Only First-Year/Freshman applicants are required to submit a personal statement.

The topics and tips outlined below are the same for the Common Application and the CSU Application. You’ll be prompted to type or copy/paste your personal statement into your application before you can submit.

Personal statement prompts:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice that helps us better understand who you are and what you’ll bring to our community.

Tips:

  • Thoughtful content and careful attention to quality writing can be compelling in admission and scholarship decisions.
  • Demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts by keeping your essay focused on the topic you’ve chosen.
  • This is not a writing sample or academic paper, it’s an opportunity for us to get to know you. Make it personal by sharing information specific to your experiences and perspective.
  • Be sure the words are your own and (appropriately) reflect your personality. We want to get to know YOU, so use a “voice” that’s authentic.
  • Plagiarism is grounds for immediate rejection of your application.
  • Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal, though your response must be at least 250 words.

Need more essay guidance?

Take a look at seven top tips from CSU admissions counselors.