Tips for Completing UC Berkeley's Fellowship Application (Form C and Personal Statement)

Tips for Completing UC Berkeley's Fellowship Application, Form C

  • Complete every field. If it does not apply to you, then indicate, "not applicable."
  • Obtain the most recent figures from documents that you have in your possession, such as loan or income statements.
  • Be thoughtful and accurate when completing the fields about your resources for the upcoming academic year.
  • Additional living expenses can add up quickly; estimate these carefully, and don't overlook relocation expenses.

Personal Statement Instructions

"The personal statement is required of all applicants who would like to be considered for university fellowships. This statement is an important component of your overall application. Please note that the Personal Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose (Form F). Please provide a statement about how your personal history or experiences have influenced your intellectual development and future goals. This statement can include a discussion of educational and cultural opportunities or of circumstances that deprived you of these; family background; economic circumstances; special interests and abilities; and community or social service involvement, especially as they intersect your academic goals and intellectual pursuits. If more space is required, you may attach another page."

You should not leave this field empty or defer to the statement of purpose if you want to be considered for a university fellowship.

The personal statement should focus on your personal background or experiences that have significantly influenced you or your goals. What does this mean? You should include aspects of your life that have been significant, but are not primarily academic. It is difficult to separate personal from academic neatly, but if the two intersect considerably, then provide the academic details in the statement of purpose and briefly refer to the situation in the personal statement. In the past, some students have been awarded a university fellowship by not addressing any of the items below, but it is uncommon and your application is more competitive if you do. Below is a summary of each part of the personal statement instructions, to assist you in understanding the directions:

  • "This statement can include a discussion of educational and cultural opportunities or of circumstances that deprived you of these..." Students have discussed: traveling and living abroad because a parent was a diplomat, feeling more international than American; growing up in a commune with parents who did not support higher education; having the support of parents who loved the arts and literature; being forced to attend a highly religious undergraduate institution in hopes of changing having one's sexual orientation changed; attending an inner city high school where few went on to college; or going to an all-girls college where pre-med was expected. All students have experienced significant factors that have influenced their lives, both negative and positive, and this is an opportunity to discuss them.
  • "Family background..." Students have written about: raising their siblings; having parents who were not educated beyond elementary school; leaving school to nurse a sick parent; having science-oriented parents; being the oldest of many siblings; growing up in a bilingual family; having parents who encouraged learning; being married with children and balancing graduate studies; or speaking a language other than English as their first language. In other words, if you have a unique or significant family background that has contributed to your intellectual growth, or a situation that you have overcome, you should consider discussing it.
  • "Economic circumstances..." Usually students address how their families or individual economic circumstances have affected their personal development. For example, students have written about: living in a barrio; working their way through undergraduate school; living with economic instability due to the illness of a parent; having financial hardship because parents were committed to providing services to others in a developing country; or growing up privileged, instilled with a passion for learning. The approaches students take are many, but they are in their own voice.
  • "Special interests and abilities..." Here we learn about students' passions that may or may not be related to academics. Students have addressed: their devotion to ballet or ice skating; a love of the outdoors; a passion for reading or the arts; enjoyment of writing for a student magazine; and experiences traveling abroad.
  • "And community or social service involvement, especially as they intersect your academic goals and intellectual pursuits." This part can be tricky because all community or social service involvement is not necessarily connected to one's academic or intellectual pursuits. If your service has informed or enriched your academics or intellectual activities, then connect them. However, there are many service opportunities that are simply enriching because of the people you've interacted with, because of the service you offered, or because of a deep satisfaction the experience provided. Simply put, if you have had a deeply fulfilling service activity, discuss it.

There is also information that should not be included in the personal statement. Although an individual may have experienced a deeply troubling personal incident, such as rape or incest from which they have emerged stronger, it is not appropriate to provide too much detail. Also, sex and drugs in general are taboo. Be careful what you discuss in the personal statement. The Graduate Division would like to learn about your background as it has contributed to your personal growth, but please do not provide too much detail of very sensitive, private matters.