“Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.”
Responding to UC Personal Insight Question 2 (PIQ2) can feel dizzying. Many students find themselves wondering how to distill their multifaceted creative experiences into a focused and compelling essay.
Others read this prompt and immediately think: “But I’m not creative!” Don’t worry, that’s a common reaction, and it’s also likely not true. Everyone is creative in their own ways.
Whether you’re a STEM student exploring the intricate realms of coding or a humanities enthusiast crafting eloquent poetry, remember that creativity knows no boundaries. It’s all about embracing your individuality and leveraging your unique experiences.
Now, let’s dive into these six helpful tips to tackle UC PIQ 2 on creativity and create an essay that truly stands out.
1. Focus on Your Actual Creativity, Problem Solving, Innovative Thinking: A common mistake students make is leaning too heavily on “symbols” of creativity, such as being part of a drama club or orchestra. Instead of relying on your association with a club to tell the story, focus on a dramatic scene or complicated musical piece you mastered. Beyond commonly understood artistic activities, however, you could also demonstrate your genuine creativity, problem-solving skills, and innovative thinking in real-life situations. For example, one student wrote about a unique organizational system they used to keep track of a busy school and extracurricular schedule. Your creativity might shine in the way you find solutions to everyday problems or devise novel approaches in your academic work.
2. Focus on One Example: Avoid being too broad or generic. Pick one specific example that represents your creativity. It could be a project you worked on, an initiative you took, or an innovative solution you came up with. Take the case of the student who devised an unconventional coding solution during a hackathon. By focusing on this one incident, the student was able to delve into the story and provide details that capture their creativity in action.
3. Write about the “How” or Process: Describe the path you followed to manifest your creativity. This shows your thought process and how you approach problems. Maybe you came up with a new method to study for a challenging course or devised an interesting fundraising idea for a club. How did you go about it? What steps did you take? Discuss the hurdles you encountered and how you overcame them. In the previous example of the hackathon student, this writer could detail how they brainstormed for ideas, collaborated with team members, and iteratively refined their code until they arrived at the final solution.
4. Write about the “Why” or Larger Context: Contextualize your creativity by explaining why it was necessary and how it made a difference. Why was your innovative approach important? What prompted you to think outside the box? This will give admissions officers an insight into the motivation behind your creativity, which will give deeper insight into who you are.
5. Pull the Lens Back: Significance Beyond This Singular Instance: Although you’re focusing on one example, it’s important to show how this instance reflects your overall approach to problems. Your one-time creative solution shouldn’t be a fluke; it should be part of a broader pattern of innovative thinking. Connect this instance to other areas of your life, demonstrating how you apply creative thinking on a larger scale. For example, the student with the organizational system could discuss how this reflects their systematic approach to other tasks as well.
6. Make Sure Your Example Indicates Something Meaningful about You: The purpose of these essays is for admissions officers to get to know you. Make sure your chosen example doesn’t just illustrate your creativity, but also reveals significant aspects of your personality, values, or experiences. Are you a tenacious problem solver? A compassionate innovator? Ensure your essay paints a vivid and authentic picture of who you are. In the case of the student who won the hackathon, it wasn’t just about coding skills, but also about teamwork, resilience, and a passion for innovation.
Remember, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be creative. Your uniqueness is your strength. By embracing your version of creativity and articulating it effectively in your essay, you can leave a lasting impression on the admissions officers and make your application stand out. Good luck!
We hope these insights have provided students and parents with the guidance needed to craft a compelling response to UC Personal Insight Question 2. Remember, each child’s creativity is as unique as they are. Encourage your child to embrace their uniqueness, shed light on their creative processes, and showcase their innovative spirit.
Feel free to share this post with other parents who are also navigating this important journey with their children. We believe that by sharing resources and experiences, we can better support our children in their academic pursuits.
As we all know, nurturing a child’s creativity is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Let’s help them harness it to make their college application stand out.
Ready to guide your child on this journey?
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