USC Interview

November 25, 2022
By AdmissionSight

USC Interview

How Do You Get An Interview With USC?

How do you get an interview with USC? The University no longer conducts or considers USC interviews as part of its application process beginning with applicants for the Fall 2019 semester. This change will take effect with applicants for that semester.

It is strongly recommended that you concentrate on the many aspects of your application to build a solid application. You are also encouraged to visit the campus as part of the Meet USC events to attend an admissions presentation, take a tour of the campus, and participate in an information session with a departmental representative to learn more about the University.

You will have the opportunity to speak directly to the admission committee in your own voice if you want to do so through the written aspects of the application, which include the essay and short-answer questions.

View of a woman talking to a student during an interview.

USC examines and considers everything that is submitted; therefore, you should be sure to adopt a writing style and language that are familiar to you. This is your opportunity to share more information about yourself with us. Take your time to respond to the questions in an appropriate manner and tell us more about yourself, including the things that interest and motivate you.

What Are the Questions To Expect In A USC Interview?

Instead of focusing on the query “What are the questions to expect in a USC interview?” let’s tackle the writing supplement the school requires to be able to know the applicants better.

The USC application consists of three essay prompts as well as short-answer questions. The first and second essay prompts are required but the third can be skipped if you would like. Candidates only need to respond to one of the three sub-prompts for the second question. After that, there is a set of ten questions that you are also obligated to answer, but each one can only be responded to with a maximum of 100 characters. Program-specific essay questions are also required for freshman applicants.

a female student being homeschooled by a male teacher

Prompt 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 words).

Prompt 2 (Required): Respond to one of the prompts below (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?

Prompt 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 words).

Short Answer Prompts (Required): Respond to all the prompts below (100 characters unless otherwise specified).

Describe yourself in three words (*25 characters).

First Word*:

Second Word*:

Third Word*:

What is your favorite snack?

Best movie of all time:

Dream job:

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?

For USC Dornsife Program Applicants:

Please provide an essay on the topic below that is no longer than 250 words and contains no more than 250 total words. In your response, you should write about something that you have not already covered anywhere else in your application for USC Dornsife. For example, you may talk about something that you have never done before.

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)

For 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)

The Engineering Grand Challenges (for USC Viterbi Applicants):

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the 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)

What Kind Of Students Does USC Look For?

If you are planning to attend USC, you might wonder “What kind of students does USC look for?” USC admissions officers look for students that they believe will flourish at the University of Southern California. Through the application process, they hope to learn about your unique background and gain insight into how you would make the most of the varied opportunities offered at USC.

They conduct a full and holistic examination of your application, taking into consideration both academic and personal aspects, as do many other highly selective educational institutions. Your academic success, the difficulty of the course you are enrolled in, your writing abilities, and any test scores you voluntarily choose to share will all be taken into consideration. Personal traits are also considered, such as those shown via achievements, leadership roles, and involvement in the community.

Four students talking in a table.

Students enrolled at USC pursue lofty intellectual and professional objectives by studying in a variety of academic fields and making use of the extensive array of academic opportunities that are accessible to them. They are not afraid to try new things or step beyond their comfort zones. They have an interest in the world, as well as various people and cultures, and they find it enjoyable to investigate significant topics from a worldwide vantage point.

Students at USC are not hesitant to speak their minds or stand up for what they believe in during class discussions. They get involved by joining student clubs and making connections with people from different backgrounds. They have the goal of reaching their full potential and, along the way, they strive toward serving the needs of others in the community.

Does the USC Alumni Interview Matter?

Does the USC alumni interview matter? Because USC interviews are not conducted since a few years ago, the best approach for you to engage with an admissions officer on a personal level is through the Common Application and supplemental essays/short answers that you submit with it.

After you have satisfied USC’s academic requirements, the best method to differentiate yourself from the other applicants is to write an essay, which USC deems to be “extremely crucial.” The application to USC requires a writing supplement, which consists of two obligatory essays and one additional essay that is optional.

An attention-grabbing essay is written in your voice and creatively frames your experiences while highlighting how you will fit in as a student and on campus at USC. The institution is looking for interesting applicants with unique stories and perspectives, and an attention-grabbing essay is one that does both. The school makes it a priority to enroll kids who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of interests. It believes that these students will enrich one another’s education by providing healthy competition both in and outside of the classroom.

Group of students reading in a room.

Recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors speak to your academic success as well as the contributions you may be able to make to the learning environment of the classroom, the larger learning community, and the community at large. Both those letters and your activity list will provide indications of your core beliefs and principles.

USC pays careful attention to your own narrative, background, and circumstances because the institution recognizes that each student is an individual with his/her own set of experiences and perspectives to contribute. Your application will paint a picture of who you are and how you might contribute to the community, tradition, and spirit that help make USC the vibrant place that it is.

Along with the essay, your extracurricular and leadership activities, talents, and personal character are also highly essential factors in the admissions process. You should be aware, however, that achievements in extracurricular activities and leadership activities cannot make up for a bad academic record. This is something you should keep in mind.

How Do I Prepare For A USC Interview?

“How do I prepare for a USC interview?” is a common query among applicants. However, while you might not be able to impress USC admissions officers with your oral communication skills, it’s time to polish your writing skills.

To differentiate yourself from the other applicants, the essay you submit as part of your application is of the utmost significance. The application for admission to USC includes several questions that require short answers and essay responses.

It may take some time and effort to get a handle on how to tackle the extra questions that come with the USC application. Many different types of questions, ranging from those requiring brief responses to those requiring short essays, will inquire at length about aspects of your character as well as your academic and personal goals. However, if you are not careful, the responses you provide to these prompts may come off as fake or generic.

A woman being inteviewed by a man on a table.

The supplemental questions provide you with the opportunity to display true enthusiasm, personality, and growth in both your personal and academic lives. This growth should be derived directly from your own experiences and should imply that you would be a good match at USC.

The best essays for the University of Southern California will be succinct, honest, imaginative, and engaging. Keep in mind that the supplement was developed by USC to assist admissions counselors in gaining a better understanding of your personality. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and express your uniqueness here! You will have the opportunity to discuss elements of yourself, your life, and your future aspirations that aren’t covered in the Common Application.

The writing supplement includes two brief writing prompts that are intended to highlight both your writing abilities and your unique personality. But because you can only use 250 words, you need to ensure that every word counts as much as possible.

Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

Use a Standard Format.

Do not squander the limited space that you have in your essay. One useful tactic is to condense your introduction and thesis statement into a single sentence, as well as your conclusion. Because of this, you are free to use the remaining space to respond to the prompt.

Illustrate Rather Than Narrate.

Make use of stories and anecdotes to demonstrate your argument rather than offering run-off-the-mill answers. When you get the chance, paint a picture for your audience.

Take, for instance, the subject of your conversation, which is your passion for photography. Try to express the experience of photographing someone else rather than simply writing, “I love to shoot people.”

A better version of this sentence could read: “I enjoy using my camera to try to get a glimpse of people’s personalities.” The first response reveals that you take pleasure in photography, but the second response elucidates the reasons for your enthusiasm for the hobby.

Proofread Your Work.

Don’t be discouraged if, on your first try to respond to these questions, you end up writing more than the allotted number of words.  Continue to remove unnecessary material and make necessary changes until you have something fantastic.

The following are some examples of how you can change a statement so that every word contributes to the meaning:

Eliminate unnecessary and wordy phrases.

  • OK: “It was without a doubt the most incredible adventure of my entire life.”
  • Better: “It was the most incredible event of my entire existence.”
  • Best: “The vacation was life-changing.”

Be sure to speak with an active tone.

  • Passive: “Geology would be my preferred major.”
  • Active: “I plan to major in geology.”
  • Substitute “is” and “was” using descriptive verbs.
  • With “is”: “Researching cancer treatments is my ultimate career goal.”
  • Without “is”: “I plan to pursue a career in cancer research.”

Don’t Put It Off Until the Last Minute.

Given how brief the USC supplement is, it is tempting to leave it until the very end of the application process to complete it. Writing essays is trickier than it appears, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time.

USC is renowned for its elite academic programs, pleasant climate, successful athletics departments, well-known alumni, and more. USC is a relatively selective institution, accepting less than 1 in 8 applicants, with an acceptance rate of just under 12%. Given how tough the admissions process is, most students opt to seek assistance from admissions experts like AdmissionSight. Over the years, we have helped thousands of students get into Ivy League universities and other top-ranking schools in the US. Feel free to book an initial consultation with AdmissionSight to start your college preparation as early as now.

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