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University of Southern California (USC) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Action: Nov 1

Regular Decision Deadline: Dec 1

You Have: 

University of Southern California 2023-24 Application Essay Questions Explained 

The Requirements: 2 or 3 essays (depending on major selection) of up to 250 words; 2 short-answer lists.

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Oddball , Short Answer , Community

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 word limit)

This is USC’s take on the classic Why essay. In asking how you plan to pursue your interests, admissions is really trying to suss out your core reasons for choosing USC. While college will offer you a wealth of social and professional opportunities, its primary function is academic — and your primary role is as a student. So, what kind of student do you hope to be? Where do you hope your studies will take you? What resources and opportunities does USC offer that will meet your needs and guide you towards your goals?

To answer these questions, set aside an hour or two to pore over the USC website (there’s no hack, you’ve just got to put in the time). Beyond the basic departmental listings, look up information about news and research coming out of your department, the kinds of courses available, the opportunities that other undergrads have had studying in your area of choice. Even if you have a wide array of interests, consider explaining how two to three departments might complement each other or foster your interest in a larger idea or theme. Your ultimate goal is to show that your interest in USC (just like your intellectual curiosity) runs deep!

Describe yourself in three words (25 characters).

Your answers do not need to be so outlandish that admissions needs a thesaurus to look them up, but they should avoid the generalities that so often populate these questions: loyal, kind, smart… you get the idea. We’re sure you are all of these things — and they are lovely qualities to showcase in the stories you tell elsewhere in your other written responses — but these sorts of terms can ring hollow. Think about how different people in your life would describe you. Though this assignment is short, you may need to spend some time wordsmithing different combinations. When the prescribed format is a list, order matters just as much as content, so use every element of the assignment to your advantage!

The following prompts have a 100 character limit:

What is your favorite snack, best movie of all time:, if your life had a theme song, what would it be, dream trip:, what tv show will you binge watch next, which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate, favorite book:, if you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be.

Behold! USC’s attempt at being quirky! You’ve been limited to less than the length of a tweet for each answer, so you’d better make every word (and character) count! These prompts don’t have time for generalities or gentle introductions, so you’ll have to cut straight to the point. The more specific your words are, the more memorable your answers will be. Favorite snack? Don’t just say, “popcorn and Junior Mints.” How about, “A box of junior mints melting over hot popcorn as I watch a horror movie” (72 characters). If you can paint a funny picture or display a knack for wit, take this chance, but don’t force it. You also don’t exactly have to think of this as filling in the blanks, but more as filling in any blanks in your application. Anything that doesn’t feel like it merits a full essay can go here as a tweet, hot take, punchline, or elegantly-worded sentence.

USC Dornsife Applicants: Please provide an essay of no more than 250 words on the topic below. In your response, we encourage you to write about something that you haven’t already discussed elsewhere in your application.

For more information, please click here ., many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about – a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. if you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about (250 words).

We at CEA love this question because it’s a unique way of asking applicants: what do you care about and why? What’s important to you? What information do you wish other scholarly minds had access to? Start by making a list. Maybe you’d like to use your ten minutes to speak about media literacy and how we can and should consider what we see online through the lens of the powers that dictate how and when we receive information. Perhaps you’d want to spread the word about the dangers of climate change and the irreversible impact it will have on the planet if we don’t take action swiftly. What keeps you up at night? What kind of positive effect do you want to have on the world? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when brainstorming for this prompt. Bonus points if you can speak to how a USC Dornsife education will prepare you to address this issue head-on in the future! 

USC Viterbi Applicants:

The student body at the usc viterbi school of engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. describe how your contributions to the usc viterbi student body may be distinct from others. please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. (250 words).

USC Viterbi School of Engineering wants to accept students who will contribute to diversity on campus. When considering an aspect of your identity or background to expand upon, we recommend choosing one that has had the biggest impact on the way you experience and interact with the world. Ideally, the unique aspect you select should come with a couple anecdotes. Maybe you want to write about your experience as a person living with a disability and how this has shaped your interest in engineering, design, and accessibility. Perhaps you embody #BlackGirlMagic and will bring a fresh perspective to a field in which women of color are underrepresented. Regardless of the part of your identity you choose to address, be specific about how it impacts your worldview and how it will add a distinct perspective to USC Viterbi.

The Engineering Grand Challenges (for USC Viterbi Applicants):

The national academy of engineering (nae) and their 14 grand challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. learn more about the nae grand challenges at http://engineeringchallenges.org and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why. (250 words).

Strong responses to this prompt will showcase self-reflection, care for the greater good, and ambition. Review the fourteen Grand Challenges and see which you connect with the most. Maybe you’re passionate about providing access to clean water, since you know firsthand what it’s like to not have that access in your hometown in Michigan. Perhaps you hope to engineer better medicines in honor of a loved one you lost to illness prematurely. Maybe you’ve always been fascinated with outer space and would jump at the opportunity to engineer new tools of scientific discovery. Make sure to relate your own life experiences and/or interests to the challenges the world is facing and emphasize how you’d like to be part of the solution.

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First-Year Students

Each year more than 50,000 of the most talented high school seniors in the country and from all over the world apply to usc. we are proud of the quality, diversity and uniqueness of these applicants. we welcome you to apply..

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“I chose USC because there is no better place to study the impact of digital media on entertainment... The support here is unbelievable.”

Dates and Deadlines

Early action (ea) vs regular decision (rd).

Applying by the Early Action (EA) deadline enables you to plan for college earlier, should you be accepted during this round of application reviews. It also ensures that you will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships . Early Action (EA) is non-binding, non-restrictive, and is not available for majors requiring a portfolio or audition. Students choosing to apply under USC’s Early Action (EA) plan will need to submit their application materials earlier in the process but will receive an admission decision (or deferral to Regular Decision) sooner than Regular Decision applicants.

We recommend this option for those who have thoroughly researched their college options and have settled on USC as their top choice. We estimate that 20-25 percent of our admission spaces will be granted during the EA round.

Please note that applicants to the World Bachelor in Business program must apply Early Action.

USC’s Regular Decision (RD) plan follows a more traditional timeline: If you submit your application by December 1 or January 15, depending upon major, you will receive a decision by April 1.

Students who wish to have more time to fill out their application, or those who wish to have their records for the fall semester of their senior year included as part of their application, may wish to wait until the Regular Decision (RD) deadline.

The following programs do not participate in Early Action:

Iovine and Young Academy Kaufman School of Dance Roski School of Art and Design School of Architecture School of Cinematic Arts School of Dramatic Arts Thornton School of Music

Students applying to these schools must submit their application materials by December 1 to be considered for admission and USC Merit Scholarships. Please refer to the Regular Decision deadlines for more information.

Early Action

Applicants selecting Early Action will be notified of their admission or deferral to Regular Decision in mid- to late January 2024.

Application Deadline: November 1, 2023

Early Action (EA) is non-binding, non-restrictive, and is not available for majors requiring a portfolio or audition. Students must apply EA in order to be considered for USC Merit Scholarships , unless their intended major does not participate in Early Action.

Students applying to majors requiring a portfolio or audition (see below) will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships as part of their Regular Decision process.

Regular Decision

Applicants selecting or deferring to Regular Decision will be notified of a decision by April 1, 2024.

For majors requiring a portfolio or audition: Application Deadline: December 1, 2023

This is the final deadline for students applying to majors in the following schools:

See Additional Major Requirements for information about your intended program.

Regular Decision candidates applying to these programs by December 1 will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships .

All other majors: Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

Extensions of application deadlines are considered on a case-by-case basis. Students who are unable to meet the published deadlines may contact an admission counselor to be considered for an extension.

  • Financial Aid

Early Application Deadline: January 12, 2024 Regular Decision Deadline: February 7, 2024

Applicants who want to be considered for need-based financial aid must submit the FAFSA * and CSS Profile applications by the appropriate deadline. *Undocumented or DACA students should submit their 2021 tax return and third-party letter confirming undocumented status instead of the FAFSA.

Cal Grant Application Deadline: March 4, 2024 California residents should apply for Cal Grants by this date.

Visit our Financial Aid page for more information. To check on the status of your financial aid application, visit the FAST page in your applicant portal .

Early Action FAQ's

Early Action applicants apply earlier and may be informed of their admission to USC in January. Early Action is required for most students wishing to be considered for merit scholarships. It might also be an attractive option for those with particularly strong records who consider USC one of their top choices. Regular Decision applicants follow a more traditional timeline, with later deadlines and a decision notification date of April 1. Neither plan requires admitted students to enroll at USC.

Yes, unless your intended major does not participate in Early Action. Early Action is not available if you are applying to the Iovine and Young Academy or majors in Architecture, Art and Design, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Dramatic Arts or Music. Applicants to these majors should apply by December 1 to be considered for both admission and scholarships.

Other scholarships offered through USC-affiliated organizations are available but require a separate application. Visit our Scholarships page for more information. USC also offers a robust need-based financial aid program. More information is available at the USC Financial Aid website.

No, we cannot guarantee that fall grades will be considered if you apply Early Action.

We anticipate that about 20-25 percent of the class will be admitted early. Early Action applicants who are not admitted in January will be able to defer their application to the Regular Decision round.

Not all early admits will be selected to continue in USC’s merit scholarship process. Students who are selected as scholarship finalists will be notified of their next steps in February after receiving their admission decision.

No, Early Action admission is non-binding and does not require enrollment at USC.

No, no one will receive a denial letter in January. Students who are not admitted early will be given the chance to defer their application for consideration in the Regular Decision round. We expect that 75-80 percent of the class will be admitted Regular Decision.

Most admitted students will receive their financial aid summaries around the same time. EA applicants should apply for need-based financial aid by January 12, 2024 and RD applicants should apply by February 7, 2024 to be considered for all types of financial aid for which you may be eligible.

No, but transfer applicants interested in Dance, Music, and BFA majors in Cinematic Arts and Dramatic Arts must apply by December 1. The admission and scholarship application deadline for all other transfer applicants is February 15.

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Complete the Common Application .

For students who submit test scores, USC records the highest scores for those who have taken tests more than once. For the SAT and ACT, the highest scores for each section of the exam will be recorded, even if achieved in different sittings. USC does not require the writing section for either the ACT or the SAT. Find answers to questions you have about how our test optional policy will affect your application .

First-year applicants should submit official transcripts of all high school and college coursework completed.

One letter is required from either your school counselor or a teacher from your school. Applicants to the School of Cinematic Arts must submit two letters of recommendation.

Performance majors may also require auditions. Refer to the Additional Application Requirements section below for more information.

Use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application or visit  your applicant portal  to submit your fall grades.

Affirmations  will be available in the portal after we receive your application. Your digital signature may be submitted after the application deadline.

If the application fee poses a financial burden, you may request a fee waiver through the Profile section of the Common Application.

International applicants: Please refer to the International Students page for Additional Requirements.

The USC Office of Admission reserves the right to make admission decisions with unofficial documents and may collect official documents post-admission or enrollment.

Additional Application Requirements

If you are applying to a major in any of the schools listed below, it is your responsibility to complete your application by the appropriate deadline. Unless otherwise noted, all deadlines are the same as those listed on the Dates and Deadlines section. Be sure to obtain any required supplementary forms and to fulfill all departmental requirements.

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

USC School of Architecture

Roski School of Art and Design

Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

Marshall School of Business (World Bachelor in Business)

USC School of Cinematic Arts

Kaufman School of Dance

USC School of Dramatic Arts

Viterbi School of Engineering

Thornton School of Music

Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Home-Schooled Students

Home-Schooled applicants must also submit answers to the home-school questions on the Common Application Secondary School Report. Be sure to include information about your home-schooling philosophy, curricular choices and textbooks used. Although the application process for the 2023-2024 Academic Year is test-optional, we still find it helpful to have work from home-schooled students that is externally graded or examined. Therefore, we recommend submitting either SAT/ACT results, SAT subject exam results, AP exam results, or transcripts from college courses or other accredited online schooling programs if possible.

USC does not conduct admission interviews. However, prospective students are welcome to contact their USC admission counselor with any questions about the admission process. To learn more, please visit our Find Your Counselor page .

International students interested in providing additional evidence of English language ability should visit our Additional Requirements page for more information.

DACA Students

For information about application for DACA students, please refer to this page .

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USC Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts and Tips

September 1, 2023

When applying to a school like the University of Southern California, it is important to grasp that their acceptance rate in 2023 is lower than Harvard’s back in the late 1990s. Last cycle, USC received roughly 80,000 applications and admitted just 9% from that pool (their first time in the single digits). We don’t bring up these numbers or the Friends -era Harvard comparison to cause future applicants unnecessary fear. Rather, we want aspiring Trojans to realize that in addition to strong high school grades and standardized test scores, they need to excel in other critical areas of their application as well. This brings us to the topic of the USC supplemental essays.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Southern California? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into USC: Admissions Data and Strategies   for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

The supplemental essay section offered by USC is a fairly epic one and presents just such an opportunity for students to differentiate themselves from swarms of other qualified applicants. In addition to several short essays, you are also required to answer 10 short answer questions. Below are the USC’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

2023-24 USC Supplemental Essays – Required Prompt #1

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (Approximately 250 words)

This is part “Why Us?” and part “Explain Your Major” and your aim is to seamlessly touch on both topics in a tightly woven 250-word composition. For a deeper dive, let’s examine a list of characteristics of a winning USC “Why Us?” essay:

  • How did your interest in your major of choice begin and how has it matured over the years?
  • While pursuing your majors(s)/interest(s) of choice, how will you take advantage of the university’s immense resources both inside and outside of the classroom? Be sure to cite specific  academic programs ,  professors ,  research opportunities ,  internship/externship programs , and  study abroad programs . Discuss why they pique your interest.
  • Feel free to touch on  student-run organizations  related to your field of study that you would like to join.
  • Lastly, don’t ignore your second-choice major in this essay.

In any “Why Us?” composition, you need to show that you’ve done your homework on a given school, but you don’t want it to read like a robotic list of items that you Googled ten minutes before writing the essay (even if the timing of the Google search is roughly accurate). In addition to the pure research element, a lot of the time and skill required in creating a stellar USC essay will involve connecting the classes, professors, opportunities, etc. of interest that you have uncovered to your distinct values, talents, aims, proficiencies, and future goals.

USC Supplemental Essays – Short Answers

(#1 provides 25 characters for each word, and #2-10 provide 100 characters each)

  • Describe yourself in three words.
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Best movie of all time
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
  • What TV show will you binge watch next?
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?
  • Favorite book
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

USC Supplemental Essays (Continued)

It would be a bit silly to try to advise you on what your favorite snack is. Obviously, the USC admissions committee wants to hear “Pepperoni Pizza Combos” but will also accept “Ranch-flavored Bugles.” As such, we’ll keep our advice on these a bit broader:

  • This is a chance to make a personal connection with an admissions officer. Don’t overthink these or pick movies, books, songs, or trips that you think an admissions officer will find impressive. Just be genuine.
  • For #1, try to avoid words like “interesting” that are…well, not very  interesting , or words that could describe most of USC’s applicant pool, like “hard-working” or “dedicated.”
  • For #10, don’t pick a general topic in a traditional discipline. Instead, pick something about which you are passionate. This could be a blend of pop culture and academics or a highly esoteric topic that you happen to be obsessed with (e.g., the Beatles 1965-67 mid-career era, the history of jai-alai, or how to groom a ferret).
  • You have 100 characters to utilize, so do include some short explanations that infuse your answers with extra personality. For example, you could jazz up Ranch-flavored Bugles as follows: “Ranch-flavored Bugles, me and my mom’s go-to Jeopardy snack.”
  • Final tip: if you feel stuck, try brainstorming a few options for each one before choosing your favorite.

USC Supplemental Essays – School-Specific Prompts

In addition to the required essays noted above, you’ll also need to answer at least one additional essay question that is dependent on the school or college you are applying to at USC. Below, we’ve broken down the most popular options:

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about – a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. If you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about? (250 words)

What makes you tick? What keeps you up at night? Which subjects could (and do) you talk about for hours if given the opportunity? If you could address one problem in the world, large or small, what would it be? Here’s your chance to tell us all about it. You’ll then want to explain “why”—why will (or should) your passion/topic of choice be made relevant to a wider audience? Why is it so important that others hear your message? Your answer will give admissions readers greater insight into what type of issues are most important to you.

Viterbi School of Engineering

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. Engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges at  http://engineeringchallenges.org  and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why. (250 words)

The NAE Grand Challenges list is expansive and includes a number of pressing issues, like clean water access, solar energy, and nuclear terrorism. Basically, you are 100% guaranteed to find at least one item on this list that resonates with you. After reviewing the options, which one are you most passionate about, and why? Is there something from your personal background or experiences that inspired your interest in this area? Alternatively, have you engaged with this topic either inside or outside of school, and if so, how? What would you still like to learn about it? If you choose an issue that you are genuinely interested in and clearly convey your reasoning for doing so, you’ll be well on your way to a compelling response.

The student body at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. Describe how your contributions to the USC Viterbi student body may be distinct from others. Please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. (250 words)

Take note of the wide-open nature of this prompt. You are essentially invited to talk about any of the following topics:

  • A perspective you hold
  • An experience/challenge you had
  • A community you belong to
  • Your cultural background
  • Your family background
  • A personality trait
  • A skill you hold

Although this prompt’s open floor plan may feel daunting, a good tactic is to first consider what has already been communicated within your Common App personal statement, activities list, and other USC essays. What important aspects of yourself have not been shared (or sufficiently discussed)? The admissions officer reading your essay is hoping to connect with you through your written words, so—within your essay’s reflection—be open, humble, thoughtful, inquisitive, emotionally honest, mature, and/or insightful about what you learned and how you grew. No matter what type of story you tell, the goal is to have the reader come away saying, “I can definitely see this applicant as a contributing member of our talented and engaged Viterbi community.”

How important are the USC supplemental essays?

There are five factors that USC considers to be “very important” to their candidate evaluation process and the essay section is one of them. Along with GPA, standardized test scores, rigor of high school coursework, and recommendations, the Common App and supplement essays play a huge role in the USC admissions staff’s decision-making.

Want personalized assistance?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your USC supplemental essays, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

  • College Essay

Dave Bergman

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

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USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

university of southern california essay

By Eric Eng

USC main entrance

The University of Southern California (USC) offers a unique and vibrant academic environment, drawing students from diverse backgrounds with its rich array of programs and opportunities. As part of the application process, USC asks prospective students to complete supplemental essays.

These essays are a crucial component, providing applicants with the opportunity to showcase their individuality, interests, and how they align with what USC has to offer. Understanding and effectively responding to these prompts is key to making a compelling case for admission.

USC campus in the morning

How Many Supplemental Essays Does USC Have?

The University of Southern California (USC) has six supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 application cycle.

The number of USC supplemental essay prompts you need to answer depends on your specific application. All applicants must respond to the main “Why USC ?” essay. If you have had a gap in your educational history, you have the option to explain it in the optional gap year essay.

The short answer section is also required for all applicants. If you’re applying to the Viterbi School of Engineering, you’ll need to answer the specific prompts for that school. In total, all applicants will answer at least four prompts (the “Why USC?” essay, short answers, and either the Viterbi prompts or the personal passion prompt), with an optional fifth prompt if you have a gap in education.

What are the 2023-2024 USC Supplemental Essay Prompts?

The USC supplemental essay prompts allow applicants to showcase different facets of their personality, experiences, and academic interests. The specifics of these prompts are:

Main Prompt

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words)

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (250 words)

Short Answers

  • Describe yourself in three words. (25 characters per word)
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Best movie of all time
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
  • What TV show will you binge-watch next?
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?
  • Favorite Book
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

USC Viterbi School of Engineering Applicants

The student body at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. Describe how your contributions to the USC Viterbi student body may be distinct from others. Please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. (250 words)

Engineering & Computer Science Applicants

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. Engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why. (250 words)

Dornsife College Applicants Only

Many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about – a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. If you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about? (250 words)

USC campus

How to Write the 2023-2024 USC Supplemental Essays

This prompt asks students to elaborate on their academic interests, how they intend to pursue these interests at USC, and why USC is the preferred institution for these pursuits. It also invites students to discuss their first and second-choice major selections. Here are four key points for students to consider when brainstorming and developing their responses:

1. Clarify Academic Interests and Goals: Students should begin by identifying and explaining their primary academic interests. This involves not just naming a major or field of study but delving into specific aspects of that field that captivate them. For instance, if interested in Computer Science, is it AI, software development, or data science that excites them the most? Students should also articulate their long-term goals related to these interests. This could be career aspirations, research goals, or how they intend to contribute to the field.

2. Connection to USC’s Programs and Resources: The essay should clearly articulate why USC is the ideal place to pursue these academic interests. This involves researching and mentioning specific programs, courses, faculty, research opportunities, clubs, or other resources at USC that align with their interests. For example, if a student is interested in Environmental Science, they might mention USC’s specific research initiatives in this area, or unique courses that are offered.

3. Personal and Professional Development: Students should reflect on how studying at USC will aid in their personal and professional development. This could include discussing the university’s culture, its location in Los Angeles, networking opportunities, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities that USC uniquely provides. This part of the essay should intertwine the student’s academic, professional, and personal growth trajectories.

4. Discussing First and Second-choice Majors: If students have selected a second-choice major, they should explain how this choice aligns with their broader academic interests and career goals, and how USC’s offerings in this secondary field are also appealing. This part of the essay is an opportunity to showcase adaptability and a breadth of interest. For instance, a student interested in both Journalism (first choice) and Political Science (second choice) could discuss how USC’s strong programs in both these fields would enable them to explore the intersection of media and politics.

Optional: Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (250 words)

It’s important for students to understand that the purpose of this question is to provide context to their overall academic journey, particularly if there are periods of non-enrollment that might raise questions in the admissions process.

Here are four key points students should consider when addressing this prompt:

1. Honesty and Clarity: Start by being transparent about the reason for the gap. Whether it was due to personal, medical, financial reasons, or other circumstances, it’s crucial to state this plainly. Admission officers appreciate honesty and understanding the context can positively influence how they view your application.

2. Reflection on the Experience: Discuss what you did during this gap. Did you engage in self-study, take on a job, volunteer, or face personal challenges? Reflecting on these experiences shows maturity and self-awareness. Explain how these activities or experiences contributed to your personal or academic growth, offering insights into your resilience, adaptability, or other strengths.

3. Connecting to Future Goals: Link your experiences during the gap to your future aspirations. For instance, if you took a part-time job, discuss skills you gained that will be valuable in college. If you faced challenges, explain how they shaped your perspectives or academic interests. This connection demonstrates purpose and foresight in your educational journey.

4. Positive Outlook and Learnings: Conclude with a positive note about what you learned from this period and how it has prepared you for college. Emphasize qualities like perseverance, responsibility, or new perspectives gained. Admissions officers are interested in how students overcome challenges and their ability to thrive in new environments.

Remember, this essay is an opportunity to provide a fuller picture of who you are beyond just your academic record. It’s about showcasing your ability to grow from experiences and how those experiences have prepared you for the challenges and opportunities of a university education.

Prompt 3: Questions 2-10 are limited to 100 characters each

  • Describe yourself in three words. 

Answering these USC Supplemental Essay prompts with a 100-character limit each presents a unique challenge. It requires students to be concise yet impactful in their responses. Here are four key points to guide students in brainstorming and crafting their answers:

1. Authenticity and Self-Reflection: Encourage students to introspect and identify aspects that genuinely represent them. For instance, when describing themselves in three words, they should choose adjectives that reflect their core personality traits or values. Authenticity is key in such responses, as it helps the admissions committee understand who they are beyond academic achievements.

This process begins with self-reflection, urging students to consider what truly defines them at their core. It’s about identifying those qualities, beliefs, or experiences that make them unique and contribute to their individuality. Whether it’s a commitment to community service, a passion for innovation, or a love for creative expression, the chosen descriptors should genuinely resonate with the student’s authentic self.

For instance, if asked to describe themselves in three words, students should avoid generic or clichéd terms and instead choose words that reflect their true essence. If resilience, curiosity, and empathy are integral to their character, selecting these words provides a more meaningful and genuine insight into who they are.

The authenticity in these responses is crucial because it allows the admissions committee to see beyond the academic achievements and standardized test scores. It provides a window into the student’s personality, values, and the qualities that make them a valuable addition to the academic community. Demonstrating self-awareness and a willingness to showcase the true self helps establish a connection between the applicant and the admissions committee, fostering a more meaningful understanding of the individual behind the application.

2. Specificity and Detail: In responses like ‘favorite snack’ or ‘dream job,’ the more specific they can be, the better. Instead of just saying “chocolate,” they could say “homemade chocolate chip cookies.” For ‘dream job,’ rather than a broad term like ‘doctor,’ they might specify ‘pediatric surgeon.’ Specific details add personality and depth to their responses, making them more memorable.

For instance, when asked about their favorite snack, a response like “homemade chocolate chip cookies” is more impactful than a generic answer like “chocolate.” The specificity of mentioning the type of chocolate and the homemade nature adds a layer of detail that makes the response more vivid and personal. It not only reveals the snack preference but also provides a glimpse into the student’s tastes and perhaps even a connection to family traditions or culinary interests.

Similarly, in the context of the ‘dream job’ question, specifying a role like “pediatric surgeon” instead of the broad term “doctor” adds depth and precision. It demonstrates a clear and well-defined career goal, showcasing the student’s aspirations and the level of thought they’ve put into their future. This level of detail not only makes the response more memorable but also conveys a sense of purpose and commitment.

3. Personal Connection and Meaning: For prompts like ‘best movie of all time’ or ‘favorite book,’ students should choose options that have a personal significance to them, not just popular choices. They could briefly explain why it’s their favorite, like a movie that inspired them or a book that changed their perspective. This offers a glimpse into their interests and values.

When responding to prompts about their favorite movie or book, students should go beyond surface-level popularity and consider works that have had a meaningful impact on them. Explaining why a particular movie is their favorite or a specific book holds significance provides insight into their interests, values, and the factors that influence their choices.

For instance, if a student names a movie that inspired them or a book that changed their perspective, they are not only expressing their preferences but also sharing a part of their intellectual and emotional journey. The explanation adds layers to their response, offering the admissions committee a glimpse into the student’s thought processes, the themes that resonate with them, and the transformative experiences they’ve encountered through these cultural works.

4. Creativity and Imagination: Prompts like ‘dream trip’ or ‘ideal roommate’ are opportunities for students to showcase their creativity and aspirations. They should think about what these choices say about them. For example, choosing a historical figure or a literary character as an ideal roommate can reflect their interests in history or literature. Similarly, a dream trip to a unique destination can highlight their adventurous spirit or cultural interests.

For instance, when asked about their dream trip, students are encouraged to think beyond typical tourist destinations and delve into unique or culturally rich locations. Their choice can reflect not only a desire for adventure but also a deep appreciation for specific cultures or historical significance. Whether it’s a dream trip to explore ancient ruins, immerse themselves in a foreign culture, or engage in an unconventional adventure, the response becomes a canvas for expressing their imaginative and adventurous spirit.

Similarly, the ‘ideal roommate’ prompt provides an opportunity for creative expression. Instead of choosing a generic descriptor, students can think outside the box by envisioning an ideal roommate as a historical figure, literary character, or someone with unique qualities. This choice not only showcases their creativity but also provides insights into their interests and influences. For example, choosing a historical figure might indicate a passion for history, while opting for a literary character could highlight a love for literature.

It’s important to remind students that these short responses contribute to painting a comprehensive picture of their personality, interests, and aspirations. Each answer, though brief, is a chance to stand out and add color to their application. Encouraging them to have fun with these prompts can also help in eliciting genuine and engaging responses.

Student writing college or university application.

Prompt 4: USC Viterbi School of Engineering Applicants

This USC Viterbi School of Engineering essay prompt is seeking to understand the unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives that a student would bring to their engineering and computer science community. It emphasizes diversity, collaboration, and the impact of individual contributions on the broader world. Here are four key points to consider when brainstorming and crafting a response:

1. Highlight Unique Background and Experiences: Reflect on your personal, cultural, or educational background that sets you apart from others. This could include unique challenges you’ve overcome, distinctive cultural experiences, or a non-traditional path to engineering or computer science. Explain how these experiences have shaped your worldview, problem-solving approach, or your understanding of engineering’s role in society.

2. Emphasize Collaboration and Community Impact: Consider instances where you have worked in diverse teams or contributed to community projects. Illustrate your ability to collaborate effectively with people from different backgrounds and how your contributions improved the team’s performance or the project’s outcome. This can demonstrate your readiness to be part of a diverse engineering community and your commitment to using engineering for the greater good.

3. Showcase Specific Skills or Talents: Identify any unique skills or talents that you possess which would be beneficial in an engineering context. This could range from technical skills like coding in a rare programming language to soft skills like exceptional leadership or creative problem-solving. Explain how these skills have been developed and how they could be applied within the USC Viterbi community.

4. Personal Traits and Future Goals: Discuss personal traits or characteristics that make you a unique candidate for USC Viterbi. This might include resilience, creativity, a passion for innovation, or a specific career goal that drives your interest in engineering. Link these traits to how you envision your future at USC and beyond, showing a clear connection between who you are, what you hope to achieve, and how USC Viterbi can facilitate these aspirations.

In each of these points, it’s important to be authentic and specific. Use personal anecdotes or examples to illustrate your points, and make sure to directly address how these aspects of your background, skills, and personality would contribute to the USC Viterbi student body.

Prompt 5: Engineering & Computer Science Applicants

This prompt is essentially asking students to demonstrate their understanding of the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges and to reflect on which particular challenge resonates most with them and why.

It’s an opportunity for students to showcase their passion for engineering or computer science, their problem-solving skills, and their vision for a better future. Here are four key points for brainstorming and detailed explanations for each:

1. Understanding the NAE Grand Challenges: Before choosing a challenge, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what each of the 14 challenges entails. These challenges cover a broad range of issues, from making solar energy economical to providing access to clean water. Students should research each challenge thoroughly to understand its global impact, the technical and ethical aspects involved, and the current efforts being made to address it. This research will not only help in selecting a challenge but also provide a solid foundation to articulate why it is important to them.

2. Personal Connection and Relevance: Students should reflect on why a particular challenge is significant to them personally. This could be due to a personal experience, a community issue they are passionate about, or an area they want to specialize in. For instance, if a student has experienced or witnessed the challenges of accessing clean water, they might choose to write about that. The key here is to make a genuine personal connection that shows sincerity and depth of thought.

3. Vision for the Future: This prompt is also an opportunity to discuss what the student hopes to achieve in the field of engineering or computer science. Students should consider how they envision contributing to the solution of their chosen Grand Challenge. This could include innovative ideas, career aspirations, or the impact they hope to make in the world. It’s an opportunity to showcase creativity, ambition, and a forward-thinking mindset.

4. Demonstrating Skills and Qualities: Lastly, students should use this essay to indirectly highlight their relevant skills and qualities. Solving these grand challenges requires critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, and perseverance. Students should consider how their past experiences and future aspirations demonstrate these qualities. For example, discussing team projects or initiatives they have been a part of can subtly show their collaborative skills and dedication to solving complex problems.

By focusing on these four areas, students can craft a response that is not only insightful and well-informed but also deeply personal and reflective of their ambitions in the field of engineering or computer science.

Prompt 6: Dornsife College Applicants

This is an invitation for students to showcase their passion, knowledge, and communication skills. This question probes into what matters most to the student and tests their ability to engage an audience on a topic they are passionate about. Here are four key points to consider when brainstorming and elaborating on your response:

1. Identify Your Passion: Students should start by identifying a topic they are genuinely passionate about. It could be anything from environmental issues, social justice, technological innovations, to art and culture. The key is to choose a subject that you have a deep connection with, as this will naturally make your essay more authentic and compelling. Reflect on experiences, courses, or personal interests that have shaped your views on this topic.

2. Understand Your Audience: Given the scenario of addressing a million people, think about how to make your topic relevant and interesting to a diverse audience. This doesn’t mean diluting your passion but finding a universal angle or significance. For instance, if your topic is about climate change, focus on its global impact and collective responsibility rather than just technical details.

3. Structure Your Talk: In 250 words, your essay should have a clear structure: an engaging introduction, a body where you delve into your topic, and a conclusion that leaves the audience thinking. You might start with a personal anecdote or a surprising fact, explain your views and insights in the body, and conclude with a call to action or a thought-provoking question.

4. Showcase Personal Growth and Aspirations: Link your passion to your personal growth and future aspirations. How has this topic shaped you? What have you learned from it? How does it relate to your goals at USC and beyond? Demonstrating this connection shows depth and helps admissions officers see the value you’d bring to the campus community.

Remember, this prompt is a great opportunity to let your personality and intellect shine through. Be authentic, be concise, and most importantly, be passionate about what you’re discussing.

applying in schools

Structuring Your Essays

The importance of proper structure cannot be overstated. A well-structured essay not only makes your content more readable and engaging but also demonstrates your ability to organize thoughts coherently. Effective structuring is crucial in conveying your ideas clearly and making a strong impression on the admissions committee. Here are three key points on how applicants can structure their USC supplemental essays:

1. Introduction: Begin your USC supplemental essay with a compelling hook. This could be a vivid anecdote, a surprising fact, or a provocative question related to the essay prompt. The introduction should not only grab the reader’s attention but also set the tone for the rest of the essay. Following the hook, introduce a clear thesis statement. This statement should succinctly encapsulate your main argument or the key message of your essay. For example, if the prompt is about a problem you’d like to solve, your thesis might focus on why this problem is significant to you.

2. Body: Divide the body of your essay into paragraphs, each focusing on a specific point or aspect of your argument. This is where you delve deeper into your experiences, reflections, and perspectives related to the prompt. Use specific examples and personal experiences to support your points. For instance, if you’re writing about a passion or interest, describe how you’ve pursued this interest and what you’ve learned from it. It’s essential to link back these experiences to how they have prepared you for a future at USC, demonstrating your fit and potential contributions to the university community.

3. Conclusion: Conclude your essay by tying together all your points and restating your thesis in light of the arguments you’ve presented. The conclusion should not just summarize but also reflect on your growth and how it relates to your future at USC. Additionally, articulate forward-looking thoughts – how do you envision applying what you’ve discussed in your essay to your experiences at USC? This approach not only reinforces your thesis but also leaves a lasting impression, showing your enthusiasm and readiness for the challenges and opportunities at USC.

Remember, a well-structured essay for the USC supplemental essays 2023-2024 is like a roadmap: it guides the reader through your thoughts and experiences in a logical and engaging way, making your candidacy memorable and impressive.

How to Effectively Revise and Proofread

These processes ensure that your essay is not only free of errors but also resonates with the admissions committee. Here are four key points to guide applicants in revising and proofreading their essays:

1. Read Aloud for Flow and Clarity: After completing your first draft, read your essay aloud. This practice helps in catching awkward phrasings, lengthy sentences, and any inconsistencies in the flow of the essay. Pay attention to how each sentence transitions to the next. Your essay should have a natural and logical progression of ideas. For USC supplemental essays, it’s crucial that your narrative is clear and compelling, and reading aloud can help you achieve a conversational yet formal tone.

2. Seek External Feedback: Share your essay with someone you trust – a teacher, counselor, or a peer – for constructive feedback. Often, an external perspective can provide insights into areas that might need clarification or improvement. They can also tell you whether your essay effectively addresses the prompt and represents your personality and aspirations. Ask them specific questions like, “Does this essay sound like me?” or “What is the main message you get from reading this essay?”

3. Focus on Specificity and Relevance: In your revisions, ensure that every sentence serves a purpose and contributes to answering the prompt. USC supplemental essays should not contain generic or filler content. If a sentence or paragraph doesn’t add value or isn’t directly relevant to the prompt, consider revising or removing it. This focus on specificity and relevance will make your essay more impactful and concise.

4. Final Proofreading for Perfection: After revising for content and flow, the final step is thorough proofreading. This step goes beyond just checking for spelling or grammatical errors; it’s about ensuring that your essay meets all the guidelines and specifications of the USC supplemental essays 2023-2024. Verify word count, format, and make sure you have followed all the instructions. Tools like grammar checkers can be helpful but don’t rely solely on them. A meticulous manual check is indispensable.

Remember, effective revision and proofreading take time. It’s advisable to take breaks between these stages to return to your essay with a fresh perspective. This thorough approach ensures that your USC supplemental essay is not only error-free but also a true reflection of your abilities and aspirations.

Why Choose USC?

Choosing to study at the University of Southern California offers numerous advantages, underscored by its strong academic reputation and rankings. As of 2023, USC is ranked 19th in the United States and 24th globally, according to EduRank. It has also excelled in 15 research topics, indicating a robust and diverse academic environment. The QS World University Rankings for 2024 place USC at 116th globally, showing its consistent presence in the top tiers of global higher education.

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2023 place USC at 74th globally and 58th in the ARWU Academic Ranking of World Universities by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, highlighting its international recognition and excellence in various academic fields.

USC’s high rankings in graduate employability, national standings, and subject-specific evaluations further establish its status as a leading institution. It holds the 65th spot in the Times Higher Education Rankings and 134th in the QS World University Rankings for 2023.

Furthermore, USC is ranked 31st nationally by CollegeSimply.com in its 2023 U.S. Colleges Ranking, placing it within the top 8% of four-year colleges in the United States. This ranking reflects outstanding ratings in overall experience, academics, resources, outcomes, and value, all of which are crucial factors for students considering where to pursue their higher education.

Studying at USC means joining an esteemed institution recognized for its academic excellence, research opportunities, and commitment to fostering a diverse and dynamic learning environment. The university’s rankings reflect its dedication to providing high-quality education and preparing students for successful careers and meaningful contributions to society.

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Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the USC supplemental essays offer a unique opportunity for you to showcase different facets of your personality, experiences, and aspirations. By reflecting on USC’s values, being authentic in your storytelling, demonstrating a clear fit with the university, focusing on quality writing, carefully proofreading your work, and ensuring coherence across all essays, you can create compelling narratives that resonate with the admissions committee.

Remember, these essays are more than just answers to prompts; they are a canvas for you to illustrate who you are and how you envision your journey at USC. Approach them with sincerity, enthusiasm, and a clear understanding of how USC can help shape your future, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting essays that stand out.

It is important to have all the necessary information before making any decision. AdmissionSight is always here to help you with any questions or concerns. We have over ten years of experience helping students successfully navigate the challenging admissions process.

Consult with AdmissionSight and find out how we can help you get into the school of your choice by ensuring that you are fully informed and prepared for the application process. We will work with you to develop a personalized plan that meets your specific needs and goals. We will also provide you with access to our team of experts who can help you with everything from choosing the right schools to writing your essays .

Don’t let the admissions process overwhelm you. Contact AdmissionSight today and let us help you achieve your dreams.

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September 12, 2023

2023-2024 USC Supplemental Essay Prompts

The Doheny Memorial Library at USC

The University of Southern California has released its supplemental essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. In addition to the Personal Statement on The Common Application , USC applicants will be required to answer one 250-word essay and several 100-character short answers. If an applicant took a gap year or their education was interrupted, they’ll need to answer another essay prompt in about 250 words as well. So, what are this year’s USC supplemental essay prompts, and how should they be approached? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 University of Southern California Essay Questions and Short Answers

Essay questions.

Applicants should respond to the first prompt in approximately 250 words. Applicants who have a gap in their high school education should respond to the second prompt in approximately 250 words as well (this essay should not be completed if there is no gap in a student’s secondary education).

1. Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.

This is a hybrid essay prompt: Why Major and Why College . To address the first aspect of the essay question, it would be beneficial for applicants to express to USC’s admissions committee why they wish to study one or two particular disciplines at USC by sharing the origin story of their interest in these disciplines. The origin story should always stem from an applicant’s high school experience. Too often, students choose instead to share anecdotes from their middle or elementary school years.

For the second aspect of the essay question, applicants must capture genuine specifics about why USC is the ideal institution to pursue this course of study. So many applicants choose to list classes and name-drop professors in Why College essay prompts when they should instead capture the enduring specifics of a course of study at a school. These enduring specifics could focus on programs, institutes, lecture series, traditions, etc. And every sentence in this portion of the essay should be tailored to USC. If a sentence is generic, it should be stricken from the record.

2. Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break.

This essay fits into the only if applicable category. So, if a student has no gap in their high school studies, the essay should be left blank. If, however, a student has a gap in their high school studies, they should articulate it here. And ideally, it will be filled with no excuses and only positivity.

Short Answers

With the exception of the first short answer, which should be addressed in three total words, the short answers should be addressed in 100 characters or less.

1. Describe yourself in three words. 

First Word:

Second Word:

Third Word:

USC truly wants three words for these answers. While applicants can theoretically include 100 characters, that would defy USC’s instructions. Hopefully a student’s answers will capture their love of learning and desire to leave a mark on the world in a meaningful way.

2. What is your favorite snack?

While this short answer prompt may seem silly, we encourage applicants to give thought to their answers so they don’t read as merely silly. It could be an opportunity for an applicant to teach admissions officers something they don’t know about food.

3. Best movie of all time:

Applicants shouldn’t just name the movie. They should explain why. And hopefully the movie showcases their passions and fits with how they think. Also, applicants should avoid movies that could rub USC admissions officers the wrong way.

4. Dream job:

An applicant’s answer should fit neatly with their hook that they’ve hopefully presented in their activities and their essays.

5. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Applicants will ideally choose a song that shows some intellectual curiosity and, just like with the movie choice, applicants should avoid choosing a song that could rub USC admissions officers the wrong way.

6. Dream trip:

Don’t be afraid to keep it local! Traveling around the world can be perceived as privileged.

7. What TV show will you binge watch next?

Applicants should approach this short answer the same way they approach the movie choice — show how they think, avoid mindless TV, and don’t choose a show that will rub admissions officers the wrong way. If a student is an environmental activist,  Our Planet  could be a good choice — so long as the applicant explains why.

8. Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?

Applicants should dare to choose someone USC admissions officers haven’t heard of and teach them something. And don’t just name the person. Applicants should explain why they’ve chosen the roommate.

9. Favorite book:

Students should avoid choosing books that are required reading in classrooms across America, are intended for younger audiences, or have been adapted into films and television series. After all, that would not demonstrate that an applicant reads for pleasure — which is vitally important to express. And students shouldn’t only name the book. They should explain why it’s their favorite book.

10. If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

The choice of topic should be consistent with the applicant’s hook as expressed in their activities section and, ideally, in their essays. Applicants should choose a pithy title for the course and, if there’s any room to explain what the course is about, by all means!

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with USC Essays

If you’d like to optimize your case for admission to the University of Southern California by submitting compelling essays, among other things, fill out Ivy Coach ’s free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services for applicants to the Class of 2028.

You are permitted to use www.ivycoach.com (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.

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How To Answer The USC Supplemental Essay Prompts For 2022/23

How To Answer The USC Supplemental Essay Prompts For 2022/23

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is home to a large student body, incredible research advancements, and a large football stadium and culture. USC is ranked one of the best public universities in the US. It boasts a competitive admissions process with an acceptance rate of just 11%, meaning only about 1 in 9 students gets accepted.

USC Supplemental Essay Prompts

Essay 1: please respond to one of the prompts below. (250 word limit).

  • USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.
  • USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.

What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

Essay 2: (250 words limit).

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.

Essay 3 (optional)

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break.

Short Answers Questions

  • Describe yourself in three words. First Word: (25 characters), Second Word: (25 characters), Third Word: (25 characters)
  • What is your favorite snack? (100 characters)
  • Best movie of all time: (100 characters)
  • Dream job: (100 characters)
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be? (100 characters)
  • Dream trip: (100 characters)
  • What TV show will you binge watch next? (100 characters)
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate? (100 characters)
  • Favorite book: (100 characters)
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be? (100 characters)

How Anushka Got Into USC with Crimson

How to Answer the Short Essay Questions

Usc believes one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when another point of view challenged your beliefs*. please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.*.

The first supplemental essay (and its three prompt options) asks you to speak from experience about a non-academic moment of growth or the formation of a particular value. While the first prompt is the only one that demands you narrate a specific experience, a solid response to any of the three prompts should describe a particular instance and unpack its implications .

In generating a topic, the experience you choose does not have to be overly serious, but the analysis should show how it speaks to your growth in a powerful way that does not feel too grandiose. USC admissions officers are looking for applicants to demonstrate their understanding that learning is not just sitting in class and pursuing academics but is also significantly impacted by personal growth and a transformation of values .

If you choose this prompt, consider the different circumstances that caused you to change your thinking about a particular issue .

  • Maybe it was a passing conversation with a stranger or friend,
  • an experience engaging with a social
  • a civil issue in your community,
  • Or even a slightly more rigorous debate or academic setting.

Whatever topic you choose, vivid language that examines how events made you feel in the moment will be essential to drawing out moments of actual growth . Remember that genuinely changing an established view is hard work, so please be honest with yourself as you look over the depth of these implications. Whether you write about how your experience attending a protest deepened your empathy for a particular cause or how a dare with your friend caused you to deactivate Facebook and rethink the role of social media in your life, try to craft a narrative story with clear consequences.

USC faculty place emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Could you describe something outside your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning?

Responding to the second prompt should show that your intellectual curiosity expands beyond your professional aspirations . Try to recall when you were surprised by how an experience outside your area of expertise affected you. This experience could be anything from how your experience on a safari led to an unexpected interest in endangered species preservation to finding meaning in a collection of poetry you were required to read. Your essay should construct a narrative demonstrating genuine intellectual curiosity in an area outside your prospective academic focus.

A response to the third prompt can take on a variety of topics. Whether you explain the influence of a familial structure, a hobby, an experience as part of a larger community, or even some other unusual facet of your expertise, your narrative should discuss how this influence has positively shaped you .

Again, this is not a spot for arrogant essays about accomplishments and ambition. Instead, it’s for examining a topic that will lead the admissions committee to fully understand you and how you hope to use a USC education. Ideally, the topic will be distinct from your Common App essay topic (which can be similar). It will explain an aspect of your thinking or reasoning that’s not in any other part of your application.

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Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words)

The second supplemental essay question helps the admissions committee understand why you are interested in USC instead of another school . The question requires you to research USC’s specific offerings. You’ll use this knowledge, alongside language that introduces your main academic interests and their origins, to explain why USC is a perfect fit for you. Evaluators want to see a response that shows you are attracted to their school and how you have thought deeply about the particular ways USC would help you realize your academic goals.

Tip 1: set the stage by anecdotally introducing your academic interests

Talk about how your struggles with precalculus and the extra time spent working with a teacher sparked a blooming interest in mathematics or how your experience watching the nightly TV news with your family compelled you to intern for a political campaign and learn about the history of international relations.

Tip 2: Reference USC Resources

Once that framework is established, you should reference specific USC resources — classes, notable professors or researchers, proximity to specific professional opportunities, or extracurricular activities — that will help you pursue your interests most effectively.

An excellent place to start is by checking the extensive list of possible majors posted on the USC website and identifying departments that closely match your academic preferences. Then, you can go to departmental websites to identify class offerings and professors you can reference in your essay. Resources like the Undergraduate Research Program in the School of International Relations , or the chance to work with a figure you admire in a specific field, are good examples that help you realize certain career aspirations.

Tip 3: Relate USC Resources to your interests

Finally, relate the USC resources to your interests. Suppose you began by writing about watching the news. You can describe how the “Visual and Popular Culture” within the “American Popular Culture” major would help you answer questions about the power of television news you’ve had since you were young.

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How to Answer the Short Answer Questions

It’s easy to try and impress examiners with your short answers. Instead, use these prompts to give the readers an authentic representation of yourself .

Tips for Option 1

The first prompt (three words that best describe yourself) is one of the hardest to answer without sounding ingenuine or fake.

First, avoid descriptors like “ambitious” or “hardworking.” There are far better forums in your application to express your academic accomplishment and drive.

Second, spend time reflecting on the elements of your experience that have forced you to learn something new. If you can identify a quality, like humor or levity, and reflect on how that affects the lens through which you approach the world, you should include this quality.

Otherwise, think about the activities you engage with most and what type of qualities they foster. Maybe your experience doing debate after school has made you “community-oriented,” or your growing interest in running live DJ sets has made you more “adaptable.” Whatever your experience, finding descriptors to reflect your experience (which you’ll write about in other parts of the application!) will help you avoid overly generic descriptions and stand out from other applicants.

Tips for preference-based prompts

For the preference-based short answer questions, you’ll want to dwell similarly on your past experiences, especially pivotal moments of growth, sidestepping the temptation to answer to impress. It may be hard to think of the most technically proficient movie you’ve ever seen. Still, it will be easy to remember movies that have significantly impacted your life or personal development.

Unless you’re an established film academic, you probably can’t humbly claim you think the best movie of all time is Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane or Godard’s Breathless. It’s more likely you feel that it’s a movie you used to watch with your family when you were sick or an accessible old classic that opened your eyes to the aesthetic possibilities of cinema in a new way. The character limits are restrictive but don’t limit yourself to one word. Begin the question with your answer, then use your remaining space to offer a brief piece of context for the preference that speaks to your background or passions.

How to Stand Out in Your USC Supplemental Essays for 2022/23

The essay components of the application are crucially important to make sure you stand out among the rest! The USC application has several essays prompts, especially short answer questions .

Knowing how to approach the supplemental questions for the USC application can take time and effort. The various questions, ranging from short-answer responses to short essays, ask a lot about your personality and academic or personal aspirations . But if you’re not careful, your answers to these prompts might appear insincere or common.

Supplemental questions give you space to demonstrate genuine passion, personality, and growth in your personal and academic life that arises directly from lived experience and suggests an apt fit for USC. Below are several strategies and ideas for each prompt designed to avoid common mistakes and stereotypical answers and create responses that can help present your authentic self to the admissions office.

How Crimson Can Help You With Your USC Supplemental Essays

Crimson takes a personal approach when helping students with their supplemental essays. Advisors get to know their students first. Then they show them how to incorporate their dreams, aspirations, goals, and any unique story aspect into their supplemental essays.

Final Thoughts

Writing supplemental essays for USC, as with any school, should attempt to present the sense of a complete, ambitious person engaged in the business of thinking about the world, one who goes beyond grades and a resume, to the admissions committee. When you write, please remember the more prominent themes of what you are trying to communicate, and rewrite or remove anything that feels extraneous or inauthentic. If you follow the tips above, you should be well on your way to generating a USC supplement that you can be proud of — best of luck!

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What Makes Crimson Different

Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Acing your College Application Essay: 5 Expert Tips to Make it Stand Out from the Rest
  • MIT Supplemental Essay
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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Southern California Supplemental Essays

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Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

university of southern california essay

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Southern California Supplemental Essays

With the warm Cali weather and beautiful campus, it is no surprise that students are so eager to apply to USC in Los Angeles. The USC supplemental essays are a perfect way to stand out from the rest of the USC applicants. Keep reading this guide to learn more about how to make your responses to the USC supplemental essays the best they can be!

Breaking down the USC supplemental essays

Be prepared to write, because USC asks for a lot of USC supplemental essays responses! However, this should not deter you from applying, rather, it should make you more excited! Essays offer you the opportunity to show who you are to the USC admissions officers. 

Here is a list of essays to respond to:

  • 1 250 word essay
  • 1 optional 250 word essay 
  • 10 quick short answers
  • 1 Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences essay (only for Dornsife students)
  • 1 Viterbi School of Engineering 250 word essay (with 2 options to choose from only for Viterbit students)

For the list of 10 short questions, they are almost rapid fire questions with a quick and easy response to a less open-ended question. For these, just be you and have fun! 

Now that you know what to expect from the USC supplemental essays, let’s take a look at them! 

“Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 word limit)”

Most college applications ask you to select a major, so take this question as an opportunity to explain and elaborate on the “why.” Why do you want to major in this topic? What do you hope to do with a degree in this major? How will this major help you pursue your dreams? 

Be specific

In addition to simply mentioning your major and reason behind selecting this major, you should also touch upon any courses or extracurriculars that will help you reach your future goals.

For example, if you want to major in biology, you can talk about how you are excited to be able to take the USC BISC 469L: Marine Biology course because you have always been fascinated by marine life. 

Being specific with the course names will prove to the USC admissions officers that you have done your research. They will recognize that you are truly passionate about furthering your education in this particular field. 

Still undecided?

If you are unsure about what you want to major in, do not worry! It is a big decision to make at this point in your life. Remember, a lot of applicants are feeling the same way. Therefore, you should not share a major and talk about a passion if you are not truly certain or interested in this major. 

Rather, you should be authentic and describe why you are unsure of what you want to major in. In addition, you should then detail what academic programs or clubs you hope to become involved in to find your true passion. The most important thing to do if you are taking the undecided major route is to detail how you will take advantage of USC to discover what you are truly interested in. 

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Essay #2 – optional.

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break (250 words). (250 words) 

Only answer this essay if you have a gap in your education. If this does not apply to you, you do not have to answer this question. However, if it does apply to you then you should answer this question as truthfully as possible. 

Questions to consider

  • Why did you choose to take a gap year or semester? 
  • Did you even choose to take off? 
  • What external factors affected your education? 

While this is a more serious and specific question, you can still be creative in your response. Meaning, rather than stating why, you can tell the personal  story that led you to make this decision. This can lead the USC admissions officers to empathize with your situation.

Essay 3 – short answer questions

The short answer questions ask you to answer in 100 characters or less, unless otherwise directed. This means these questions should be rapid fire responses. Do not overthink these! This is a fun section that allows the reader to get to know you and your opinions better! Just be sure to not answer a response in a way that has already been revealed in your application. 

1. Describe yourself in three words. (25 characters each)

Think about your most defining characteristics. If someone close to you had to choose 3 words to describe you, what would they say? 

2. What is your favorite snack?

Don’t think, just answer! What are you craving? Do you have a sweet tooth? If you were given the choice to pick one snack from the grocery store what would you pick? 

3. Best movie of all time

Try to think of a movie that is not typically picked to be the best movie of all time! You want your uniqueness to shine through! Be sure you are selecting a movie you have actually seen and enjoyed. 

4. Dream job

What are you working towards in college? What do you “want to be” when you graduate? You can choose to go the serious or silly route for this question. So, you could make up a job such as “Chocolate taste-tester because the decadence of creamy milk chocolate is my favorite thing on Earth.”

5. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

This is a creative question! Therefore, try to pick a creative answer. Find a song that has meaningful lyrics that can relate to your life. 

6. Dream trip

Try to avoid cliches with this answer such as Disneyworld – remember, you are trying to stand out from the rest of USC applicants. Think of somewhere you have always wanted to visit. Be specific! Do not just mention the city, state, or country, but rather, mention the specifics. 

7. What TV show will you binge watch next?

What TV show do you love? What TV show could you watch without getting sick of it? 

8. Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?

This question allows you to have a lot of fun, so dig deep into your imagination! Try to write a quick reason as to why they would make a good roommate. For example, maybe Harry Potter because you know he is used to sharing small quarters!

9. Favorite Book

What is your favorite book? Did a certain book change your life?

10. If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

What are you passionate about? Do you nerd out about something? What would you love to speak to people about? You can also be creative with this answer and choose a course that does not exist! For example, the “psychology of aliens” which requires a trip to outer space! 

Also see: How to respond to the Common App prompts

Essay 4: Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences applicants only – 

Many of us have at least one issue or passion that we care deeply about — a topic on which we would love to share our opinions and insights in hopes of sparking intense interest and continued conversation. If you had ten minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your talk be about? (250 words)

The first thing that came to your mind when reading this essay- that’s what you should write about! You’ll want to select a topic that really fascinates you. You should be able to talk about this for hours and hours – not just 10 minutes. 

This is an extremely open-ended essay, so there are an infinite number of topics you could choose to write about. When deciding what to choose, remember to select something that has not already been shared on your application. 

Some ideas of things to write about for this essay: 

  • A social issue 
  • A lesson you have learned 
  • Other cultures
  • A controversial take (do not select something too controversial!) 

These are just a few examples to get your mind turning. Remember, there is a lot of freedom here, so you can pick any topic you want! Just be sure to use narratives and anecdotes to make your story shine through. After all, you want the USC admissions officers to learn why you are passionate about a topic, not just what the topic is. 

Essay 5: Viterbi School of Engineering applicants only – option 1

“ The student body at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is a diverse group of unique engineers and computer scientists who work together to engineer a better world for all humanity. Describe how your contributions to the USC Viterbi student body may be distinct from others. Please feel free to touch on any part of your background, traits, skills, experiences, challenges, and/or personality in helping us better understand you. * (250 word limit)”

To answer this essay, you need to select a personal characteristic that distinguishes you from the other engineering students. Therefore, this trait or aspect of yourself should connect back to Viterbi and how you will make a difference in the school. Start out by brainstorming and asking yourself some questions.

  • What aspect of yourself have you not mentioned so far in your USC application? 
  • What are you passionate about? 
  • When you have free time, what are you doing? 
  • How have you prepared yourself to become an engineer? 
  • Why does engineering interest you? 
  • Why USC? Why USC engineering? 

Essentially, you want to write to USC detailing how you are a stand-out applicant who is different from the rest. So, narrow in on what makes you special. However, it is important for the Viterbi supplemental essay that you are also acknowledging how you will thrive in this environment because of your uniqueness. 

Essay 5: Viterbi School of Engineering applicants only – option 2

“ The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and their 14 Grand Challenges go hand-in-hand with our vision to engineer a better world for all humanity. Engineers and computer scientists are challenged to solve these problems in order to improve life on the planet. Learn more about the NAE Grand Challenges at http://engineeringchallenges.org and tell us which challenge is most important to you, and why.* (250 word limit)” 

For this response, you should be sure to read through the NAE Grand Challenges. This will provide you with valuable background information. Once you have read through all of the NAE Grand Challenges, think about the challenge you find to be the most important. The most important thing about this response is not what challenge you choose to write about. Rather, it is the way you justify your response. 

For example, you can choose “provide access to clean water,” however, you need to be creative in your justification. Start out by making a quick list of questions to ask yourself. 

  • Everyone wants clean water – so how will accessing clean water affect you? 
  • What would you do if you could create an invention that gives everyone access to clean water?
  • Why is clean water important? 

It is critical that you are creative in your justification, no matter which challenge you deem the most important. 

Final thoughts on responding to the USC supplemental essays

We understand that the USC supplemental essays can be quite overwhelming. Therefore, just take it one essay at a time and space out writing your responses. Figure out which options most interest you and select those. 

After you write your USC supplemental essay responses, ask a trusted individual to read over your responses before you submit your application. Ask them to check for any spelling errors and also  that you have not repeated yourself at all. Remember, each USC essay is the opportunity to reveal more about yourself. 

Take a deep breath! You got this. Remember to have fun in your responses and remind yourself of what you are working towards… a great education located in sunny California! 

Next steps after applying to USC

Congratulations! It is time to submit your flawless USC application! Now that your application is submitted, be sure to check the following for any updates to your application status: 

  • Your Email 
  • Any USC social media accounts

Additional resources

Scholarships360 is here to help you navigate the challenging terrain of the college admissions process. Are you curious about what looks good to submit to colleges ? We have a guide for that. Wondering if you should send your SAT/ACT scores ? We have a guide for that. Confused on how many schools to apply to ? We have a guide for that too! 

Also see : How to choose a college

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How to Write the University of Southern California Application Essays 2015-2016

(note: this post has been updated for the 2016-2017 application cycle. to view the updated post, click here .).

“Fight on!” These two words ring through every hallway at the University of Southern California, invoking the spirit and camaraderie of the mighty Trojans themselves. USC is a private institution based in Los Angeles, California, with an emphasis on research and strong athletics. USC athletic teams boast a total of 123 national titles across various sports, and fans from across the nation often deck themselves out in cardinal and gold in support of the dominant Trojan football team. The USC social dynamic is diverse and happening, and if Greek life is your thing, about 25% of men are in a fraternity and 20% of women are in a sorority. With a total enrollment of 18,000, there is opportunity around every corner of USC’s beautiful campus, and while parts of LA off-campus are places to stay away from, life on campus makes up for any restrictions. With amazing academics and a gung-ho student culture, it’s no wonder that USC alum come away loving their four years as a Trojan.

USC is very selective, choosing about 18% of the thousands of applicants every year, and yields about 35%. Certain schools, like the Viterbi School of Engineering, may be even more difficult to get into, so it’s best to be well prepared when applying to USC, whether that’s early acceptance or regular decision.

USC students are known to be involved. Briefly describe a non-academic pursuit (such as service to community or family, a club or sport, or work, etc.,) that best illustrates who you are, and why it is important you. (250 word limit)

This question may feel like an extension of the Common App in that it simply asks more about your extracurricular interests, but this question is a good opportunity to go more in depth and reveal new things about your personality. As this question states, they want to see how the activity you choose to write about “best illustrates who you are,” so you have room to talk more about yourself and your background. For example, you could elaborate on how you grew up doing outdoor aerobics with your uncle, and how that eventually lead to your participation in triathlons. This pursuit can be commonplace or unique, but it’s best not to mention the sports or clubs you already listed on your Common App (unless you can write a strong story about what they mean to you personally). If possible, use an activity out of the usual or very personal and expand upon it, because chances are it will be easier to explain why this unique activity is important to you and differentiates you than a more clichéd extracurricular will. No matter your approach to this rather basic question, your response can leave a strong impression on admissions as they try to gauge how you as a person will fit into USC and the non-academic opportunities there.

Describe your academic interests and how you plan to pursue them at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections (250 word limit).

While this question may also seem like an extension of the Common Application, the admissions are trying to create a wholesome picture of you, so use this essay to go in depth about your intellectual passions and why you want to pursue what you want to pursue. This is an ideal “Why major” question, so make sure to also address why you are qualified to pursue your first and second choice majors, and why you want to study these subjects at USC in specific. Even if your essay seems conventional or boring, that’s fine – this prompt is straightforward, and you don’t want to leave admissions more confused about your academic interests with an unnecessarily complex narrative. You can even give a little background, or approach this essay somewhat from a “Why school” style, but there’s no need to do something too fancy. Just remember to be precise about what you are interested in, why you are passionate about that, and why you are meant to study this at USC.

If you plan on applying to the School of Engineering:

How do you plan to use your engineering degree to benefit society? (250 word limit)

This essay evaluates two main things: what your career plans are as an engineer, and how much you have researched and looked into USC engineering. First off, you want to talk about what you would do with your engineering degree, specifically with respect to how that degree would “benefits society,” because they want to see whether or not you should be put into the engineering school. If you put a second major as non-Viterbi school of engineering, this essay can be a large factor in whether or not they accept you into Viterbi or some other school like Dornsife College of LSA. While your career plans may be the same no matter what engineering program you enter at whatever school, an engineering education at USC is unique, and the admissions will want to see if you know facts about USC engineering and know what you can get out of specific programs at the Viterbi school of engineering. So, do your research and mention professors you can collaborate with (be specific, name-drop only if the professor is actually relevant to you and what you want to do) or programs you can join at USC that will help you in the long run. Much like the other USC essays, this prompt is straightforward, so be clear and be bold in how you believe your career plans and engineering goals will change the world.

Some people categorize engineers as geeks or nerds. Are you a geek, nerd, or neither? Why? (250 word limit)

Feel free to be creative with this one! This essay is a perfect chance to be quirky, funny, and honest about who you are and what makes you an engineer personality-wise. You don’t have to talk about engineering projects you have done, but rather you can talk about the small nerdy or geeky things you do for fun (or don’t do, since neither is still an option). You want to convey how your personality makes you an ideal engineer, so even if you don’t feel as if you are geeky or nerdy, you want to talk about yourself and what makes you feel like building, creating, simplifying, engineering.

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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The Admissions Strategist

How to write the usc supplemental essays 2020-2021: the perfect guide (examples included).

University of Southern California (USC) is a private university located in downtown Los Angeles, California.

With its warm weather and beautiful campus, USC has been a prime film location for many films and television shows.

  • If you’ve seen Forrest Gump, Legally Blonde, Love & Basketball, The Social Network , and the C ., you’ve seen USC.

Boasting over 21 colleges, academies, and schools of study that offer hundreds of majors, and thousands of courses, USC offers plenty of variety for even the most curious students.

USC’s acceptance rate has been sitting at a thin 13% for the past few years.

With such a low acceptance rate, you’ll need to write excellent essays to be considered for admission at USC.

USC uses the Common App , which means you can access all essay questions on the Common App portal.

Though you’ll need to make these essays count, you shouldn’t worry. This guide is here to help you through the entire process, so you can show the USC admissions team that you deserve to be a part of their upcoming class through thoughtful and well-written supplemental essays.

What Are USC’s Supplemental Essay Requirements?

USC requires that students answer multiple prompts as part of the application process. You will find both on the Common App.

USC Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on USC Supplemental Essay.

For the first prompt, students must choose one of three potential essay questions . These questions assess the student’s diverse experiences, interests, and characteristics. This type of question is also commonly referred to as the “diversity essay.”

The prompts for essay #1 include:

USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you. USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning. What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

For the second prompt, students must describe their intended major and what motivated them to make that choice.

The question is as follows:

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.

USC also has a short answer section, in which you are expected to write extremely short, 1 sentence (or even 1 word) answers. These questions are designed to better showcase your personality.

These questions are quite random, so prepare yourself to answer with authenticity and a bit of thought, so the best version of yourself is represented.

Creating a compelling application to USC requires well-written essay responses that reflect critical self-reflection and self-understanding.

On top of perfecting your mechanical skills, work to condense and hone your writing so that every word adds to your main point.

In addition to helping admissions counselors get to know you better through writing, you should pay attention to your organization, spelling, and grammar.

Simple mistakes in those areas can outshine your true potential.

We’ll look into each of the prompts in detail below, to help you submit the best version possible

Get personalized advice!

Usc supplemental essay prompt #1: new ideas.

“USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.”

In this prompt, USC tells you that they value diversity.

Not only do they value diversity, but they also value people who can appreciate diversity and are open-minded to new ideas, experiences, and perspectives .

First, it’s vital that you truly understand what diversity means.

  • According to Merriam-Webster, two definitions are “the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization” and “an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities.”

To answer this question, you will have to reflect on past experiences during which you faced a different idea or belief that somehow challenged yours.

  • You will then have to tie your experience and lessons learned in with USC’s values.

USC’s values are found underneath the Applicant Admission Process tab on their website.

In the Personal Qualities section, USC states: “We look for students who possess the potential to contribute to our diverse and vibrant campus life, who represent a vast array of interests and passions, and are leaders unafraid to speak up in class or fight for a cause.

We value students who make us think….”

  • In other words, not only does USC want you to be open-minded and appreciative of diversity, they also want you to be a leader and contributor to their community. They want you to own your uniqueness and share it with others in a way that is mutually beneficial to the community and to you.

Before you begin generating ideas, let’s take a deeper look at the question to fully understand what USC is asking for without going overboard in your response.

  • “Tell us about A TIME you were exposed to a new idea OR when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view.”
  • Your essay response only needs to include one story and does not need to include both components mentioned in the prompt.

To start brainstorming, think of a few times where you heard something or had a conversation that introduced you to a new perspective, changed your perspective, or called it into question.

  • How did you feel?
  • Why did you feel that way?

Once you have generated a list of experiences, pick the one you feel offers the deepest experience with diversity in your life.

Reflect on this experience and discuss how it affected you in a positive way.

  • How did those experiences change your thinking or your outlook on life for the better?
  • Did the experience cause you to question or reflect on other beliefs you possess?
  • If your perspective didn’t change, what did you appreciate about the other perspective on the issue/idea/belief?

It’s helpful to write down thoughts and notes before you begin crafting your actual essay.

After doing this, take what you have written and summarize that into a brief thesis statement.

  • Then, expand to help the reader to understand your challenge just as you were experiencing it.

Your telling of the experience can flow similar to how you would tell someone out loud, but you’re limited to 250 words.

  • For example, “My discussion with Person X did not change my views on the problems associated with income inequality, but it did help me to better understand and sympathize with some of the issues self-made wealthy individuals face…etc.”

Pick your most poignant experience and make a story out of it.

Help the reader to experience your challenge just as you were experiencing it.

Be sure to showcase your individuality and your open-mindedness. Once you’ve written your personal statement, be sure to have someone read through and edit your response.

This will help make sure your point was made and avoid spelling/grammar errors you may have overlooked.

USC Supplemental Essay Prompt #2: Outside of Your Academic Focus

“USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.”

With this prompt, USC wants to see that you are able to demonstrate open-mindedness.

  • It’s great that you want to study mathematics, but are you open to learning from the field of music?
  • What about psychology?
  • Maybe you want to be a doctor and are inspired by literary doctors like Oliver Sacks and William Carlos Williams. In this case, you’d explain how you plan on studying literature in addition to pre-medical courses.

They want to know that you care about things outside of your immediate focus.

Having more than one interest makes you more well-rounded on a personal level, and it can help you on professional and academic levels as well.

  • For instance, USC wants to produce skilled doctors, and they would prefer to produce good doctors who also understand the healing power of narrative. You’ll want to have a focus but also a breadth of diverse interests.

For this question, you will also need to be genuine.

Even if your other interest is not an academic field or major offered at USC, it’s okay.

  • The prompt doesn’t state it has to be an academic interest – it just has to be outside of your intended academic focus.
  • You may decide to minor in another area, but you should not feel restricted to discuss academics only.

Consider writing about opportunities offered at the university that exist outside of the classroom.

You could try researching the different clubs, activities, or events that exist or happen around campus.

  • For example, you may major in political science but also want to become a better musician.
  • You might sign up for a voice class at the university and join choirs and singing groups to improve your musical ability.

Or, maybe you are a STEM major, but you’ve also been learning ASL. You could write about your interest in USC’s American Sign Language Club, as it would help you better practice your sign language.

  • What are your other interests?
  • Try writing them down and writing about the one that means the most to you (or shows a side of you that is not yet on your application).

Here is another example:

  • If you plan on majoring in bioengineering, you’ll want to think beyond biology and engineering, as this is implied in the name of the major. You could be interested in a humanity like anthropology, which works to explain how human cultures work – an interest that may inform and enrichen your primary focus.

If you can’t think of a particular interest that would be completely new to you, consider a topic outside your academic focus that you want to become better versed in.

In this case, you’ll express why you want to continue learning more about that interest. In other words:

  • What is something you want to learn more about?
  • Why do you want to learn more about it?

While there’s no wrong way to answer the question, a great way to approach the question is using your interest to unconventionally further your understanding in your academic focus.

  • For instance, if you’re a physics major with a passion for music, you might write about using music as practical applications of some physics principles regarding vibration and sound transfer.

If there’s a particular story behind your interest, share that in a way that helps the reader connect with you.

Telling a short story about your interest will help you effectively use more of your 250-word limit.

Overall, try to be authentic and show USC that you’re a well-rounded individual who will add to their campus community in more ways than one.

USC Outside of Academic Focus Essay Example

“Hi. My name … is Bobby … and I will be playing Fur … Elise … today.” The audience sat still as I stuttered through my introduction, approaching the lavish grand piano for my freshman-year recital. As chords flowed through my hands, my fingers began to slip, missing notes along the way. My stage fright had gotten the better of me. When I enrolled at GSA the next year, my friends dragged me to drill practice in preparation for the Clash of the Halls dance competition. I was reluctant, but upperclassmen convinced me to represent my hall at the most popular event at school. Although I had performed at multiple piano recitals, participating in choreographed dancing was a new challenge. Passion gradually outweighed my fear as I became more comfortable with the challenging choreography. Dancing became less of a commitment. I slowly became obsessed with making sure our team hit every note, rhythm, and beat. When I began leading practices, rising from apprentice to teacher, the moves became muscle memory and excitement pumped through my veins. After months of practices, I led my hallmates into the gym, exuding hall spirit and assuming our formation. The fear that once possessed me completely vanished. We went on to give an unforgettable show. Having discovered my newfound passion, I went on to choreograph my school’s Diwali dance for the next two years. I look forward to pursuing my love for dance by joining the USC Zeher Bollywood fusion team in the near future.

USC Supplemental Essay Prompt #3: Essential to Understanding You

“What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?”

This is the equivalent of the “tell me about yourself” question; the same one that you will be asked during almost every interview.

This question is broad, so you want to be particular.

The best way to be particular is by utilizing a story you haven’t already told in another part of your application. This story should also highlight one of the characteristics you feel is essential to who you are as a person.

  • Think of a story that demonstrates your values, a perfect day, an activity you enjoy, or an important relationship.

You’ll want to be able to pinpoint that one thing throughout your story.

  • The key is to answer the question concisely (within the 250 word count maximum) and genuinely.

Another great way to approach this question is to ask yourself a question and answer through a free-write.

Examples of questions you could ask yourself include:

  • What do I value?
  • What does my perfect day look like?
  • What could I do every day and not get tired of?
  • Who are the most important people in my life?
  • What’s my ultimate life goal?
  • What motivates me?

Write whatever comes to mind for your questions.

Don’t be afraid to include a negative experience if it significantly affected your life, goals, or personality.

This is where you can find beauty in the darkness to show how you’re unique.

Do the same free-write exercise with these questions.

  • What struggle do I work most to overcome?
  • What is something only those closest to me know about how I’ve become who I am?
  • What do I avoid at all costs?
  • What am I terrified of?

You are not being asked to share your most tragic story or deepest darkest secret, but it’s important to appreciate that we don’t only grow from positive experiences.

We grow from all experiences, so write about one (positive or negative) that has shaped you most.

The next step is to ask yourself why. This is very important.

USC wants to know what is important to you and why it’s important.

  • If your answer is “I don’t know,” take some time to think about it or move on to the next idea on your list.
  • Ask friends and family for their thoughts (but remember that you have to create an essay with your own thoughts and not those of someone else).

Here’s an example of breaking down a meaningful story to pinpoint the specific characteristic that is essential to you being you.

  • Interest: I love traveling by train.
  • Why? I like the rhythm and cadence of the wheels on the tracks, the sound of the whistle, watching the diversity of the landscape as I travel in and out of urban centers.
  • What does it say about me? I pine for a quieter, slower time and love to find ways to balance the rush and grind of the city with habits of slow living.
  • What characteristic does this give me? This says something about how I’m contemplative.
  • How do I use this characteristic? I spend time contemplating choices longer than most and dislike being rushed to make a decision.

When you’re able to come up with the answer to “Why?” write down as much as you can without judging yourself. You’re the only person who knows the truth about what is essential to understanding you.

When you’re able to identify what you would like to write about, frame it within a story.

Remember you only have 250 words to spare, so it won’t be a full-blown story.

However, two to three sentences about the background behind your topic will be helpful to the reader.

  • For example, if you want to write about your involvement in sports as an important part of who you are, write about how you became interested in sports in the first place.
  • Maybe your grandfather taught you how to throw a football. Maybe he came to all your games.
  • Let the reader know the story behind what you’ve chosen to write about.

As always, have someone read your essay to ensure that it is error-free and genuinely reflects you.

USC Essential to Understanding You Essay Example

My grandmother likes to tell the story of three-year-old me in the grocery cart, screaming in Vietnamese the names of passing vegetables, much to the amusement of shoppers. Back then, Vietnamese was enough. In kindergarten, I faced my first language obstacle. At the toilet, I couldn’t undo my double-ring belt. How embarrassing would it be to interrupt the teacher in the middle of class and silently point to it, hoping she would get the message? I chose to sit on the toilet and cry. That was the first day I peed my pants in class but the last time language would ever come between me and going to the bathroom. I made learning English my mission. By third grade, I was reading stacks of books almost as tall as I was every week. Language is meaningful to me. While volunteering in the hospital, when I ask a lost elderly couple if they speak Vietnamese, their eyes light up in relief. When a Spanish-speaking woman hurriedly calls her child over to translate, I tell them in Spanish not to worry, empathizing with the child who has the same role I once did. Language doesn’t just communicate information. For me, it has been a tool for insight, allowing me to connect with others. Throughout my schooling, I’ve taught my parents a lot of English, and I still teach them new words every so often. When I make the occasional error, I jokingly but affectionately blame it on English as my second language.

“Why USC?” Supplemental Essay: How to Answer The Intended Major Question

“The intended major question states: Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.”

This is another version of a “Why This College” essay .

Sometimes when high school students are asked about their major, they get overwhelmed because they aren’t 100% confident about what they want to study.

Consider major selections to be a road trip, not a death sentence.

You are allowed to change your mind, but it helps if you know what you want and why. So, take some time to think about it:

  • What do you enjoy studying?
  • Why do you enjoy studying it?
  • Are there other subjects you enjoy as well?

Think about your experiences in school up until this point.

Sure, interests change, but, often, there are things within our lives that remain constant.

Maybe you never cared about history class, but you enjoyed reading novels and analyzing characterization and plot techniques.

  • Or, perhaps you hated having reading assigned for class but enjoyed acting out scenes from different novels and plays.

These are things to take note of.

Another way to help you figure out your intended major is to look through USC’s website.

  • Remember, this question functions as both a question about your intended major and a question about your intentions for applying to USC. Your answer is best suited when tailored to USC’s unique features that other colleges may not offer.

Does Biomedical Engineering sound interesting to you? Check out USC’s Biomedical Engineering program. Look at the courses you will have to take. See what excites you.

Still struggling to come up with your intended major?

Working backward is another helpful strategy.

  • Think about where you will want to be 5 to 10 years from now.
  • What do you want to be doing every day?
  • Are you passionate about reading and analyzing large amounts of information and communicating it in a way that makes sense to other people?
  • Do you want to teach people how to handle their finances?
  • Are you interested in helping other people live healthier lives?
  • Do you want to develop your passion for writing into a career?

Look at careers that match the types of things you will want to be doing every day. Then, look at the type of knowledge that will be required to get those jobs.

That knowledge may be found in more than one major. If that’s the case, you will need to look through the department websites for your intended majors.

  • Once you’ve done the necessary background research, tell your story.
  • Lean into a story of what your major will be and own it, but, remember, it’s not binding or contractual.

The more you learn about different majors, the clearer your intended major may become, so spend a couple of hours clicking deep into the website:

  • Start with the programs related to a chosen field.
  • Then, look at the types of courses that are offered and learn about some of the professors teaching the courses.
  • You’ll also want to look at news or research coming out of the department.

Consider ways in which you will grow and flourish academically and programs to which you might contribute as a student at USC.

If you have a career goal, it can help.

  • Describe how your major in narrative studies will help you realize the goal of becoming a documentary filmmaker.
  • Explain how you will be prepared in a program that balances traditional studies in English literature with film theory, writing classes, as well as the study of popular culture and ethnicity.
  • Write about how a degree in social work will help shape you into the type of politician you want to be in the future.

Write the vision for your life and write how your first (and/or second-choice) major will help you get there.

It would be an added bonus if you can talk about extracurricular activities you might be interested in joining to further supplement your learning.

Remember, learning takes place outside the classroom as well.

Take time with this essay to make sure you’re confident in your future goals, and then share them with the admissions team. When you’re authentic and have a plan for the future, you’re sure to write a compelling essay.

Why USC and Why This Major Essay Example

8 p.m. – I sat in the peer tutor room, waiting for underclassmen to approach me for academic help. An hour-long shift passed without any students stopping by. At this moment, I realized the immense lack of organization within the peer tutoring program at GSA. Students could neither find available tutors nor schedule time with them despite needing support for challenging courses. I knew there had to be a better way. I spent the next few months teaching myself Android Studio programming and developed EngTutor, an app that streamlines the process of finding academic help connecting students with available tutors. I will use the resources available at USC to turn EngTutor into a commercial venture. In the classroom, I aim to take advantage of USC’s advanced computer science program to broaden my knowledge of robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. I am excited to take courses such as Advanced Natural Language Processing to understand AI concepts. At USC, I intend to take advantage of the focus on interdisciplinary studies and enroll in elective courses at the Marshall School of Business to complement my skills developed at USC’s LavaLab. By receiving mentorship from professionals in entrepreneurship and computer science and gaining experience pitching my ideas to judges, I will be ready to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad. Here, I aim to collaborate with like-minded individuals to enhance my entrepreneurship capabilities. Through these academic and extracurricular programs, USC will provide me with the resources necessary to embark on my entrepreneurial journey.

The USC Short-Answer Questions

The USC Short-Answer Questions include:

  • Describe yourself in three words.
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Best movie of all time:
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
  • Dream trip:
  • What TV show will you binge watch next?
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?
  • Favorite book:
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

While most universities that include a short answer section limit your word count to 100 words, the USC short answer questions only require one or two sentences to fully answer them.

  • Be sure to answer the “why” implicit in the question.
  • Treat it more like a conversation or an interview – monosyllabic responses don’t bode well for a conversation, and they don’t look great on your application, either.
  • Instead, add a little context to your answers.
  • After all, the USC admissions department should better understand you after reading your short answers.

There are two kinds of questions – Listing something that you feel describes yourself, and answering generic “break the ice” questions.

  • For the questions in which you describe yourself, try asking friends or family for some perspective.
  • Most importantly, make sure that you don’t choose vague adjectives – Each word should reflect a specific part of your personality.

If you are having a lot of trouble thinking of words that best describe you, don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, if you are a Harry Potter fan, consider using traits that describe your favorite Hogwarts house.

  • For instance, if you consider yourself a Ravenclaw, you might use the words “analytical, quizzical, and creative.”
  • A Slytherin may use “ambitious, hardworking, and clever.”
  • Whatever method you use, make sure that these words tell USC about you.

For other questions, begin with the answer, then explain the why.

Also, remember that the admissions team at USC is not looking for the most sophisticated student, they just want introspective students.

  • For instance, don’t just say that your favorite movie is Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Twelve Angry Men – explain why (briefly).
  • Perhaps you’re interested in the themes of privacy versus security, or the film made you interested in the law or political science.

With every question, bring along a little insight into your life, your beliefs, and your ambitions.

USC Short Responses Examples

1.Describe yourself in three words.
2. First Word: Self-motivated
3. Second Word: Analytical
4. Third Word: Mindful
5. What is your favorite snack? Raisins and almonds: nutritious, portable, and delicious
6. Favorite app/website: Spotify
7. Best movie of all time: Avengers: Infinity War
8. Dream job: Founder/CEO of my assistive robotics technology company
9. What is your theme song: Believer – Imagine Dragons
10. Dream trip: Road trip on historic Route 66 from Chicago to LA with my friends
11. What TV show will you binge watch next: The Office
12. Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate: Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings
13. Favorite book: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
14. If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be: Facing Your Fears: Public Speaking

Conclusion: Writing the USC Supplemental Essays

As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, well-written responses to those prompts require self-reflection, critical self-analysis, and research.

Start early to give yourself enough time to research your intended majors, write high-quality responses, and have time for revisions.

You have a 250 word limit for each of the supplemental essays, so use them all to create a lasting impression on the admissions officer reading your application.

By following the above guidelines, you can create a shining admissions package that will set you apart from other applicants.

Don’t forget to have fun, be a little creative, and show the USC admissions team who you really are. Your best chance to get into USC depends on it.

Learn how we can help you with college and career guidance! Check out our YouTube channel!

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College Essays

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So you have your heart set on going to the University of Southern California . That's great—it's one of the best schools in the country ! Unfortunately, that makes it tough to get into: only 10% of applicants are admitted each year .

But don't worry. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to write an outstanding USC Writing Supplement .

We'll answer all of your questions, including the following:

  • What is the USC supplement?
  • What are the questions, and how do I answer them?
  • Are there tips and tricks for knocking your USC essays out of the park?
  • What steps do I take to finish my USC application?

Let's get started!

Feature Image: Sitao Xiang / Wikimedia

What Is the USC Supplement?

The USC Writing Supplement is an additional part of the USC application that you fill out on the Common App website.

The supplement itself consists of two writing prompts (250 words each) and 12 short-answer questions (100 characters each) . The word limits mean you'll have to cram a lot of information into a small amount of space.

Great USC essays are going to be concise, honest, creative, and engaging . Remember, USC designed the supplement to help admissions counselors get a better sense of your personality. Don't be afraid to embrace your individuality here! It's your chance to share aspects of yourself, your life, and your goals that aren't captured by the Common App.

In other words: this is your time to shine.

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( Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia)

Where Can I Find the USC Supplement?

The writing supplement is part of the USC Common Application. Once you've selected USC as one of your colleges, it should pop up in the application portal. If you're not exactly sure how to find it, don't worry ... here's a step-by-step guide!

  • Log into the Common App website using your username and password.
  • Click on the "College Search" tab and look for "University of Southern California."
  • Select the search result and then click "add" to add it to your profile.
  • Return to your dashboard and look for "University of Southern California." Click the label below the school that reads "Show more details."
  • From there, click on the link titled "Writing Questions."
  • You can also access the supplement by clicking on "University of Southern California" and scrolling down the school's home page on the Common App to find a link labeled "Writing Questions."

How Do I Answer the USC Essay Prompts?

The writing supplement contains two short writing prompts designed to showcase both your writing skills and your personality. But because you're limited to 250 words, you need to make every word count .

Here are some general strategies to keep in mind.

#1: Use a Standard Format

It's important that you aren't wasting precious space. A good strategy is to limit your intro/thesis statement and your conclusion to one sentence each . That lets you use the rest of the space to answer the prompt.

#2: Show, Don't Tell

Instead of giving run-of-the-mill answers, use stories and anecdotes to illustrate your point. Paint a picture for your audience when you can!

For example, say you're talking about your love of photography. Instead of writing, "I love to photograph people," see if you can capture the feeling of taking someone's picture.

A better sentence might read, "I love trying to capture people's personalities through my camera lens." The first answer tells us that you enjoy photography, but the second response shows us why you love it .

#3: Edit, Edit, Edit

Don't be disappointed if your first attempt at answering these prompts goes over the word limit. That's OK! Keep cutting and revising until you end up with something great.

Here are a few examples of how you can edit a sentence to make every word work:

  • OK: "It was the very best experience of my whole life."
  • Better: "It was the best experience of my life."
  • Best: "The trip was transformational."
  • Passive: "Geology would be my preferred major."
  • Active: "I plan to major in geology."
  • With "is": "Researching cancer treatments is my ultimate career goal."
  • Without "is": "I plan to pursue a career in cancer research."

#4: Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

The USC supplement is short, so it's tempting to tackle it at the end of the application process. Don't! Writing short responses is harder than it looks, so give yourself plenty of time .

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The USC Essay

USC is making things more streamlined this year: everyone answers the same question! Here's the prompt:

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.

What Is This Question Asking You to Do?

No option here: you're stuck with this prompt and limited to 250 words in your response. But that's OK because this is the "Why USC?" question. (It's a version of what we call the "why this college" around here.)

Why do you need to go to USC to fulfill your dreams? Or, put another way: why is USC the only school for you?

This means choosing and discussing your major (and your second-choice major if your program is very competitive). Remember that you're not committed to the major you pick . You can change majors after you've enrolled.

How Do You Answer This Question?

Research, research, research. Visit the USC website and get to know your college, your department, and the classes offered. Also, take a close look at your major's course of study. If you're going to take classes from other departments, figure out which ones and why. For example, if you're majoring in international relations and want to work in China, you'll probably take foreign language/culture courses (like Advanced Modern Chinese) and political science courses (like Chinese Foreign Policy). Research the professors in the department and mention them by name.

  • Seize the day. There's more to college than going to class. Making the most of USC means getting involved and taking advantage of opportunities such as internships and study abroad programs. There are over 100 international fellowships and programs available through different colleges, so be sure to look into them . Mentioning programs like the Global Fellows Internship (available to all students) or the Maymester , which is a major-specific opportunity, shows that you're serious about making the most of your education at USC.
  • Focus on USC. Your job is to show why USC and nowhere else can help you achieve your dreams.

body-typing-writing-computer-essay-studying-cc0

Optional Essay: Explaining Your Education Gap

Who is this question for.

First thing's first: not everyone needs to answer this question. Only respond to this prompt if you took a semester or more off between high school and enrolling in college, or if you took time off while enrolled in high school.

So if you took a gap year (or two, or three), you should answer this question.

This isn't a trick question. Admissions counselors genuinely want to know why you took time off between high school and starting college. And don't worry if your reason isn't "sexy," like you were rescuing sea turtles off the coast of Argentina or teaching English to underprivileged students in Iowa. For most people, the answers will fall along the lines of getting a job, financial difficulties, or helping out their family.

In short: this question is asking you to honestly explain your education gap so that admissions counselors have a better idea of you and your story.

How Do You Answer the Question?

  • Keep it short and sweet. It's tempting to give admissions counselors every detail of your situation. But the truth is, they only need to know the most pertinent information while still being honest. Remember: you only have 250 words!
  • Explain why you're choosing now to return to school. Counselors are also going to be interested in why you want to go to college now. Be honest about this, too! It's okay to say that you wanted to take some time off to really figure out what you wanted to do with your life, and now you're prepared and excited to throw yourself into your studies. Whatever the case may be, make it clear that you're ready to be an engaged and dedicated student regardless of your education gap.
  • Don't make excuses. This isn't a "woe is me" section. While taking time off between high school and college may have been out of your control, this isn't the time to air your grievances. The best answers to this question will keep things as honest and positive as possible.

Body_Think_Small_Freddie_Alequin

Your answers in the next section might be small, but they're mighty.

Freddie Alequin /Flickr

The USC Short-Answer Questions

On the surface, the short-answer questions seem simple, but many students find this section the hardest part of the supplement . That's because these responses are limited to 100 characters or less—shorter than a tweet!

Here are some general tips to make tackling the USC short-answer questions a breeze:

#1: Maximize the space you have. There's room to elaborate on your answers a bit, and you should.

#2: There are no right answers. Admissions counselors don't have specific responses in mind. This is their way of trying to get to know the person behind the application.

#3: You're more than a major. It's tempting to make every answer tie into your major or future career in some way; instead, your answers should capture who you are as a person and hark back to your academic goals only if it makes sense for them to.

#4: Don't be afraid of a little humor. Embrace being funny but not at someone else's expense. 

#5: Avoid clichés.

#6: Keep it tasteful. If you wouldn't say it to your parents, don't say it to an admissions counselor!

Now that you have some solid strategies, let's look at each question individually.

Questions 1-3: Describe Yourself in Three Words

A good way to tackle this question is to ask your friends and family to text you their responses, and look for patterns . For example, if five people say you are nice and caring, combine those into one idea, such as "empathetic."

Adjectives are the most common words to use, but you can pick nouns, too! Just stick to ones with personality (like "bookworm" if you love to read, or "shutterbug" if you're a photographer). Choose words that are highly descriptive (e.g., "enthusiastic" instead of "fun") and avoid clichés as much as you can.

Oh, and the supplement breaks this response into three separate fields , so make sure you don't type all three words on one line ! Also, note that there's a 25-character limit per word, so think "antidisestablishmentarian" or shorter.

Here are some sample responses:

  • Whimsical, artistic, collaborative
  • Competitive, thoughtful, engaging
  • Loquacious, jovial, encouraging
  • Reserved, compassionate, giving

Question 4: What Is Your Favorite Snack?

Here's a chance to showcase your personality by being specific . Let's say that you love peanut M&Ms. A specific answer might say, "Eating peanut M&Ms while watching a scary movie."

You can also touch on your personal history , especially if you come from a diverse background. You could say something like "My abuela's enchiladas" or "Almond Crush Pocky" as a nod to your heritage.

Finally, lean into your weird . We all have strange snacks that somehow hit the spot (we're looking at you, hot dog buns dunked in hot chocolate). If there's a bonkers food you enjoy—such as dipping tater tots in soft-serve ice cream—this is your time to shine. An added bonus? It will definitely make an impression.

  • Perfectly toasted marshmallows while sitting around a campfire.
  • A hot dog and soda from Fenway Park.
  • Homemade apple pie with melted cheddar cheese on top!
  • A package of Digestive Biscuits (they're cookies!) and a glass of milk.

Question 5: Best Movie of All Time

This question can make applicants anxious because people are passionate about the movies they love ... and the movies they love to hate! That's why we recommend that you either give a serious answer or embrace your silliness.

This goes without saying, but make sure your movie choice is appropriate . If you wouldn't watch it with your family, don't list it here. Also, steer clear of any super-controversial picks—don't pick a film that's clearly discriminatory, such as Birth of a Nation.

  • Serious: Blade Runner because of its influence on sci-fi film.
  • Serious: Saving Private Ryan . It reminds us that war is hard, dangerous, and tragic.
  • Silly: The Lion King . We should all "hakuna matata" a little more!
  • Both: Legally Blonde —I love stories about women chasing their dreams.

body-dream-job-vacation-cc0

What is your ideal job? Maybe it's making mini beach dioramas in vintage suitcases.

Question 6: Dream Job

Obviously, this answer should roughly align with your major . (Don't say your dream job is to play Aaron Burr in Hamilton if you're majoring in computer science.)

You should also think big and think ahead. For instance, if you're a computer science major, maybe you want to start a company that develops assistive AI for people with disabilities. Embrace big goals!

The more specific you are, the better. Don't just say you want to be a veterinarian. What kind of animals do you want to work with? Will you specialize in something? Do you want to own your own practice? Adding detail will make your answer stand out.

  • A large-animal veterinarian that helps rural farmers care for their livestock.
  • The owner of a non-profit that helps women of color succeed in corporate America.
  • A judge appointed to the US Courts of Appeals.

Question 7: If Your Life Had a Theme Song, What Would It Be?

Everyone needs a little walk-in music. As you think about yours, choose a song with a title that makes a point . It's tempting to pick a song with a specific lyric that speaks to you, but your admissions counselor might not be able to make the connection. Think more along the lines of "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty or "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" by Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics.

Be careful that your song title can't be misconstrued. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred might seem like a funny choice to you, but it could also come across as cocky or overconfident.

Additionally, keep your choice appropriate . Look through the song lyrics to make sure they aren't offensive.

And whatever you do, don't say the Trojan Fight Song . That's probably the most popular—and most clichéd—answer you could possibly give!

  • "Beautiful Day" by U2
  • "My Shot" from the Hamilton soundtrack
  • "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

body-trip-vacation-vintage-cc0-pixabay

Maybe your dream trip is a mix of adventure and van life.

Question 8: Dream Trip

There's no special trick to answering this question. Just be honest and specific! And feel free to focus on experiences as well as destinations. Maybe you want to snorkel with stingrays in the Caribbean or visit the Lord of the Rings set locations in New Zealand. Share that here!

  • Letting a lantern go during the Floating Lantern Festival in Thailand.
  • Hiking to the top of Machu Picchu.
  • Driving from California to Illinois on Route 66 with my best friends.
  • Eating paella from a street vendor in Barcelona.
  • Visiting Zimbabwe and bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Question 9: What TV Show Will You Binge Watch Next?

This is another question designed to reveal something about you, your likes, and your dislikes. We suggest that you pick a show you like, as long as it isn't completely without substance. If you're having a hard time choosing, try narrowing it down to your favorite genre first.

  • I'll binge Making a Murderer because I'm interested in how the justice system works (and doesn't work).
  • The Good Place because it combines comedy and philosophy!
  • Friends because it helps you understand interpersonal relationships.

I'm bingeing RuPaul's Drag Race and learning a lot about drag culture and inclusivity.

Question 10: Which Well-Known Person or Fictional Character Would Be Your Ideal Roommate?

This question essentially wants to know who you could see yourself living with on a daily basis , whether it's a fictional character from a TV show or book you love, or a real-life celebrity, such as a movie star, singer, scientist, activist, writer, or historical figure.

The prompt doesn't limit you to living celebrities, so feel free to write about somebody who passed away recently (think Stephen Hawking) or even centuries ago (such as Jane Austen).

Make sure that you're choosing a person who will reveal something positive and/or unique about yourself. It's also OK to throw in a little humor! For example, if you're a huge Renaissance-period buff, you could talk about how you'd love to live with King Henry VIII because he'd entertain you every night with stories of his marriages.

Regardless of who you choose to write about, remember that the admissions committee wants to learn something about you through the person you pick to be your roommate , so be sure that you can clearly tie them back to yourself and your own interests somehow.

  • Marie Curie because we could conduct experiments together after class every day.
  • Hermione Granger! She'd be a great study buddy and could teach me magic on the side.
  • David Sedaris. We could write stories together and he'd never fail to make me laugh!

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Question 11: Favorite Book

This is a pretty straightforward question that's similar to the "favorite movie" one above. Be honest— don't try to pass off a book as one of your favorites just because it sounds impressive or is highly intellectual . The admissions committee will likely be able to tell if you're trying to show off!

At the same time, don't write about a book that's overly childish or inappropriate , or that fails to reveal anything interesting or impressive about you. For instance, even if you really love Twilight , unless you can say something a little more intellectual about it, such as how you enjoy analyzing its portrayal of codependency in teenage relationships, this book likely won't leave much of a positive impression on the USC admissions committee.

  • Wild because this book inspired me to be courageous and go on a three-day hike by myself.
  • Lolita is my favorite book because it's downright disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful.
  • Definitely The Hobbit . It was the first book I read that showed me the power of taking risks.

Question 12: If You Could Teach a Class on any Topic, What Would It Be?

This final question from USC is truly a thought-provoking one. Basically, the admissions committee wants to know what kind of class you'd teach if you could choose any topic of interest to you .

While the topic you write about doesn't need to directly relate to your major, it should definitely be something you're deeply passionate (and, ideally, fairly knowledgeable) about . Are you really into horror movies and enjoy dissecting their depictions of female characters? Then perhaps you'd like to teach a class on women in horror.

Be as specific as you can be. Don't just say you want to teach a class on the environment because you're committed to combating climate change. What specific topic concerning the environment or climate change would you like others to learn more about, and why?

  • A creative writing class that would focus on writing stories from the perspective of children.
  • Women of color in astronomy. Too few know about the accomplishments of Beth Brown and Mae Jemison!
  • The Navajo language. Not enough schools teach it and we Native Americans must strive to preserve it.

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Finishing your supplement is like climbing a really tall flight of stairs. Just put one foot in front of the other! 

Next Steps for Your USC Supplement

Even once you've finished and submitted your Common App and USC essays, you're not quite done. Most of USC's colleges require you to submit additional materials, such as portfolios or writing samples, before your application is considered complete.

Visit the links below to view each college's supplemental application requirements and submission deadlines:

  • USC School of Architecture
  • Roski School of Art and Design
  • Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation
  • Marshall School of Business (World Bachelor in Business)
  • USC School of Cinematic Arts
  • Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
  • Kaufman School of Dance
  • Ostrow School of Dentistry (Junior Transfers Only)
  • USC School of Dramatic Arts
  • Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Thornton School of Music

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Need Some Extra Help?

The USC application process can be overwhelming, but PrepScholar is here to help you succeed ! Check out our resources below for more information about how our experts can help you achieve your dreams.

Haven't started your Common Application yet? No problem! We've got you covered with tips and tricks to make your application stand out from the crowd .

Start learning more about USC! Check out their admission requirements , mission statement, admission website, and this great blog post about getting to know USC without leaving your couch.

Still stressed about your supplement? Get in touch with PrepScholar's college admissions team !

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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University of Southern California (USC) Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure how to approach the USC supplemental essays?  CollegeAdvisor.com’s  guide to the USC essay prompts will show you exactly how to write engaging USC essays and strengthen your application.

If you need help crafting your USC supplemental essays, create your  free account  or  schedule a free consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

USC Supplemental Essays Guide Quick Facts:

  • USC has an acceptance rate of 16% –  U.S. News  ranks USC as a  more selective  school.
  • We recommend answering the USC supplemental essays thoughtfully to increase your chances of admission.

Does the University of Southern California have supplemental essays?

In short, yes. All applicants must submit several USC supplemental essays in addition to the personal statement you’ll write for your  Common App  or  Coalition App . We’ll detail each of the USC prompts—along with insider advice—in this guide to the USC essays.

Need some help writing your Common App essay? Get great tips from our Common App essay  guide .

How many essays does the University of Southern California require?

There are two USC essays on the 2020-2021 Common app. In addition to these two USC essays, some applicants may also choose to complete a third USC supplemental essay.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each of the USC supplemental essays. We’ll also discuss which applicants should submit USC essays that respond to the third optional USC essay prompt.

Are the University of Southern California essays important?

The USC supplemental essays are extremely important. After all, the USC essays are a window into your unique talents and abilities. By writing strong USC supplemental essays, you can use your own words to show the admissions team who you are and why you belong at USC.

Test-optional admissions policies have also made the USC supplemental essays more important. Many California universities have dropped the  ACT/SAT requirements . USC, however, has not. Your test scores may be the same as another applicant, so your USC supplemental essays can help you stand out. In other words, pay close attention to the USC prompts!

How do I write the University of Southern California essays?

Once again, there are two required USC supplemental essays in addition to the Common App essay. This is a lot of writing, so we recommend you begin your USC supplemental essays as early as possible. The sooner you start considering the USC prompts, the stronger your USC supplemental essays will be.

USC does not have an Early Decision or Early Action program. This means USC considers all applications—and all USC essays—in the same cycle. Over 70,000 students applied to USC last year. Therefore, strong USC supplemental essays can help you stand out from the crowd.

Want more advice on your USC essays? Read USC’s  “What We Look For”  page as a primer for drafting your USC supplemental essays.

We have provided the USC essay prompts below—along with USC example essays—to assist you as you begin your USC essays.

In this guide, we will discuss how to address both required USC essays.

USC Supplemental Essays — Question 1 (Required)

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first-and second-choice major selections. (250-word max).

To begin, the first of the USC supplemental essays does two things. First, this USC essay prompts you to detail your academic plan, including your interests and priorities. Second, this USC asks you to illustrate why USC is the right school for you.

You might struggle to complete the first of the USC prompts. When you read, “Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests,” you may initially think, “Uh, I am trying to get into USC to pursue those interests.” However, you shouldn’t let this discourage you. If you know what interests you, you already have an academic plan—you just need to express it in 250 words for the first of your USC supplemental essays.

Let’s break down how to brainstorm and represent your academic plan in the USC essays!

Choosing a Major

By now, you likely have a sense of your academic interests. If you have an idea of what you’d like to study but don’t know what specific major to choose, check out our tips on choosing a  college major .

USC offers its own suggestions for  choosing a major , which might be useful when completing your USC essays! Keep in mind that USC also has several  unique programs  for undergraduates. The USC supplemental essays require all students to identify at least one potential major, so you’ll benefit from doing your research. Plus, spending some time on the USC website will also help you describe why USC is the place for you!

Maybe you know the career you want to pursue but you don’t know what major will help you achieve your goals. To start, you might do some research or speak to adults in your chosen field. If you’re wondering what fellow Gen-Z students are pursuing, check out our list of popular majors for  Gen-Z students   or our webinar for  undecided majors . Additionally, check out this  Business News Daily article  for a list of majors associated with particular careers.

Finally, remember that the major you specify in your USC supplemental essays is non-binding. Above all, this USC essay prompts you to consider what intellectual pursuits matter to you. Think of the majors you choose as a way to communicate your interests to admissions officers.

Connecting to USC

This USC essay prompts you to showcase your understanding of  USC’s passion  for innovation and research. The USC supplemental essays ask students to explain why USC is the right school for them.

Structuring a Response

Well done—you’ve chosen a major (or two) and thought about why you want to study this topic specifically at USC. Now, let’s move on to drafting.

Before you begin writing, notice the requirements of the first of the USC essay prompts:

  • Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests.
  • Explain why you want to pursue this at USC.
  • Identify your first and second choice majors.

Think long term

USC wants to know your long-term academic plans in college and beyond. Then, they want to know why you want to pursue those plans at USC. Let’s look at a few USC essay examples. Though short, each example will show you what a dynamic opening might look like and how it can be tied into USC-specific programs.

Ex. I realize that I have an addiction to TikTok. I often wonder—what leads us to scroll? (anecdote/dynamic opening)

To this end, I want to pursue a BA in Social Science with an emphasis in psychology or a BA in Informatics. Ideally, I would like to do both with the USC Research Gateway Scholars program…(USC specific connection)

In the first of the USC essay examples, notice that it begins with something that seems frivolous—an addiction to TikTok. However, the example also hints at a certain vulnerability that draws the reader in, as well as a question (“what leads us to scroll?”) that shows the student possesses a level of self-awareness.

Ex. Not unlike a lot of other children of migrant parents, we moved around a lot when I was younger.  Because of this, literature was my constant companion. (anecdote/dynamic opening)

I want to offer this same friendship to other young readers. The Narratives Studies program or Comparative Literature program at USC is an ideal place for me to start this journey. (USC specific connection)

In the second of the USC essay examples, our imaginary writer identified a long-term plan as well as their first and second choice majors. You’ll also notice that both of these USC essay examples connect their goals with a USC-specific program.

As you begin your own USC essays, think about how these USC essay examples attach each student’s own interests, background, and identity to the opportunities available at USC.

Making it Personal

In both USC essay examples above, the student shared a part of their personal history. As you begin your USC essays, think about your own history.  What about your story has led you to your academic interests? How has your identity influenced your long-term academic plan? These details will help make your USC essays unique.

USC Supplemental Essays Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your USC supplemental essay response identify your long-term plans?
  • Does your USC essay identify your specific reasons for studying at USC?
  • Do you include your first and second-choice majors?
  • Does your USC essay describe your unique passions?

USC Supplemental Essays — Question 2 (Required)

Please respond to one of the USC prompts below. (250-word limit).
USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Tell us about a time when you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.
USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

Choosing from the USC prompts

Remember, USC supplemental essays should illustrate your personal attitudes and passions.  In these USC prompts, you have the chance to highlight some dynamic aspects of your identity.  While you can choose from any of the three listed USC prompts, you should select one that reveals something distinct about your personality and experiences.

In general, it’s a good idea to select a prompt that lets you showcase experiences not found elsewhere in your application. Choose a prompt that adds to your application – not one that repeats information that your readers already know. Whichever of the USC essay prompts you choose, you should highlight specific experiences that have contributed to the ways you see the world. If you find yourself speaking in vague terms while drafting, you might choose another of the USC prompts.

Providing Insight

USC looks for students with a “vast array of interests and passions” who are “bold, driven, curious, and creative.” Your USC essays are your chance to show your reader how this applies to you!

Did you recently realize that a long-held belief about something or someone was wrong? Take this opportunity to show USC your willingness to grow and learn. After all, an important part of learning is recognizing that we do not know everything. USC wants to see how students can develop new ways of thinking, so use the USC supplemental essays to show how this applies to you. For example, did you change your mind after a conversation with a friend about an issue that mattered to them?  In other words, USC wants students who are open-minded—so tell them that story.

Tell a story

For example, did your curiosity about income inequality ignite you to research local legislative policies driving those inequalities? Or, did you harness social media to educate local voters or encourage your peers to vote on local legislative policies? USC wants students who are looking to impact communities—so tell them that story.

Do you use your interest in theoretical physics to craft plots for YA novels? Do you listen to Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast during passing periods? USC wants students who are interested in interdisciplinary arenas—so tell them that story.

Does your love of balloons show that you are a minimalist at heart? Does your addiction to cherry Chapstick highlight your commitment to a cause? Your quirks help USC understand who you are beyond your grades and test scores—so tell them that story.

Any of these USC essay prompts can give you an opportunity to boost your application. In under 250 words, use the second of your USC supplemental essays to help the admissions team get a glimpse into your identity and interiority.

USC Supplemental Essays Key Questions:

  • Does your USC essay draft specifically address one of the USC prompts provided?
  • Does your response demonstrate something new about you?
  • Do you include specific details in your USC essay?

USC Supplemental Essays — Question 3 (Optional)

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (250-word limit).

Typically, we would encourage you to respond to all USC essay prompts. However, in this case, you should only respond if the prompt applies to you.

Filling the Gap

This third USC essay prompts you to describe why you took a break in your schooling. If you took time out of high school due to COVID or other factors, this prompt gives you the chance to contextualize your time off and explain how it might influence the rest of your application.

USC wants to know the reasons for the break in your academic career.  You should answer this USC essay prompt honestly. If you needed a break from school, tell the admissions committee that you took time off to think about your future plans. If family circumstances prevented you from attending college, relay those experiences. Be sure to include why you want to return to school at this time.

Reasoning First

Be careful to avoid too much emotion here. USC simply wants to know the reasons for your absence from the academic world— you do not need to paint that picture with dramatic pathos.

Wondering how this would look? Let’s check out some USC essay examples:

Ex. Stricken with an unknown heart condition, the stress of school was life-threatening and so I opted for a year of reprieve.

Perhaps a health condition did prevent you from attending university after high school, but you should avoid excessively emotional language.

Ex. During my senior year in high school, I struggled with an unknown heart condition that put me in the hospital quite frequently.  Because of this, my family and I decided I should take a year off of school. After a major surgery last fall, I have recovered and my doctors have stated I can return to school and I am eager to continue my academic journey with USC.

The second of these USC essay examples is much stronger. Reasonably retell the reason(s) for your break in school. Then, make it clear that you’re excited to resume your academic career at USC like the second of these USC essay examples does.

As you can see from these USC essay examples, you don’t need to use emotional language to gain your reader’s sympathy. Use the last of your USC essays to demonstrate your grit, thoughtfulness, perseverance, and determination. You had a gap in your education and now you are making a great comeback – tell them that story.

USC Supplemental Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Did you identify the reason for your gap in education?
  • Does your USC essay include details that led to that reason?
  • Did you retell that story in a reasonable tone?

Additional tips for writing your USC supplemental essays:

  • Each of these USC essay prompts has a 250-word limit. Do not exceed the word limit for these USC supplemental essays.
  • Look over USC essay examples. This can fuel ideas for your own USC supplemental essays.
  • Never underestimate the importance of editing your USC supplemental essays. Along with proper grammar and spelling, ensure clarity of thought and ideas.

USC Supplemental Essays – Final Thoughts

The USC essay prompts may seem overwhelming. However, don’t let that discourage you! With these tips, you can write an engaging set of USC essays sure to impress the admissions team.

USC also has a helpful blog article on how to approach the USC supplemental essays. You can check out “Supplementary, My Dear Watson!”  here .

university of southern california essay

This 2021-2022 essay guide on USC was written by Sasha Litzenberger. To read more of our articles on USC,  click here . If you need help crafting your USC supplemental essays visit app.collegeadvisor.com to create your free  account  or  schedule a no-cost advising consultation  by calling (844) 719-4984.

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4 University of Southern California (USC) EssaysThatWorked

Ryan

Applying to USC in 2024 means that you are facing a lot of competition.

Luckily, one of the most effective tools you have to stand out from the crowd is your essays and responses to USC's writing supplement.

In this article, I've gathered 4 of the best essays from students admitted into the University of Southern California so that you can get inspired and improve your own USC essays.

What is University of Southern California's Acceptance Rate?

This past year, a record 70,971 students applied to USC and only 8,804 students were offered admission. That means USC had an overall acceptance rate of only 12.4%.

If you're trying to maximize your shot of getting into USC, writing essays that show why you should be accepted is one of your best strategies.

USC Acceptance Scattergram

The more competitive a school admissions is, the more heavily your essays are weighed. Let's check out the USC prompts for this year.

What are the University of Southern California Supplemental Prompts for 2022-23?

For its application this year, USC requires students to respond to three short essay questions and ten short answer questions.

USC has an intensive writing section, which means its even more important for you to make your responses the best they can be.

Here are the University of Southern California prompts for 2024:

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (Approximately 250 words) (1-250 words)

Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (0-250 words)

Describe yourself in three words.

What is your favorite snack?

Best movie of all time:

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Dream trip:

What TV show will you binge watch next?

Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?

Favorite book:

If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

4 University of Southern California EssaysThatWorked

Here are 4 of the best USC essays that worked for this years writing supplement.

Below you can read how admitted USC students answered the short essay and short answer questions. In addition, I've included some Common App personal statements examples recently accepted students.

See exactly how students got into USC and get inspired:

USC Essay Example #1

Usc essay example #2, usc essay example #3, usc essay example #4.

Prompt: What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you? (250 words max)

If I had a fatal flaw it would be loyalty. Of all the things I value, the one thing I value the most is my family. Coming after family is my friends; I consider my friends to be an extended branch of family. My close friends know that I value my friendship and that I would do almost anything for them if they asked me. I am very trusting with my friends, because I know that if I am there to support them, they will be there to support me. Without my friends, I would not be who and where I am now, as they have helped me through my years and shaped me to be the trusting and loyal person I am.

Very often, I put my friends before me, and this is because I know that if I were in the same situation as them, they would opt to help me. My loyalty to my friends helps them understand why I do what I do, and it helps me make even more friends. Wherever I go, I want to go with friends, because I believe that I can go farther when I have others with me rather than going fast and alone, but not as far.

The sounds of my knife striking kale unnerves my cat asleep in the corner. He quickly runs over to examine the situation but becomes instantly uninterested when he sees green and smells bitterness. Unfortunately, my family has this same reaction every day of every week.

They question, “It’s bad enough that you’re going to eat kale, but do you really have to massage it?” I respond with a deep breath, during which I recall information from nutritionfacts.org. I begin to explain, “Well you see, it takes away the bitterness, because kale is composed of cellulose, so when you massage it with a strong acid–”but as I continue to delve into my rather scientific and oftentimes molecular rationale behind transforming myself into a masseuse to make a salad, everyone begins snoring. I guess no one has ever understood my immense love for the science behind cooking (and probably never will).

Sure, my family, friends, small, undiverse and traditional high school all look at me like I am crazy, but I guess that is because I am. I do not look at kale and think “dark green, bitter, disgusting plant.” Instead, I see proteins and anticarcinogenic properties--analyzing the anatomy of food seems to occupy my mind.

Cooking is an art, visual, creative and instinctive. My favorite nights are spent with knife in hand and sweet potatoes in the oven. Food is my artist outlet, and one of the few things to feed my soul (and my stomach, too).

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Students

Prompt: Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words max)

All throughout my life, I always loved doing math no matter what the concept. My love for math led to me taking advanced math classes for my grade. I even had to take a bus to a high school when I was in middle school to take an advanced math class. I always knew that I would want to pursue a career dealing with mathematics, but I was not really sure until my junior year. I had not decided what I wanted to be in the future, so my uncle suggested being a CPA, and I looked into it. When I did my research, it interested me as they made a decent amount of money and they worked with numbers.

At USC, I would like to major in accounting and gain the opportunity to possibly receive an internship at one of the big accounting firms in Los Angeles through the networking of USC. If I were able to get an internship, I would be able to gain experience for when I graduate and search for a job. I would also consider going for a Masters of Business Administration as I know that USC has one of the best business programs in the country.

I had never considered traveling across the country to pursue an education. In fact, living in Pittsburgh all of my life and growing up with people who are so adamant about staying put, forced me to believe that I too had to box myself into this small, yet evolving city. However, now I can confidently tell my friends and family that I want to travel to California for college (and ignore their odd looks).

What strikes me most about USC is its ability to maintain uniformity despite its diverse student body--in interests, ethnicity, and opinion. There are not many schools where I could be best friends with filmmakers, artists, photographers, chemists, potential CEOs, and writers. Although all of these people are spread across different schools, they still seem to maintain a cultural unity. Being surrounded by such a distinct trojan pride combined with the ambitious atmosphere would be both inspiring and propulsive.

At USC, I would not have to confine to merely one of my interests. I have always had aspirations of becoming a doctor and pursuing neuroscience, but have never felt comfortable ignoring the humanities. As a Trojan, I could pursue research at the Dana and David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center or even take part in PIBBS, while also honing my writing skills through the intricate Writing Program.

Much like the students, my interests could somehow be molded into a diverse uniformity, and I could prove my fellow Pittsburghers that perhaps they need to move around more.

What Can You Learn From These USC Essays?

If you want to get into the University of Southern California, you'll need to answer the USC writing supplement questions as best you can. To help improve your essays, you can read these 6 essays that worked for USC and see how students got accepted.

Let me know, what did you think about these USC essays?

Ryan Chiang , Founder of EssaysThatWorked.com

Want to read more amazing essays that worked for top schools?

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I'm Ryan Chiang and I created EssaysThatWorked.com - a website dedicated to helping students and their families apply to college with confident. We publish the best college admissions essays from successful applicants every year to inspire and teach future students.

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Princeton Admitted Essay

People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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MIT Admitted Essay

Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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University Of Southern California Admission Essay Writing Guide

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Application Guide

Essay examples, how to write a glowing university of southern california application essay.

The University of Southern California is one of the top private research universities globally. Its operations comprise the College of Arts, Science, Letters, Graduate School, and other professional schools and research institutes such as the Southern California Earthquake Center and the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems.

USC offers diverse curricular opportunities with various holdings, including 20 libraries, a television collection, and a notable cinema. In addition to its main campus (University Park), USC includes health satellite campuses at Sacramento and Washington, sciences campus in northeastern Los Angeles and D.C. A marine science center located on Santa Catalina Island.

With a strong tradition of integrating wholesome and professional education, the university creates a beautiful culture of unprejudiced public service and urges students to go beyond academic and geographic boundaries in their search for knowledge.

One of the reasons for USC's extensive history and high approbation is the diversity of programs for which students can apply. The university offers Bachelor's degrees in about 75 disciplines, while professional and graduate degrees are available in nearly 125 fields. The most popular degree programs include law, music, film, public administration, business, social work, physical therapy, and engineering. One thing that always comes out when writing these essays is that they can be quite challenging. Feel free to pay a professional online service provider to help if it's too much for you. It might not be cheap, but you will be saving lots of time and getting the desired result with your application. While at it, you may want to check the many samples we have on our site that will make your work that much easier.

About USC Admissions

The University of Southern California is a top-ranking university for good reasons. The school is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of about 13%, meaning for every ten students, only one has a chance of getting admitted. Looking at the statistics, you can see how pretty difficult it is to get into USC.

As such, meeting USC admission requirements such as GPA and SAT/ACT scores is crucial to passing the initial filtering stage and proving your academic potential. You must demonstrate superior intellectual abilities and the potential for even better performance. You will want to use a proper USC admissions essay to show some of your strengths.

Once you cross this test score hurdle, you’ll have to impress the USC admission committee through their additional application requirements, including entrance letters and application essays. If you need guidance and motivation, our site is treasure trove of valuable samples. Check them out.

Admission Requirements for Bachelor and for Master’s Degree

While the University requires several details for your program application, you only need to focus on a few essential ones such as GPA requirements, SAT/CAT testing, and admission essays. For a university as selective as USC, it’s vital to aim for a high GPA and SAT/ACT scores to increase your chances of getting in.

You should have a 3.79 GPA or higher for a bachelor's application and aim for the 75th percentile, with 1530 SAT or a 34 ACT. According to USC's official news website, "Average GPA held steady at an impressive 3.88 unweighted, with more than a third earning straight A’s.”

There are numerous applicants with high SAT/ACT scores and unique applications, and they are your competitors. So, if you apply with less than 1530 SAT or 34 ACT, you regrettably start your application with unfavorable odds and have a minimal chance of getting enrolled.

The University of Southern California does not have a minimum GPA requirement to test the admission eligibility of graduate students. Graduate students are evaluated based on various criteria such as test scores, academic performance, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and whether or not their research and educational interests are appropriate with the USC graduate program they are applying for. However, individual USC academic programs can set their admission criteria above and beyond for university requirements, such as a minimum GPA requirement. To verify this policy, contact the intended graduate school.

Why Write a USC Admission Essay?

The USC admission essays are extremely essential. They are the best chance you have to showcase your unique talents and abilities. By writing thoughtful USC application essays, introduction letters, or supplemental essays, you can show the admission committee who you are beyond words and why you believe you belong at USC.

For university ACT/SAT score requirements, the need for a unique supplemental essay is even greater. For internship, it will not be such an issue. Your ACT/SAT scores may be similar to or slightly below another applicant, so your essay is the only chance you have to stand out. Therefore, focus on writing supplemental essays to increase your odds of getting noticed and being admitted.

Types of Essays for Students

USC requires applicants to complete a few supplemental essays. This includes two essential USC application essays and one optional essay. All applicants must complete and submit two USC supplemental essays and a personal statement essay, also known as a Common App. Let’s take a look at each.

  • Common App essay/ Personal statement (PS)- A personal statement letter refers to the 650-word letter commonly termed a Common Application Essay. Your Common App essay or personal statement is crucial because it is your most excellent chance to articulate and exhibit how qualitative you are to the USC admission committee. It is also the admission committee’s chance to know you better.
  • Supplemental essays- These are secondary essays that the University of Southern California’s admission committee can ask you to write in addition to the core personal statement essay. This might be an invite for you to talk more about your past achievements and qualifications, discuss an extracurricular activity mentioned on your resume, or share your opinion on any chosen topic.

USC Supplemental Essays Examples

“Discuss how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections (250 words)”.

Choose one of the USC prompts below and respond accordingly (250 words).

  • “USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Tell us about a time when you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.”
  • “USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.”
  • “What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?”

“Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break (250 words).”

Essentially, the supplemental essays cover your background or interdisciplinary education, while your personal statement essay involves your academic interests at USC. As we keep saying, your essays create the best opportunity to show the admission committee who you are.

Need some help writing your supplemental essays? Get fabulous tips from our USC supplemental essay examples or request our team of experts to write for you an outstanding essay, including cover letters. Also, check the various available free samples for motivation.

Pointers when Writing an Essay for USC College

As earlier mentioned, USC requires you to submit supplemental essays. The essays should show your understanding of USC’s interests and passion for academic innovation and research. They ask you to explain why you chose USC and why you believe it’s the right school for you.

“Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.”

This prompt asks about which program you want to major in at USC and how you plan to achieve the stated academic goals. The intellectual path you purpose to take at USC. For instance, if your interest is in English major, you can tailor your essay to cover more about how you plan to take a more interdisciplinary approach by including foreign literature classes into your studies.

Similarly, analyze all the prompts attentively and write from your soul. Here are some valuable tips you can add to make your USC essay stand out.

  • Try to indicate clear goals in your essays.
  • Clearly, explain why the USC and the program are suitable for you.
  • Discuss your past experiences, achievements, and qualifications.
  • Organize the achievements, qualifications, and experiences from the most relevant to the least
  • Maintain a required essay length
  • Avoid less important details and only use specific details
  • Be honest and concise like you would when writing an exam paper
  • Edit and proofread before submitting your essay sample

If you need more help writing a fantastic essay, check our site for USC sample essays and get great tips for college motivation essays.

Various Faculties at the School for College

USC’s central campus, known as the University Park campus, is located in Los Angeles’s Downtown Arts and Education Corridor. The university has other campuses in Los Angeles and sites around Washington D.C, Southern California, and Sacramento, Calif.

USC comprises the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, in addition to other 22 professional and graduate schools. The highly ranked faculty programs include:

  • Marshall School of Business
  • Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Rossier School of Education
  • Gould School of Law
  • School of Social Work
  • Keck School of Medicine
  • Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
  • School of Cinematic Arts

USC is deservedly leading as an academic and research genius. Its proximity to downtown Los Angeles is another reason why business, engineering, communications, and performing arts students like it. The university appreciates students who are motivated and willing to utilize their wide range of disciplines and programs. It’s seeking students who are interested in “global issues and aren’t afraid to speak up in class or fight for a cause.” Students have also rated this school highly for professor access where the ratio to teaching faculty is good enough to balance the equation. You may want to check the finance office for scholarships for graduate school.

USC has produced exemplary people, including many television and film stars like filmmaker George Lucas and actors Will Ferrell and Miranda Cosgrove. Singer and songwriter Macy Gray and Former NFL running back Reggie Bush are other notable USC alumni. Therefore, if you believe in yourself and your interests, it’s time to prove to the university why and how by taking advantage of the application essay writing component. Check our site for samples that wil make you work easier and enjoyable.

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University of Southern California

Statement of purpose anonymous, statement of purpose. statement should be a two-page overview of the applicant's academic and professional goals, stating previous experience and describing preparation for and commitment to further study..

In fourth grade, after recovering from a brief "I want to be a waitress!" phase, I discovered art, and knew that one day I would become an artist. At that age, I knew people liked art and I had fun creating art, so it seemed like the perfect thing to pursue. Since the fourth grade, art has become a much more intimate and sacred pastime for me. Art is a wonderful form of personal expression, and I enjoy using it to communicate ideas and to create aesthetic experiences.

For over six years I have taken private lessons at an art studio in my community. I enjoy working on large projects with supplies such as oil paints that I don't have access to at my high school. My instructor is a professional artist, and has been a valuable resource for advice concerning my artwork and plans for my future. In high school, I took Studio Art I during sophomore year and was advanced to Studio Art III during my junior year. In addition, I also took photojournalism and learned basic photography and darkroom skills, which I often incorporate into my artwork.

This year, I am enrolled in AP 2-D Design and am enjoying building up my portfolio. In my portfolio work, I am concentrating on the marriage of technological advancement and growing...

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College essays that worked and how yours can too.

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 08: A view of Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University on ... [+] July 08, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued the Trump administration for its decision to strip international college students of their visas if all of their courses are held online. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The college essay is a pivotal piece of the college application showcasing your individuality and differentiated outlook to admissions officers. What makes an essay truly shine? Let’s dive into the words behind three standout essays highlighted by university websites and a school newspaper's brand studio so you can get into the right mindset for crafting your own narrative.

Embracing Differences: Finding Strength In Uniqueness

Essay Excerpt: ‘Bra Shopping ’ (Harvard)

Featured by the Harvard Crimson Brand Studio , Orlee's essay recounts a student's humorous and insightful experience of bra shopping with her grandmother, weaving in her unique family dynamics and challenges at her prestigious school.

What Works:

  • Humor and Honesty: The student's humor makes the essay enjoyable to read, while her honesty about her challenges adds depth.
  • Self-Awareness: She demonstrates a strong sense of self-awareness, embracing her uniqueness rather than trying to fit in.
  • Resilience: Her narrative highlights resilience and the ability to find strength in differences.

For Your Essay : To write an essay that embraces your uniqueness, start by identifying a quirky or challenging experience that reflects who a key insight into your experience. Think about how this experience has shaped your perspective and character. Use humor and honesty to bring your story to life, and focus on how you have embraced your differences to become stronger and more resilient.

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of 2024

Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, finding connections: humor and self-reflection.

Essay: ‘Brood X Cicadas ’ (Hamilton College)

As an example on Hamilton's admissions website, Nicholas writes about the cicadas swarming his hometown every 17 years and draws a parallel between their emergence and his own transition to college life. He uses humor and self-reflection to create a relatable and engaging narrative.

  • Humor: Nicholas uses humor to make his essay entertaining and memorable. His witty comparisons between himself and cicadas add a unique twist.
  • Self-Reflection: By comparing his life to the cicadas’, he reflects on his own growth and readiness for change.
  • Relatability: His narrative about facing new experiences and challenges resonates with readers who have undergone similar transitions.

For Your Essay: To infuse humor and self-reflection into your essay, start by identifying an ordinary experience or object and think about how it relates to your life. Write down funny or insightful observations about this connection. Use humor to make your essay more engaging, but ensure it still conveys meaningful self-reflection. This balance can make your essay both entertaining and profound.

Persistence and Multicultural Identity: Life Lessons From Tortilla Making

Essay: ‘ Facing The Hot Griddle ’ (Johns Hopkins University)

In this essay published by Hopkins Insider, Rocio uses the process of making tortillas to explore her multicultural identity and the challenges she has faced. Her story beautifully weaves together her Guatemalan heritage and her experiences growing up in the United States.

  • Metaphor and Symbolism: The process of making tortillas becomes a powerful metaphor for the student’s journey and struggles. The symbolism of the masa harina and water mixing parallels her blending of cultural identities.
  • Personal Growth: The essay highlights her perseverance and adaptability, qualities that are crucial for success in college.
  • Cultural Insight: She provides a rich, personal insight into her multicultural background, making her story unique and compelling.

For Your Essay: To write an essay that explores your identity through a metaphor, start by thinking about an activity or tradition that holds significant meaning for you. Consider how this activity relates to your life experiences and personal growth. Use detailed descriptions to bring the activity to life and draw connections between the process and your own journey. Reflect on the lessons you've learned and how they've shaped your identity.

A winning college essay isn’t simply about parading your best accomplishment or dramatizing your challenges. It’s not a contest for which student is the most original or entertaining. Rather, the essay is a chance for you to showcase your authenticity, passion, resilience, social awareness, and intellectual vitality . By sharing genuine stories and insights, you can create an essay that resonates with admissions committees and highlights your unique qualities.

For you to have the best possible essay, mindset is key. Here’s how to get into the zone:

  • Reflect Deeply: Spend time thinking about your experiences, challenges, and passions. Journaling can help you uncover deep insights.
  • Discuss and Share: Talking about your stories with friends, family, or mentors can provide new perspectives and emotional clarity.
  • Immerse Yourself: Engage in activities that you are passionate about to reignite the feelings and memories associated with them.
  • Draft Freely: Don’t worry about perfection on the first try. Write freely and honestly, then refine your narrative.

The secret to a standout college essay lies in its authenticity, depth, and emotional resonance. By learning from these successful examples and getting into the right mindset, you can craft an essay that not only stands out but also provides a meaningful insight into who you are. Remember, your essay is your story—make it a piece of writing that you will always be proud of.

Dr. Aviva Legatt

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COMMENTS

  1. 2023-24 University of Southern California Supplemental Essay Guide

    University of Southern California 2023-24 Application Essay Questions Explained. *Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. As soon as the 2024-25 prompts beomce available, we will be updating this guide -- stay tuned! The Requirements: 2 or 3 essays (depending on major selection) of up to 250 words; 2 short ...

  2. How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    The University of Southern California has a few supplemental essays and creative short answers that students must complete. Your essays are one of the only opportunities you'll have to show an admissions officer who you are beyond the numbers, and with USC's many different prompts, it's clear this school wants you to seize that opportunity.

  3. First-Year Students

    Early Application Deadline: January 12, 2024Regular Decision Deadline: February 7, 2024. Applicants who want to be considered for need-based financial aid must submit the FAFSA * and CSS Profile applications by the appropriate deadline. *Undocumented or DACA students should submit their 2021 tax return and third-party letter confirming ...

  4. University of Southern California

    Common App Personal Essay. Required. 650 words. The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores?

  5. How to Write the University of Southern California Supplemental Essays

    Essays. Mistake #1: Writing about the school's size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking. Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit. Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors or names of any important people or places on campus.

  6. USC Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts and Tips

    He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). The University of Southern California (USC) has a number of supplemental essays and short answer prompts. This blog offers essay writing tips.

  7. USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    The University of Southern California (USC) has six supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 application cycle. ... USC Supplemental Essays 2023-2024. The University of Southern California (USC) offers a unique and vibrant academic environment, drawing students from diverse backgrounds with its rich array of programs and opportunities. As ...

  8. USC Essay Examples

    USC Essay Examples - Introduction . If you've been searching for USC Essay Examples, you're in the right place. The University of Southern California is a private university located in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, USC has 21,000 undergraduates and is a premier research university in the United States.

  9. USC Essay Prompts

    The University of Southern California has released its supplemental essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. In addition to the Personal Statement on The Common Application, USC applicants will be required to answer one 250-word essay and several 100-character short answers. If an applicant took a gap year or their education was ...

  10. How To Answer The USC Supplemental Essay Prompts For 2022/23

    Essay 1: Please respond to one of the prompts below. (250 word limit) USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the ...

  11. 3 USC Essay Examples By Accepted Students

    The University of Southern California is a selective private school in Los Angeles. Its film school is consistently ranked the top in the country, though its other academic programs are incredibly strong as well. USC requires applicants to fill out a variety of prompts, some in the form of essays and others as short-answer questions.

  12. USC Supplemental Essays

    University of Southern California Essay Tips. Some academic programs have their own USC essays, so be sure to research those USC supplemental essays as well. Why School and Why Major essays can be a great way to display how you will fit into the campus community. Don't forget to mention the academic opportunities in and out of the classroom.

  13. How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Southern California

    How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Southern California Supplemental Essays. By Cece Gilmore . Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter ...

  14. How to Write the University of Southern California Application Essays

    While this question may also seem like an extension of the Common Application, the admissions are trying to create a wholesome picture of you, so use this essay to go in depth about your intellectual passions and why you want to pursue what you want to pursue. This is an ideal "Why major" question, so make sure to also address why you are ...

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    How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2022-2023. 10 minute read. Essay Guides 2022-23 University of Southern California.

  16. How to Write the USC Supplemental Essays 2020-2021 ...

    University of Southern California (USC) is a private university located in downtown Los Angeles, California. With its warm weather and beautiful campus, USC has been a prime film location for many films and television shows. If you've seen Forrest Gump, Legally Blonde, Love & Basketball, The Social Network, and the C., you've seen USC.

  17. 4 Tips for Writing Perfect USC Essays

    Click on the "College Search" tab and look for "University of Southern California." Select the search result and then click "add" to add it to your profile. Return to your dashboard and look for "University of Southern California." Click the label below the school that reads "Show more details." From there, click on the link titled "Writing ...

  18. College Essay Guides

    How many essays does the University of Southern California require? There are two USC essays on the 2020-2021 Common app. In addition to these two USC essays, some applicants may also choose to complete a third USC supplemental essay. In this guide, we'll walk you through each of the USC supplemental essays.

  19. 4 University of Southern California (USC) EssaysThatWorked

    In this article, I've gathered 4 of the best essays from students admitted into the University of Southern California so that you can get inspired and improve your own USC essays. What is University of Southern California's Acceptance Rate? This past year, a record 70,971 students applied to USC and only 8,804 students were offered admission ...

  20. How to Get Into USC: Strategies and Essays that Worked

    To help you understand how likely your child is to get into USC, we've collected the admissions data from the successful USC applicants for the class of 2026: USC average GPA: 3.9. USC average SAT score*: 1435. 25th percentile: 1360. 75th percentile: 1510.

  21. Advising & Support

    University of Southern California. USC offers comprehensive advising and support services to undergraduate students to ensure they have all the resources they need for academic and career success. ... Personalized writing feedback on essays, cover letters, scholarship applications and more. Peer Tutoring. Supplemental Instruction (group ...

  22. University Of Southern California Admission Essay Writing Guide

    Supplemental essays- These are secondary essays that the University of Southern California's admission committee can ask you to write in addition to the core personal statement essay. This might be an invite for you to talk more about your past achievements and qualifications, discuss an extracurricular activity mentioned on your resume, or ...

  23. Statement of Purpose

    GradeSaver provides access to 2362 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 11008 literature essays, 2770 sample college application essays, 926 lesson plans, ... University of Southern California Application Essays; Nothing Matters; The Importance of Pizza; Different; The Fall of Icarus and the Rise of Spirit;

  24. College Essays That Worked And How Yours Can Too

    Humor and Honesty: The student's humor makes the essay enjoyable to read, while her honesty about her challenges adds depth. Self-Awareness: She demonstrates a strong sense of self-awareness ...