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Every application season, students want to know if they can take the essay they wrote for their University of California application and use it for the Common App. It’s a great idea, right? The good, old kill two birds with one stone theory at work! And, yes, in the past, that was the way to go.

The Way It Was
For many years, the UC and Common App essay prompts were different, but only slightly. What’s more, the word length was basically the same. That was the ticket. It meant that the writing style was basically the same. A few tweaks here and there and—voila—two dead birds!

Now, Not So Much
The reason is mostly due to that pesky word length. Now, try to take a UC essay and paste it into the Common Application and guess what? You come up short…by about 300 words. Or, basically half your essay.

Some experts are advising students to do the reverse. Do the Common Application essay first and use it for the UC essay. It is easier to trim 300 words than create 300 brand new ones, right? Absolutely! But, if you take your Common App essay, cut 300 words, use it for your UC essay, guess what? You still come up short…now by about 1,000 words. Or, basically three quarters of your essay.

Wait! What?
Because the UC now requires a total of four mini-essays, making your one Common App essay fit one of the UC mini-essays only solves a quarter of your problem. You still need to come up with three more unique topics.

Bummer, I know!
Bottom line, if you really want to kill two birds, you’re probably going to need two stones.

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