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Oregon State University Application Essays

SAT and/or ACT

OSU-Cascades requires students graduating high school in the year 2011 and beyond to submit SAT or ACT scores.  Applicants for Fall 2016 should submit an ACT or an SAT that includes the essay portion (currently required as part of the test). 

Students applying to OSU-Cascades for terms after Fall 2016 can submit an ACT score, or either of the SAT tests - the current version that includes the mandatory essay portion, or the new 2016 version in which the essay will be an optional portion of the test.  OSU-Cascades prefers, but does not require the essay portion of the new SAT test that began being administered in March 2016.

Note: Only scores sent electronically from College Board (SAT) and/or ACT will be considered official and used for admission purposes. There is not an advantage to pay extra for "rush" scores from the testing agency, and in some cases may add to the time it will take to process the scores within our office.

The SAT college code for Oregon State University-Cascades is 4586.
The ACT college code for Oregon State University-Cascades is 6409.

SAT subject tests

OSU-Cascades requires students graduating from non-regionally accredited high schools and home-schooled students to provide scores from two SAT subject tests (Math I or II, and a second exam of the student’s choice).

Students who have 12 or more completed college credits in core subject areas (Math, Writing/English, Science) while pursuing their high school diploma will be considered as an alternative to the two SAT subject tests.

Insight Resume

OSU-Cascades seeks to look beyond grades and test scores to determine if applicants bring the necessary skills and abilities to be successful here.  Your answers to the Insight Resume, which is part of the OSU-Cascades application for admission, provides us with:

  • Understanding of you as a unique, contributing individual.

  • Your accomplishments, perspectives, experiences, and talents.

  • Your achievements within the context of your social and personal circumstances.

  • Participation in activities that develop academic, intellectual, and leadership abilities.

Additional Factors

  • Oregon State- University-Cascades is also looking for students who will lend educational and cultural diversity to our campus.  We are looking for students who go above and beyond the minimum whether in talent, academic ability or potential.  Combined with academic strengths, evidence of these characteristics may be considered in our review of applicants for admission.

  • Applicants who are ineligible to re-enroll at any college or university that they attended within the last seven years for student conduct reasons will be automatically declined admission at OSU-Cascades.  Applicants who are unable to re-enroll at a previous college or university for academic reasons will be considered for admission only if they meet OSU-Cascade’s minimum academic requirements.

Please note that academic performance is not the sole criterion for admission to the university. The university may evaluate a person's behavior and background to determine their ability to maintain the standards of academic and professional conduct expected at the university. An evaluation may take into consideration current behavior and performance as well as past experiences and actions.

GED Students

GED students will be considered for admission if they achieve an average GED score of at least:

  • 58, if taken prior to January 2002, with no subtest score less than 41

  • 580, if taken between January 2002 and December 2013, with no subtest score less than 410

  • 680 (total from 4 subject tests), if taken in January 2014 or later, with no subtest score less than 150

Students who take the GED test in the 1996-97 school year and later must pass two years of the same foreign language prior to admission. Foreign language taken at an unaccredited high school does not qualify. Additional ways to meet OSU-Cascade's foreign language requirement.

Non-cognitive skills and abilities demonstrated via a GED applicant’s Insight Resume (see above) are also considered in making admission decisions.

Applicants admitted on the basis of GED scores are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores, but scores may be considered if available.

Application Essays

You are encouraged to respond to essays to present the best application possible. We want to look beyond your GPA and test score to see what experiences have shaped you and what drives you to be successful. Essay responses are used in our comprehensive review process if you do not meet assured admission criteria, as well as for select scholarships. You are not required to submit essays if you meet OSU’s assured admission criteria and do not wish to be considered for all scholarships.

If you have already submitted your OSU application for admission and did not respond to the essays, you may complete them and submit them at a later date. Essays must be submitted by February 1 for full scholarship consideration.

Need help getting started? Check out our tips to crafting a powerful essay and example responses.

Submitting Responses

If you haven't previously submitted your application for admission, you will need to do so before submitting your essay responses. Submit your essay responses online. You will be prompted to log in to your application account. If you have questions about how to submit your responses, read our Frequently-Asked Questions.

Essay Questions and Instructions

Respond to two of the following questions using no more than 300 words per essay. 

  • Imagine a doorway appears in front of you. What happens when you walk through it? Describe the experience.

  • “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome,” Booker T. Washington said. Describe an obstacle you have faced and the actions you took to overcome it.

  • Describe a goal you want to accomplish and the requirements to achieve it. What specific steps will you take and what resources will you use to complete this task?

  • “I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail,” Muriel Strode said. Identify a specific way you hope to be a leader. How will your actions leave a trail for others?

Creative Supplement

You have the option to submit a creative supplement that displays your potential as part of your application. Please include 3-5 sentences explaining your concept and the mediums or tools used. Your submission could include, but is not limited to: an original song, piece of artwork, blueprint or fashion design. There is no negative impact on the application evaluation should you choose not to respond. This is an option for students who have a strong desire to present themselves through a creative component.

Before submitting a creative piece, please review the Creative Supplement Frequently Asked Questions.


Check out our frequently-asked questions or contact us at (405) 744-5358 or via email at admissions@okstate.edu.

Tips for Crafting a Powerful Essay

OSU is seeking students who will be active citizens and future leaders who will make a positive, meaningful and enduring difference to the world. We want to look beyond your GPA and test score to see what experiences have shaped you and what drives you to be successful. 

Use the tips below to craft your own powerful essay response so we can learn more about what makes you a leader and scholar.

  • Make it personal and be original: Be honest and authentic in your responses. Don't be afraid to discuss struggles or hardships that have led you to this point.
  • Demonstrate passion: Tell us what excites you. We love that our students are passionate about a variety of subjects and interests.
  • Write about what you know: You are the expert on you! Use anecdotes and personal experiences to frame your essay responses.
  • Take your time: It's important to take your time completing your essay responses. Submit your application and then submit your essays online at a later date. You will be prompted to log in to your application account. 
  • Edit and spell check: After you've written your essay responses, make sure to reread and review with a fresh set of eyes to make sure you're presenting yourself in the best manner possible for admission and scholarship consideration. 


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