“What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?”
So you’ve come across UC Personal Insight Question 3, which asks about your “greatest” talent or skill, and now you might be thinking, “How do I talk about my skills without sounding like I’m bragging?” or “Do I even have a ‘greatest’ talent?”
We get it, it’s a tricky one. But it’s important to remember that this prompt is less about the grandiosity of the skill and more about the journey of developing that talent or skill. In other words, this question isn’t just about what you’re good at, but more about your journey of getting better at it. And trust us, every skill, no matter how big or small, has its own awesome story.
We’re here to guide you on how to share that story in the best way possible. Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. Focus on the “over time” part of the prompt
Your UC admissions reader is especially interested in the progress you’ve made during your high school years. The admissions team is particularly interested in seeing how you’ve grown throughout your high school years. Have you been developing a particular talent or skill for two or more years during high school? If so, this is a solid foundation. The crucial part is to highlight the ‘over time’ aspect, illustrating the progress and growth in your chosen skill or talent. But remember, it’s not just about the length of time you’ve committed to an activity; it should be something significant that contributes to your profile.
2. Don’t forget the “how”
Most teens like to focus on “what” they did with this talent or skill. But the question isn’t really about your greatest talent or skill; it’s about your journey developing it. How did you hone your talent? Did you attend special classes, dedicate hours to practice, or find mentors? For instance, if your skill is origami, did you spend evenings watching tutorials and practicing folds? Or if you’re passionate about basketball, did you commit hours after school to dribbling and shooting hoops? This essay is a process essay, essentially a narrative about the development of your talent or skill.
3. Don’t forget the “why”
The ‘why’ helps provide context to your journey. Why does this skill matter to you? And why should it matter to your admissions officer? Let’s say you’ve been learning how to juggle as a hobby. You could discuss how it’s improved your hand-eye coordination, or how it’s a creative outlet that helps you de-stress.
4. Your talent or skill can fall into any category
Your chosen talent or skill can be virtually anything, whether it is connected to STEM, humanities, art, a personal matter (making omelets, for example), or even something seemingly trivial. You can also delve into soft skills like listening or community building. Your skill or talent could likewise be a hobby you enjoy in your spare time or something directly related to your intended field of study. The UC system appreciates a diverse range of talents and skills.
5. Delve into “the mechanics” of the development
Discussing the fine details of your skill development is like opening the hood of a car to reveal the engine. It’s about showing the intricacies and details of how you cultivated your talent. For example, if you’ve been developing your lab skills as an aspiring biomedical researcher, describe your experiments, the techniques you’ve learned, and the mentors who have guided you.
6. Don’t worry about being boring
Many applicants worry about their essay sounding dull. However, remember that this is a process essay. Your uniqueness shines through the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’ Even if you believe your talent or skill is common, your personal journey with it is uniquely yours. Trust in yourself and your way of going about things. Your reader is truly interested in your individuality.
To wrap up, remember that every person’s path of advancement in a talent or skill is unique, and it’s your story to tell. Even seemingly small passions can shine in this essay if they’ve played a significant role in your personal or academic development. So go ahead, start drafting, and remember, it’s your passion and dedication to your talent or skill that will truly make your essay stand out.
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