Are you California dreaming? Here’s what you need to know about those UC PIQs

October 22, 2021 • by AdmissionsMom

Some general tips about the UC application:

When creating your UC account, you should choose one email address and stick with it throughout the entire application cycle. School email addresses aren’t recommended due to how they tend to shut down after you graduate and the UCs may need to reach out to you the summer before you start college. Some school email addresses may also block the UC schools’ emails. Once you choose an email address, make sure to check your inbox and spam folders regularly for any important information.

Beginning November 1, you will be able to submit your UC applications. You have until November 30 at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time, regardless of which time zone you live in. This doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute. The UC website could crash, your credit card could have issues, your dog will get sick, your internet will go out, a thunderstorm could hit and knock a tree into your house, of course there’s always the potential for a zombie attack, or your computer could lag—it’s just not worth the risk.

PIQs are NOT essays. They are answers to questions.

I recently went to a UC info session and learned some great info about the PIQs. Here’s what they said…

  • PIQs are NOT essays. They are answers to questions.
  • They want NO style. To them, it detracts from your message.
  • Focus on Content; Make sense, not style
  • They want you to TELL – not show
  • Use your voice to answer the 6 W’s (who, what, when, why, where, and how)
  • Who you are, what you’ve you’ve done, and why you’ve done it
  • They are looking for: Clarity, Depth, Context

Here’s the list of what they do want:

  • EXAMPLES AND DETAILS: provide written examples that show a sense of who you are. Recent events are preferable as they’re closer to who you are today.
  • USE LOTS OF “I” STATEMENTS: the UCs use PIQs to learn more about you. Using “I” and “my” statements will help you better express your personality and accomplishments.
  • BE ORGANIZED: Your answers should have a flow to them. It should be easy to track the point you’re trying to convey. Make sure that your answers would make sense to someone that’s never met you before.

More things they say they want:

  • STRAIGHT UP ANSWERS: Just pretend like you’re sitting and having a chat with them and telling them like it is.
  • PERSONAL EXPERIENCES: They want to know about you, so share your life.
  • SELF-REFLECTION: Look within. Give them some commentary and analysis about why things are significant to you. Share the “so what?”
  • CONNECT THE DOTS: — explain the significance of the stories and experiences you’re sharing
  • ONE PARAGRAPH: Don’t do fancy formatting or bullet points. It doesn’t translate in the app.

Be sure to:

  • PROOFREAD AND EDIT: It’s important to double-check your answers before submitting them. While the UCs say that they won’t mark you down for any grammatical errors, those errors can be distracting to anyone reading your responses.
  • ASK FOR FEEDBACK: While editing, there’s always a chance that you may miss an error or two. That’s why asking someone else to look over your work can be helpful. Ask them to check for grammar, sentence structure, and flow.
  • RELAX: The PIQs are not the only piece of information the UCs use to review your application. Try your best and you’ll do great!

Here’s the list of things they hate:

  • TALKING ABOUT ONE CAMPUS: Your PIQ responses will go out to all the UC campuses you applied to. You don’t want to focus on just one school when they’re all going to be reviewing your application.
  • CREATIVE WRITING: Poems, cliches, etc.—the UCs would like you to get straight to the point.
  • QUOTATIONS: Whether it’s a famous quote or a song lyric, it’s a nope. All of the words you use in your responses should be your own.
  • GENERALITIES: Generalities aren’t very useful. They don’t help show who you are. Use specific examples about your experiences.
  • ACRONYMS: Not every acronym is as well known as you might think. It’s better to spell them out.
  • REPETITION: Don’t discuss things that can be found in other parts of your applications. Bring in new information

More Stuff They Say They Hate:

  • PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS
  • LITERARY DESCRIPTION
  • ATTEMPTS TO ENTERTAIN OR ADD HUMOR
  • HOOKS
  • BULLET POINTS OR OTHER FORMATTING
  • METAPHORS and ANALOGIES
  • DIALOGUE

Notes about the Covid Update

If you’ve experienced hardships due to the pandemic, don’t hesitate to share with them. They want to know about things like internet issues, whether or not you had sufficient space to work at home, your home responsibilities, outside jobs you might have needed to take to help support your family, and any Covid related illnesses you or your family might have experienced.

In particular, they want to know your grades, ECs, and activities might have been affected, changed, or adjusted.

Additional Comments Section

The additional comments section is a completely optional section with a 550-word limit. You can clarify information about an award or activity, talk about any circumstances you’ve faced, or discuss anything that you haven’t had a chance to talk about elsewhere in your application. However, you should not use this section to continue your personal insight questions. Be sure to check out their website for more information.

Resources

Be sure to go watch this video and read this info from the UC Apply site:

https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-freshman/personal-insight-questions.html

https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-transfer/personal-insight-questions.html

And here’s what UCLA says about how they evaluate freshman apps: https://admission.ucla.edu/apply/freshman/freshman-requirements/application-review-process

https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-freshman/personal-insight-questions.html

More places to go learn more:

https://admissions.berkeley.edu/personal-insight-questions

https://admission.ucla.edu/apply/personal-insight-questions

https://admissions.sa.ucsb.edu/virtual-admissions-events

https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-freshman/how-applications-are-reviewed.html

 

UC for You California residents will be held on October 28 from 6:00 —8:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Register now for this event! For more information, visit the event website. 

UC for You Non-California residents and International students will be held on November 6 from 8:00 — 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. There will be an optional application workshop from 10:00 — 11:00 a.m. Register now for this event! For more information, visit the event website. 

All UC for You programs will be conducted in Zoom and will be recorded. The access link for the live program will be provided in the confirmation email upon completion of registration. The link to access the recordings will be posted to the UC for You website shortly after each event concludes. 

Discover Berkeley Event Series

UC Freshman Applicant Checklist

UC ​​Application Tips

UC Application FAQs

Posted on October 22, 2021 in College Applications,College Essays

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AdmissionsMom started by giving advice on the subreddit r/ApplyingToCollege and has grown into a full-blown college admissions adventure with a blog, a book, and a College Visit Hub, College Vizzy. AdmissionsMom helps students and parents through the stressful college admissions process with tips on choosing the right school for YOU, learning to leave the pressure behind, and practicing mindfulness while learning more about college admissions and yourself.