USC "Most Challenging Moment" prompt for Writing for Screen & TV, advice?

oliviaaa

Member
Hey! I'm applying as an undergraduate but I thought I'd post in this forum since there's wayyy more graduate students and the prompts are the same for both.

Anyways, I've written the first draft of my "Most Challenging Moment" essay and whew, it's pretty dramatic. While this moment doesn't have to be inherently dramatic/sad/etc... for all, my chosen moment happens to be quite challenging. My essay isn't totally depressing, I talk about how the experience shaped me and made me better as a person but I was wondering... is it okay to be very personal in the essay? It's not inappropriate in any way but I'm kind of worried that I should pick a more lighthearted moment so I can throw some humor in there.

I'd love to hear what topics people wrote about for their essay (if you feel comfortable sharing!), especially if you erred on the more dramatic side. Thanks!
 
Hi Olivaaa,

So I am applying to the MFA program for USC and have to answer the same question. Honestly, I think it’s up to you really but what matters, in my opinion, is really telling a story that will make the reader feel something. To have the essay show who are really are as a person and, maybe, how you became to be the person you are because of that challenge. I’m still working on mine but my biggest challenge can be considered rather small to others but it is meaningful to me and I’m trying to show that the best way possible. But for me personally, I would do the most personal challenge moment that I am willing to share because I think a lot of ppl have a few lol.
 

Art1014

Member
Hi! I was admitted for USC's Film and Prod MFA for this year - to clarify, can you post the exact prompt? For this essay (if it's the same prompt), I talked about a work project where I failed at literally every stage, and was really honest and personal about how I worked through it and with what was going on at the time. Definitely go for personal - it seems like you've included the most crucial part about this essay, which is how you've grown as a person and as a storyteller from a challenging situation. I think that's the main thing the readers are looking for, so don't worry too much about the actual moment you're writing about as long as you're comfortable with sharing it - delve into how it's shaped you (it sounds like you've already done that, which is great!) as much as you can.

Also, as long as it's written in a way that's authentic to your voice and they way you tell stories, go for the dramatic. Mine was personally pretty sparse and formal in tone for this essay, but that's just how I write, especially when it comes to writing about deeper personal challenges. I did have the opportunity to expand on these challenges during my interview, which something to keep in mind in case you're worried about leaning towards too intense for your comfort in the essay. Feel free to message me if you'd like, but otherwise, good luck!
 

oliviaaa

Member
Hi Olivaaa,

So I am applying to the MFA program for USC and have to answer the same question. Honestly, I think it’s up to you really but what matters, in my opinion, is really telling a story that will make the reader feel something. To have the essay show who are really are as a person and, maybe, how you became to be the person you are because of that challenge. I’m still working on mine but my biggest challenge can be considered rather small to others but it is meaningful to me and I’m trying to show that the best way possible. But for me personally, I would do the most personal challenge moment that I am willing to share because I think a lot of ppl have a few lol.
Thanks for the reply! I totally agree with everything you said. As long as it's meaningful to you and that shows through, you're good :)
 

oliviaaa

Member
Hi! I was admitted for USC's Film and Prod MFA for this year - to clarify, can you post the exact prompt? For this essay (if it's the same prompt), I talked about a work project where I failed at literally every stage, and was really honest and personal about how I worked through it and with what was going on at the time. Definitely go for personal - it seems like you've included the most crucial part about this essay, which is how you've grown as a person and as a storyteller from a challenging situation. I think that's the main thing the readers are looking for, so don't worry too much about the actual moment you're writing about as long as you're comfortable with sharing it - delve into how it's shaped you (it sounds like you've already done that, which is great!) as much as you can.

Also, as long as it's written in a way that's authentic to your voice and they way you tell stories, go for the dramatic. Mine was personally pretty sparse and formal in tone for this essay, but that's just how I write, especially when it comes to writing about deeper personal challenges. I did have the opportunity to expand on these challenges during my interview, which something to keep in mind in case you're worried about leaning towards too intense for your comfort in the essay. Feel free to message me if you'd like, but otherwise, good luck!
Yeah, this is the prompt:
"Convey in writing the greatest challenge you have faced and how you responded to it. The challenge may be of any kind you care to write about -physical, emotional, moral, creative, personal, professional or some other sort."

Thanks so much for your reply! It's reassuring to hear that others have also picked similarly challenging moments. I definitely think the "so what?" is super important for this essay so I'm gonna keep working on that part. Thanks again!
 

Mdub_2013

Active Member
AFI
USC
Hey! I'm applying as an undergraduate but I thought I'd post in this forum since there's wayyy more graduate students and the prompts are the same for both.

Anyways, I've written the first draft of my "Most Challenging Moment" essay and whew, it's pretty dramatic. While this moment doesn't have to be inherently dramatic/sad/etc... for all, my chosen moment happens to be quite challenging. My essay isn't totally depressing, I talk about how the experience shaped me and made me better as a person but I was wondering... is it okay to be very personal in the essay? It's not inappropriate in any way but I'm kind of worried that I should pick a more lighthearted moment so I can throw some humor in there.

I'd love to hear what topics people wrote about for their essay (if you feel comfortable sharing!), especially if you erred on the more dramatic side. Thanks!
I think you should write what's meaningful to you. USC sees thousands of applicants during the admissions process, so make sure your story is unique to you. If its something that is dramatic, well great you're applying to a dramatic arts program LOL - if you think there's parts of your story that fall into near melodramatic, maybe condense the language. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to answer this question, as we all come from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. If anything, my advice is if it's a *dramatic* piece just be sure it is clear and concise. Maybe find someone you trust to read it, so if they don't understand parts of the story you can revise and edit.
 

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