Anne’s Admission Advice: Mastering your video response

August 21, 2022

Girl jumps with her arms in the air in front of a water feature in the USC Village

Rachel Walton (BFA '19) in the USC Village | Photo by Mary Mallaney

The video response is a unique part of our application. We ask you to address the following prompt in 30 to 60 seconds on camera:

USC Kaufman’s Affirmations include five values that guide the school: excellence, belonging, risk taking, community and integrity. How do you see one of these values impacting the future of the dance field?

Why include this with our application? We want you to have an informed opinion about dance, and to be able to articulate that opinion after graduating from our program. Throughout your four years, you will be asked to engage in spirited debate with fellow students, faculty and distinguished guests in many courses, including annual colloquia. At USC Kaufman, we hope to develop dancers who are not just seen, but also heard.

How can you communicate your ideas most effectively? Here are some tips:

  • Be authentic. Don’t try to memorize a script unless you have major acting chops. You’ll want to think about your response ahead of time and then pretend as if you’re having a conversation with us. It’s okay if your response isn’t perfect. I often recommend that students do a few of takes, pick the best one and call it a day.
  • Be specific. Really dig into the value you choose. A professor once told me that you should ask yourself both “why?” and “why does this matter?” when trying to communicate an idea.
  • Connect with the prompt on a personal level. Our hope is that your response is unique—not for the sake of being unique, but because something from the prompt uniquely resonates with you. You have an individual voice, so don’t be afraid to use it. We want to hear it!
  • Check your video. Make sure that you’ve edited your video down to one response before uploading it to your application. Let’s just say that we’ve seen some pretty interesting bloopers over the years.

I know that this part of the application can seem daunting, but trust me when I say that it’s one of our favorites. Each year, we are in awe of what the next generation of USC Kaufman students has to say.

Want more admission advice? Watch this video about the USC Kaufman Portfolio and visit our Admission Advice playlist on YouTube.

By Anne Aubert-Santelli, Associate Dean of Admission & Student Services