How Long Should The Usc Supplement Essay Be

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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I feel your pain.

Can you do that in like fifteen words? You can. How?

2. DO: Use all the space allotted to explain your answer.

Pro-Tip: You’re often given space for thirteen words for a short answer. So use it up!

In other words, answer "Why," even if the prompt doesn't ask you to. Why?

Because each answer is an opportunity to get to know you better and sometimes the takeaway isn’t clear or obvious from the thing itself. Example:

Question: (from USC) What's your favorite food? 
Just-okay answer: “Tacos.”

Your reader might read this and think: Um, great. You... live in California?

Better answer: "My abuela's birria tacos--recipe has been passed down for generations." 

#culture #family #goats (Because that's what birria is: goats. #themoreyouknow)

Another example of a just-okay answer:

Q: Who is your role model?
A: Louis Zamperini

Reader thinks: Great, no idea who that is. 

Don't make the reader Google your answer. She won't.

Instead, write: 

Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, who survived concentration camps and overcame severe alcoholism. 

But...

3. DON’T make the short reason you provide (or any of your answers) super obvious.

Example for USC question: 

Q: What’s your favorite website? 
A: Instagram (social media photo-sharing site)

Yup. That's... pretty much what Instagram is. Thanks for telling me zero about you.

Another bad example (a Stanford admission essay example):

Q: What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?
A: The Big Bang. It was the beginning of our universe and it would have been amazing to see that. 

Yup, that’s… what that was. (Also, fyi, pretty much everyone writes “The Big Bang” for this question.)

Better answer (by a student accepted in 2015): 

A: I want to watch George Washington go shopping. I have an obsession with presidential trivia, and the ivory-gummed general is far and away my favorite. Great leaders aren’t necessarily defined by their moments under pressure; sometimes tiny decisions are most telling--like knickers or pantaloons?

Also:

4. DO get specific.

Q: What inspires you?

Non-specific example: Documentaries. They are my favorite source of inspiration

(Side note: Don't sound like a robot.)

Better answer: Documentaries. "Forks Over Knives" made me go vegan; "Born into Brothels" inspired my Gold Award.

Also:

5. DON’T for your favorite quote, say something that you'd find on one of those "Success" posters or a Hallmark card. 

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