Sikhiya Help

 College Application & Personal Statement Workshop


University of California Application 

  • Before Applying:

Gather the following items:


Test scores

Annual income (optional)

Social Security Number

Citizenship Status

CA statewide school ID

Credit card


Think about the following experiences:

List of current and planned courses at school

Awards/Honors received

Volunteer experience (with dates)

Employment history (with dates)


Other clubs and activities

  • Personal Insight Questions
    • Pick four of eight “personal insight” questions, 350 words each
  • Scholarships
  • Application Fee: $70 per campus (unless you qualify for fee waiver – up to 4 schools)
  • DEADLINE: November 30, 2017


California State University Application

  • Essay is not required, but may be an option @ campuses defined as impacted/majors defined as impacted (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, San Diego State University, San José State) → Consult a campus admissions office
  • Individual application for each CSU campus
  • Application Fee: $55 per campus
  • DEADLINE: *varies per college

 Common App Application 

  • Essays: Pick one of seven essay prompts and answer it within 650 words
  • Supplemental Questions: Check whether schools have supplemental questions, as many do
  • Application Fees: Most schools have an application fee, ranging between $25 and $140
  • Fee Waivers: Those who meet certain financial hardship conditions can receive a fee waiver through the common app interface
  • Deadlines: Though most schools’ application deadline is in early 2018, you should submit your application as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance


Helpful Tips

  • Professional email address
  • Give your editors/mentors a week to give you feedback. Don’t rush at the last minute.
  • Remember: you are capable, smart, amazing young individuals. 
  • Emphasize personality, perspective on the world, and life experience

Establish a timeline for yourself. Here’s a suggested timeline – adopt it to your capacity/needs!

Example of a decent timeline! 

Oct. 7-14: Gather all preliminary application materials; decide which schools you’re applying to
Oct. 14-28: Write first drafts of Personal Insight Qs/ Personal Statement  Send to your mentor
Oct. 29-Nov. 5: Fill out non-essay application information – scores, classes, experiences, etc 
Nov 6-Nov. 12: Second round of essay edits; send to your mentor if needed
Nov 13-Nov 25: Finalize application, finalize essays
Nov 25: Turn in app!


Personal Statement/Personal Insight Questions

  • Opportunity to talk about parts of yourself that aren’t fully explained or palpable through your resume, transcripts, or test scores. 
  • Relevance: make sure you guide the reader through each story/experience & always point out why it should matter – to you, to your community, to the school
  • Don’t talk about other people’s experiences
  • Create a full narrative that connects all pieces of the puzzle (in your personal story)
  • When you talk about an experience, describe what you did, perceived/actual impact it had & how you learned from it - don’t just talk about how it affected others
  • Optional PS structure: Start with a story. Transition into 2-3 relevant experiences that showcase who you are. Address how you will progress with a degree from X University. Circle back to the story.


Personal Insight Questions:

  • Pick a different story or experience for each personal insight question you answer

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.  

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. 

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

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

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?

6.  Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. 

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

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

  • Topics 1, 4, and 7 are about your engagement with the people, things, and ideas around you. Consider the impact of the outside world on you and how you handled that impact.
  • Topics 2 and 6 are about your inner self, what defines you, and what makes you the person that you are. Consider your interior makeup, the characteristics of the inner you
  • Topics 3, 4, and 8 are about your achievements. Consider what you’ve accomplished in life and what you are proud of doing


Personal Statement Prompts:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a 

research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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