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University of Southern California Undergraduate College Application Essays

These University of Southern California college application essays were written by students accepted at University of Southern California. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly.

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College Application Essays accepted by University of Southern California

Nothing Matters Molly Maldonado

University of Southern California

I went home the other night, my mind full of ideas, words, and lines from a play.

Excitedly, I began to explain my outlook to those who would hear me. “It doesn’t matter,” I said with a smile on my face, “none of this matters.” My audience was much.

The Importance of Pizza Sarah Takimoto

University of Southern California

One late Saturday afternoon, my friend Amelia and I were completely ravenous so I decided to order a pizza, not realizing how significantly that one pie could change not only the course of my day, but also my outlook on life. After shamelessly.

Different Sarah Takimoto

University of Southern California

My life is filled with hantai, or opposites: potatoes and rice, forks and chopsticks, Bachan and Nana, and an English first name and a Japanese last name. When I was younger, it never occurred to me that I was any different than any of my.

The Fall of Icarus and the Rise of Spirit Silvia Lu

University of Southern California

A single pair of legs, kicking up from the ocean. Kicking up from the far right corner of a pleasant landscape depicting what may be the most tranquil morning in the history of pleasant landscapes. And there, the legs – added as almost an.

Statement of Purpose Anonymous

University of Southern California

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.

I'm No Buffy the Vampire Slayer Arielle Ring

University of Southern California

A few years ago, USA Today named the star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, Sarah Michelle Gellar, the epitome of the modern feminist. Declaring “with her take-no-prisoners attitude. vampire-slaying Buffy Summers has become. a feminist hero who’s.

How I Changed Direction Anonymous

University of Southern California

We were nervous. The breeze of early morning stung our bare arms with cold. I complained, out of my own bitter hatred for the cold, and in hopes of quieting the spinning butterflies in my stomach. Doubts floated through my head as I acknowledged.

Unlikely Accomplishment Suzy Fahmy

University of Southern California

At School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco, film and video students set out to create independent projects twice a year. In spring semester of senior year, my friend Julian and I decided we would produce a movie so incredible, it would be.

Leave it all on the Field Anonymous

University of Southern California

Date of birth: eleven seven eighty eight. Sex: male. Grade: eleven. Social security number: 606261790. “No, that’s not right,” I mumbled to myself. How could I forget my social security number? “I’m just nervous for the SAT,” was my first.

Nikki in the Bubble Anonymous

University of Southern California

As I watched my first black and white print slowly emerge from nothingness, the methodical ticking of the timer behind me, I smiled as a wave of excitement passed through me. Without thinking, I began to dance to the rhythm of the clock. From the.

My Place in My World Anonymous

University of Southern California

In a school as small as The College Preparatory School (CPS), I often joke that just from looking at someone’s shoes, I can give his or her first and last name and favorite color. Obviously this is an overstatement, but the point is that my.

Passion Anonymous

University of Southern California

I would have never expected my life to change dramatically after a trip to the men’s room. However, on June 20, 2007, one did. I overheard a conversation that changed my point of view on nearly everything. “He didn’t even make it to Extemp.

Where Was I? Sheliza Kabani

University of Southern California

The day: December 27th, 2007. The time: 6:45 PM. The location: Karachi, Pakistan. There was nothing out of the ordinary on this crisp December day, or so I thought. I did not know that this ordinary day would soon become one of the most important.

Life as a Scribe Anthony Mells

University of Southern California

As I rushed up to the sliding glass doors that marked the entrance to the Emergency Room, my heart pounded with exhilaration. Patients were sitting in chairs, lying on stretchers, and nervously pacing the floor. With a dry mouth and sweaty palms.

The Science of Skimboarding Anthony Mells

University of Southern California

As I stood on the wet beach assessing the oncoming wave, I threw the skimboard onto the sand, and jumped on. “How could I generate more speed?” I thought to myself. Calling upon inspiration from Mr. Harvie, my AP Physics teacher, I envisioned a.

BANG! BANG! BANG! Anthony Mells

University of Southern California

“BANG! BANG! BANG!” I slam the gavel on the desk to get everyone’s attention. As I sit in front of the High School Site Council, full of administrators, teachers, students, and members of the community, I call the meeting to order. Serving as the.

Debate Struggle Gokul Agrawal

University of Southern California

It was a less-than-exciting afternoon in the waning days of junior year when the mess began. My name, along with the names of two other speech and debate officers, was called over the intercom. We were wanted in the principal’s office immediately.

Mother's story Anonymous

University of Southern California

People often tell me how much I look like my grandmother. They say we share the same eyes, the same nose, and the same eager smile. What they don’t realize, however, is that the five-foot, white-haired, 61-year-old woman beside me is not my.

A Second Chance Anonymous

University of Southern California

I had heard it all before: life comes with no guarantees, no time outs, and rarely any second chances. Yet in spite of the currents against me, I sought to make for myself a second chance. When my junior year of basketball ended, my heart sunk.

Coming From a World of Outsiders Anonymous

University of Southern California

Both of my parents came from very different worlds. My mother was born and raised in the impoverished country of Colombia in South America, where she had to help my grandparents take care of her four younger brothers in their small apartment in.

My Passion for Debate Anonymous

University of Southern California

The great passion of my high school years has been debate. One of the reasons that I attended Damien High School in the first place was because of its reputation in competitive debate. I was thirteen years old when I began and I realized very.

Teriyaki to Chitterlings Marisa Louise Okano

University of Southern California

Like every other year, a spectrum of color surrounds me on the first day of 2009. My January 1st mornings have always been shared with Grandma, a 91-year-old woman who still manages to scurry through the kitchen preparing the brunch that stares at.

From Tackle Practice to the Barre Anonymous

University of Southern California

I lead a double life. You don’t often find someone who both dances and plays football. I suppose that makes me a statistical anomaly, because I go to tackle practice at six a.m. and barre class at six p.m. I love dance because it’s art with.

For the Love of the Script Jonathan Lee Hopkins

University of Southern California

Three A.M. I still smell like the chicken-soaked grease of a shift spent working at Chick-Fil-A, but I’ve hit a plot snag. My character’s stuck in Boston, I’m stuck on page 78, and I need to figure out how to get us both out before I’ll let myself.

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Presidential Scholars (half tuition)

Dean’s Scholars (quarter tuition)

African American/Black: 7%

Native American/Pacific Islander: 2%

Asian/Asian American: 25%

International: 11% (student VISA holders)

Private: Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood, CA

Outside: China, South Korea, Canada

Marshall School of Business: 18%

Viterbi School of Engineering: 15%

Out of state: 35%

24% – Merit-Based Scholarship

60% – Need-Based Assistance

Need Based Aid only available to US citizens but international students can be eligible for merit-based scholarships

Room & Board: $11,500

Misc Expenses & Transpo: $1,500

Books & Supplies: $1,500

Annual Total: $55,578

Required: Part 2 Application, Official high school transcripts, Results from SAT or ACT (with writing)

Essay & Responses to short answer topics

Counselor/Teacher Rec Form & Letter

January 10th- Final Part 2 deadline

Feb 2nd- FAFSA & PROFILE should be filed by this date for priority financial aid consideration

March 1st- Submit student & parent tax returns

April 1st- Admission notification date

May 2nd- National candidates reply date

Aug 17th- Move in Day

Aug 22nd- First day of classes

Telephone: (213) 740-1111

Average Class: 26

I Western Cultures and Traditions

II Global Cultures and Traditions

III Scientific Inquiry

IV Science & Its Significance

V Arts & Letters

VI Social Issues

USC Marshall School of Business

USC School of Cinematic Arts

USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

USC Viterbi School of Engineering

USC Roski School of Fine Arts

USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

Keck School of Medicine of USC

USC Thornton School of MUsic

USC School of Policy, Planning and Development

USC School of Theatre

USC Independent Health Professions

February 1, 2011: Final deadline for transfer admission

Notification will be mailed by June 1, 2011.

Feb 1: Cinematic Arts (Transfers), Dentistry (Transfers)

March 1: Marshall School of Business Transfers

Need Based: Perkins Loan, Subsidized Stafford Loan

Non Need: Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Federal Parent PLUS Loan

M/W/F 8:30am & 12:30pm

Admission Presentation (with Admission Counselor): 1 hour

Campus Tour: 90 min

Meeting with Academic Dept: 1 hour

Check people in on the ESD site. For walk-ins have them register on the ESD site using guest computers.

Admission Presentation (30min) Optional

Campus Tour (90min)

Maximum 35 guests

T/Th: 9am, 11am, 1pm, 2:30pm

Enter the presentation room 20min into program

Financial Aid Presentation

Financial Aid Presentation

Academic Program Presentation

Any other use requires the approval of the Admission Center Manager. Mid day cart ban in the middle of campus. d

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Application Essays

The admissions essay is a part of the application that can make you stand out as unique even among a large group of similarly qualified applicants. It may be called a letter of intent, personal statement, or personal narrative, but always provides an occasion to establish your own personal voice and to explain why you are well suited for the program.

When you begin the writing process, start by reading the prompt. Neglecting to address a specific question or failing to follow directions about page or word limits, are unlikely to impress. Usually you will be asked fairly generic questions about your qualifications and aims for graduate school and a common page length for a personal statement is 2 pages.

Your aim is to convince those reading your application that you are prepared to be successful and to contribute to the graduate program of study. While all of your accomplishments are important, it is best to focus on a few specific ideas, experiences, or themes. For example, rather than merely claiming to be interested in research, it is better to explain a research project you have produced or participated in and what about it you liked. Rather than just saying you are committed to the betterment of humanity, show how you have demonstrated that commitment. Examples will help you “prove” your claims.

In addition to the specific prompt, it is important to include the following:

  1. Your preparation and background in the field of study
  2. Your specific area of interest in the field: you should explain what area of the profession you see yourself getting into, and how you see the degree helping you to get there.
  3. Your research ambitions in the field
  4. Why this Program/School?: Before you apply to graduate or professional schools you should have given a lot of thought to why you are seeking a particular degree, and why the specific institutions to which you are applying. You should explain to the schools or departments why you are a good fit with them. This means saying something about the school that could not be said about most other schools. For example, instead of writing “you have a very strong faculty,” mention some examples of faculty research that interest you.
  5. Future career goals
  6. Positively Addressing Inconsistencies: If you know there is some striking weakness in your application (perhaps a GPA or score that is glaringly low or some long gap in your resume) you will want to account for it in your statement. If, as a result of suddenly needing to work a 40-hour week to support yourself, your grades slipped significantly, that might well be something to address. You should make sure to explain it in terms as positive as possible. For any personal struggles that you have worked through, express that it is safely in the past and will not recur in graduate school. If you struggled at first in school, but your grades have improved every year, or your grades in your major are particularly outstanding, these are things you could point out. Some people suggest including such explanations only in a separate addendum, in order that the tone of your essay is uniformly positive.

Why are you applying to this program specifically,

what is your future career interest, and

how will this program help you attain that?

When you first sit down to write, start by reflecting on your goals, achievements, strengths, interesting experiences you have had, and how you plan to continue your academic or professional development. Once you have your list of ideas, you should begin creating a general structure for your essay without committing to sentence structure and grammar. Once you are satisfied with a structure of content for your essay, begin writing your first draft. Make sure your tone is enthusiastic and positive. Also, be sure to display all of the reasons why you are an excellent candidate; this is not the place for excessive modesty.

When you consider editing your statements, we recommend seeking as much feedback as possible. Expect to complete a minimum of 3 drafts. The Pre-Grad advisors are willing to review your draft. You also have the Writing Center (THH 216), a peer, or faculty member as resources to review your statement. It is strongly advised to include an editor working in your field of interest. Be sure to give a draft to your recommenders. It will help them understand how you are presenting yourself in your application, and they may also provide you with useful feedback.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a leading private research university located in Los Angeles — a global center for arts, technology and international business. It is home to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and 21 exceptional academic schools and units. USC’s Health Sciences campus houses renowned specialized care and research in cancer, stem cell and regenerative medicine, orthopedics and sports medicine. The university is the largest private sector employer in the city of Los Angeles, responsible for $8 billion annually in economic activity in the region.

“To be able to lead this Trojan Family forward now is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said USC’s 11th president, C. L. Max Nikias, “as we write together the next chapter in USC’s extraordinary history.” Nikias shared his vision for USC’s future during his inaugural address, “The Destined Reign of Troy.”

As a top-ranked private research institution, the University of Southern California offers everything you are looking for: world-class resources on a human scale, more academic opportunities than any other American university, a vibrant campus life, a location in the heart of a dynamic world center and the lifelong support of the Trojan Family.

The University of Southern California is one of a small number of research institutions on which our country depends for a steady stream of new knowledge, art and technology. USC has nearly $700 million in annual research expenditures, is ranked first in the nation among all universities in the size of its computer science research program, and has the largest graduate program in science, engineering and health of all private research universities.

For over a century and a quarter, the University of Southern California has been an institution in the city and of the city. Having grown, and grown up, with Los Angeles, USC draws its unique vigor from its surrounding communities. We continue to join with our neighbors to ensure that our streets are safe, our children are healthy and well educated, and our local businesses, the arts, and our extraordinary cultural institutions thrive.

The University of Southern California is a global university, and a leader in international education. With programs of research, study and service that span countries and continents, and a worldwide alumni network, USC prepares students to thrive in the global marketplace.

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Your instructor: USC’s president

USC President C. L. Max Nikias returns to the classroom, joining administrator Robin Romans to teach “The Culture of the Athenian Democracy” this semester.

The Trojans who bring arts alive

If you think arts education in schools is over, think again. These alumni and faculty bring dance, visual arts and music to kids in classrooms and beyond.

Making the quantum leap

USC scientists are at the forefront in the race to build the world’s first fully functional quantum computer, exponentially more powerful than traditional computers.

Flying into the future

USC Viterbi engineers wonder: Can a birdlike design or electric engine increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions in commercial aircraft?

Metal detection aids cancer study

USC scientists are using a technology similar to airport scanners to figure out the fingerprints of dangerous cancer cells that metastasize and spread.

Plant-inspired material could help clean up oil spills

Taking a cue from the structure of leaves, USC Viterbi engineers have fabricated a material that can separate oil and water. The technology has vast possibilities, from cleaning up oil spills to providing patients with more efficient blood analysis.

Older Americans experiencing ‘delayed aging,’ better health

U.S. life expectancy has lengthened significantly over the last 60 years. But at least part of the gains may be due to a change in the rate of biological aging, rather than simply keeping very sick people alive for longer.

Waiting for that admission letter? Take a breath and relax

Helpful Tips: Writing Personal Essay for College

It is a hot season for thousands of high school seniors and for colleges when the process of filling out college applications begins. For future students, it is a hard task to write their first personal college essay. But to be successful and to be accepted to the college you like, you have to ask some help. You can try to use the tips we prepared for you below. Also, you can buy personal essay using one of writing services online or to ask them for personal essay help. Below you can read the most important tips for successful personal essay for college writing.

1. Pick a topic you’re interested in

Your personal essay writing success depends on your knowledge the subject and you passion about it. Your things will go better right from the start if you are going to write about what you want to write about and this is a fact. Try to get comfortable with your theme. Don’t write about what you think college wants to read about. Use your experience. The most popular essays describe points of vastly different ways experience. Show your personal growth, difficulty, strength, and confidence.

You should spend a fair amount of time creating your serious college essay. This process includes brainstorming, writing, and editing. Make it as perfect as you can. So, as you can see, this process will be much quicker if you actually enjoy the topic you are writing about.

Another important thing is that the reader will see your interest for the topic while reading, and this is very important. It depends on your passion for the subject. The more passion you feel, the easier it will be to express your thoughts and point of view.

Your personal statement is your only way to express yourself and to differentiate your person among others. Show your individuality; write about something that excites you to excite your reader.

2. Engage your reader

It is very important to excite the reader from the first sentence. His interest must be captured right from the beginning. So, what is the way to stand out your essay of thousands? The answer is: a perfect introduction. Good introduction will grab the reader’s attention right from the start.

The best way to write this part well is to through as much detail as you can muster. Your style of writing should be as if you are telling a story. Tell about the weather, settings, describe other people, their movements and emotions. Also, tell about your emotions at the moment you are writing about.

You should try to make your essay easier to remember, and the best way to do it is to write a story as an introduction. Add more specific and interesting details.

3. Always asking

Tell about the impact on your life of the topic you’ve chosen. And then ask yourself “So what?” Why it is special, why it is interesting?

If you’ve been playing football for the last five years, tell why it is important for you, what was the impact. Did it teach you something? Teamwork, for example. What did you feel when you achieved your goals.

College officer want to know who you are, how have you grown through these years and how did your experience appeared. What were the factors that changed you? Tell about them and tell why that is important for you and for college.

4. Out loud reading.

Of course, you should do some spell and grammar check after you finished writing. You should be confident that there are no errors in your final copy. But there is one more important thing to do. Read through your college essay out loud. Try to focus.

Out loud reading will help you to find errors that automatic spell check doesn’t catch. There will be overlook possibility for you.

University of Southern California

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October 27, 2011

Essay Tips

The infamous college essay. For most colleges, this is a required part of the application. For some of you, this may be a major source of stress within the application process. While there’s no perfect essay, topic, or approach, there are some general tips that may be helpful when writing your college essays.

Admission counselors at USC view the essay as our opportunity to get to know applicants better. Since we use a holistic review process, we hope to gain more insight into who our applicants are beyond just grades and test scores. While it is not about the topic you choose to write about, it is more about how that topic is relevant to your life. We realize that you may have many different people providing input and helping you edit your essay, but we are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say and what you want to write about. Your essay shouldn’t be what your friend’s parent’s cousin’s dog’s owner wrote for their college application; your essay should reflect your voice, interests, and individual personality.

Another general tip is knowing your audience. Although you can’t anticipate the sense of humor of who will read your application, you can use common sense. I’ve read essays in the past that use slang, swear words, or internet and text abbreviations. These are not appropriate for the standard college essay! While we like to see students who try something different in their essay, just keep in mind that you also don’t want to offend someone who reads your writing. At the very least, you know that the audience for your college essay will not be your peers.

This may be obvious advice as well, but spelling and grammar can make a difference. It’s so easy to use spell check these days that I’m often surprised when I find students who haven’t mastered how to spell words like “definitely.” Although we are looking at the college essay more for the content than anything else, it can be hard to ignore multiple glaring mistakes in one essay or application. Writing is an important part of being a college student, thus we want to make certain that students have the ability to write an essay with a solid structure while paying attention to spelling and grammar.

At the end of the day, it’s important to follow your heart and write about what comes naturally to you. We read many different types of essays and many essays that have a similar theme. What we’re most interested in reading is the essay that you want to write, that reflects your voice, and tells us more about what makes you special.

Interested in applying?

To learn more or begin the application process, visit USC Undergraduate Admission.

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