[This article is part of a new series where we will be dissecting each of the UC essay prompts in depth, providing examples and tips on how you can make your application stand out.]
Click here to read yesterday’s post about UC Prompt #5.
Prompt #6: Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
This is as straightforward of a prompt as you’re going to get in arguably the entire college application process. There’s no secret interpretation of this prompt; it’s literally just asking you to describe how you came to love and demonstrate your favorite academic subject.
If you had an immediate answer in your head after you read this prompt, this one is a must-write. If this subject is directly related to what you want to major in or your future career path, then this is your opportunity to show the UCs your expertise in this topic. Ideally, it’s a subject that you also excel at in terms of grades and connections with teachers.
Just because the prompt is very straightforward does not mean that your answer should be overly straightforward. Many students fall into the trap of writing something along the lines of, “My favorite subject in school is math, because it’s something I excelled in as a kid and then I continued to have great teachers…”
These are all generalizations about the subject that any student could theoretically say. It doesn’t help admissions officers believe that your interest in the subject is special or worth investing in. In other words, you must provide specific examples that show that you - and only you - have this unique path to why you love this subject.
If you want to give credit to a teacher for steering you to your love of this subject, it’s not enough to just say that you loved that teacher. Tell us what the teacher did specifically or what your relationship was like in detail in order to convince us that this was a special connection.
Moreover, we recommend that you choose a subject that you ideally have some sort of outside-of-the-classroom experience with in order to really stand out amongst your peers. Maybe you were lucky enough to have a related internship, maybe you tutored someone else in this subject, or maybe you started a club dedicated to this subject. Whatever it may be, you need to explain how it furthered your already extensive knowledge of the topic. Universities are looking for students who can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in the real world.
It’s also great if you include a little bit at the end about how you plan on pursuing this subject in the future. While the prompt doesn’t specifically call for it, it’s always good to remind UCs what you could potentially contribute to their campus.
How you might structure this essay:
An anecdote of a specific instance of you loving the subject, learning a particular topic, or making some intellectual realization
Explain the reason behind why the anecdote is important to your love of the subject
Maybe another anecdote that shows the progression of your relationship with the subject in the classroom
If you have out of the classroom experience, write another anecdote and explain how it furthers your interests
Reflect on how this entire academic journey shaped you as a person and how you plan on furthering it in the future
If you found this article helpful, stay tuned tomorrow for a discussion of UC Prompt #7!