Anne’s Admission Advice: Written Short Answers

November 5, 2018

Girl sitting outside studying in front of fountain.

The USC Kaufman Portfolio has two short answers—one that’s required and one that’s optional. Our faculty don’t see your Common Application, so the written short answers provide an opportunity to communicate your interest in the program and share critical information.

The Required Short Answer

The required short answer asks you to answer the following prompt in about 150-250 words: The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance is uniquely positioned as a conservatory embedded within one of the world’s leading private research universities. Given the numerous resources and opportunities this affords both inside and outside of the dance school, why attend our unique program?

Here are my (somewhat) short recommendations for the short answers.

Remember to speak not just about why you’re interested in Kaufman.

It is not just a conservatory that prepares technically proficient dancers. It’s also within USC. How will you take advantage of the artistic, scholarly and extracurricular opportunities at the greater university? How will you connect these other interests to dance? Then, how might they broaden your horizons, even perhaps outside of dance?

Be specific.

Show that you have done your research about Kaufman and the university. When I present on panels about dance programs, it’s funny how we all say the same thing. “We have lots of performance opportunities, you’ll get great training, we have amazing faculty” (although I will argue that Kaufman has the best faculty in the country, not only because of their backgrounds and connections, but also because they are some of the most kind and generous people I know). Back to my advice, speak to the nuances you’ve picked up on if you’ve visited campus or attended an off-campus event. If you haven’t connected with us, read our student blog, check out Instagram and Facebook, or call us with your questions.

Proofread your work.

You don’t need to be the greatest writer of the twenty-first century, but you should treat the short answer as you would a graded assignment. The faculty reviewing your portfolio are the same faculty who will be reading your written work in college. They will be paying attention to even the basics, such as grammar, and more.

Optional Short Answer

The optional short answer is truly optional. Please don’t feel like you have to use it. We have it there should there be anything else you with to communicate to the faculty committee. Let us know about any personal circumstances that might affect what else we see in your portfolio materials. For example, a student may have a low GPA as a result of a personal challenge. We want to make sure that we have as much context as possible.

Think about the short answers (and any other part of the portfolio) as an opportunity to say something. Just as we say not to waste a single second of your dance video, don’t waste a single word of your short answer. After all, you only have 150 to 250 words.


By Anne Aubert-Santelli, Director of Admission and Student Services