New for fall 2013, the academic personal statement portion of the freshman application is optional. Meaning, you, “the applicant,” get to decide whether or not to submit a personal statement along with your application.

Now, before you start making plans for what to do with all of the extra time on your hands that you won’t be spending writing your personal statement, of course, there’s a catch. You have the opportunity to enhance your application by submitting your optional academic personal statement!

Last fall, the middle 50 percent of students admitted had ACT scores between 22 and 26 and GPAs from 3.1 to 3.79. If you fall in the lower end of either of those ranges, we recommend you submit a personal statement with your application.

So, how will this essay that you’re not sure you want to write help you get accepted to ISU?

Well, hopefully, it will give us some information about you that we can’t get from your transcripts and standardized test scores. Maybe there’s a reason your grades dropped so dramatically your junior year or you’ve really started to turn things around academically as you look forward to college.

Basically, we’ll be asking you to give us a 500-word statement in which you:

  • State why you feel Illinois State University is a good fit for your educational goals.
  • Identify and explain your academic strengths and weaknesses.
  • Explain any circumstances which affected your high school academic performance, if applicable.

Read this prompt carefully and really think about your answers before you start writing. Use your answers to compose a cohesive, well-organized essay that tells your story as a student. Tell us something we can’t see from the rest of your application. Be truthful about your experiences and what you are looking for at ISU. Don’t forget to revise and proofread your finished statement! Spell-check doesn’t catch all mistakes, so you may want to have a friend or family member look it over for you.

One last note on whether or not you should do a personal statement: if you submit a statement and don’t really need to, it won’t negatively impact your application. When in doubt, submit the personal statement!