The USC essay examples show you how to write a college essay to convince the University of Southern California that you are a good fit for them. These essays are meant to probe into your personality and find out more about you and why you would be a great addition to the USC campus.  Let’s review some of the top USCE essay examples so you can write your own!

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USC essay prompts

USC has three prompts and a section for short-answer questions. The first and second prompts are required, while the third one is optional.

The second prompt also has three optional sub-prompts, and candidates need only choose one to answer.

There are then a series of ten questions, also required, that are to be answered with 100 characters or less.

Check out how to write your essay:

USC essay examples

It is time to delve into each prompt and have a look at some USC essay examples that you can learn from.

And, so…

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).

Ever since my parents bought me my first computer at the age of 6, I’ve been fascinated by what happens inside these machines. That’s why I want to be a computer programmer – to understand the inner world of computers.

My journey into coding started when I realized I could write programs to make the device perform tasks I wanted done. Soon, I was reading every single book I could get my hands on about programming and spent my days watching YouTube videos about writing machine-level code.

Within two years, I’d become the go-to kid in my high school regarding computer issues. Topics like new gadgets and software releases were all I was interested in.

I want to build on my self-developed knowledge by attending the Computer Science program here at USC. The university’s well-known for its research in this field. I want to understand the inner logic of computers and USC will help me plant deep roots in science – I want to possess in-depth knowledge and understanding behind the 0’s and 1’s.

USC also offers a chance for students to delve into the entrepreneurial aspects of Computer Science. I intend to pursue these classes to gain knowledge on how to use my education to create the applications of the future – for my own and the public’s welfare.

Electronics, my second-choice major, will also help me achieve the same goals, albeit with a slightly different approach. Studying the underlying technology will give me a deeper insight into realizing my digital dreams. (250 words)

Prompt 2 (Required): Respond to one of the prompts below (250 words).

Although we had a relatively comfortable life in Zimbabwe, my parents were never in no doubt that the “Evil West” had it in for our country.

As the sanctions, and ensuing protests against the government grew, we found ourselves in a rapidly deteriorating situation. First, it was cutting back on “luxuries” like eating out and weekly family movie nights at the cinema. We then had to sell the car and finally, we were sure we were going to lose the house.

All the while, the government was broadcasting how it was all the fault of the West.

Needless to say, when we got the chance to immigrate, it was with apprehension that we landed at the airport. We half-expected to be thrown into prison for simply being Zimbabweans. Even after the officer stamped our passports and welcomed us into the country, we still expected that there was something bad to happen – it was just a matter of time.

We’ve been in this country for over seven years now.

We no longer walk with fear. The love and freedom we see all around is still a novelty that hasn’t worn off. The “West” we thought was going to be the end of us has given us a new lease on life.

And it was only when we were here after we had crossed over to the other side that we could see where the evil lay. (235 words)

Although my passion is computers and anything tech-related, I’ve always been fascinated by the history of World War II.

I remember exactly when the inquisitive bug bit me: I was about 10 when I first read “The Young Lions” by Irwin Shaw. I couldn’t put the book down. The fact that it told the story from both sides of the war made me want to find out more about the war and its all-encompassing presence.

Over the years, I have become an amateur expert on the subject, by watching every possible documentary and taking out every possible book on WWII at the local library. I can talk in detail about most battles and events – from the Blitz to Hiroshima and anywhere in between. I can lecture on the freezing conditions that almost let Hitler get his hands on heavy water, as well as the heat in the Sahara that nearly cost England the war. I can even talk about how guerilla warfare was fought by Major Orde Wingate’s Gideon Force and that the only time the US soil was invaded was when the Japanese attacked the Aleutian Islands.

If there were a course that was solely dedicated to studying the war, or maybe even a combination of the First and Second World Wars, I would take it – on top of my full Computer Science course and just for the fun of it. (250 words)

I truly value loyalty in a relationship.

The essential part of me – my core – is built on trust and loyalty. It doesn’t matter if it is to a friend or a family member, I am always one that never turns their back on someone in need.

While some may say I have sensitive skin for letting it bother me this much, I can never forgive someone that I considered a friend or family member who went on to stab me in the back. To me, it isn’t the size of the betrayal – not paying back a few dollars that they borrowed when they were in need or taking that promotion from me for a project that I had spent a year on – they both weigh equal on the betrayal scale.

There is also the fact that I only let a few – very few – people get close to me. One critical reason for that is that too many betrayals have led to my being very selective about who I invite into my friendship. And when someone has been admitted in – I give everything and expect that courtesy in return.

This has helped me build a select few friends who enjoy each other’s company and not just knowing the fact that we have each other’s backs. It has also helped us develop a sort of open camaraderie where all ideas and thoughts are entertained without bias or judgement.

My belief in loyalty has led me to the most amazing lifelong friendships. (249 words)

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).

I took a semester off in the 11th grade to help my dad on our farm. We’ve had that farm for four generations. It was the family’s pride and we’d never faced a time when we were in danger of losing it.

When I was 16, three consecutive droughts had left the land barren. All the feed that we had in stock was running out fast. We’d managed to bring the number of cattle down to an affordable range by selling what we could, and the feed was being rationed at a very careful rate.

Whenever we could, we would buy feed from other states where the rains hadn’t been as scarce. In solidarity with their less fortunate comrades, the farmers in the East – who had better rainfall – sold the feed at affordable prices. Until the drought hit them too. And even as we watched each kilo of feed, the rat infestation started. That’s when my father called for all hands on deck.

What did I do during my gap? I spent every day killing an invasion of rats. We had an inspection around the feed store and sealed every possible hole and crack we could find. Traps were set and strictly monitored to make sure they were back in service in the shortest possible time.

Once the rats were gone, I managed to get catch up on my coursework with the help of my teachers, tutors, and my classmates who were all happy to get me all caught up. (250 words)

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


As you have probably grasped by now from the USC essay examples above, the prompts are intended to bring out as much information as possible about you. They are questions that you answer in the first person.

Now, although the prompts may seem easy, you always need to make sure that you have the best essay before you even think of submitting it. Give yourself at least 6 weeks to plan and write your essays.

The best way to do that is to either learn how to write an essay yourself or find college essay advisors who can help you with your submissions.

Want to learn more about college essays?


1. What are my chances of joining USC?

USC is one of the leading universities in America and a highly ranked one in the world. This means it is also one of the toughest universities to get into.

But that shouldn’t concern you too much. You need to instead focus on creating a complete application package, writing all required essays, and sending in your application on time.

If you find it overwhelming, you can also find college advisors who can guide you through the process.

2. I’m not good at writing essays, what should I do?

You better get good at it – and fast. Applying to top universities like USC means you need to be on your toes all the time. The reason they – and all other top-ranked universities – are selective is because they want to make sure they take in students who will keep up with their intense course flow.

And the scrutiny begins at admission time – with your application.

Alternatively, if you think your essay isn’t up to par, you can use college essay review services to help you with your submissions.

3. How important are college essays in the application process?

They are very important. The universities use essays as a way of collecting information about you. The admissions committee members pore over the essays to get a “feel” of the kind of person you are. They gauge you as they read each word. And if they find you lacking, your application could be rejected.

Therefore, make sure you invest time and effort into writing each of the college essay topics.

4. How should I structure my essays?

Please use the academic essay structure, with an intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

5. How can I make my essay stand out?

The most important thing to focus on is the story itself. It should make the admissions committee members take notice of what you are trying to tell them.

Dig deep to find that story, tell the truth, and make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors, and you should have an essay that stands out.

6. What types of students is USC looking for?

The values and traits that the university is looking for include bright students who can cope with the curriculum, integrate into the diverse student body with ease, and contribute positively to the college community as a whole.

7. What tone should I use in my essays – formal or casual?

The best way to go about it is to find a balance between both. It shouldn’t be so casual that it makes the readers wince, and it shouldn’t be so formal that it would look like it was written in Olde English.

Use short sentences to convey clear, concise ideas and cut words that add no value to the sentence or story and you should have a great essay.

8. Are USC prompts changed every year?

The USC prompt has been pretty standard over the past few years – with just a question or two being changed. With that being said, the important thing is check for the prompts on the official USC website the year you are applying.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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