7 Accepted USC Essays for 2019

Example Common App Essays and Supplements
Home Essay Database University of Southern California
Last updated on March 5, 2019
USC

Introduction

Ryan Chiang
By Ryan

The University of Southern California, known most commonly as USC, is a top private college located in downtown Los Angeles. USC is a large school, with over 45,000 students—15,000 of which are undergraduate students. USC is known for its athletic programs, rivalry with UCLA, renowned film school, and academic reputation.

In 2018, over 64,000 students applied to USC and only 12.9% were admitted. This makes USC a very difficult school to get accepted into. It is vital that your essays make you stand out among the thousands of other applicants that apply each year.

Below are some accepted Common App essays and supplements specific to USC that got accepted. Let's jump right into the essays!

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.

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University of Southern California Essays


Common App Essays (2)

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

I was 4.

Blue blanket in one hand, cookie monster in the other, I stumbled down the steps to fill my sippy cup with coffee. My diplomatic self gulped down his caffeine while admiring his Harry Potter wands. My father and I watched the sunrise through the trees and windows. I cherished this small moment before my father left, disappearing in and out of my life at the wave of a wand, harassing my seemingly broken, but nevertheless, stronger, family.

I was 10, and my relationship with coffee flourished as my father vanished. I admired the average, yet complex beverage and may have been the only ten-year-old to ask for a French-press for his birthday. Nonetheless, learning to craft intricate cups of coffee became my favorite pastime. I spent hours studying how to “bloom” the grounds in a Chemex or pour a swan. Each holiday, I would ask for an aeropress, an espresso machine. I became a coffee connoisseur, infinitely perfecting my own form of art.

As the years went by--I was 11, 12, 13--I began to explore the cafes in Pittsburgh with my grandmother, capturing them through our shared love for photography. Coffee (one of the few positive memories I have of my father) is also the bridge that allows my grandmother and I to converge our distinctly different backgrounds into one harmonious relationship. Inside quaint coffee shops, we would discuss pop culture, fashion, and the meaning of life. We made it our mission to visit every cafe and document them not only through the camera lens, but also through the conversations we shared.

I was 16 years old, and working at a family-owned coffee shop training other employees to pour latte art. Making coffee became an artistic outlet that I never had before. I always loved math, but once I explored the complexities of coffee, I began to delve into a more creative realm--photography and writing--and exposed myself to the arts--something foreign and intriguing.

When my father left and my world exploded, coffee remained a light amongst the darkness. As the steam permeates my nostrils and the bitterness tickles my tongue, I learn a little more about myself. The act of pouring water over grounds allows me to slow down time for a moment, and reflect upon my day, my life, my dreams, and my future. When I dive into a morning cup, I take a plunge into the sea of the self, and as I sip, am struck with the feeling that coffee is a universal link between cultures. I picture my great grandmother sitting on her front porch in Rome, slurping LaVazza and eating her coffee-soaked biscotti. Every cup takes me back to my heritage, forces me to reflect upon where I came from and where I must go, and who else, in another world, is sipping the same drink and reflecting upon the same principles. You see, coffee is like the ocean. It bridges two culture, two lands, two brains, all through conversation, exposure, exploration, but by one medium. I do not see it as simply a beverage, but rather, a vehicle for so much more.

At 18, coffee is a part of who I am--humble, yet important, simple, yet complex, and rudimentary, yet developed. As I explore new coffee shops, I explore a new part of myself, one once hidden beneath the surface of my persona. My grandmother and I--we are conquistadors of the cafe scene, conquering the world one coffee shop at a time and, in the process, growing endlessly closer to each other and ourselves. Coffee has allowed our relationship to flourish into a perpetual story of exploration and self-reflection.

Now, I often think about my father and how someone whom I resent so much could have introduced me to something I love so much. It is crazy to think that it took losing him for me to find my true self.

644 / 650 words

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Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
(650 words max)

Right, Up, Right inverted, Up inverted was what went through my mind when solving the Rubik’s cube. Years of solving the Rubik’s cube allowed me to hone my skills making the puzzle almost as easy as puzzles from my childhood. I remember when I first started tackling puzzles they were very simple. Word Searches were my favorite and I could do them for hours and hours. Once, I finished a whole book of them in only a few days because I had become so infatuated with them. I slowly made my way to harder puzzles and when I was in 5th grade, my aunt introduced me to a puzzle game on the Nintendo DS called Professor Layton and The Curious Village. I would play the game nonstop trying to solve all the puzzles the game had to offer and often, I would go past my bedtime. It was then that I knew I had a love for puzzles as it challenged my mind and forced me to think differently.

My love for puzzles led me to buying a Rubik’s cube after I saw my friend solve his own. I bought my first Rubik’s cube in 7th grade and it had me perplexed . Learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube was, at the time, a tough challenge for me, as the Rubik’s cube can be mixed up to any of the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations. In the beginning, I was unable to follow the guide that came with the first Rubik’s cube I bought, but then I searched up a tutorial on YouTube and learned by watching. Utilizing my skill of memory, I was able to remember possible patterns that the Rubik’s cube could be after each step, and I was able to perform the correct algorithm to complete the step. After I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube and learned that it could be solved many ways, it lead to me memorizing as many of the fifty-seven possible permutations of the third step, and all of the twenty-one permutations of the last step. I memorized the turns of each algorithm and visualized the process in my head, so I would be able to remember how to perform it. I never get tired of solving it, because there are so many combinations that every time I mix it up, there is a different solution.

My outlook of the world changed, as I realized that there is not one concrete solution to everything, but multiple solutions. Being able to see things differently, the ways I solved some problems with multiple solutions were uncommon amongst my classmates. My 10th grade math teacher had acknowledged this when he wrote a comment on my test, saying he had not thought about solving a problem the way I had solved it. At that moment, I gained a new perspective in approaching the challenges of life.

The little puzzles and obstacles that we encounter throughout our lifetime are preparation in order for us to solve the everlasting mystery of life, which is why I love all kind of puzzles. When I was younger, I faced one of these obstacles, which was the divorce of my parents. I wanted to know why my mother left and no longer lived in my house, but I was not able to understand exactly what had happened. Puzzles became my escape as I knew that all puzzles have an answer; they had unknowingly become a large part of my childhood as they made sense to me unlike what was going on in my life. Now I have come to see that life is a puzzle and that we must find the solution to it. Realizing that life is a puzzle in itself, I now openly accept and embrace the challenge of going through life with a new perspective, as I would any other puzzle.

650 / 650 words

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Supplemental Essays (5)

What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?
(250 words max)

The sounds of my knife striking kale unnerves my cat asleep in the corner. He quickly runs over to examine the situation but becomes instantly uninterested when he sees green and smells bitterness. Unfortunately, my family has this same reaction every day of every week.

They question, “It’s bad enough that you’re going to eat kale, but do you really have to massage it?” I respond with a deep breath, during which I recall information from nutritionfacts.org. I begin to explain, “Well you see, it takes away the bitterness, because kale is composed of cellulose, so when you massage it with a strong acid–”but as I continue to delve into my rather scientific and oftentimes molecular rationale behind transforming myself into a masseuse to make a salad, everyone begins snoring. I guess no one has ever understood my immense love for the science behind cooking (and probably never will).

Sure, my family, friends, small, undiverse and traditional high school all look at me like I am crazy, but I guess that is because I am. I do not look at kale and think “dark green, bitter, disgusting plant.” Instead, I see proteins and anticarcinogenic properties--analyzing the anatomy of food seems to occupy my mind.

Cooking is an art, visual, creative and instinctive. My favorite nights are spent with knife in hand and sweet potatoes in the oven. Food is my artist outlet, and one of the few things to feed my soul (and my stomach, too).

250 / 250 words

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Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.
(250 words max)

I had never considered traveling across the country to pursue an education. In fact, living in Pittsburgh all of my life and growing up with people who are so adamant about staying put, forced me to believe that I too had to box myself into this small, yet evolving city. However, now I can confidently tell my friends and family that I want to travel to California for college (and ignore their odd looks).

What strikes me most about USC is its ability to maintain uniformity despite its diverse student body--in interests, ethnicity, and opinion. There are not many schools where I could be best friends with filmmakers, artists, photographers, chemists, potential CEOs, and writers. Although all of these people are spread across different schools, they still seem to maintain a cultural unity. Being surrounded by such a distinct trojan pride combined with the ambitious atmosphere would be both inspiring and propulsive.

At USC, I would not have to confine to merely one of my interests. I have always had aspirations of becoming a doctor and pursuing neuroscience, but have never felt comfortable ignoring the humanities. As a Trojan, I could pursue research at the Dana and David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center or even take part in PIBBS, while also honing my writing skills through the intricate Writing Program.

Much like the students, my interests could somehow be molded into a diverse uniformity, and I could prove my fellow Pittsburghers that perhaps they need to move around more.

249 / 250 words

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Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
(250 words max)

Probably video games. Playing video games got me into math beyond just playing with my calculator as a baby. There were practical applications of the numbers, and I wanted to understand how it all worked in order to get the best equipment and maximize ammo efficiency. I would watch "Mythbusters" and try to come up with my own hypothesis and see if it matched their conclusion. In 8th grade, I figured out that I loved science along with math, but I didn't exactly know what science I loved. At the time I was in "physical science" and I did enjoy the class a lot, but I always thought of physics as "speed distance time" triangles which were no fun at all. I was convinced to take AP Physics in my junior year with my friends, and I loved it. It was almost every week we would learn something that completely altered my perception of the universe. Once I learned about quantum physics and how it basically destroys our understanding of everything, I knew I wanted to pursue it further, and be at the forefront of quantum research.

187 / 250 words

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What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?
(250 words max)

If I had a fatal flaw it would be loyalty. Of all the things I value, the one thing I value the most is my family. Coming after family is my friends; I consider my friends to be an extended branch of family. My close friends know that I value my friendship and that I would do almost anything for them if they asked me. I am very trusting with my friends, because I know that if I am there to support them, they will be there to support me. Without my friends, I would not be who and where I am now, as they have helped me through my years and shaped me to be the trusting and loyal person I am.

Very often, I put my friends before me, and this is because I know that if I were in the same situation as them, they would opt to help me. My loyalty to my friends helps them understand why I do what I do, and it helps me make even more friends. Wherever I go, I want to go with friends, because I believe that I can go farther when I have others with me rather than going fast and alone, but not as far.

208 / 250 words

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Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.
(250 words max)

All throughout my life, I always loved doing math no matter what the concept. My love for math led to me taking advanced math classes for my grade. I even had to take a bus to a high school when I was in middle school to take an advanced math class. I always knew that I would want to pursue a career dealing with mathematics, but I was not really sure until my junior year. I had not decided what I wanted to be in the future, so my uncle suggested being a CPA, and I looked into it. When I did my research, it interested me as they made a decent amount of money and they worked with numbers.

At USC, I would like to major in accounting and gain the opportunity to possibly receive an internship at one of the big accounting firms in Los Angeles through the networking of USC. If I were able to get an internship, I would be able to gain experience for when I graduate and search for a job. I would also consider going for a Masters of Business Administration as I know that USC has one of the best business programs in the country.

203 / 250 words

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