Essays for Applications to University of California

The essays below, which are required by the University of California (UC) application system, successfully got him admitted into UC San Diego, UC Los Angeles, and wait-listed at UC Berkeley.

All identifying names have been removed as the owner would prefer to be anonymous

Prompt #1

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

A crowd slowly gathered beneath me as I mounted the last few steps. Despite their shouts, I’ve made up my mind clearly. Next thing I knew, I was free falling from this towering height.


When I was 5, my dad gave me a dull, aged coin. I would grip that magical metal in my tiny hands wherever I went, even to the washroom. Once, sitting on the toilet bowl, I stretched out my fingers to once again admire its glimmer. Suddenly, it slipped through my hand – “Ploop”. It sank to the bottom of the toilet bowl. Although it was just a 1 Ringgit Malaysia coin, I remembered how dad still insisted on fishing it out.

Since young, my dad has taught me to appreciate every cent the universe offers. He sent me to various financial management courses and trainings that only adults would join. Because of this, I was exposed to quite a bit of financial knowledge relatively earlier than my peers. There, I made friends who are even older than my dad. I learned my basics in stocks trading and multi level marketing through them. They gave me encouragement when I felt unconfident and would give me advice before I proposed my business ideas to my college societies.

Under their guidance and influence, I began to realize my dream for the future.


Jumping down from the tree house was an activity in one of the financial management camps. I was instructed to declare my financial goal to the universe before the jump.

As my feet left the platform, I knew exactly what I was going to say.
“I, [NAME], will be financially free in 17 years, 2035”

Prompt #2

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?

“Can I do this?” I asked myself. It was already challenging for the 16 year-old me to talk to strangers, but now, I have to bargain prices and close deals!

I started my own business when I was 16; it was named by extracting the first and the last 2 letters from my name – [COMPANY NAME].

Business Guru’s advice 1: Make obstacles into opportunities. (CHECK)
After receiving instructions from my experienced venture partner, I spent countless nights staring at the computer screen to produce a webpage. Back then, I didn’t know what Photoshop was, so most of the graphics were designed and edited using my childhood-doodling program – Paint. It took me one whole week to complete all the tasks that my venture partner had assigned. However, she told me that due to her overwhelming schedule, she wanted to quit. With little knowledge of the tricks and trades of doing a business and with no prior experience, I was left with nothing but a short sorry note and a 10-digit supplier’s phone number. I trembled during my first call to the supplier. Somehow, out of sheer luck, I manage to get a good price. Soon before I realized, I became friends with the supplier. The following deals were never had been easier.

Business Guru’s advice 2: Take one step at a time. (CHECK)
I learned the ways to attract customers through shadowing other competitor’s blog pages – the font they use, the system, and the psychology behind every detail. In one month, the RM22 Malaysian Ringgit bill from my first sale lied comfortably on my hand. Before this, I would not have believed that a high school student could generate money by starting his or her own business. Although RM22 is not a generous amount of money, it certainly has boosted my confidence and fueled the momentum for the second, third, more future sales.

Business Guru’s advice 3: Complete what you have started. (                )
[COMPANY NAME] Blogshop grew from bringing me a few ringgit to a few hundred in 5 months. It became a routine for me to constantly check my messages. Sometimes, I would even withstand my mother’s nagging and skip meals just to reply the emails and confirm the delivery statuses. The time I spent with [COMPANY NAME] was so ample to the extent that my younger brother was getting a little bit jealous. [COMPANY NAME] became the main focus in my life. From time to time, I would proudly share my happiness with my best friend, telling him stories behind [COMPANY NAME]’s “success”.

However, the “success” did not last long. With my parents demanding me to prioritize my studies and friends around me starting to revise intensely for high school examination (SPM), I chose to give up on [COMPANY NAME]. I thought that I could always go back to [COMPANY NAME] whenever I choose to, but it’d been 2 years now, and I haven’t.

[COMPANY NAME] was more like a friend than a business that I owned. Through knowing him, I learned to reflect on my mistakes – there were times when customers were not satisfied with my product, but [COMPANY NAME] taught me to respect every customer’s feedback and make every possible amendment that I can. Besides, through knowing him, I became a better negotiator, a better marketer and certainty, a better businessman. He taught me interpersonal values that were far greater than any of the business guru’s advices.

Even leaving him made me more conscious of my choices. I realize how inconsistent I was in handling matters in my life. He would still be here if I had say “one more step..” when I was on the verge of giving up. No matter what, I’ll make this an anecdote that I hold close and dear to when I start a new business in the future. Giving up is no longer an option. Till then, allow me to leave Business Guru’s advice 3 unchecked.

I would ask myself again. “Can I do this?”

Yes. Yes I can.

Links which you might find useful:

  1. More about University of California essays here

DISCLAIMER: The essays on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful essays look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good essays. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KIND. Plagiarism can have serious consequences so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.


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