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:
- Your preparation and background in the field of study
- 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.
- Your research ambitions in the field
- 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.
- Future career goals
- 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.
Usc essay prompt
Quick Takes on the New Essay Prompts for the University of Southern California
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.
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.
USC Requirements for Admission
Choose Your Test
What are USC’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:
In this guide we’ll cover what you need to get into USC and build a strong application.
School location: Los Angeles, CA
This school is also known as: University of Southern California
Admissions Rate: 18%
If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.
The acceptance rate at USC is 18%. For every 100 applicants, only 18 are admitted.
This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don’t meet their expectations, your chance of getting is nearly zero.
After crossing this hurdle, you’ll need to impress USC application readers through their other application requirements, including extracurriculars, essays, and letters of recommendation. We’ll cover more below.
USC GPA Requirements
Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.
The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school’s average GPA for its current students.
Average GPA: 3.73
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
With a GPA of 3.73, USC requires you to be above average in your high school class. You’ll need at least a mix of A’s and B’s, with more A’s than B’s. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you’re able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.
If you’re currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.73, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.
SAT and ACT Requirements
Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.
You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to USC. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
USC SAT Requirements
Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school’s average score.
Average SAT: 1450 (Old: 2085)
The average SAT score composite at USC is a 1450 on the 1600 SAT scale.
On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 2085.
This score makes USC Strongly Competitive for SAT test scores.
USC SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1360, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1540. In other words, a 1360 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1540 will move you up to above average.
Aspiring Trojans who need a leg up in their USC application should use our specialty tutoring advice for the Los Angeles area in their test preparation.
Here’s the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
USC SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)
The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1920, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2250. In other words, a 1920 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2250 puts you well above average.
Here’s the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
USC has the Score Choice policy of “Highest Section.”
This is also known as “superscoring.” This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.
Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.
For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:
Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, USC will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and USC forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1540, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.
Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.
Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you’ll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
USC ACT Requirements
Just like for the SAT, USC likely doesn’t have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.
Average ACT: 32
The average ACT score at USC is 32. This score makes USC Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 30, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 33.
Even though USC likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 30 or below, you’ll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 32 and above that a 30 will look academically weak.
ACT Score Sending Policy
If you’re taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.
Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.
This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 33 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you’re happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.
ACT Superscore Policy
By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.
We weren’t able to find the school’s exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to USC, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 33.
Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you’ll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.
USC requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They’ll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.
SAT Subject Test Requirements
Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.
We did not find information that USC requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.
Final Admissions Verdict
Because this school is extremely selective, getting a high SAT/ACT score and GPA is vital to having a chance at getting in. If you don’t pass their SAT/ACT and GPA requirements, they’ll likely reject you without much consideration.
To have the best shot of getting in, you should aim for the 75th percentile, with a 2250 SAT or a 33 ACT. You should also have a 3.73 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.
For a school as selective as USC, you’ll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We’ll cover those details next.
But if you apply with a score below a 2250 SAT or a 33 ACT, you unfortunately start out with the odds against you and have a tiny chance of getting in. There are just too many students with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.
Here’s our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.
How would your chances improve with a better score?
Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?
At PrepScholar, we’ve created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.
Here’s a summary of why we’re so much more effective than other prep programs:
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Every school requires an application with the bare essentials – high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll cover the exact requirements of USC here.
Application Requirements Overview
- Common Application Accepted, supplemental forms required
- Universal Application Not accepted
- Electronic Application Available
- Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
- Letters of Recommendation
- Interview Not required
- Application Fee $80
- Fee Waiver Available? Available
- Other Notes
- SAT or ACT Required
- SAT or ACT Writing Required
- SAT Subject Tests
- Scores Due in Office February 15
- Subject Required Years
- English 4
- Math 3
- Science 2
- Foreign Language 2
- Social Studies 2
- Electives 3
Deadlines and Early Admissions
- Offered? Deadline Notification
- Regular Admission
- Yes January 15 April 1
- Early Action
- Early Decision
Admissions Office Information
Our Expert’s Notes
We did more detailed research into this school’s admissions process and found the following information:
USC has various majors and programs (including Architecture, Arts, Business, and Music) that require additional application compoenents. Specific information by program is available here. USC offers merit scholarships, most of which you apply for by submitting a complete USC application by December 1. For a complete list, which includes some scholarships that have additional application components, check out this page.
Other Schools For You
If you’re interested in USC, you’ll probably be interested in these schools as well. We’ve divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to USC.
Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into
These schools are more selective and have higher scores than USC. If you improve your SAT score, you’ll be competitive for these schools.
Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into
If you’re competitive for USC, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.
Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into
If you’re currently competitive for USC, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If USC is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.
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Where/What is the USC personal statement prompt?!
Replies to: Where/What is the USC personal statement prompt?!
– The 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot said, "Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things." Describe one of your passions and reflect on how it has contributed to your personal growth.
– Thomas Edison failed many times before successfully inventing the modern electric lightbulb. He said, "If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is a step forward." Reflect on an accomplishment you achieved in an unlikely way.
– Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force. Tell us about an external influence (a person, an event, etc.) that affected you and how it caused you to change direction.
Tell us about an activity that is important to you, and why.
Describe your academic interests and how you plan to pursue them at USC.
Optional: Any information that you believe is relevant to our consideration of you as an applicant, but not already discussed or explained in your application.
How to Respond to USC Prompts: Complete Guide
An admission to a great high-education institution like USC can be a great goal to achieve. But achieving it demands a lot from the applicants, especially having to answer the different USC prompts you can encounter, prompts that can be really hard if you don’t prepare correctly.
Here we are going to show everything you need to know about USC application essay prompts, from which questions you can choose and how you can answer them correctly. What’s more, our statement of purpose for graduate school services will give you the list of requirements you need to apply for this university. Take a look further and find out!
The University of Southern California Requirements
When it comes to applying for this university, there are certain items you need to submit if you want your application to be taken into account. These requirements are as follow:
- USC writing supplement prompts essay answers
- Transcripts of all your previous academically finished studies.
- Test scores from Official SAT and ACT Scores.
- A school report sent directly to the Common App by one or two recommenders.
- A letter of recommendation from a teacher or counsellor.
- A portfolio, resume or any other document if required. (Mainly majors)
- Financial statement for support
- English Proficiency Tests like TOEFL, IELTS or PTE for International Students
These requirements are the main requirements for all applicants; however, they can vary according to the level of education, place of origin and academic performance. All of these requirements need to be submitted before January 15 of 2018 starting from the 1st of December.
USC Common App Prompts 2017
When you apply for the University of SC, you will for sure stumble with one of these topics for an entrance exam, some of the most intellectually demanding prompts. Here they are:
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.
This is one of the USC essay prompts you can use to talk about diversity, about your world ideas and assertions that you think are important. Here is when you can talk about any thought you find puzzling and any perspective over a certain subject that you think is not common or just not appreciated enough. Whatever you think you can say that fits the question, something that lets the admission committee about your intellectual capacity and values as a person.
CollegeVine recommends to:
“Speak about the belief that challenged you in a nuanced way — most competitive applicants share experiences in being challenged by new academic and ethical perspectives, so strive to leave the reader thinking, “I never thought about that or experienced that before.”
Prompt #2: Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
This prompts can be easily answered by just pointing out one of your interests outside your academic goals. However, if you actually point out an academic interest just outside of your actual academic focus, something outside of what you’re applying for – like architecture when you are applying for music – it will also mean a good answer. But even more than what you would like and what is your interest, it is important to point the WHY. Make sure you let the admission committee why exactly does that interest you so much and why would you like to become an expert on that as well.
“An alternate approach is to employ an anecdote to describe this interest. For example, you can talk about how you’ve wanted to master chess after hearing about computer AI that beat the world’s best chess player, or how you play the flute but know nothing about music theory and would like to learn more regardless of your intended degree in mechanical engineering.”
Prompt #3: What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?
To answer this question you don’t need to do a critical introspection about yourself. You just need to think about something (positive of course) that you could talk about and make the admission committee feel attracted to you. Yes, you just need to write a compelling story about yourself, something not everyone knows about you, especially if it is related to your academic future.
College vine recommends using an anecdote like:
“Talk about how growing up with synesthesia explains your love for music or how your uncle’s work as a surgeon has inspired you in many ways. Understand that no matter what you write about, it should inherently reveal something the admissions needs to know about you as a person.”
Need Help with USC Essay Prompts?
As you already know, these questions are not the hardest or most confusing ones. They are actually simple and somehow easy to answer. However, they still demand each applicant to make an effort to come with an interesting and intellectually provoking approach, especially for the hardest ones.
But whatever you choose to answer, you shouldn’t preoccupy so much. If you really need to deliver a wonderful answer you can count on our help. Here we offer professional writing services for Texas College essay prompts, USC application essay prompts, Statement of purpose for graduate school and much more!