Only First-Year/Freshman applicants are required to submit a personal statement as part of a Complete Application; other applicants are encouraged to submit a personal statement if they feel additional information would be helpful to outline their goals and qualifications.

Your personal statement demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want our reviewers to know about you apart from courses, grades and test scores? Your personal statement is your chance to answer this question.

Before you can submit your application, you’ll be prompted to type or copy/paste your personal statement into the application. The topics and instructions outlined here are the same for the Common Application and the CSU Application. Although transfer students are not required to submit a personal statement, they are invited to answer these questions in their academic explanation.

Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal, though your response must be at least 250 words. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

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 failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or an idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • 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 take to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.

Tips for writing your statement:

  • Thoughtful content and careful attention to quality writing can be compelling in admission and scholarship decisions.
  • Keep your essay focused on the topic you have chosen; this demonstrates your ability to organize your thoughts.
  • This is not a writing sample or academic paper, it’s an opportunity for us to gain insight into how you can contribute to, and benefit from, our community. Make it personal by conveying information specific to your experiences and perspectives.
  • 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.

Need more essay guidance?

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