College Essay Prompts Usc

What Are the New USC Essay Prompts?

After several years with the same Common Application supplemental questions, the University of Southern California has decided to change things up—just a little. Instead of asking you to expand on an extracurricular activity, USC now poses the following 250-word limit prompts for you to choose from:

Option A: 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.

The USC admission staff is dedicated to building a diverse community and they know that, with diversity, come a lot of different opinions and life experiences. This essay prompt is your chance to show them you will enter college with an open mind and receptivity to the ideas and beliefs of others.

Option B: Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.

USC not only encourages but expects students to explore areas unrelated to their majors. An engineer who wants to take a ballet class? Great. A poet who wants to learn to develop apps? Wonderful. The more unlikely the combination of interests, the better! So don’t hold back, even if you’re that future accountant who wants to minor in animation and Portuguese.

Option C: What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

This is a broad question, so anything goes, but I encourage you to focus on something non-academic for this prompt. Ask yourself, what makes you tick? What has made you who you are today? Is it your family, your hometown, your culture? Is it your love of playing the flute, or the fact that you can’t go a day without escaping into a book for at least a few minutes? Is it something more intrinsic, like your ambition or your compassion? There’s no right answer here, but make your response personal so the reader walks away with a sense of who you are and what matters to you.

And finally, the following questions remain unchanged from previous years:

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)

Get specific! If you could simply copy and paste the name of any university into your answer because it’s that generic, scrap it. USC wants to see that you know the University and the majors you’ve selected. Cite particular programs, research opportunities, faculty, and courses to show off your academic side. You can also talk about non-academic aspects of USC, like the campus, student body, and the alumni network, but don’t let your answer get too fluffy.

Quick Takes

Have fun with this series of very short answers. And I mean short—when they ask you to name your theme song or choose a hashtag to describe yourself, do just that. Don’t write an additional sentence to explain your choice. These are meant to be enjoyable and light (and often provide a much needed laugh for your overworked application reader), so don’t overthink it.

Want to be a USC Trojan? Bookmark this page to help plan your application essays for the University of Southern California!

USC is one of the most popular colleges on the west coast. Located in Southern California, USC attracts a lot of students who enjoy nice, sunny weather all year round. Especially in a city like Los Angeles that offers students endless of cultural activities and internship opportunities they can take advantage of.

On top of USC’s ideal location and weather, USC is well known for their undergraduate business and media studies. USC Marshall School of Business is ranked no. 9 for their undergraduate business program, specifically strong in accounting and entrepreneurship. USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism is also a popular choice for students interested in media studies, especially when paired with media internships available in an entertainment-focused city like LA.

USC also has a very unique program called the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy (IYA). Students accepted to the program will be studying Arts, Technology and Business Innovation. Over the 4 years, IYA students will gain an in-depth knowledge in art and design, engineering and computer science, and finally, business and venture management. The application requires an additional portfolio and is highly selective. On average, only 25 students are accepted per graduating class.

Does USC offer what you’re interested? If you are applying this fall, here are the short answer questions and supplemental essays for the 2017-2018 application season:

1. Short Answer Questions

  • Describe yourself in three words
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Hashtag to describe yourself
  • What TV show will you binge watch next?
  • Place you are most content?

TIP: These short answer questions are meant to help the admissions office know a little bit more about you and your personality. Don’t spend too much time on these questions, and be true to who you are! 

2. Supplemental Essay #1

Please respond to one of the prompts below. (250 word limit)

Prompt 1: 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.

Prompt 2: Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.

Prompt 3:What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

TIP: When you choose which essay prompt to write, take into account what essay topic you’ve chosen for your personal statement and what you plan on writing for the second supplemental essay. The admissions office will be reading your application as a whole, so it should all come together to tell them who you are, what you’re interested and what USC can offer you to achieve your dreams. 

  

3. Supplemental Essay #2

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)

TIP: This is essentially your “Why USC” supplemental essay. Do your research about the program you want to apply. In fact, reach out to the professors in the department you’re interested in studying and learn more about the program. It’s important to know what USC offers, so you can talk about how those resources and facilities can enable you to achieve your interests or support your studies in a specific field. Do not just iterate what programs they have. This essay is about how USC can help you in a way no other universities can, and about how you can give back to the university’s community by being a part of it. 

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