Colleges That Require Personal Statements

A personal statement is a letter to the school that tells them more about you and explains why you are a good candidate for their college. It is essentially your sales pitch and can make or break an application. In some cases, private colleges require one as part of their application process.

Colleges That Require Personal Statements

California Institute of Technology

Caltech requires a personal statement and a statement of purpose.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has one of the most rigorous application processes in the country. In addition to submitting SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and transcripts, Caltech requires four specialized supplemental essays: a personal statement, statement of purpose, interest essay and career goals essay. The school defines these requirements as follows:

  • Personal Statement (required) — A personal narrative that helps us understand your motivations for applying to Caltech and how you might contribute to our community after graduation. You will be asked to share details about yourself including what makes you unique among other applicants in terms of background or interests; why you are interested in attending Caltech; what goals or aspirations you hope to achieve at Caltech; anything else that may help us get an idea about who you are!
  • Statement of Purpose (optional) — A short essay that explains more specifically why an applicant wants to attend Caltech? What do they hope their education here will provide them?

Cornell University

Cornell University

Cornell requires a personal statement, and it’s optional. The university doesn’t require applicants to submit one until after they’ve been accepted and the second semester of freshman year begins. The essay is limited to five pages, but it can be longer if you want extra space to explain yourself. In the end, Cornell’s application has no impact on your chances of getting in—it’s just another way for the university to get to know you better!

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College requires a personal statement for all applicants. Dartmouth does not specify the length of this statement, but it is likely to be more than 300 words.

Harvard University

Harvard University is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and is known for its academic rigor and selectivity. It is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the United States, along with Yale and Princeton.

Harvard was founded by Puritan settlers who sought to establish a religious community where they could practice their faith freely without persecution. The school’s first president was John Harvard, after whom it was named (the college took over his library).

The university has an endowment worth more than $37 billion—one of the largest among American colleges—and it awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its ten schools: Arts & Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering & Applied Sciences; Government & International Affairs; Law; Medical School; Dental School; Design School at Harvard GSD (Graduate School of Design); Public Health at BUSPH (School for Public Health).

Princeton University

Princeton University requires a personal statement to be submitted in addition to either the Common Application or the Coalition Application.

Stanford University

Stanford University is a private research university located in Palo Alto, California. The school was founded in 1891 and grants bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees through its nine schools. Stanford is a member of the Association of American Universities and has been consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the United States as well as worldwide by U.S. News & World Report.

The school requires applicants to submit personal statements with their applications for undergraduate admission or graduate programs at Stanford University Graduate School of Business Administration (GSB).

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a private research university in Notre Dame, Indiana. It was founded by Rev. Edward Sorin, CSC in 1842 as an all-male institution for Roman Catholic students. Today it is the largest Catholic university in the United States and also one of its most prestigious academic institutions with over 13,000 undergraduate and more than 11,000 postgraduate students from around the world studying at its two campuses: one located in Ireland’s capital city Dublin; and another located just outside Chicago on Lake Michigan’s shores which offers students an array of learning experiences through its famous football team “The Fighting Irish.”

Yale University

The Yale University application asks for a personal statement.

Yale also requires a secondary application. The secondary application is separate from the Common Application (which you will use if you apply with the Common App) and must be submitted by January 2nd.

Private colleges are more likely to require a personal statement.

You’re probably aware that private colleges are more likely to require a personal statement. But why?

The primary reason is that these schools want to get to know you as an individual and make sure you’ll thrive in their environment. The personal statement gives you a chance to show your personality and explain what makes you unique, so they can decide whether or not they can help develop your talents. It also gives them an opportunity to see what kind of writer you are—and remember, writing well is a skill!


We hope this list has been useful for you. If you are wondering about the personal statement requirements for any other colleges, please let us know in the comments below.

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