College/Narrative Essay

Doing it right!
UC Prompts:
• Prompt #1 (freshman applicants)
• Describe the world you come from — for example,
your family, community or school — and tell us
how your world has shaped your dreams and
• Tell us about a personal quality, talent,
accomplishment, contribution or experience that
is important to you. What about this quality or
accomplishment makes you proud and how does it
relate to the person you are?
Requirements for UC
• Respond to both prompts, using a maximum
of 1,000 words total.
• You may allocate the word count as you
wish. If you choose to respond to one
prompt at greater length, we suggest your
shorter answer be no less than 250 words.
• Stay within the word limit as closely as you
can. A little over — 1,012 words, for
example — is fine.
Other Prompts to Choose
• 1. "Do you believe there's a generation gap?
Describe the differences between your
generation and others."
• 2. "Indicate a person who has had a significant
influence on you, and describe that influence."
(Common Application)
• 3. If you could choose to be anyone for an entire
day, fictional or non-fictional, who would you
choose and how would this choice affect who you
are as a person?
What makes a great
• Stand out by being yourself: tell
about a trip, describe a community
service project, a political issue or
the significance of the sport you like.
• Details: use concrete evidence-show
not tell
• Tell a story-use adjectives!
• Think metaphorically
How long should it be?
• The main idea here is that it should
be long enough to be good.
• Unless otherwise required from the
university, your paper should be 2
pages in length, MLA, and typed.
• Two pages is standard
• Brevity is good, but make sure the
reader can get a feeling of who you
Qualities to emphasize
• Have a sense of humor
• Value diversity
• Notice little things
• Committed to an activity or idea
• Can overcome adversity
• Have initiative
Colleges want people who are
passionate about life and learning.
Think you are a finished product
Lack integrity
Tend to blame others
Write about NOTHING!
• Sometimes something small can reveal a
• Like “Seinfeld” or “Friends”-not a lot
happens, but we learn so much about each
– Remembering a letter the author wrote to the
president when she was six
– Buying a bottle of shampoo.
– Why the author likes bowling
– Bringing underwear to college
Five ways to shoot yourself
in the foot
• A phony life-changing experience
• Making everything peachy keen
• Social problem of the year
• Melodrama
• Quoting pop-lyrics
Favorite Things
• An article of clothing
• The groups in your school and where
you fit in
• A family gathering or tradition
• Your walk or ride to school
• Your favorite things
The introduction
• An anecdote: the most tried and true way
to begin is to describe an incident or event
that relates to your main point
• A Zinger: Some excellent writers don’t
need and anecdote. They may begin with
humor, wordplay, or some other creative
twist to grab the reader.
• Straightforward Statement: A simple
beginning is preferable to a failed attempt
at either of the former.
Dotting the I’s and crossing
the T’s
Lack of main idea
Weak verbs
Failure to use “I”
Double-Dipping adjectives
Too many simple sentences
Trusting Spell Check
Unwillingness to start over