment to the arts and a relationship between the two institutions that goes back more than 70 years. Tufts University has provided liberal arts courses, as well as accredited bachelor and master of fine arts degrees, to SMFA students, while the SMFA has offered courses in studio arts to Tufts students. The two institutions have also offered a joint, five-year combined- degree program by which undergraduates earn both a B.A. and B.FA.”

For studio art students at Tufts, they’ll continue to take courses on the school’s main campus, with additional coursework offered in Boston. Pretty cool for a major research institution to acquire a museum, right? We happen to think so.

Colleges Dropping SAT Requirements

Colleges Dropping Subject Tests, Colleges Dropping SAT, Colleges Dropping ACT

Barnard College no longer requires that applicants submit SAT Subject Tests (photo credit: BrillLyle).

We’ve written extensively over the years about colleges that no longer require SAT, ACT, and/or SAT Subject Test scores, test-optional colleges as folks in the college admissions community like to call them. And we’ve shared with our readers the real reason certain colleges do choose to go test-optional, one articulated very well by journalist Stephen Burd. Recently, Barnard and Columbia — technically (with an emphasis on the word technically) — joined this growing list. No, they didn’t eliminate the requirement that students submit SAT or ACT scores. They didn’t go that far!

Barnard recently eliminated its requirement that applicants submit SAT Subject Test scores. The all-women’s college also dropped the requirement that students submit an essay score for the SAT or ACT. As reported by “USA Today,” “Barnard will be the fourth college of the Seven Sisters — a group of historically women’s liberal arts colleges in the Northeast — to nix the essay score requirement, and the third of the group to drop the Subject Test requisite. So applicants for future classes won’t have to submit these scores.” Columbia University, which has a unique relationship with Barnard, also recently dropped its SAT Subject Test requirement and the requirement that students submit the essay score from the SAT or ACT. UPenn, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton don’t require SAT Subject Test scores either.

That which is “optional” in highly selective college admissions should not be considered optional at all.

But before college applicants and their parents get too excited, know that we strongly, strongly urge applicants to submit SAT or ACT essay scores as well as SAT Subject Test scores irrespective of whether a college such as Columbia or Barnard requires them. After all, that which is optional in highly selective college admissions isn’t actually optional…that is if you wish to get in. The fact is that colleges such as Barnard and Columbia still very much wish to see these scores and they’ll always favor the student who has great SAT Subject Test scores over the student who doesn’t submit them. Indeed if a student doesn’t submit these scores, the school will assume the scores simply weren’t very good.

Alma Maters of Powerful Women

Alma Mater of Melinda Gates, Powerful Women Colleges, Colleges of Powerful Females

Melinda Gates’ ties to Duke University are very strong indeed (photo credit: Kjetil Ree).

There’s a piece up on “MSN Money” that focuses on where the women who cracked “Forbes'” top ten of most powerful women in the world attended college that we figured we’d share with the readers of our college admissions blog. Because you know you’re curious. Maybe a little? Come on now.

Anyhow, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, attended University of Leipzig. Which is not in any state of our union. Obviously. Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, of course attended Wellesley College as an undergraduate, which we’ve written about extensively over the years. Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Board Chair, attended Brown University. Melinda Gates, the Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which does extraordinary work (particularly in Africa), attended Duke University. We’ve also written about Melinda’s ties to Duke on the pages of this blog in the past. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, attended Kettering University. And, no, we have no idea where that is either.

We would have thought Shonda Rhimes would have cracked “Forbes'” top ten list of powerful women. She’s surely in the conversation.

Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, attended the Institute of Political Science, Aix-en Provence, which is also not in the United States. Like we needed to tell you that. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, attended Harvard University. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, also attended Harvard. Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard is an alumna of Princeton University. And Ana Patricia Botin, the Chair of the Santander Group of Banco Santander attended Bryn Mawr College.

Coalition College Application

Coalition for Access, Essays of Coalition for Access, Coalition for Access Essay Prompts

The 2016-2017 essay prompts for the application of the Coalition for Access & Affordability are out.

There are 93 universities across America that have declared their membership with the Coalition for Access & Affordability. Of the 93 colleges that have subscribed to The Coalition’s application, about 40 might be offering this application this year (remember our post from back in April in which we wrote about the Coalition’s “deferral“?). But for the schools that will be using this application this year, we’ve got the 2016-2017 essay prompts for our readers.

So what are they? Drum roll please…”(1) Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it; (2) Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution; (3) Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs; (4) What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you); (5) Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.”

So the fifth prompt allows applicants to write whatever it is they want. And, heck, the first prompt allows applicants the same liberty since that question too essentially reads write whatever it is you want. If you’ll recall, there used to be a question on the Common Application to write a topic of the student’s choice. While the Common Application did away with this question, there is still a Common Application essay prompt that essentially instructs students to write whatever it is they want. Do our readers know which prompt this is? Weigh in by posting a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back.

UC and California Admits

UC Schools, UC Admission, Admission to UC Schools

The UC schools extended more offers of admission this year to California residents.

There was a good piece recently in “The New York Times” written by Stephanie Saul that we figured we’d bring to the attention of the readers of our college admissions blog. The piece, entitled “After Outcry, University of California Increases In-State Admission Offer,” focuses on how the University of California schools admitted more in-state California residents this year as compared to last year.

The UC schools extended more offers of admission this year to California residents. And we at Ivy Coach salute them for it.

Indeed the University of California upped its offers of admission to California residents by 15% for this fall. Interestingly, international student figures are down at two University of California campuses this fall. And why? Well, it’s become widely known that the University of California in recent years has been favoring non-California residents because these students are full-pays (California residents don’t pay as much tuition). It’s a topic we’ve written about extensively here at Ivy Coach.

According to Stephanie Saul’s piece in “The New York Times,” “A state audit released in March stoked criticism of the university system for its pursuit of out-of-state and international students, who pay significantly higher tuition — part of an increasingly controversial national trend in which public universities rely on nonresident tuition to help fill budget gaps left by declining state appropriations. The audit said the university had put California students, particularly minorities, at a disadvantage, which the university system denied.”

So, in other words, the state audit backed up the accusations that, for years, the system favored out-of-staters over in-staters, full tuition dollars over discounted tuition dollars. Shocking, we know!

Admissions Officer Mike Pence

Admissions Counselor, Admissions Counselor Mike Pence, Admissions Counselors

The Republican VP choice, Mike Pence, worked as a college admissions officer.

A term or two in Congress. A seat on the Committee on Ways and Means. Community organizer. Distinguished service to America in the Persian Gulf. Or even billionaire business mogul. It’s these kinds of experiences that American presidential and vice presidential contenders can often claim on their resumes. But college admissions officer? That sounds highly unusual.

Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana and Donald Trump’s vice presidential choice, worked as an admissions officer at Hanover College, his alma mater, according to some news outlets. As our readers are unlikely familiar with Hanover College, it’s in Indiana. And don’t worry. It only sounds vaguely familiar to us too. But apparently the school has produced three Indiana governors. Although that’s nothing to brag about since Governor Pence tried to use his authority as governor to write discrimination into Indiana law with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (we were very proud when former USC athletic director and Trojan hero Pat Haden refused to attend a College Football Playoff meeting in Indiana because he has a gay son, our pal Ryan).

Can you name any other American politicians who worked in admissions? We sure can’t! We issue this challenge to our readers. Ready go. Bueller?

Public Opinion on Affirmative Action

Opinion on Affirmative Action, Affirmative Action, Use of Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court recently affirmed the right of colleges across America to use Affirmative Action in admissions.

Recently, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of colleges across America to consider an applicant’s race as a factor in a holistic admissions process. Many perceived the decision to be a surprising one, thinking the Abigail Fisher case would be the proverbial horse that broke the camel’s back. After a slew of cases that affirmed the right of colleges to use Affirmative Action in admissions, this one was supposed to be different. And then Justice Anthony Scalia, the powerful conservative justice, died unexpectedly. For Abigail Fisher, many would argue the writing of another defeat against Affirmative Action was on the wall.

But while our nation’s highest court may have affirmed the right of colleges to consider race in admissions decisions, public opinion on the subject of the use of Affirmative Action in admissions is very different. According to an article on Affirmative Action written by Scott Jaschik for “Inside Higher Ed,” “A poll of the public by Gallup, with questions drafted with Inside Higher Ed, finds that the general public disagrees with the Supreme Court and college leaders. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed by Gallup between June 29 and July 2, 2016, said they disagreed with the decision. The ruling was backed by 31 percent, and 4 percent had no opinion. Support for the decision varied by several demographic factors. For example, by educational status, people with some postgraduate education were the most likely to support the decision (46 percent), followed by those with a college degree (35 percent). Only 27 percent of those with a high school diploma or a lower level of education attainment supported the decision.”

Our nation’s highest court recently deemed the use of Affirmative Action in college admissions constitutional. But that doesn’t mean the general public supports the practice.

Where do our readers stand on the use of Affirmative Action in admissions? Do you believe the practice to be legal? Ethical? We’re curious to hear from you so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to join in on the conversation.

Post MBA Career Plans

Post MBA, MBA Career Plans, MBA and Search Funds

“Harvard Business Review” has a good piece out on what many students are doing post-MBA.

For our students seeking to earn admission to some of America’s most selective MBA programs, there was an interesting piece a couple of weeks back in “Harvard Business Review” about career paths post-MBA. The piece focuses on whether consultants at firms like McKinsey and Bain make more than do small business owners/CEOs who take over their firms via aquisition, or vice versa. Surely one would think working at McKinsey, one of the world’s most elite consulting firms, would prove more profitable. Not so much. As it turns out, compensation is about the same, although there are non-monetary benefits to acquiring and running your own business that McKinsey just can’t offer an MBA grad.

For post-MBA students, search funds are all the rage these days.

It may seem odd to “acquire” a company post-MBA but it’s becoming all the rage these days. Some of our former students who we helped earn admission to schools like the Stanford Graduate School of Business or Harvard Business School have started what are called “search funds” after the completion of their degrees. And what are search funds? They basically raise money from folks to seek out and ultimately buy an existing company to takeover. As one of our former students once told us, “I see myself more as a Sheryl Sandberg than a Mark Zuckerberg. I know what I’m good at. I want to take over an existing company and make it better, not start my own.” Fair enough!

So, to MBA students everywhere, perhaps it’s time to drop your case interview book in the dumpster and start your own search fund. After all, that’s what so many of the kids are doing these days and you want to stay on point, right?

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