Ucla Personal Statement Transfer

The University of California
CHANGED its prompts
for transfer students
this year (2106)!

Read Strategies for the New University of California
Transfer Essays for the updated information on the new prompts.



(OUTDATED!!) Why You Chose Your Major: A Love Story

If you want to transfer into any of the University of California schools (UCLA, Berkeley, UCI, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, etc.), you need to write two college application essays. One is the same prompt that all students are required to write—which basically asks for a personal statement style essay. It’s known as Prompt 2, and I wrote “Personal Quality, Talent, Achievement…”  as a guide on how to write this essay in a narrative style.

Now I want to offer some ideas on how to answer the second prompt required for transfer students:

Transfer Student Prompt 1: What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement. 

Like all prompts, the first step is to break it down and understand what it’s asking, so you answer it. (Use this as a checklist after you have written it.) This has four main parts:

1. What you will major in at the U.C.

2. How and why you got interested in that field or subject.

3. Examples from your past that involved that field, and contributed to your growing interest or knowledge in it.

4. What you have learned up to this point about this field or subject, and any ways it has affected you (your goals, what you value, etc.)

In general, I believe this essay will be shorter than the other (personal statement.) You have 1,000 words total for these two essays. It’s up to you, but I would shoot for roughly 600-700 for the personal statement, and 300-400 for this one about your intended field of study.

Think about this essay as a type of love story: You will recount the story of how you first met or the initial attractions, and/or what sealed the deal between you (share some of the highlights of your developing relationship with examples), and why you are convinced you will stay together.

To grab your reader at the start, my best advice would be to start your essay with your most interesting example of either:

1. What first sparked your interest in this field or subject (A specific moment, experience or “time”).

2. An experience you had related to this field or subject where you learned something about yourself, others or the world that helped confirm or develop your interest in it. (Places to look: volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities…)

3. If you don’t have any remarkable direct experiences with this field or subject, find a core or defining quality that you have that has directed you toward it. Of course, try to include examples of real-life experiences where you developed this related core quality to illustrate your growing interest in this field or study. For example, if you want to study art. Maybe you don’t have a long list of specific art study programs yet, but you have had other experiences where you developed the arty qualities of being creative and expressive.

This is how you do not want to start your essay:

“My intended field of study at The University of California, Davis, is engineering. Over the years, I have developed a strong interest in this field and have participated in a variety of programs that have fueled my passion for engineering. Last summer, I worked at a company as an intern and learned many important skills related to computers and technology…”

Okay, this is an exaggeration, but you get the picture. Instead, pick one of those real-life experiences that either sparked your interest or helped you develop it, and start with that. This will engage the reader at the start, and also set you up to then explain the impact this experience had on you–what you learned about your field, how it challenged your thinking somehow, how you recognized that you were good at it (core qualities lined up nicely), how it made you feel about it in different ways, and that you enjoyed it.

Craft that moment into an anecdote, which is a way to relate a real-life moment using literary writing techniques. Anecdotes allow you to SHOW the reader your point as opposed to simply TELLING them about it. Put them in your shoes. Show yourself doing something related to your field or subject. Read these other previous posts to learn how to write an anecdote.

If you had an engineering-related internship or summer job, try to find a specific moment to share from that experience that illuminates your interest in this field. Start by sharing that moment, and how you felt about it, what you realized or learned, and go from there. Then you can work in other related experiences.

Basically, you are telling the story of how you fell in love with that field: How you first met, the moment you realized this was “the one,” other dating highlights, and how you have been changed and improved by this relationship, and your intentions for the future (Do we hear wedding bells? haha)

Sorry if that was an over-the-top metaphor, but maybe this will help you think about the order of your essay. Also, it is important to answer the fourth point about “what you have gained from your involvement” with this field. This is how I would wrap up the essay, and talk about how this field or subject matches who you are, what you care about, your passions, goals and dreams.


Check Out These Related Posts!

FAQs from Transfer Applicants

Here are the most common questions we get from transfer applicants who are planning to apply to UCLA.


Q: What is the next available term that I can apply to UCLA?

A: The deadline to apply to Fall Quarter 2017 has passed. The next opportunity to apply will be for Fall Quarter 2018; the application will be available in August.

Q: How do I apply?

A: You can fill out and submit a UC application on the University of California's admissions site during the filing period.

Q: Where do I send transcripts or letters of recommendation?

A: UCLA does not usually want letters of recommendation or transcripts for the admission selection process. Our review is based on self-reported information provided on the UC Application form. In the event that we would need anything like this from you during our selection process, we would request them from you specifically.

Exception: Applicants to the Film and Television major will need to submit two letters of recommendation as part of the supplemental application procedures.

Students who are admitted (and who intend to enroll) are required to submit official transcripts; instructions about where and when to send transcripts are included in the admission packets.


Q: How do I sign up for my admission interview?

A: UCLA does not have an interview process. Applicants to non-arts majors are reviewed solely based on information contained in their applications. (Applicants to Dance, Ethnomusicology, Music, or Theater will, however, need to audition—see below.)


Q: What should I say in my answers to the personal insight questions?

A: The personal insight question choices can be found in the UC Application. We use the personal insight question answers to learn more about you as an individual and to understand the experiences, accomplishments, and points of view you would bring to UCLA's undergraduate student community. The personal insight questions are just that—personal, and give you an opportunity to discuss attributes and experiences that may not be evident through a review of your academic record.

Link here for some basic tips


Q: I'm planning to apply to the Art (Architectural Studies, Design, Film and Television, Music, Theater, World Arts and Cultures) major for fall, what additional information is required?

A: Depending on your major, you will have to submit a portfolio or perform an audition (in addition to other requirements). Follow the links below for detailed information on supplemental requirements and how to complete them.

Q: Where do I get information on Financial Aid or scholarships?

A: Some scholarship information is listed in the UC Application, but most financial aid is dependent on the amount of money the school has for a particular quarter and the needs of the students attending. The first step in finding out whether you qualify for financial aid is to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form between January 1 and and March 2 for aid beginning in the following fall term. For more information, contact the UCLA Financial Aid Office.


Q: How do I get my past college coursework evaluated so that I have an idea of what college coursework is transferable to UCLA?

A: If you are attending a California community college, the Transfer Center at your school will have an articulation agreement that lists all courses that are transferable to the UC system. You can also review the articulation agreements online at www.assist.org If you are attending a UC campus, all courses among UC campuses are transferable. If you are attending any other four-year institution, we do not have articulation agreements between your school and ours. We suggest that you review the course descriptions from the UCLA General Catalog and compare it to the catalog from your school. If we offer a course that is similar in content to a course that you have taken at your institution, you will probably receive credit for that course here. We do not complete an official evaluation of transferable coursework until a student has been officially admitted to UCLA and transcripts have been received.


Q: What courses from my school would fulfill the transfer Math Requirement at UCLA?

A: Completing a math course that lists as a prerequisite Intermediate Algebra can fulfill the Math Requirement. Usually this can be a course in College Algebra, Statistics, Finite Math, or Calculus. Each school is different, so if you attend a California community college, check with your Transfer Center (or counseling office) to verify which course is acceptable. Or, you can view your school's articulation agreement online at www.assist.org


Q: What is the highest (or lowest) number of units I can transfer to UCLA?

A: When students transfer to UCLA, they must be at junior level. That means a student must have at least 90 quarter (60 semester) and no more than 129 quarter (86 semester)* units.

*Students transferring to UCLA from 2-year colleges get a maximum of 105 quarter units applied to their degrees. Therefore, a 2-year college transfer with more than 129/86 units will still be considered a junior.


Q: Can I apply to UCLA as an undeclared major?

A: No. Transfer students must apply to a specific major. One reason for this is that UCLA policy requires that all students declare their major by the time they reach junior standing. Another reason is that transfer applicants are expected to complete lower division preparation coursework for their intended majors before transferring.


Q: Can I sit down with a counselor and plan the courses I should be taking?

A: Unfortunately, due to the high volume of prospective applicants we are unable to sit down individually with students to help them plan future courses. All transfer students are reviewed in terms of the major they choose. Since admission is based on whether the student has fulfilled the lower-division preparation courses for that major, the major-specific preparation section of our Transfer Admission guide will give you an idea of preparation courses you will need to have taken before entering UCLA. If you are currently attending a California community college, you can also receive counseling through the Transfer Center at your school or review the articulation agreements (lists of transferable coursework from your college to the UC system) online at www.assist.org UC advisors visit most community colleges every year and offer counseling appointments to students. To sign up for an appointment and to verify whether a UC representative will visit your school, contact the Transfer Center at your community college.


Q: I'm an international student; do I need to take the ACT, SATs or just the TOEFL?

A: Transfer applicants do not need to take ACT/SAT exams. International applicants whose language of instruction is not English are also required to take either the Test of English as as Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

More on the TOEFL/IELTS

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