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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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How to Write the Michigan State University Essays 2018-2019

Located in East Lansing, Michigan State University is a large public institution with over 50,000 enrolled students. Michigan State offers an education focused on bettering the common good and everyday life, while also providing research and study-abroad programs in popular fields such as business, agriculture, and engineering.


Outside the classroom, Michigan State boasts of numerous student clubs and organizations, including Greek life. The university’s strong performance in NCAA Division I athletics — especially in football and basketball — makes the high-spirited green-and-white Spartans nationally well-known.


Michigan State accepted around 66% from the applicant pool this past year. For applicants, MSU requires two personal statements, a task that may initially seem challenging. CollegeVine has prepared this guide to help you tackle these prompts with success!


Looking for another essay guide? Search our College Essay Guide Database to find additional essay prompts.


MSU Application Essay Prompts

Prompt #1: Difficult Situation

Describe a difficult or challenging situation you have faced. Briefly state the situation, how you responded and why, would you have done anything differently, did you turn to anyone for help, and if so, for advice, consultation, assistance, and/or encouragement? (200 words or less)

For those of you also applying to other schools, this question may seem very similar to the second Common Application prompt about overcoming a challenging experience. Essentially, the admissions officer reading your application wants to know how you deal with and grow from difficulty.


To write this essay, first brainstorm moments in your life, specifically challenging ones. Try to aim for experiences that troubled you at first, but you were able to overcome through your own efforts or with the help of others. This will display your capacity to face challenges, no matter how big or small, at Michigan State.

Some examples:


  • At the state championship meet, you lost your team’s relay; however, through perseverance, you trained with focus and determination, resulting in a comeback win the following year. This example shows that you are able to redirect a significant failure into a success with a growth mindset, revealing that you are capable of dealing with challenges in the future.


  • In your junior year, you failed the first biology test of the year. You feel as if your dreams of becoming a physician are crushed, so you give up. However, you ultimately seek extra help from your teacher in hopes of getting back on the right track. In doing so, not only do your grades slowly rise, but you also gain a newfound friendship. Although academics is a common topic to discuss, this example adds another element of depth by discussing friendships with teachers. This example shows that you use your resources to formulate genuine connections.

While the prompt asks for a statement that could potentially be large, the 200-word limit forces you to be concise and straightforward. Focus on three aspects in the essay: the challenge, the steps you took, and your reflection. Avoid including extra, unnecessary details. Overall, aim to write about a challenge that was significant to you and served as a defining moment for your personal growth.

Prompt #2: Unfair Treatment

Briefly describe a situation where you or someone close to you was not treated fairly. What did you do at the time and why; would you do anything differently; has it impacted or changed who you are today? (200 words or less)

Like the first prompt, this question helps to unearth more of your personality; this time, however, the idea is centered around the concept of justice. What do you believe is fair? How do you proceed to maintain it? If something unjust occurs, how significantly does it affect you? These are the questions you should consider when approaching this essay.


Similar to the previous prompt, this moment should have a heavy weight on your defining identity, regardless of how big or small the actual experience was. Essentially, this moment shaped the way you perceive, process, and deal with injustice.

Sample ideas:


  • One of your best friends comes out as gay in high school. For the most part, everyone accepts him for who he is; however, a handful of peers harass and bully him. Because it hurts you to see him treated so negatively, you decide to start an LGBTQ+ club, which allows members and allies to meet in a safe and welcoming space. Any experience you have with social-rights inequality work great here. In this specific idea, you are the one witnessing the injustice, and because you feel so moved, you actively decide to make a grand gesture at school.


  • At a debate competition, the judge allows the host’s team to unfairly enter the final round, automatically blocking your chances of winning. You know you deserved impartial evaluation, but are infuriated that this opportunity was taken away from you. Instead of letting your emotions commandeer, however, you respect that decision and exemplify good sportsmanship for the duration of the competition. This example works because your frustration towards the situation is evident. Additionally, your response — displaying sportsmanship and respect — shows that you are, first and foremost, a mature person.


  • You want to join in on some friendly football with your male friends, but they laugh and say, “But you’re a girl!” It is difficult to receive sexist remarks, especially from friends, but you do not just walk away. Instead, you join in and win with class, educating them that you can play just as well, if not better, as a woman. This example deals with the clash of gender roles, and it succeeds at displaying injustice. Your response illustrates that you do not give in easily to harsh words and that you successfully prove yourself to be a force to reckon with.

The 200-word limit can be difficult to follow, since this prompt is also a hefty topic. As such, be concise and follow this structural format: the unfair treatment, the response, and your reflection. Be critical of the unfairness, but also express a sense of appreciation for the experience, especially if it significantly impacted your identity. Show readers that you have had encounters with injustice and are ready to tackle them at your time at Michigan State University.


In these personal statements, if you’re honest and reflective, then your personality will shine brightest. We wish you good luck on these essays and a successful application process!


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