Penn State Admissions Essay Prompts

As the open date for our Fall 2014 application approaches (September 1!), many of our interested applicants are starting to think about preparing for the online application. One of the questions we get most often is “What are your essay questions?” Well, for the general Penn State application, there are no essay questions!

Before you breathe a sigh of relief though, we do provide you with three spaces in the application for you to tell us a bit more about yourself. Though these written components are not required, we highly recommend that you take the time to write a bit more about yourself because it adds a lot of value to your application and it can help us make an admissions decision – especially for the most competitive academic programs and colleges.

The three written areas are: Activities List, Personal Statement, and Educational Gap Statement. Below are the questions we use as prompts.

Activities List Please use this space to discuss your activities (other than academic work) during the last several years (for example: school organizations, jobs, athletics, the arts, community service, religious groups, or other individual interests). We suggest a limit of 500 words or fewer.

Personal Statement  Please tell us something about yourself, your experiences, or activities that you believe would reflect positively on your ability to succeed at Penn State. This statement is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already reflected in your application or academic records. We suggest a limit of 500 words or fewer.

Educational Gap Statement If applicable, please explain any time that has elapsed between high school graduation and college enrollment. Please provide a summary of why that gap occurred and whether you took courses at another institution during that time. (Note: this gap statement will only appear within the online application and is applicable if you have taken some time off after high school and before starting college).

If you’d like to get a head-start before the application opens on September 1, you can begin working on these written statements to support your application to Penn State. You can read more about each section of the application on the Applying on the Web Worksheet (PDF).

If you are planning to apply to the Schreyer Honors College, that separate application features various written components, including 3 essay questions. Although the application for Schreyer is not available until September 1 as well, you can access the essay questions now and begin planning your answers. Unlike Penn State’s general statements, these questions do not have a word count requirement.

Happy writing!

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Penn State and the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia jointly offer the Accelerated Premedical-Medical degree program. The program is open to traditional students in their senior year who are applying for first-year admission--students who have already graduated from high school are not eligible

To be considered for this rigorous academic program, you must minimally:

  • Be in the highest tenth of your high school class
  • Earn a combined score of 1470 or higher on the SAT (Evidence Based Reading and Writing and Math sections) or a composite score of 32 or higher on the ACT from a single test date no later than October of your senior year
  • Submit a COMPLETE application (standard Penn State Undergraduate Admissions application along with the additional materials required for admission to the program) by November 30 of your senior year

Students who do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for the program.

Students seeking admission to this program must apply online using the Penn State application. Upon completion of the application, they will also have to complete all necessary questions and provide the additional application material requested.

Again, applications for this program must be received with complete credentials by Undergraduate Admissions no later than November 30 of a student’s senior year. Applications that are received or incomplete after this date cannot be considered for this program.

Complete credentials to support the application include the following:

  • A Self-Reported Academic Record, which includes all grades received through 11th grade and the senior year schedule
  • Class rank at the end of your junior year (exact rank is preferable)
  • Schedule of senior courses
  • Official SAT or ACT test scores from a single test date no later than October of your senior year
  • One-page résumé listing your most meaningful accomplishments and extracurricular activities during your high school years
  • One letter of evaluation from your guidance counselor or high school teacher
  • Required application fee

The Accelerated Premedical-Medical program is a seven-year program that begins in the fall semester at University Park. Admission decisions for this accelerated program are made by the joint admissions committee of Penn State and Sydney Kimmel Medical College.


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