Any tips for USC Graduate personal statement? (1 Viewer)

Lvn

Well-Known Member
Hey guys,

Last year when I visited USC they said personal statement is the deal-breaker. They also said that there is no concrete format and I should be as personal as I can.

I have tried this, but it's really hard to fit everything into a 1000 word essay. It's also really hard to stay focused, considering I want to say so much.

Either way, I would appreciate any tips or suggestions.

Thanks.
 

Astantax

Well-Known Member
I let mine unfurl like a story in itself, in three parts. It was about a pretty sad life event, so I played the heartstrings card as much as reality allowed.
 

psufilmgirl

Well-Known Member
Lvn,

I'm having the same issue with the 1,000 word limit. I've taken to looking at what I've written once a week and editing it, since I have some time to fix it. Mine is also VERY personal. I think it's a deal breaker because they want to know if you can tell a story and how comfortable you are with emotions and the fact that you have a voice.

I would say just be sincere, and the real you will stand out. Sincerity is super hard to come by these days!!!
 

scribble.jones

New Member
Hey Guys,

I don't know which programs you're trying for, but I most definitely feel your personal statement pain. It was the toughest piece of my USC app last fall. Let me tell you a few things I wish somebody had told me.

1. Figure out what your application is doing in front of them. Come up with two or three d@mn good reasons why you belong at USC and make them the soul of your statement.
2. Just do it, then do it again (repeat as necessary). Be aware that it's not easy and it's not meant to be. Force yourself to get something down, go over what works, then do it again until you're happy with it.
3. Imagine yourself as a character, then tell them your story. You want them to get to know you, and hopefully to like you, so pitch yourself accordingly. If you were a protagonist, what personal qualities would you highlight? How did those things contribute to you arriving on their doorstep?
4. At the end of the day, they are looking for alumni. Your success is their success, so do everything you can to present yourself as a good bet. Have you visited? Why do you think you're a perfect fit? Be confident (though not arrogant!) and demonstrate your vision and your enthusiasm.
5. Humor is an option. My statement began with a hilarious anecdote from my days as a medical office assistant. It probably told them more about me than any bumbling attempt to summarize myself, and it set up a flow for the rest of the piece. More to the point, humor amid a sea of seriousness will make your statement readable and memorable.
6. You'll know it when you've got it. 'Nuff said.

I hope this helps, and didn't come off as overly professorial. Good luck!
 

Jayimess

Well-Known Member
Scribble, welcome to the forum! Great post.

Will you be starting at SCA this fall then? I'm a screenwriting MFA graduating this May.

I noticed a note up in the writing office that appends to Scribble's wisdom...don't tell them how awesome USC is...they already know that. Instead, show them your own voice.
 

scribble.jones

New Member
Hey Jayimess. I am starting in screenwriting in a couple of weeks. It's exciting, but I'm really nervous!

I relied on this site when I was going through the app process, so when I bumbled back over here today and had some time on my hands, I figured I'd pay it forward before the trauma faded into nostalgia.
 

Sapphiar

Active Member
I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but I've been putting together my own statement and realizing it's probably too professional. So a personal statement is less of what you hope to accomplish at USC and more of *why* I want to go and why I should be accepted? Sort of like a cover letter?
 

psufilmgirl

Well-Known Member
your personal statement should be something personal about yourself and it should reflect your interest in filmmaking, telling a story of how you came to be interested in film, what motivates you, and what beliefs and discoveries in your life led you to the decision.

or something like that......


hahahaha
 

Sapphiar

Active Member
Hahahah, okay, I gotcha. I can work with that. I definitely seem to be going for a more, "My intentions at USC are to blahblahblah...", so I'll be sure to coloquialize the crap out of it.
 

femme.focale

Well-Known Member
For my Personal Statement, I made it a point to stay focused and concise while remaining introspective. Demonstrate that you are an individual with a unique point of view, and that should score you some major brownie points. I didn't mention USC once, because it's not about them, it's about me. Granted, I don't know if my angle worked yet as I'm still waiting for the results, but I hope this helps a little.
 

Golden

New Member
I don't think it should be like a cover letter at all. It should tell them who you are and yes, tell them why you want to go there. Why would you be a good fit at USC? What kinds of stories do you want to tell?

I did that and I had sucessful resutls.
 

Jayimess

Well-Known Member
Definitely not a cover letter, nor is it a statement of goals.

This should be you, talking in your own voice, first person, about who you are, who you hope to be, and how you got to this point.

Best of luck!
 

Jayimess

Well-Known Member
I haven't looked at these requirements in a long time, but when I tackled this. the personal statement was more about the journey and the autobiography was more about the person.

I don't know if that helps. I didn't get a neurosis about the personal statement. I saved that for the creative portfolio.

We're all neurotic about something...
 

Junie

Well-Known Member
Hello!

I'm glad I found this site. I'm happily working away on my application to USC's screenwriting program, but this discussion has me confused. I do see the most emotional moment and autobiographical sketch on the application checklist site here (http://cinema.usc.edu/programs/writing/application-procedures-writing.htm), but I don't see anything about a 1000 word personal statement. Now I'm worried I've overlooked something very important. Can someone direct me to the info about the personal statement? I see that there's a place to upload a personal statement on the online application, but nothing about it being 1000 words. What did I miss?

Thanks!
 
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