One of my greatest talents in life is my capability for empathy. I have found I am able to calm friends and loved ones, and listen to their hardships and troubles in a way that makes them feel better when they’re finished. This talent has given me a lot of insight into the human condition, and is why I believe I will excel as a Psychology major in university.
I discovered my capacity for empathy quite by accident. As a young girl, I often found myself the one all of my friends would turn to for consolation or to get a load of their chests. Without mentioning it to each other, my circle of friends knew I was the “designated empathy,” or the person who could understand why they felt the way they felt, and tell them what they needed to feel better. This came without any training, of course, but instead seemed like a natural outgrowth of my personality.
One experience stands out in my mind as exemplary of this talent. In middle school, my best friend’s father died of a heart attack. My friend was devastated and didn’t answer her phone for days. I went over to her house after school and threw pebbles at her window until she invited me inside. She cried on my shoulder, sobbing about how she would never see her father again, or hear his stories, or smell his aftershave. She realized she would miss all the small things that a little girl never notices about her Dad until he’s gone. She thought she’d never be happy again.
I listened to everything she said, hugging her close and wiping away her tears. I told her she’d always have the memories, and that’s all any of us ever have. We talked all evening and by nightfall she was smiling again. I realized for the first time that I could help people out of their darkest places, and a Psychology degree could train me to do just that as a career.
The author of prompt #2 has an extremely touching story about helping her friend after the death of a loved one, and how that experience convinced the author that she could be a psychologist and help people as a career. The experience and stories are very moving and effective. However, the author goes in to too much detail with her anecdote and fails to give enough attention to the final part of the prompt. She wants to study psychology, but simply being good with people is not enough to fully relate her experience to her goals. She should have given multiple examples of why psychology is her true calling.
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Melissa, UC Personal Statement
Writer and Coach
University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017
(Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 2)
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.
If this prompt jumped out when you first read through the eight essay prompts for the University of California application, good chance you have a creative side.
And you should seriously consider writing about it.
Even if this prompt didn’t initially appeal to you, consider it anyway.
It’s not just intended for aspiring artists!
In fact, this could be perfect for future engineers, doctors, chemists, entreprenuers, writers, computer programmers, etc.—anyone who values original thinking and problem-solving.
Instead of your “creative side,” think about your “creative thinking side.”
As the prompt explains, creativity can be used in solving problems, as well in all types of thinking.
It’s all about ideas, and how you get them and use them.
I believe it’s a great essay to write for your UC application because you can show the admissions deciders how you think.
You can flash what is known as your “intellectual vitality,” a quality universities and colleges highly value among students.
Now, how do you write about your creativity as one of your four mini-essays, and make what you have to say interesting and memorable?
First, the UC has provided helpful sources for brainstorming each of their eight Personal Insight Questions (aka essay prompts.)
Here’s what they included with UC essay prompt 2:
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?
Read through these questions carefully, because the UC is telling you exactly what they want to hear from you about your creative side.
To me, it sounds like they don’t just want you to tell them you are creative and use your imagination.
They want to see you and your creative side in action.
Start by brainstorming some specific examples of “times” you were creative.
The best way to root those out of your past is to think of moments or experiences when you have faced different problems. (Problems can be: challenges, obstacles, mistakes, set-backs, flaws, changes, losses, fears, etc.)
Try to identify one particularly interesting “time” you used your creativity to solve or handle a problem, or come up with three different examples of times you used your creativity in various areas.
Think about times in school, or with friends or family, or involving your culture, or during one of your jobs, or playing a sport or an instrument.
Remember, your examples do not need to be impressive to be effective. No one expects you to have won a Noble prize or discovered a new planet.
Often, real-life moments from everyday, ordinary, mundane problems work best.
Also, think a little more about why creativity has value to you and in the world.
This UC Essay Prompt 2 indicates the UC wants to know how you believe your creative side will help you in whatever you think you are going to study in college. Include this!
To make sure you cover what they want, the UC provided an additional Freshmen Worksheet with more questions to help you dig up examples of your creative side:
Can you think of a time your viewpoint was unique compared to others? What was the issue or problem from your perspective? Now think of the same situation from the perspective of another person who was there with you. How was your approach different from that other person’s?
Was there ever a problem where your imagination and intuition guided you to the solution? Do you have a passion for music, theater, visual art, dance, etc.? What have you gained from it that has affected other parts of your life?
Here’s a sample to help you structure your UC Prompt 2 essay:
Sample Outline I for UC Essay Prompt 2
(One main example)
- Start by describing a problem (or couple small ones) you faced
- Explain how you used your creativity to handle or solve it (steps you took)
- Expound on how you developed your ideas and their source or inspiration
- Reflect on why you believe your creative side has value beyond that one problem
- Talk about how you envision your innovative thinking will help you in your future academic and professional goals
If you use your creativity mainly artistically, and want to use an example of a time you created something as part of your artistic expression or passion, make sure to include how that reflected your creative thinking.
The last thing the UC intends with this essay, I believe, is for you to spend your 350 words only describing something that you created, no matter how out-there or “creative” it was.
UC essay prompt 2 is a terrific opportunity to express your passion for anything in the fine arts, from painting and ceramics, to playing an instrument or acting.
Just remember, this essay is mainly asking about how you handle problems and how you think.
So it’s a good one for almost any college bound student—whether you see art or technology or politics or business or almost anything in your future..