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Why It’s in Your Best Interest to Write Your Common App Essay Before Your UC Essays

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For students who hope to submit applications to a range of colleges, including the UCs, we always recommend writing your Common App 650-word personal statement before your UC personal insight essays. (And for good reason!) 

Here’s why:

1) The Common App Prompts are Confirmed First

The Common Application prompts are usually confirmed in January or February each year, which means you can start writing your personal statement as early as spring of your junior year. The UC prompts, on the other hand, tend to be confirmed in the late spring or summer. We’re huge fans of the Common App releasing prompts early in the year, since this gives applicants plenty of time to brainstorm, draft, change their minds, draft again, and edit before the Common Application goes live on August 1st.

2) It’s Easier to Cut Than to Add Writing

If you’ve ever written an essay for English class, wiped the sweat from your brow, and went to submit your paper before realizing the minimum word count was double what you thought, then you know how much of a pain it can be to revisit a final product to add content. It is so much easier to cut down an essay than it is to flesh one out. And luckily for you, your 650-word Common App personal statement will be recyclable for one of the shorter 350-word UC personal insight essays. As someone wise once said, “work smarter not harder.”

3) Brainstorming for the Common App Will Help with Your UC Essays (but It Doesn’t Work the Other Way Around!)

While you brainstorm for your Common App personal statement, you will likely identify a few topics with potential. Ultimately, you’ll decide on one and draft a memorable, distinct essay that speaks to who you are as a person and who you hope to become. Then, when you sit down to brainstorm for your UC essays, you will already have detailed notes on potential topics from your initial brainstorming sessions that will work perfectly for one, two, or—if you’re lucky—three of the UC personal insight prompts. By keeping notes of your ideas for the personal statement, you will save yourself a ton of time down the road. It’s also worth noting that it’s just plain harder to brainstorm for your personal statement since the prompts are so open-ended, so tackling the UCs will feel like a walk in the park comparatively. 

Ultimately, your writing process is just that: yours. So, you should follow your instincts. We’re willing to bet, however, that you’ll be thanking yourself (and us!) if you follow our tried and true advice. Happy writing! 🙂

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