Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Common App Personal Statement Prompts - 2024

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Personal Statement Prompts

Are you a student on a mission to secure your dream college or snag a life-changing scholarship? 

Well, hold onto your hats because we're about to take you on a journey that could make all the difference. 

In this guide, we'll look into the personal statement prompts. These prompts hold the keys to unlock doors to your dream schools, jobs, and opportunities. We will also discuss the examples and tips that will help you craft a personal statement that stands out from the crowd. 

So, let’s dive in!

On This PageArrow Down

  • 1. What is a Personal Statement
  • 2. Personal Statement Prompts 2023-2024
  • 3. Top-Ranked Personal Statement Prompts
  • 4. Personal Essay Prompts High School
  • 5. Personal Statement Prompts For College
  • 6. Personal Statement Prompts Graduate School
  • 7. Personal Statement Prompts UC
  • 8. Personal Statement Prompts Law School
  • 9. Past Personal Statement Prompts
  • 10. Common App Essay Examples 

What is a Personal Statement

A personal statement is a written essay or statement of purpose that applicants submit as part of a college or job application. It typically highlights one's background, experiences, goals, and reasons for applying to a particular program or position.

What is a Personal Statement Prompt

A personal statement prompt is a question or topic provided by the institution or employer, which serves as a guide for applicants to address in their personal statement. It helps the applicant focus their essay on specific aspects of their background and aspirations relevant to the application.

Common Types of Personal Statement Prompts

Personal Statement Prompts come in various forms, tailored to different application scenarios. Here are some common types:

  • Educational Prompts: These prompts are often used in college and university applications. They may ask you to discuss your academic achievements, career goals, or the reasons for choosing a particular course of study.
  • Career or Job Application Prompts: When applying for a job, you may encounter prompts that ask about your professional experience or skills.
  • Scholarship Application Prompts: They typically focus on your achievements, aspirations, and the impact of financial support on your educational journey.
  • Personal Growth Prompts: Some prompts dive into your personal growth, asking about challenges you've overcome or lessons learned.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Prompts: These prompts may inquire about your experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion. They encourage you to share your unique perspective on these topics.

Personal Statement Prompts 2023-2024

Here are the Common App essay prompts for 2023-2024 application cycle.

  • Share a significant aspect of your background, identity, interest, or talent that you believe is indispensable to your application. Explain why it's essential.
  • Describe a time when you confronted a challenge, setback, or failure and elaborate on how it influenced your personal growth and learning.
  • Recall a moment when you questioned or contested a long-held belief or idea. What prompted this introspection, and what resulted from it?
  • Reflect on an instance when someone's unexpected act of kindness brought happiness and gratitude into your life. How did this experience impact you and your motivation?
  • Narrate an achievement, event, or realization that ignited a period of self-discovery and a deeper understanding of either yourself or those around you.
  • Share a topic, idea, or concept that captivates you to the extent that time seems to stand still. Explain what draws you to it and who or what serves as your source of knowledge in this area.
  • Compose an essay on a topic of your choice. This can be a piece you've previously written, a response to a different prompt, or an entirely self-generated concept.

Top-Ranked Personal Statement Prompts

Here are prompts that are often considered effective and may be applicable to a wide range of personal statements:

  • Share a personal story that demonstrates your resilience in the face of adversity and how it has shaped your character.
  • Describe a time when you challenged a belief or idea, and explain how it transformed your perspective.
  • Reflect on a significant accomplishment or achievement and discuss the lessons you learned from the experience.
  • Discuss a person, book, or experience that has had a profound influence on your life and explain how it has impacted your goals and values.
  • Explore a time when you collaborated with others to achieve a common goal and discuss what you learned about teamwork and leadership.
  • Describe a problem or challenge you've encountered and how you used critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address it.
  • Reflect on a personal passion or hobby and explain how it has contributed to your personal growth and development.
  • Share a moment of personal growth or self-discovery and discuss how it has shaped your aspirations and future plans.
  • Discuss your long-term goals and explain how the institution or program you're applying to aligns with your academic and career objectives.
  • Reflect on your cultural background or identity and discuss how it has influenced your perspective and your contributions to a diverse community.

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Personal Essay Prompts High School

  • Describe a moment in your life that significantly changed your perspective or shaped who you are today.
  • Reflect on a challenge you faced and discuss how you overcame it, what you learned, and how it influenced your growth.
  • Write about someone who has had a profound impact on your life and explain the lessons you've learned from them.
  • Share a personal project or hobby that you are passionate about and explain its significance in your life.
  • Discuss an experience that opened your eyes to the importance of diversity and inclusion in your community or school.
  • Narrate a memorable trip or journey and how it influenced your perspective on the world.
  • Explore the differences or similarities between your generation and that of your parents or grandparents, and how these have shaped your values.
  • Reflect on the values that are most important to you and discuss how they guide your decisions and actions.
  • Analyze a book, movie, or song that has had a profound impact on your life and explain why it resonated with you.
  • Share your dreams and aspirations for the future, and discuss how your high school experiences are shaping your path forward.

Personal Statement Prompts For College

  • Reflect on a time when you had to navigate a complex ethical dilemma. How did you approach the situation, and what did you learn from it?
  • Share an experience that showcases your creativity and innovation. What inspired your idea, and how did you bring it to life?
  • Discuss an extracurricular activity or community service involvement that has been particularly meaningful to you and explain why it's important in your life.
  • Describe a moment when you had to step out of your comfort zone, whether academically, socially, or personally. What motivated you to do so, and what were the outcomes?
  • Reflect on a failure or setback you've experienced. How did you respond to the challenge, and what did you gain from the experience?
  • Share a cultural tradition or event that is significant to your background. How has this influenced your identity and perspective?
  • Discuss a book, film, or piece of art that has had a profound impact on your thinking. How did it shape your worldview and your interests?
  • Consider a time when you collaborated with individuals from diverse backgrounds. What did you learn about cross-cultural communication and cooperation?
  • Describe a future problem or challenge you're passionate about addressing and explain why. How do you envision making a positive impact in this area?
  • Reflect on a specific moment when you made a mistake and then took steps to rectify it. What did you learn about accountability and personal growth from this experience?

Personal Statement Prompts Graduate School

  • Describe your specific research interests and how they align with the faculty and research opportunities at our graduate program.
  • Reflect on a time when you encountered a significant academic or professional challenge and explain how you overcame it, highlighting the skills you developed.
  • Discuss a recent development or breakthrough in your field of study and its implications. How do you see yourself contributing to this area of research?
  • Share a significant professional achievement that demonstrates your qualifications for the program. What impact did this achievement have on your career goals?
  • Explain your motivation for pursuing this graduate program and your long-term career objectives. How does this program fit into your overall plan?
  • Describe a mentor or influential figure who has played a pivotal role in your academic or professional journey. What lessons did you learn from them?
  • Discuss any relevant volunteer or community service work you've undertaken and how it connects to your graduate studies and your personal development.
  • Reflect on a current issue or challenge in your field and propose a solution or research direction. How do you plan to contribute to addressing this issue?
  • Discuss any interdisciplinary experiences you've had and how they have influenced your approach to research or your professional aspirations.
  • Explain how your personal background, experiences, or cultural identity have shaped your perspective and your potential contributions to the diversity of the graduate community.

Personal Statement Prompts UC

The University of California (UC) system typically has its own set of personal statement prompts for undergraduate admissions. Here is a list of uc essay prompts that have been used in the past:

  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

Things to Consider: When responding to this prompt, think about specific instances where you demonstrated leadership, such as in a club, sports team, or community group. Consider how you influenced and inspired others, resolved conflicts, and contributed to the group's success. Highlight the qualities and skills that make you an effective leader.

  • Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Things to Consider: Discuss your creative talents and how they've been expressed. This could be through writing, art, music, problem-solving, or any other creative avenue. Reflect on how your creativity has influenced your personal growth and your contribution to your community.

  • What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Things to Consider: Identify your greatest talent or skill and provide examples of how you've developed and demonstrated it over time. What challenges have you faced in honing this skill, and how have you overcome them? Show how this talent sets you apart.

  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to Consider: Share an instance where you've encountered educational barriers and explain how you've tackled them. Discuss the impact these challenges had on your academic journey and what you've learned from overcoming them. Emphasize your resilience and determination.

  • Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to Consider: Reflect on the most significant challenge you've faced and the steps you took to conquer it. Explain how this challenge affected your academic performance and personal growth. Focus on the lessons you've learned and how they've shaped you.

  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Things to Consider: Discuss how you've made a positive impact on your school or community. Highlight specific actions, initiatives, or projects you've been involved in and explain why they were meaningful. Consider how your contributions have improved the lives of others.

  • Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?

Things to Consider: Beyond what's already included in your application, think about what makes you unique and valuable to the UC system. What qualities, experiences, or skills make you stand out as a strong candidate? Focus on your individuality and potential contributions.

  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Things to Consider: Explore an academic subject that truly inspires you and has had a significant impact on your educational journey. Describe how you've pursued this interest both inside and outside the classroom. Discuss how it's shaped your intellectual growth.

  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Things to Consider: Share how you've worked to make a positive change in your school or community. Explain the specific actions you've taken, the goals you've achieved, and the lasting effects of your efforts. Reflect on your commitment to service and leadership.

  • An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who you are today?

Things to Consider: Think about significant educational challenges you've faced and how you've surmounted them. Discuss the personal qualities, skills, and experiences that have helped you overcome these barriers. Emphasize how these experiences have shaped your identity and prepared you for college.

Personal Statement Prompts Law School

Here are some law school personal statement prompts that may help you prepare an effective statement:

  • Describe a specific event or experience that sparked your interest in the law and influenced your decision to pursue a legal education.
  • Reflect on a legal issue or case that you feel passionately about and explain how it has motivated you to study law and advocate for change.
  • Discuss a personal or professional challenge you've faced that has prepared you for the demands of law school and a legal career.
  • Share a unique perspective, background, or life experience that you believe will contribute to the diversity and richness of the law school community.
  • Explain how you have demonstrated your commitment to social justice, advocacy, or public service and how this aligns with your pursuit of a legal education.
  • Discuss a legal or ethical dilemma you've encountered and how you resolved it, demonstrating your ethical reasoning and decision-making abilities.
  • Describe a significant achievement, project, or initiative that highlights your leadership and problem-solving skills, and discuss how these skills will benefit you in law school and beyond.
  • Reflect on your long-term career goals in law and how the law school you're applying to can help you achieve them.
  • Discuss your dedication to a particular area of law, such as criminal law, environmental law, or international law, and explain why this field is important to you.
  • Explain why you believe the law school you're applying to is the ideal place for you to pursue your legal education, taking into account its programs, faculty, and resources.

Past Personal Statement Prompts

Here are some past personal statement prompts:

  • Share an essay about a talent that is so meaningful to you, it sounds like you. How has this talent been fundamental to your personal growth and later success?
  • Recount a time when you faced a challenge or setback that was fundamental to your later success. How did you respond to this obstacle and what did you learn from it?
  • Respond to a different prompt, and tell us about an encounter that can be fundamental to your college essay. Share your story of personal growth and how this experience has shaped you.
  • Recount a period of personal growth when you faced a challenge that you initially thought would cause you to lose all track. How did you overcome it and why was it meaningful to your application?
  • Share an essay about a talent that is so meaningful to you, it sounds like you. Explain how this talent has been fundamental to your success, whether in academics, extracurricular activities, or personal pursuits.
  • Recount a time when you faced a challenge or setback that was fundamental to your personal growth and development. How did you respond to this obstacle and what did you learn from it?
  • Respond to a different prompt, and tell us about an encounter that can be fundamental to your college essay. Share your story of personal growth, and explain how this experience has shaped your goals and aspirations.
  • Recount a period of personal growth when you faced a challenge that you initially thought would cause you to lose all track. Discuss how this challenge became meaningful to your application and how you emerged stronger.
  • Share an essay about a talent that is so meaningful to you, it sounds like you. Describe how this talent has been fundamental to your success and how it has contributed to your unique identity.
  • Recount a time when you faced a challenge or setback that was fundamental to your personal growth and later success. Reflect on the lessons learned and how this experience has shaped your path to college.

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Common App Essay Examples 

The best way to learn how to address different prompts is to read a range of good personal statement prompt examples and get an idea for the overall writing and structure. For your help, below we have provided a great example for you to not go wrong when writing your own personal statement. 

For more examples check out our “personal statement examples” blog. 

Wrapping Up!
These prompts for 2023-2024 represent a vital opportunity for applicants to present their unique qualities and aspirations. Hopefully, the above list will help you in deciding on the idea on which your personal statement should be written. 

Regardless of which prompt you choose, it is important to answer all the questions. If you have written your personal statement on a topic of your choice, ensure your essay represents a broader picture.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long is the Common App Essay

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The Common App essay word limit is 650 words,  which means that your essay should be no longer than 650 words in total. It's important to adhere to this limit to ensure your essay is within the application requirements. 

Can I Use the Same Personal Statement For Multiple Colleges?

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Yes, you can use the same personal statement for multiple colleges if the prompts align. However, it's often best to tailor your essay to each institution's specific requirements.

Is it Okay to Write About a Sensitive Or Controversial Topic in my Personal Statement?

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Yes, it's acceptable to write about sensitive or controversial topics, but do so thoughtfully and with respect. Ensure your essay reflects your maturity and ability to handle such subjects.

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Cathy A.

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Cathy A.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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